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SU Box Buddies

I received the email below the break the other day. Basically, it asks alumni to send a note to the current Williams student who uses that alumni’s old SU Box. This is not the first year of the program. I have never participated but I wonder if any EphBlog readers have and what their experience was. I am most interested to hear from an Eph who was on the receiving end of one of these notes.

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Weekend Links

The “Downside of Diversity” by Anthony Kronman ’68 in the Wall Street Journal.

Former Williams QB takes over as offensive coordinator at Boston College” in the Berkshire Eagle, about Mike Bajakian ’95.

Williamstown Celebrates New Police Station With Ribbon Cutting, Night Out Open House” in iBerkshires.

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Introducing recent grad

Hello! I’m recent grad. Travel schedules prevented me from posting until now–thank you, David, for covering for me–but from now I’ll be posting on Thursdays. I chose my terribly creative screen name (would you have been able to guess that I just graduated?) because it was the first thing I thought of what seemed relevant when I only planned on making a comment or two. When David said he was going to publish that comment as a post of its own, I was rather pleased, not only because it’s nice to see your own words published publicly, but because mental health, the topic of that comment, is a subject that’s really important to me. I was dismayed, then, when that discussion instead turned to the only off-topic mess that comments here tended to be. I want to have actual, productive discussions about mental health at Williams, and other topics important to me; thus, my joining on in this experiment. That said, if anyone has a username suggestion that’s better than “recent grad,” that’s one off-topic subject I’ll be happy to discuss.

I’m not sure what my “niche” will be here, and suggestions are welcome. That said, one thing I can provide (moreso than other authors, perhaps, except purple and gold–you’re still a student, right?) is some insight into campus culture right now. I’ve graduated, but my Facebook feed and Instagram is still dominated by Williams students, the majority of whom are still students; of course, what I see there is biased by the circles I was in and the things that interested me, but nevertheless, it gives me a glimpse into what’s being talked about that, combined with my own experiences, might be useful. Student perspectives certainly tend to be misrepresented here.

My first real post will be coming tomorrow morning!

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Upon Request

At the request of an Eph originally identified in a post first published in 2016, I have removed that person’s photograph from the post, and also substituted a redacted version of the document attached to the post so that the name of the person is not included.

EphBlog is generally protective of poster and commenter anonymity.  For what I think are reasonably obvious reasons, EphBlog cannot always allow for anonymity of people mentioned within posts.  However, in this particular case, the original complaint was replaced by an amended complaint which anonymized one of the participants in the events leading to the filing of the complaint.  Accordingly, I thought it was appropriate to remove references to this Eph’s name in the post on EphBlog, as well as their picture.

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Weekend Links

Let’s try a new experiment. Each weekend, I will put up a post called “Weekend Links,” including links from All Things Eph, both recent and ancient. Below the break, I will also include long quotations from the links.

The main goal is to provide my co-bloggers with a buffet of topics to choose from, should they wish to do so. Readers may also find the links interesting. And I need to free up some tabs on my browser!

Comments will be turned off so that any discussion about these topics is saved until another blogger chooses to write about them during the week. I don’t want these conversations to start ahead of time.

Here goes!

Oren Cass ’05 on “The Communal Power of a Real Job” in the New York Times.

Anthony Kronman’s ’68 latest book discussed in the New York Times.

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All Things Eph…

I am one of the authors who volunteered to participate in DDF’s experiment. I was motivated by the idea of making Eph Blog a better place by subtraction. My goal is to post things that are interesting and informative. Also, I enjoy the comment threads when there is a respectful exchange of differing views. Therefore, I will also try to post things that will spark those kind of threads.

A little background on myself: Multiple members of my family also attended Williams and I have already attended my 25th reunion. I loved my time at Williams even though I did not take full advantage of everything it had to offer.

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New EphBlog Format

Got opinions on the new EphBlog format? Let us know in the comments.

1) Basic motivation is that half our readers come to us on mobile phones and the previous format — now more than a decade old — was ill-suited for such viewing. (I had to turn my phone sideways and, with my fingers, expand out the center column. I assume others had similar problems. If not, tell us!)

2) Main thing is to remove all clutter and allow scarce screen space to be filled with text from the most recent posts. This means one column.

3) We are using Twenty Nineteen, a widely used WordPress theme.

4) We hope to fix two things quickly: a) place our traditional cover photo at the top of the page and b) provide a box or menu of some kind on the upper right which would show, perhaps after a click, the most recent comments. For now, you can see all Recent Comments (and other material like Related Posts) by clicking on a post and scrolling to the bottom of it.

5) Suggestions are welcome, both general and technical.

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Modes of Discourse

This (slightly edited) overview by Alastair Roberts (via Steve Sailer) of contrasting modes of discourse gets at some of the problems we have seen at EphBlog over the last 16 years.

In observing the interaction between David Dudley Field ’24 and his critics in the recent debate, I believe that we were witnessing a collision of two radically contrasting modes of discourse. The first mode of discourse, represented by DDF’s critics, is one in which sensitivity, inclusivity, and inoffensiveness are key values, and in which persons and positions are ordinarily closely related. The second mode of discourse, displayed by DDF, is one characterized and enabled by personal detachment from the issues under discussion, involving highly disputational and oppositional forms of rhetoric, scathing satire, and ideological combativeness.

When these two forms of discourse collide they are frequently unable to understand each other and tend to bring out the worst in each other. The first form of discourse seems lacking in rationality and ideological challenge to the second; the second can appear cruel and devoid of sensitivity to the first. To those accustomed to the second mode of discourse, the cries of protest at supposedly offensive statements may appear to be little more than a dirty and underhand ploy intentionally adopted to derail the discussion by those whose ideological position can’t sustain critical challenge. However, these protests are probably less a ploy than the normal functioning of the particular mode of discourse characteristic of that community, often the only mode of discourse that those involved are proficient in.

To those accustomed to the first mode of discourse, the scathing satire and sharp criticism of the second appears to be a vicious and personal attack, driven by a hateful animus, when those who adopt such modes of discourse are typically neither personally hurt nor aiming to cause such hurt. Rather, as this second form of discourse demands personal detachment from issues under discussion, ridicule does not aim to cause hurt, but to up the ante of the debate, exposing the weakness of the response to challenge, pushing opponents to come back with more substantial arguments or betray their lack of convincing support for their position. Within the first form of discourse, if you take offense, you can close down the discourse in your favor; in the second form of discourse, if all you can do is to take offense, you have conceded the argument to your opponent, as offense is not meaningful currency within such discourse.

Read the whole thing. I, obviously, am a second mode Eph.

All Ephs are welcome here, but my basic mode won’t be changing any time soon . . .

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(Re)Introducing Whitney Wilson ’90

As mentioned earlier on the site, I have decided to try posting on a more regular basis, as opposed to simply commenting.  I am generally a glass-is-half-full kind of person, and typically believe (until proven otherwise) that people in general, and Ephs in particular, are acting/speaking in good faith.

Unlike most current authors and commenters, I have always posted at Ephblog under my own name, so I would like to give you a little background on me so that you have an idea of where I am coming from.  As is apparent from my screen name, I graduated from Williams in 1990.  I lived in Williams A as a freshman and Bryant House for the rest of my time at Williams, and was an 8-season (i.e. 4 year) member of the WRFC (the Williams Rugby Football Club).  I also played broomball and intramural hockey.  I double majored in Chemistry and Political Science.  While I had plenty of excellent professors at Williams, my favorite was Chemistry Prof. David Richardson, who is still teaching.  Many of the chemistry faculty from my time at Williams are still there, which I think speaks well of the department:  Prof. Enrique Peacock-Lopez (he taught the hardest class I took at Williams (Thermodynamics)), John Thoman, Anne Skinner, Charles Lovett, and Lawrence Kaplan.  Some of my political science professors are also still at Williams, including my freshman advisor George Marcus and Michael MacDonald.

After graduation from Williams, I went directly to New York University School of Law.  Because of my background with chemistry, as well as thoughtful advice from the parents of one of my classmates, patent law was an area of interest for me.  Somewhat to my surprise, by the time I graduated from law school in 1993, I headed to a job in the New York office of the then-St. Louis based law firm Bryan Cave in their intellectual property department, focusing primarily on patent issues, but also ended up doing trademark work as well.  I stayed at Bryan Cave for 11 years, then spent two years at the Covington & Burling law firm, and then moved to a smaller IP boutique law firm Jacobson Holman for 7 years.  After 20 years in private practice, I was interested in public service, and took a position as an Administrative Patent Judge at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  It goes without saying, I think, that anything I write on this blog is from me personally, and is not in any way connected with or attributable to the PTAB, the USPTO, or the Department of Commerce (the PTO is part of Department of Commerce).

I have two high school age kids, and spend a lot of time at ice rinks watching my younger son play hockey, and also playing myself.  I also have non-EphBlog related connections with a few anonymous EphBloggers.  I won’t identify who they are, however, as doing so might give away their real identities.

I am looking forward to more regular blogging on EphBlog, starting next week.  If readers have any thoughts or suggestions on what they would like me to write about, please feel free to leave in the comments to this post or others.

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A New EphBlog for 2019-2020

We are running a new experiment at EphBlog. Four Ephs — Whitney Wilson ’90, recentgrad, purple & gold and The Good Son — have each agreed to write one entry per week for EphBlog from July 22, 2019 through July 31, 2020. In conjunction with this experiment, JCD has kindly agreed to a one year vacation from posting and commenting. My thoughts:

1) EphBlog discussions over the last year have not been as productive as they might be. Perhaps this experiment will help!

2) Many thanks to our volunteers, some of whom have been around EphBlog for years and some of whom are brand new to our community. In fact, they cover a 34-year range of classes.

3) Three of the four prefer to maintain their anonymity. Attempts to dox them, or any member of our community, will result in banning.

4) Our preliminary plan is for each of us to be responsible for a morning post one day a week, Monday through Friday. Of course, we (especially me) can/will post on other days as well. Because of travel plans, the experiment will start slowly but should be full operational in a few weeks.

5) Suggestions to our new authors would be much appreciated! What do you want to read more of at EphBlog?

Comments related to JCD will be deleted from this thread.

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Advice for EphBlog Authors

Do you want to write for EphBlog? You would be welcome!

E-mail daviddudleyfield@gmail.com (or, of you know it, my personal e-mail) with two pieces of information: the email you want to use (must work but does not need to be the email you are writing me from) and your preferred login id (which can not have spaces nor punctuation marks).

Note that the login id is visible on the site because that is how WordPress organizes all your posts. Mine is “ddf” and you can see all my posts here. So, if you want to post anonymously, don’t choose a login which identifies you.

WordPress will send a temporary password to that e-mail address along with a link to the login location, which is here and is also available at the bottom of the right-hand column, below Recent Comments. Login, change your password and create your “Display Name.” This is what will show up under your posts. Mine is “David Dudley Field ’24.” If you don’t do this, your login id will be displayed.

You are also welcome to preserve your anonymity even with me. (In fact, you can do this even if we know each other and/or you have written for EphBlog before.) Just follow the above instructions from an anonymous e-mail account. That way, even I won’t know your name, which is fine by me.

Here is some advice about where to find topics which fall under the rubric of All Things Eph.

1) The are dozens of Record articles which we fail to cover. A link to an article, along with a quotation, and perhaps some questions or comments, is a great post. Our coverage of editorials and op-eds over the last year has been especially weak.

2) The Record archives are now hosted by the College. Just type in a word or phrase in the search box. Lots of great stuff from history to post about!

3) Follow Williams College or Williams Athletics or various Williams professors on Twitter and other social media. Lots of good material almost everyday.

4) Posts about current events are welcome, but you must take the trouble to find an Eph connection. “All Things Eph” includes, for example, every tweet or public statement by prominent Ephs like Senator Chris Murphy ’96, Erin Burnett ’98 and Mika Brzezinski ’89. Post about, say, the Presidential election race if you like, but you have to “hang” your post on a comment by an Eph.

5) Post about past EphBlog topics. We now have 16+ years of archives to mine. There is a lot of good stuff there! And note that, each year, a big chunk of our readership turns over as 500 Ephs graduate and 500 first years (and their parents) arrive. Indeed, my own posting is more and more a collection of annual essays, improved over time and modeled on Professor Whit Stoddard’s ’35 legendary September lecture to first years titled “A Sense of Where You Are.”

6) Sign up for Google Alerts or a similar service. I use “Williams College” as my alert phrase. This gives me a once-a-day e-mail with virtually every mention of Williams in the press. Very handy!

Other items:

1) You are free to manage the comments in your own posts as you see fit. Authors “own” the comment threads which follow their posts and can do whatever they like there. Options include:

a) No management! You are a busy person and it is not your job to monitor EphBlog comments. This is what I do 99% of the time.

b) No (more) comments. Either at the start of the post or after the discussion has come off the rails, you can uncheck the “Allow comments” box. This does not affect comments that have already been made. It just prevents more comments.

c) Hit the “Trash” button. This removes a comment from your post and places it in the Trash. We occasionally post all the Trash comments so that folks can see what was removed.

d) Edit in place. I often just put “Deleted. — DDF” so that people can see that there was a comment (and who wrote it) and that I have deleted it. One could also put a reason, but life is short and I am usually too busy to explain myself to trolls.

2) Instead of leaving a long comment on one of my posts, I encourage you to create a new post with that comment and a link to my post. First, people don’t read the comments that much, so you wonderful prose is more likely to be seen in a new post. Second, it often helps the quality of the discussion to re-start it elsewhere.

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When Ephs Collide

Stewart Gilson ’08 and Helen Hatch ’09 were married June 22 in Quogue, N.Y. According to a report in the New York Times, they met while they were both students at Williams College back in 2005. The fastidious NTY, however, reports that the pair only began dating in 2016, while they were both working in New York.

Helen is an Assistant Vice President and Fine Art Specialist at Sotheby’s San Francisco office. She has worked at both The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Drawings & Prints Department, and the Williams College Museum of Art. She received a master’s degree in art history from Cambridge University in England.

Stewart is an associate at Akin Gump in San Francisco. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Deborah L. Cook for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Stewart received his J.D. from the New York University School of Law. Before law school, he was a Fulbright Scholar in New Delhi, India.

 

 

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The “Teach It Forward” Campaign–Where is it now?

The “Teach It Forward” campaign was launched by Williams in 2015. Ephblog had posted about this at the start of the campaign, but there haven’t yet been any follow-ups on the campaign’s progression. It’s useful to look at its results so far.

According to the TIF website, the college has raised $685.01 million so far, making TIF the most ambitious and most successful campaign “in the history of liberal arts colleges” to date. This value surpasses the $650 million target that was set initially. Alumni participation (in terms of donations) stands at 74.1%, just under the 75% target. Overall alumni participation (in terms of both donations and volunteering) stands at 85%.

It would be interesting to see how the college has spent and plans to spend the money it has raised. Have they released information to alumni regarding how much of the $685 million they have alotted to different areas of expense?

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A Six Month Experiment

EphBlog is like a keg party at Perry.

And I am the host.

What do I want? A fun party for everyone, with intellectual conversation, a little music, a lot of dancing and the moderate consumption of adult beverages.

But parties are tricky! I want everyone to be (and feel!) welcome, to have a good time, to come back next week. Yet, conflicts will arise. Some people want the music louder. Some want it quieter. Some want no music at all. The balancing act falls to me, as it has for last 6,013 or so days.

Which bring us to my co-blogger, former Williams professor John Drew (JCD). His contributions to EphBlog, while enjoyed by me and others, have caused great consternation among many people who I very much want at my Perry kegger. What to do?

With JCD’s kind indulgence, we will be running an experiment for the rest of 2019.

1) JCD will continue as a valued author at EphBlog, posting content directly related to “All Things Eph,” just as he has done for many years. Indeed, I think his last 20 or so posts have been exactly what EphBlog needs more of.

2) JCD will turn comments off on his posts. (Any author can turn off comments at any time on their own posts. It just seems to me that the comment threads in JCD’s posts have . . . uh . . . not always been very productive.)

3) JCD will not comment on any other posts. As much as I enjoy most of JCD’s posts over the last few months, his comments have . . . uh . . . not always captured the spirit of a good Perry party.

4) Comments about JCD will be deleted. There is nothing new that anyone could possible say on this topic that has not already been said before. Good parties are never boring.

What if JCD posts something that either a) you want to talk about or b) you think is wrong/misleading? You have three options. First, you can join EphBlog as an author! Authors write about whatever they want. Second, you can make a comment in another thread. Third, you can ask me to create a new post about the topic on which all might comment, as I did here, in reaction to this comment. But don’t forget Rule 4 above!

Comments on this (and predictions about) this experiment are welcome! But don’t forget Rule 4 above!

Picture from the Williams Record of September 13, 1988.

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Uncomfortable Wearing

Bachelorette – 2019 contestant Dylan Barbour ’16 has stirred up social media due to his leverage of a salmon suit jacket. Alert viewers have noticed that four of the men competing for the lovely Hannah Brown’s heart have worn what appears to be the same pinkish jacket.

Twitter is ablaze with comments about the blazer. So far Jed Wyatt, Tyler Cameron, Dylan Barbour ’16, and Connor Saeli have been spotted wearing the now famous salmon colored jacket. Unfortunately, a female Twitter user took a cheap shot at the fellows and teased them for being members of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Salmon Jacket.”

Dylan, 24, took a B.A. in English from Williams and minored in leadership studies. He was on the football and track team. Before becoming a tech entrepreneur, Dylan was an associate at Morgan Stanley. So far, we have no evidence if Dylan is a regular reader of Ephblog.

Hannah, 24, attended the relatively easy to enter University of Alabama where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in communications. Given the gap between their educational credentials, they may not have much to talk about. Still, Hannah did go on to become Miss Alabama USA in 2018. By all accounts, she used “…this platform to help others.” So there’s that.

 

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Ephblog Comment Moderation Transparency – Updated

In the spirit of transparency, and given that “free speech” is a frequent canard of Ephblog(‘s mostly more-conservative posters), I have included, below the break, the complete collection of comments that have been deleted on Ephblog that are available to me as an author.  I suspect that there are older comments not included below (I have had comments deleted in the past, for example, but none are included in the below compendium).  I have not in any way culled these comments: what I can see is what you see below, with one small noted edit to prevent a semi-anonymous poster from being formally outed.

Some quick observations:

  • although a handful of the comments below are personal attacks, the majority of deleted comments have at least some substantive component and relevancy to the discussion;
  • the deleted comments are overwhelmingly made by politically left-leaning posters;
  • the deletions are overwhelmingly made by politically right-leaning posters (mostly David and John C. Drew, who are ironically also this site’s most vocal proponents of free speech besides PTC);
  • a few of these were double-posted comments or comments deleted by the comment’s author (JCD deleted several of his own comments in his own threads, for example).

I wanted to also excerpt one comment that I think merits more attention.  From “Recent alum” (and deleted, unsurprisingly, by John C. Drew):

David, on this post John C. Drew, a person who has had no association with Williams for almost twice my lifetime and has perviously cyberstalked Williams students in the comments section of the Williams Alternative, is comparing a current Williams student to a fictional cannibalistic serial killer. Please look in the mirror and sincerely ask whether this is at all productive or whether you’re just creating a dangerous situation.

In fact, many of the deleted comments specifically question John C. Drew’s credibility or the wisdom of giving him a platform regarding Williams.  I think it is interesting–and worthy of additional consideration–that an entire topic of discussion is currently being suppressed by active Ephblog moderation.

***For the sake of full disclosure, I reserve the right to moderate comments in this thread, although I will try to note when I have done so and explain why.***

Update: I have added two additional comments below that were mistakenly flagged as “spam” and therefore deleted.

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Inside the Purple Rubble

The College Fix is linking to an article at Inside Higher Ed which reports that the committee created by President Maud Mandel last fall to make the school “both intellectually open and inclusive” plans to “focus on persuading, not ordering, student groups to avoid controversial speakers.” According to the committee chair, Prof. Jana Sawicki:

The goal is to not restrict who can speak on campus but to prompt the students who invite those guests to consider whether they have academic value and whether individual speakers’ views would offend minority students or make them feel harmed, she said, adding that speakers brought on campus by student groups are generally the most controversial.

One idea the committee floated was involving faculty advisers to student clubs in more of the discussions about which speakers to invite to the campus, Sawicki said. If a student group wanted to host a controversial speaker, the adviser could talk with the club members about whether they’d thought through how the speaker’s views would affect their peers, she said. The advisers, who currently are not involved in club operations, would never stop the students from hosting a speaker they wanted, Sawicki said.

The committee’s recommendations strike The College Fix as unrealistic. How, for example, can the school promote freedom of speech if the goal is to not offend minority students who have shown themselves to be intolerant of the views of even their white, liberal, elected student council representatives? One student was so offended by having to ask for funding for a black preview event that she went back later and called the white student representatives “d***heads.” As The College Fix reports:

Black student activists at Williams College are no shrinking violets. They took over a recent student government meeting, unloading a string of vulgarities against elected student leaders for allegedly favoring white students with more funding than black students get.

They used anti-gay and even anti-black language, if you can believe it: “to be here [at Williams] is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day.” “We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***ing chicken and be n***ers.”

Williams College asks students not to invite speakers who ‘would offend minority students’

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The Left Eats Its Own Café

Over at The College Fix this morning, there is an article by Rory Walsh reporting on the  shocking livestream video posted on Facebook by the College Council.

Black students explode in anger at white students in vulgarity-laced rant (VIDEO)

In his article, Walsh provides us with redacted examples of the profane language used by I.B. as he called out liberal white student representatives for the way they dealt with an earlier request by S.O. for funding for a preview event for black students.

“… It’s time for you’all to figure this sh*t out and check yourself because I’m really losing it,” he said. “We are f***ing tired of having to come and beg and suck d***. And of course when we come and do it we face problems all the f***ing time.”

“… Every time to be here is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day,” he said. “Closing our mouths every f***ing day just to be here. And if we dare ask for a little bit of time, money and space we gotta suck some more d***. … It is so frustrating. It’s so tiring … to be here. To deal with you’all.”

“We keep our heads down, it don’t work,” he said. “We try to create space for us, it don’t work. We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***king chicken and be n*****s for once, it don’t work. I just don’t get it.”

Walsh cites comments I made at my Anonymous Political Scientist blogsite too. He notes I had observed the video “…is an excellent example of the sort of political abuse that tore down Evergreen State College.”

Walsh reports that The College Fix attempted to reach several members of the College Council as well as administration for a statement. They have yet to respond.

The comments on Walsh’s article are generally adverse to the student activists.

Another tasty serving at The Left Eats Its Own Café.

What the Alt Left doesn’t understand is that white people aren’t out to get black people; they are just exhausted with them. They are exhausted by the social pathologies, the violence, the endless complaints, the blind racial solidarity, the bottomless pit of grievances, the excuses, and the reflexive animosity.

Williams is about as left wing as a functioning college can be. Blacks need to move across the river to SUNY Albany.

You’re not trying to create a community. You’re trying to create a segregated, black racist bubble. The campus in its entirety is your community, and if you don’t like it, you can always transfer.

Just for the record: I’m not Black and I love fried chicken.

According to his biography, Rory Walsh studies industrial labor relations, American politics, and business at Cornell University. He has interned for former New York Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. After completing his undergraduate degree he plans to study law and business.

 

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Disintegrating, 4

A Senior Williams Professor and I will be debating the following resolution: Resolved: Williams is disintegrating. Each Monday, one of us will make an argument. One week later, the other will respond. We will debate until we grow bored with the exercise. Readers are welcome to chime in at any time. This week, I respond to Senior Professor’s second argument. (His words in blockquotes.)

President Mandel’s embrace of “diversity and inclusiveness” as her agenda for her presidency is, quite simply, sophomoric.

I am very sympathetic to the general point that Williams ought to spend much more time worrying about excellence and much less time working on diversity. But nonsense is nonsense, whatever the ideological predilections of its proponents. And this is nonsense.

What evidence is there that Mandel has made “diversity and inclusiveness” the “agenda” for her presidency? Here is her induction speech. Although she mentions items about diversity and inclusion, they do not occupy a central place in her speech, nor in any of her talks since assuming the presidency. Yes, she cares about these things, but there is no evidence that she cares about them more than, say, great teaching or superb extra-curriculars or any other item which might, plausibly, be part of the “agenda” of a Williams president. If anything, the evidence points the other way, suggesting that Maud’s main agenda, at least in 2019, is to fix the Falk/Derbyshire disaster.

And her ‘agenda’ is a tired repetition of the mantra of our past several presidents, beginning with Frank Oakley, our last intelligent dean of faculty, who in 1978 proposed a fantastic Great Books program, but who then abandoned that idea as he saw that he might become President, which indeed happened.

You think the focus on diversity began with Oakley? Hah! Diversity was just as much a focus under Chandler, even going back to Sawyer and the increase in black enrollment in the 60s.

By the way, Oakley’s new book, From the Cast-Iron Shore: In Lifelong Pursuit of Liberal Learning, is available. Worth discussing?

Beginning with the College’s bicentennial, we’ve heard constant paeans to the supposed goals of diversity and inclusiveness.

I sometimes worry that Senior Professor is revealing too much about when he came to Williams! Although diversity has been with us for 30 years, these efforts go back, at least, to the Hopkins Hall takeover of 1969. Has Williams been disintegrating for 50 years? What is taking so long?

And what the College has wrought are dreadful programs in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, African-American Studies, and Anti-American Studies, along with an assortment of other supposed ‘majors,’ all of which pander to the interests of various identity groups.

I agree that these programs are pernicious nonsense. Recall the wisdom of AF:

I think the value of identity studies should be actively questioned: I find it troubling that many students come to Williams only to major in themselves, as it were. In many of these departments there’s a emphasis on ideology and a paucity of facts — it is not unreasonable to say the only identity tradition that is critically studied is the Western one.

Exactly right. But the nonsense of identity studies is not our debate topic today.

Senior Professor finishes with:

I have little hope for the College’s future. I think that only when and if the College re-commits itself to intellectual excellence, first and foremost, shall it survive.

I will take the other side of that bet! The position of elite US colleges like Williams has never been stronger. They have a product to sell — and you can bet that “diversity” is part of what they are selling — and the demand for that product has never been better.

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I Now Delete Comments

This comment has pushed me over the edge.

The investigation gives us clues on how constipated Johnny Drew has been. My suggestions?

1) Dulcolax
2) Miralax

After 16+ years with no (meaningful) comment moderation — other than preventing doxing — I will now be using a different approach, deleting whatever comments I don’t like for whatever reasons I determine, all in an effort of better facilitate conversations among Ephs of goodwill.

Don’t like it? Go elsewhere.

Authors of individual posts have always retained the right to delete comments from their own threads. That will continue. But I will become much more aggressive in deleting garbage any place I find it.

Feel free to point out such garbage if you like, but I will not be refereeing pointless disputes or getting into endless battles about exactly what should or should not be deleted. Indeed, I am highly likely to delete silly arguments along those lines.

Thanks (?) to “Nation” for awakening me from my dogmatic slumber.

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Disintegrating, 3

A Senior Williams Professor and I will be debating the following resolution: Resolved: Williams is disintegrating. Each Monday, one of us will make an argument. One week later, the other will respond. We will debate until we grow bored with the exercise. Readers are welcome to chime in at any time. Senior Professors makes his second argument this week:

President Mandel’s embrace of “diversity and inclusiveness” as her agenda for her presidency is, quite simply, sophomoric. And her ‘agenda’ is a tired repetition of the mantra of our past several presidents, beginning with Frank Oakley, our last intelligent dean of faculty, who in 1978 proposed a fantastic Great Books program, but who then abandoned that idea as he saw that he might become President, which indeed happened. Beginning with the College’s bicentennial, we’ve heard constant paeans to the supposed goals of diversity and inclusiveness. And what the College has wrought are dreadful programs in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, African-American Studies, and Anti-American Studies, along with an assortment of other supposed ‘majors,’ all of which pander to the interests of various identity groups. I have little hope for the College’s future. I think that only when and if the College re-commits itself to intellectual excellence, first and foremost, shall it survive.

What do readers think? I will respond in two weeks.

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Disintegrating, 2

A Senior Williams Professor and I will be debating the following resolution: Resolved: Williams is disintegrating. Each Monday, one of us will make an argument. One week later, the other will respond. We will debate until we grow bored with the exercise. Readers are welcome to chime in at any time. Senior Professor went first. His words from last week are in quote blocks.

The College has abandoned its traditional standards for tenure for faculty.

Evidence? I have spoken with lots of Williams faculty and heard many complaints. I have never heard one claim that tenure standards are lower today than they were, at Williams, in the past. If anything, the consensus view is that tenure standards, especially for publications, are much higher now then they were in the 80s, much less the 50s.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, one in four of faculty members who stood for tenure received it. Note that a normal core of junior faculty hired consisted of 20 assistant professors. Half of these would wash out at the 3-year renewal mark, leaving 10 in the cohort who would apply for tenure in their sixth year. Only four of those who stood for tenure would receive it. This was the historical norm at Williams College.

I have heard similar numbers. Indeed, a (different!) senior professor suggested that this change was one of the two biggest in the last 30 years — the other being increased diversity among the students.

2. What is the current rate of tenure at Williams College? There is no longer a 3-year washout of faculty hired. Essentially anyone hired eventually stands for tenure six years after hire.

3. As best as one can tell, 98 percent of those faculty who stand for tenure receive it. In the few instances where faculty are denied, several are given tenure after appeals.

98% is a dramatic overestimate. The real number is much closer to 75%. See the detailed evidence provided by BN. Also note this comment:

Most top universities have tenure rates in the 70-90% range these days. Williams does not look to be at all unusual in that sense.

Correct. If a higher tenure rate is causing Williams to disintegrate, why don’t we see the same thing at Amherst and Harvard?

But none of that matters! It is possible to have lax standards and only tenure 10% (if the initial pool you hire from is week). It is possible — and is the case at Williams today — to have rigorous standards and tenure 75% if your initial pool is very strong.

But we are only going to make progress with specific examples. Consider Political Science in 2017-2018:

There are two associate professors: Justin Crowe and Ngonidzashe Munemo. Laura Ephraim just received tenure last year and is now an associate professor. Compare this listing to the halcyon days of higher standards in 1987-1988, thirty years ago:

Annoyingly, there were no associate professors that year. But Raymond Baker and Richard Krouse were associate professors just a few years earlier, while Tim Cook and Mike MacDonald would be tenured in the next few years. Let’s look at selected publications from Crowe, Ephraim, and Munemo:

Crowe:

Building the Judiciary: Law, Courts, and the Politics of Institutional Development (Princeton University Press, 2012).

“Westward Expansion, Preappointment Politics, and the Making of the Southern Slaveholding Supreme Court,” Studies in American Political Development 24:1 (April 2010): 90-120.

“Where Have You Gone, Sherman Minton? The Decline of the Short-Term Supreme Court Justice,” with Christopher F. Karpowitz, Perspectives on Politics 5:3 (September 2007): 425-445.

“The Forging of Judicial Autonomy: Political Entrepreneurship and the Reforms of William Howard Taft,” Journal of Politics 69:1 (February 2007): 73-87.
Political Science

Ephraim:

Archer, Crina & Ephraim, Laura & Maxwell, Lida. Second Nature: Rethinking the Natural through Politics. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.

Who Speaks for Nature?: On the Politics of Science, by Laura Ephraim, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.

Munemo

Munemo, Ngonidzashe. Domestic Politics and Drought Relief in Africa : Explaining Choices. First Forum Press, 2012.

How Will Climate Change Transform Governance and Regional Security in Southern Africa?” in Daniel Moran ed. Climate Change and National Security: A Country Level Analysis. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2011)

“Social Protection in Post-Crisis Zimbabwe: Challenges and Priorities for Reform,” in Dr. Admos Chimhowu ed. Moving Forward in Zimbabwe – Reducing Poverty and Promoting Growth. (Manchester, U.K.: Brooks World Poverty Institute, The University of Manchester 2009)

Munemo N. (2008) Political Incumbency and Drought Relief in Africa. In: Barrientos A., Hulme D. (eds) Social Protection for the Poor and Poorest. Palgrave Studies in Development. Palgrave Macmillan, London

We can quibble about these CVs. And note that I have not listed everything. But are they any less impressive than the CVs of the junior political science professors like Baker, Krouse, MacDonald and Cook at Williams 30 years ago? No!

I am happy to dive into the details for any department that Senior Professor prefers. A careful examination will show that the publication records of those tenured at Williams today are every bit as good as those tenured in the 1980s, much less then 1950s. To the extent that anything is “disintegrating” at Williams, we don’t see it in faculty research quality.

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Disintegrating, 1

A Senior Williams Professor and I will be debating the following resolution: Resolved: Williams is disintegrating. Each Monday, one of us will make an argument. One week later, the other will respond. We will debate until we grow bored with the exercise. Readers are welcome to chime in at any time. Senior Professor goes first:

1. The College has abandoned its traditional standards for tenure for faculty. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, one in four of faculty members who stood for tenure received it. Note that a normal core of junior faculty hired consisted of 20 assistant professors. Half of these would wash out at the 3-year renewal mark, leaving 10 in the cohort who would apply for tenure in their sixth year. Only four of those who stood for tenure would receive it. This was the historical norm at Williams College.

2. What is the current rate of tenure at Williams College? There is no longer a 3-year washout of faculty hired. Essentially anyone hired eventually stands for tenure six years after hire.

3. As best as one can tell, 98 percent of those faculty who stand for tenure receive it. In the few instances where faculty are denied, several are given tenure after appeals.

Senior Professor argues: this is a prescription for organizational suicide.

My response next week.

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Request to Contact PTC

From a reader:

PTC – I was hoping to ask you a few questions about Williamstown that really don’t have anything to do with the college, so I would rather not post them on EphBlog. If you’re ok with that, could you reach out to DDF so he can connect us via email? Thanks, WL

PTC: The e-mail that you use for commenting no longer works.

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The Ghost of EphBlog Future

abl writes:

I’m going to add my voice to all of the calls to please keep JCD out of this. There is room for interesting and important discussion on these points. Invoking (summoning?) JCD into the discussion is not a productive first step towards reaching any greater understanding of these issues. Nor, especially, is demanding that some of our most thoughtful contributors apologize to JCD over points that they have made in the past that are only indirectly implicated by this discussion–and definitely do not require apologies. JCD leaving this blog was one of the best things to happen to it in recent times; please do not drag him back in.

Is there no spirit of Christian forgiveness among the EphBlog community? Must we be defined by our sins forevermore?

My purpose is not to defend everything that JCD has ever done or said. I disagree with much of it. Some of his statement/actions in the past have been, as the kids say today, “problematic.”

But I believe in redemption, in forgiveness, in the possibility of rebirth for every Eph, no matter the sins of their past. Do you?

And I like to think that that faith has been justified, at least in the case of JCD. Since joining EphBlog as an author a month ago, he has authored 5 posts, each with a direct connection to Williams. Each is a perfect example of what we need more of at EphBlog. I don’t agree with every word, but that is all to the good! And, if you think JCD focuses too much on Williams mentions in the conservative media, then step up and write some posts about Williams mentions from the other side of the media aisle.

David, you need to work on tempering what seems to be an innate desire for controversy.

A majority of the (smart! hard-working!) people in Hopkins Hall would define “controversy” as any negative news story about Williams. Is that your definition? Do you not think that I should write about, say, athletic admissions, Bernard Moore, sexual assault or any of the dozen topics that Williams, as an institution, would rather were never discussed? I hope not!

I suspect, however, that you like — or at least don’t object to — my posts on those topics. That sort of “controversy” is fine for you. Indeed, this is one of, perhaps even the main, reason that you read and contribute to EphBlog. Cool!

Instead, what you mean is that my “innate desire for controversy” is fine if I write about controversies you are interested in but less fine if I write about other sorts of controversies. Or am I being unfair?

You have a good nose for Williams-related issues and, combined with your focus on and commitment to the College, you can make a real contribution to the college community. Ephblog often comes close to being a really wonderful resource for both Williams alums and those interested in the college more generally (like PTC).

“Comes close?” Compared to what? Your Platonic ideal of the perfect college blog? Does any such creature exist in this fallen world?

EphBlog is the best college blog in the world. (If you disagree, suggest one that is better.)

But you continually shoot yourself in the foot by taking things just one step too far or by making points inflammatory that really shouldn’t be.

One Eph’s “inflammatory” is another Eph’s “punchy writing.”

This is a good example of this. You’ve done a nice job finding Professor Maroja’s blog and tying it into a broader discussion that is happening at Williams–one that has national relevance. And you’ve done a good job in recognizing that there are nuances to these issues that those on all sides of this gloss over–including Professor Maroja specifically.

Thanks! Compliments from discerning readers are always appreciated.

But you really stumble with your entirely unnecessary bit re JCD.

Perhaps. Mistakes will be made. Feedback is always welcome.

Ephblog could be a forum for intelligent like-minded individuals with an important shared connection to consider many important issues.

“Could be?” Again, compared to what? There is no more intelligent forum (devoted to a single institution of higher education) in the world. (Contrary pointers welcome.) Even something as excellent as Dartblog in its heyday never allowed comments.

Ephblog is at its worst when it devolves into trolling and troll-baiting.

Again, I have been yelled at (not an exaggeration!) by a trustee (in public!) about my posts on athletic admissions. He viewed any discussion of admissions advantages for athletes as “trolling,” although, back in 2007, I am sure he would have used different terminology.

I’d like to think that we, as a community of Williams alums, are better than that–but I’m not sure we always are. As the de facto (official?) leader of Ephblog, you can and should and do play a big role in setting the tone for these discussions. You do so many things so well in this regard, it’s infuriating when you just can’t resist adding some poke or snark at the end. So often the result is to derail what otherwise might be a thoughtful discussion of an important issue.

Point taken! I will aim to do better in the future. Happy New Year!

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Professor Paul Red Pills the Left: Democrat Party Increasingly Represents the Rich

“Democrats won back the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections thanks to strong gains among the rich,” writes Williams College political science professor Darel E. Paul. “What many pundits have described as a Republican rout in the suburbs is nothing less than the party’s sharp decline among the wealthiest American households.”

Paul backs up his findings in a new article in First Things, America’s most influential journal of religion and public life.

The upshot of the 2018 midterms is that the Democratic Party now overwhelmingly represents America’s rich. At the same time, Democrats continue to represent the poorest Americans, at least those who are not white. Managing this contradiction is ever more the party’s great challenge.

You can check out professor Paul’s full analysis in the following article, The Rich Turn to the Democrats.

First Things is published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life. They describe themselves as “an interreligious, nonpartisan research and educational 501(c)(3) organization.” It was founded in 1989 by Richard John Neuhaus and his colleagues, in part, to “…confront the ideology of secularism.”

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Attention, Mr and Mrs America and all the ships at sea …

As the interests of Ephblog and its’ chief voice narrow and narrow, The tone and pace seem to increase. As an old fart, I am reminded of Walter Winchell and his frenetic delivery on both radio and television.

Hence the need for a name for the lede to shortcut attention:  a word or two that summarize the voices’ pov.

Here’s a sample of Walter Winchell … Attention, Mr and Mrs America …

 

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You Shall Know Them By Their Name

We need neutral — but descriptive! — terminology for students/faculty/staff at Williams who complain about and/or seek to change certain aspects of the College. I have, on occasion, used the abbreviation SJW (for Social Justice Warrior) for this group, but several readers complained about this usage. On Tuesday, I went with “social justice left,” which to my mind, has more-or-less the same meaning as SJW but without the sneering baggage.

What do readers think?

I am talking about Ephs who do things like attack Storytime or Dean Dave or the JA system or inviting Republicans to campus from an explicitly progressive or left-wing point of view. I don’t like using a shorter term like “progressive” or “leftist,” because doing so hides the fact that none of these are economic issues. These are matters of social and intellectual life with no connections to wages or other traditional left concerns.

If readers don’t like “social justice left,” then what would they recommend? An anodyne term like “activist” is no good because it does not even give a hint on the perspective from which these Ephs operate.

UPDATE: I am looking for neutral terminology like, for example, “neocon.” Not all neocons agree with each other and not all neocons care about the same issues. But there is a coherent neocon world view, related to the usefulness and morality of armed US intervention abroad. Having a word to describe people with these views is helpful. What word(s) should we use to describe Ephs with certain views on the problems with Storytime, Dean Dave, the JA system, Republican talks on campus and so on?

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Meet DDF and PTC!

I am available for coffee in Williamstown between 11:30 and 1:30 tomorrow, including at Weston at 1:00 for football kick-off. I am also available at 3:00. Leave a comment if you are interested in meeting up. That means you, PTC, Frank U and FemBot!

UPDATE: Now only available 11:30 to 1:30.

UPDATE II: PTC and I are holding court in the Purple Pub. Come join us!

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“Take a relaxing stroll through town,” they said. “It’s carbon neutral,” they said. Williamstown this day in 2018.

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