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Sixty Thou to Live with Cows

In 2015-2016, it will cost $63,290 to attend Williams. Comments:

1) Full e-mail from President Falk is below the break. (Thanks, as always, to our student sources.) What do readers think about Falk’s tone?

2) The class song for the great class of 1988 featured this chorus: “Sixty thou, to love with cows.” Of course, in that era, the total 4 year cost of Williams was around $60,000. For the class of 2018, it will be more than $250,000. At this rate, the class of 2048 will be paying more than $1,000,000 for their Williams education. I don’t see anything that will prevent this from happening. Do you?

Williams is a luxury good and few luxury goods are hurt by raising their prices. Indeed, among luxury good buyers, high prices are often perceived (correctly?!) as a sign if quality. I expect Williams to increase its price by more than the rate of inflation for decades to come. What would stop it from doing so?

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Kent ’88 on Talkies

Great advice from Professor Katie Kent ’88 on how to deal with “talkies,” students who tend to dominate class discussions.

I swear that Katie was using some of these tricks on me during Gargoyle meetings 22 years ago . . . ;-)

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Lisker ’88 Lecture Tonight at 7:30

Highly recommended

Sex, Money and Power: Understanding Student Social Culture

Lecture by Dr. Donna Lisker ’88, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at Duke University. Ever wonder what constitutes “normal” social life on college campus? Who fits in and who feels left out? Come hear a Williams alum talk about her research into student life at Duke University, and her thoughts on how this applies to Williams.

It would be interesting to read some of this research. Can anyone provide some links?

If you attend the lecture, please sure to say Hi to Donna from her friends at EphBlog. And, if she tells any stories about her roommate’s boyfriend from back in the day, well, let’s just say that there are two sides to every Gladden House romance . . . ;-)

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Don’t Mind Taxes

Joe Thorndike ’88 wrote a Washington Post op-ed.

Americans don’t mind taxes — they hate tax loopholes

Americans hate taxes, right?

We vote for candidates who promise to cut them and punish candidates who pledge to raise them. We tell pollsters we don’t want to pay them. And we teach our children that the nation was founded to resist them. From the Boston Tea Party to Shays’s Rebellion to California’s Proposition 13, we are a nation of tax revolters. Hand us a pitchfork, and we’ll march on Washington — just witness the “9/12 Taxpayer March” on Sunday on the Mall.

This is the history underlying today’s battle over the Bush tax cuts, the economy and President Obama’s complicated call for new business tax breaks even as the nation faces crippling budget deficits. Yet it’s a history that doesn’t quite meet the test of, well, history. Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed that “taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” and for more than 200 years, Americans have been remarkably willing to pony up. It’s not that we hate the financial inconvenience of paying taxes — we hate the injustice of an unfair tax code. We’ve long agreed to pay the price for civilization. We just can’t tolerate anyone looking for civilization on the cheap.

Consider the Boston Tea Party, the creation myth for today’s anti-tax activists. It was a protest not against taxes but against tax loopholes. The colonists who dumped tea into Boston Harbor were objecting to a special tax exemption that Parliament had granted to the East India Company, a well-connected enterprise that in the early 1770s happened to be in dire need of a government bailout.

Hmmm. I agree with the general thrust here (no one likes loopholes) but question the history lesson. Speaking of which, here is a picture I took at the “Boston Tea Party” of April 15, 2009. Read more

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Welcome to the Class of 2014!

The class of 2014 arrives today. Welcome! As a service to future historians, here (pdf) is a permanent copy of the schedule for First Days. Notice any changes from your First Days? I am pleased to see that my classmate, Professor Katie Kent ’88, is headlining tonight’s main event about “Claiming Williams.” Perhaps she will include a few words about those Ephs among us with unusual political views . . .

Below the break is my annual letter to the JAs about teaching themselves (and all first year students) “The Mountains.” Perhaps this is the year . . .
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Motion on Claiming Williams

The faculty are voting today on the future of Claiming Williams. Here is the first page of the motion.

Click for a larger version. Comments:

1) How about some transparency, as Professor Frank Morgan demands? All motions should be posted on the web before the faculty meeting for all to read. Minutes of the faculty meeting (perhaps with minor redactions of sensitive content) should be posted as soon as they are available.

2) I believe that this motion was only circulated in printed form. I thought that Williams was supposed to be environmentally conscious. Think of Mother Gaiai! I believe (corrections welcome) that faculty meeting material is specifically not distributed in electronic form to prevent leaks. Didn’t work in this case! And, the more sources I cultivate on the faculty, the less likely it is to work in the future.

3) Interested in the remaining 4 pages? E-mail President Falk and ask him why Williams is keeping secrets.

4) I am pleased to see that Professor Katie Kent ’88 is one of the leaders of this effort. I can just imagine the fun debate that Katie and I would have had 25 years ago about this topic. It is nice to see that some things don’t change!

5) Who deserves credit for the phrase “Claiming Williams?” It works well. Future historians will want to know this sort of trivia.

I will deconstruct the key passages of this memo later today. Contain your excitement.

UPDATE: Just discovered that the motion is available on the Claiming Williams webpage. Kudos to them for excellent transparency! (And, before silly readers attack me, please note that I emailed two members of the steering committee yesterday to try to get a copy. One did not respond. One kindly responded but said that she did not think a copy was available.)

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ClumberKim

Original Eph Blogger Kim Daboo ’88 has moved her Three Dogs and a Baby blog over to ClumberKim. Check it out. I especially liked her live-blogging of the Westminster Dog Show.

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In The Bag

Kim Daboo ’88 tells us what’s in her bag. What’s in yours?

By the way, links to cute kids in Williams paraphernalia are always welcome!

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Duquette ’88 on Baseball Playoffs

Jim Duquette ’88 is providing video commentary about the baseball playoffs at MLB.com. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to embed the videos here. Suggestions?

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Beach Toy Reax

Are you only thinking about this controversy from a male/female perspective? Stop being such a bigot! Beach toys have feelings too.

To the editor:

I am an inflatable beach toy. Never mind how I passed through the college’s meticulous admissions procedures; the fact is that I am a matriculating member of Williams and I consider it my duty as such to express my opinion about the cover to this year’s student directory.

On behalf of inflatable beach toys everywhere, I must voice my contempt for the inflatable beach toy who allowed himself to be depicted as the possession of four Williams students. For from appearing offended by this appalling state of affairs, the unidentified inflatable beach toy is actually smiling!

Not that I have a right to poke my snout into anyone else’s business, I just don’t think that a college such as Williams should advertise this sort of behavior. That this offensive photograph was permitted to appear is only proof that discrimination against inflatable beach toys is alive and well on the Williams campus.

Freddie the Elephant ’88
with Danny the Ducky ’87
Sammy Swan ’87
as told to John Heck ’88
Adam Lesser ’88

First they objectified the beach toys, but I was not a beach toy, so I said nothing.

How do you think the authors of the “appalling” op-ed piece felt about being mocked so mercilessly the very next week? I bet that they were not happy. Another letter:

To the editor:

A swimsuit and sweatshirt-clad woman is flanked by three swimsuit-clad men, who, by posting with surfboard, flippers, and inflatable Dumbo, unambiguously express their full “worth and qualities” as Williams men. This photograph depicting four Williams students spending their summer as doubtless many did is somehow sexist. Why? Because the woman’s back is turned toward the camera. A frontally nude woman by herself would presumably be an improvement. Next year perhaps. In the meantime, Antje Lewis and company might find Iran a more congenial environment for their notion of that a woman’s body is never acceptable unless entirely concealed from public view.

Hart Murphy ’88

What counter-arguments should Lewis et al. make to Murphy’s letter? Should I have used Murphy’s comparison to Iran in arguing against those who claimed that I should not have posted a cover photo from Tattler of the Princess of York?

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Doubly Appalling

How did the Williams community respond to the cover of the Student Telephone Directory? An op-ed piece in the Record.

Sexism flourishes

Telephone directory cover “exploitive and appalling”

The cover of this year’s student telephone directory must offend and appall anyone who considers its message. The picture which appears on the cover portrays three Williams men, apparently enjoying themselves tremendously on some sunny shore, posing for the camera with three objects in their possession: a telephone, a beach toy, and a woman. The pose of the woman, who wears a sweatshirt branded with a bold “Williams” and has her backed turned toward the camera, implies that her body and nothing else is what matters about her. We can’t even see her face to know anything about the person inhabiting the body.

That the picture exploits this woman by displaying her as an object for men is appalling enough, but that it should have found its way onto the cover of the phone directory is doubling appalling. In all likelihood, the picture was taken and chosen in good fun. That being the case cannot excuse that such “fun” is not funny, but instead perpetuates exploitive attitudes and actions toward women. It seems to imply that the college administration condones this attitude toward women, which we do not believe actually to be the case. It seem instead that soem student has misused the trust of the administration. Still, one can’t help but wonder: How could this have happened?

That it did happen shows us that, despite the admission of women to Williams, sexism flourishes here as well as it does elsewhere. At least someone at this college must still conceive of Williams as primarily a male institution in order to show such disregard for the worth and qualities of their fellow students who are women. Women are not here at Williams or anywhere else for men, but for themselves and in their own right. To have to look every day at something, our telephone directory, which so blatantly challenges that right, is unjust and unnecessary.

Antje Lewis ’87, Mike Best ’86, Wendy Brown, Lynda Bundtzen, Suzanne Burg ’87, Timothy Cook, Dave Fairris, Elaine Freedman ’87, Kathy Haas ’86, Martha Hughes ’86, Bruce Kendall ’86, Lila Abu-Lughod, Sarah McFarland, Melissa Perkins ’86, Cheryl Salem ’87, Chris Sayler ’86, Sheila Spear, Bob Volz, Mark White ’84

1) What set of facts about the students who took and selected this photo would most validate the claims made in this letter? What set of facts would most challenge those claims? What do you guess are the facts?

2) Among the non-student authors, David Fairris is now at UC Riverside; Timothy Cook passed away three years ago after moving to LSU; Wendy Brown is at Berkeley; Lila Abu-Lughod is at Columbia; Lynda Bundtzen, Bob Volz and Sarah McFarland are still at Williams.

3) Although I differ (!) in my ideological priors with these authors, I am also concerned with anything that “perpetuates exploitive attitudes and actions toward women.” I have two daughters, after all. Alas, I seem to be unable to make this point at EphBlog, at least when it comes to criticizing the behavior of male Ephs. Recall this newspaper description of the interaction between Mayo Shattuck ’76 and his wife Molly, a cheerleader (at that time) with the Baltimore Ravens.

In the Constellation Energy skybox last week, Mayo Shattuck managed to look both forlorn and delighted, switching from camcorder to digital camera to brand-new binoculars as he searched for a figure four stories down and half a football field away. He could just make out her face above a pair of churning pompoms.

“Just watch,” he said. “That smile will never come off.”

He was grinning pretty hard himself, flanked by executive buddies, some casting hopeful glances at their own wives.

My opinion is the same now as it was three years ago.

Hmmm. And what glances did those wives cast in return? The choices that Molly Shattuck makes affect more than just her own life and those of her family. Her choices affect all of us. The wives of those executives are unlikely to be cheerleader material, just as their husbands would not stand a chance at linebacker. But Molly’s choice changes the framework in which those executives think about the meaning of “wife” or, perhaps more distressingly, “second wife.”

You can be sure that some of the cheerleaders on Molly’s squad would welcome the chance to live her life, to marry a man who might provide for them in the manner in which Mayo provides for her. Those cheerleaders, many of whom did not go to college and almost all of whom went to colleges unlike those attended by Mayo’s “executive buddies,” deserve a chance at the happiness they see in Molly. Perhaps she could introduce them to some of the men in the skybox.

Placing a photo of an attractive, scantily clad woman on the cover of the student telephone directory affects, not just the students in the photo, not just the (male) students who look at that photo everyday, but the other female students in the Williams community. Mayo Shattuck, by inviting his executive buddies to the sky box to ogle his cheerleader wife affects, not just his wife and his buddies, but other women who are not a party to the event.

I wonder what Professor Lynda Bundtzen would say about Mayo Shattuck?

UPDATE:

1) Ken/Derek/Ronit and others are very critical of the authors of the op-ed piece, using terms like “simplistic and reductionist,” “ideological,” “ignorance compounded,” and “reads like a Mad Cow parody.” Why does it always fall to me to defend the left-wing members of the Williams community? ;-)

More seriously, recall our discussion about posting the glamor photo of the Princess of York. I understand why someone would say that neither photo is appropriate, that the student in charge of the phone directory should not have used that photo and that I should not have used the glamor shot. I also understand why someone (like me) would argue that both photos are fine. I can’t understand why someone would argue that this photo is fine but that posting the Tattler cover photo was somehow beyond the pale.

2) During the Princess Eugenie discussion, Ronit wrote:

It’s not a question of whether or not David had a “right” to post something, it is more about whether or not the actual content being posted is the sort of thing that we, as a community, would like to see on EphBlog. What I’m proposing is that a voting tool would allow for some measure of editorial “democracy”, such that our readers would feel like their preferences are an important part of what shapes this site.

Exactly right. This post currently has a -45 rating, which is close to a record. Would the folks who voted No have voted Yes if I had not brought up Mayo Shattuck? Are there really no/few readers who like these sorts of posts? If no one likes them, I will devote my energies elsewhere, and no hard feelings either way. Just curious.

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Vintage Photos

Thanks to Sports Information Director Dick Quinn for pointing out this gallery of photos from the vintage game on Sunday.

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Walking and laughing is classmate Sean Logan ’88, who later on hit the winning two-run homer.

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Scott Garfield ’88 (with gold W) and Lew Collins ’88 (directly behind the catcher) watch as Williams bats, with Brooks Foehl ’88 in the stands between Scott and Lew.

And please don’t make any snide comments about Sean, at least if you have a child who will be applying to Williams anytime soon. Sean is associate director of admissions. Between him and Brooks (new Secretary of the Alumni Society) and faculty member Katie Kent ’88 and Tom Smith ’88, is it fair to say that the class of 1988 is the most powerful Williams class? Probably not. We need some trustees. My application is still “pending,” for some reason . . .

Congratulations to all in what seems to have been a fun and well-planned event.

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Two Events

There are two interesting events on campus today. First:

2020 International Initiatives: Where should Williams be going?
2:45 p.m., Weston 10

International Studies Colloquium open forum on the 2020 International Initiatives. Come join the discussion!

See here for previous discussion about 2020. I think that there are a variety of issues that fall under the 2020 project and that this forum is just about the international ones. Or does the “2020 International Initiatives” phrasing mean that all 2020 issues are international? Updates on this important topic are welcome. And, as always, more transparency, please. Why can’t the rest of us see some of the background briefing material that the College gives to the Trustees?

Second event:

Hooking Up and Effortless Perfection: Understanding College Social Culture
7:30 p.m., Brooks-Rogers Auditorium
Most people think of college as a special and carefree time, four years to learn and have fun before the pressures of the “real world” intrude. Research done at Duke University on undergraduate social culture suggests otherwise. Students described their drive for “effortless perfection” in academic and social endeavors, and a hook-up culture that met the needs of some, but left most dissatisfied. Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Dr. Donna Lisker (Williams ’88) will describe her research in a compelling and entertaining talk highly relevant to Williams undergraduates.

Interesting stuff. “Effortless perfection” reminds me of effortlessly Eph as well as Brandi Brown’s ’07 work on Ephailure. But aren’t claims about a “hook-up culture” that leaves most students “dissatisfied” more associated with Wendy Shalit ’97? Just asking!

And if my friend Donna tells any amusing stories about her senior year roommate’s idiot boyfriend, let me just say that there is no such thing as bad press!

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1988 Yearbook: Page 230

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1988 Yearbook: Page 229

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1988 Yearbook: Page 228

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1988 Yearbook: Page 227

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1988 Yearbook: Page 226

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1988 Yearbook: Page 225

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1988 Yearbook: Page 224

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1988 Yearbook: Page 223

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1988 Yearbook: Page 222

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1988 Yearbook: Page 221

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1988 Yearbook: Page 220

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1988 Yearbook: Page 219

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1988 Yearbook: Page 218

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Eph Interviews Podcast Class of 1988 Tom Smith

In this final episode in the class of 1988 reunion series and penultimate episode in this project, I speak with Tom Smith, who is currently Associate Professor of Chemistry at Williams. Learn about stair diving in Hubbell House, why non-Ephs don’t understand why we will start up a conversation with anyone wearing Williams gear, regardless of age or location, and the heartwarming story of a young man from Vermont who went to Williams even though his early memories of the place would drive most right thinking football fans away forever.

The last episode of the project is set to be recorded next week, as I have run into a scheduling issue with the guest, so don’t be saddened if there is no show immediately following this one.

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1988 Yearbook: Page 217

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1988 Yearbook: Page 216

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Eph Interviews Podcast Class of 1988 Lisa Mandl

In this penultimate episode of the Class of 1988 series, I speak with my other JA, Lisa Mandl. Find out about the cultural and meteorological differences between Williamstown and Vancouver, BC, how she met her husband (though we are getting only her side of the story) and Lisa clears up one of the little mysteries of my Freshman year. Also, both she and Jody Abzug mentioned the infamous Brews and Screws party at Tyler (which had to change it’s name due to administration policy) Does this party still occur?

And yes, Lisa, your ability to ask penetrating questions is still functioning admirably, as I and my wife have been chewing over your observation (not included in the podcast) that my JA’s were from Kansas City and Vancouver, and I married a woman from Kansas City and honeymooned in Vancouver. Thanks loads. ;)

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