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EOP V

The Equality of Opportunity Project gathers amazing data on the incomes of college graduates and their families. The New York Times provides an overview and this summary (pdf) of Williams data. Day 5 of 5 on this topic.

I love this graphic:

scatter

At the same time, I don’t quite know what to do with it. Comments:

1) I encourage readers to poke around with the original. The big earners are mostly graduates of pharmacy schools. Is being a pharmacist really that lucrative? Is the median income of someone who graduates from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy really over $120,000 at age 32?

2) I have not figured out exactly how they handle complexities in the data. For example, how do they separate out the incomes from married couples filing jointly? How do they calculate the income for someone who is a stay-at-home mom or dad?

3) Another key attribute to control for is occupation. We don’t care much if Duke graduates earn more than Williams graduates if the cause is that more Ephs become teachers. But if Eph teachers and Eph investment bankers both earn less money than Duke teachers/bankers, we should figure out why.

Comments from our readers?

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EOP IV

The Equality of Opportunity Project gathers amazing data on the incomes of college graduates and their families. The New York Times provides an overview and this summary (pdf) of Williams data. Day 4 of 5 on this topic.

married

1) Are you surprised by the variation in marriage rates among NESCAC schools? I am! Why would 61% of Colby students be married but only 48% at Trinity? Should we be pleased or upset that the number at Williams is, at 57%, below average?

2) There is a great senior thesis to be written about changing patterns of marriage among Williams graduates. In the US population, marriages rates over the last 50 years have dropped dramatically. I think that this is true among the graduates of elite colleges, but can’t find the relevant data. Certainly, the percentage of heterosexual male Ephs who were unmarried at age 40 was very low, at least through graduating classes in the 80s. Single digits? My sense (contrary opinions welcome!) is that the marriage rate among female Eph graduates is lower, probably because of hypergamy.

3) Could a determined Williams president affect the marriage rate? I bet he could! Should he? I think so. Few things correlated better with life outcomes than marriage. (Of course, there are huge correlation/causation problems.)

4) Consider this recent comment, from “girls @ williams” on the annual fall in love post.

Contrary to what seems to be the general belief here, women at Williams do not actually exist as a selection pool from which to pick your future wife / future child-bearer. Of course, I’m sure that the group of men who spend their time obsessively posting distorted facts about the College at which they spent their peak years and now continue to pathetically long for are among the most attractive personages to have ever graduated the hallowed halls of Williams *sarcasm*.

That seems uncharitable! I was urging Williams male undergraduates to ask out female undergraduates. Does our commentator want more of that or less of it?

Perhaps more importantly, it seems that this Eph has not been given “the talk” by her family. EphBlog is here to help! Nothing, other than religious belief, is more associated with female happiness in the US than marriage. You will never be prettier than you are now. You will never have such a high quality pool of potential husbands to pick from. Choose one now. And invite EphBlog to the wedding!

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EOP III

The Equality of Opportunity Project gathers amazing data on the incomes of college graduates and their families. The New York Times provides an overview and this summary (pdf) of Williams data. Day 3 of 5 on this topic.

The central point about socio-economic diversity that I have been making for more than a decade is that there is no evidence that Williams is more economically diverse now than it was 30 years ago, and probably even 50 or 100 years ago. It is embarrassing how often the Williams administration (names like Payne, Schapiro, Hill, Falk and Dudley come to mind) claim that we are more economically diverse and how quickly naive reporters like David Leonhardt of The New York Times are to believe them. Recall the question that I have suggested for years:

In 1998, the 426th poorest family at Williams had a family income of $63,791. What is the family income of the 426th poorest family at Williams today? How has that number changed over the last two decades?

If the Record were a competent paper, or David Leonhardt were a competent reporter, than this is the question that would be asked. It/he isn’t, and so we have been left with just my rants. But now we have data!

bottm60

Summary: Williams did not become (meaningfully) more economically diverse between the classes of 2005 and 2013. Eyeballing the chart, it looks like about 19% of the students in the class of 2006 were from families in the bottom 60% of the income distribution. For the class of 2013, it was 20%. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Recall my analysis from 2008:

We can see that there is no evidence that the socio-economic diversity of Williams has increased in the last decade and some circumstantial evidence that it has stayed the same.

The EOP proves that I was right. There was no good evidence that economic diversity had meaningfully increased at Williams between 1998 and 2008. The EOP data, which goes through the class of 2013, shows the same thing.

More importantly, we know that the same trend has continued up through the class of 2021, as we discussed on Monday. In fact, this sure seems similar to the data we know for the class of 1998.

Quibbles:

1) The above chart is drawn from this collection, which shows the trends for various cuts of the income distribution. There is no perfect single measure of income inequality. Other charts, like that for the percentage of students from the top 20%, might put Williams in a better light. But even these charts, to the extent that they show changes in the direction of more economic diversity, show incredibly small changes, perhaps even within the appropriate confidence intervals.

2) We are being fast and loose with many of the relevant details. The numbers we studied in 2008 were based on all the students at Williams over the years between 1998 and 2008. In other words, each number was provided for all 2,000 students on campus in a given academic year. The EOP data is, I think, based on birth year, which provides, at best, an imperfect mapping to graduation class.

3) We should try to get our hands on the underlying data for Williams and some other peer schools. Any volunteers? Any readers with connections to Chetty et al?

4) Any predictions as to whether or not US News will use this data in its next set of rankings? Should it?

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EOP II

The Equality of Opportunity Project gathers amazing data on the incomes of college graduates and their families. The New York Times provides an overview and this summary (pdf) of Williams data. Day 2 of 5 on this topic.

income2

Click on the image, or check out The Times directly, for more detail. But the basic message is simple: Williams is a rich families school in absolute terms, but less so than its NESCAC peers. Comments:

1) Again, this has little (nothing?) to do with the moral rectitude or policy preferences of the presidents and trustees of these schools. You really think that Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity cares less about economic diversity than Adam Falk? Hah! Trinity is a (much?) poorer school than Williams so it can’t afford as much financial aid.

2) These differences are large and meaningful, even among schools with not-dissimilar endowments and student populations. For example, I would not have predicted that the median Middlebury family was 1/3 richer ($244k versus $186k). I also can’t decide if Wesleyan, one of the poorest schools in NESCAC, has such a lower median income and small percentage from the top 1% because of a serious (and expensive!) commitment to socio-economic diversity or because its reputation as a social justice warrior school makes it less appealing to the wealthy. Comments welcome!

3) One of the main mechanisms, I think, by which schools manage the distribution of median income is via the wait list. The rich schools, like Williams, claim that family income plays no part in who gets off the wait list. (I believe that claim, but sleaziness in the use of the term “low-income” makes me more suspicious than I want to be.) Less rich schools take family income into account, which I bet means that the vast majority of students who get off the wait list require no financial aid.

4) The other mechanism for controlling the income distribution is to squeeze out the upper middle class, especially folks making somewhere between $75,000 and $180,000. These folks aren’t “poor,” and so, according to NESCAC presidents/trustees, don’t really add to socio-economic diversity, but they can be very expensive. Indeed, creating a barbell distribution — lots of super-rich and very poor — is the natural strategy for any school which wants to have the resources needed for a first class education (for which you need families that require no aid) with a commitment to social justice (for which you need poor, and not just “low income,” families). However, I could be wrong about this. Perhaps the entire distributions are shifted?

Williams is, even among elite schools, somewhat extreme in pursuing this barbell approach. We have among the highest percentage of students from both the top 0.1% (2.8%) and from the bottom 20% (5.3%). And, as long as these students have very strong credentials — Academic Rating 1 or, maybe, 2 — I think that this is great thing.

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EOP I

The Equality of Opportunity Project gathers amazing data on the incomes of college graduates and their families. The New York Times provides an overview and this summary (pdf) of Williams data. Day 1 of 5 on this topic.

The entire discussion around socio-economic diversity at elite colleges is about to change, all because of this new data set, produced by Stanford Professor Raj Chetty and colleagues. But, if you have been reading EphBlog for the last 10+ years, little of this will be news to you. From The New York Times:

Students at elite colleges are even richer than experts realized, according to a new study based on millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records.

At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown – more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent.

The Times should consult better experts. We have always pointed out that Williams, like all elite schools, is a bastion of privilege, that the student body is, and always has been, dominated by the very wealthy. Recall this discussion from two years ago. I get into trouble when I argue that this is largely inevitable — very smart people are both likely to be rich and blessed with smart children, because of both nature and nuture — and not necessarily a problem. See this ten (!) part series from three years ago for background.

The key data can be summarized in one table:

ratio

If you find this surprising, then you haven’t been paying attention. Or you have naively believed some of the drivel from Williams! Recall the news release about early decision for the class of 2021 from December:

[N]early 20 percent of Early Decision admits come from low-income families.

Before reading further, ask yourself, “What is a reasonable definition of the term ‘low-income’ when used in a press release?”

If you are an idiot — or merely one of the “experts” that The Times likes to interview — you probably take this at face value. Why would it be surprising that 20% of Williams students are from low income families? (Yes, I realize that this is just the early decision pool and that the Chetty data does not cover the class of 2021, but those factors don’t matter.) The answer, of course, is that Williams is being about as truthful as Trump’s press secretary when he estimates inauguration attendance. Mary Detloff kindly provided this clarification: at Williams, a “low-income” family is one with less than $85,000 in annual income.

I bet that not a single one of our readers picked a number that high as a fair definition of “low-income.” A much more reasonable definition of low income would be the bottom 20% of the distribution.

access

By that measure — which is probably what the vast majority of (naively trusting!) applicants and alumni had in mind when they read the College’s news release — only 5.3% of Williams students are low income, not “nearly 20%.”

I have always known (and shown!) that Williams is a place of privilege, a bastion of the economic elite. And that is OK! The elite have to send their children to college somewhere. My great annoyance has always been the College’s tendency to obfuscate this central reality, to pretend otherwise, to twist the meaning of phrases like “low income” in order to mislead. The EOP data makes those sorts of lies much less tenable. Hooray!

Any commentary on the specific values in that table? Richer colleges like Williams/Amherst/Swarthmore/Pomona have higher percentages from below the 60th percentile, not because the people who run those colleges are any more committed to socio-economic diversity than the people who run other schools, but because their endowments are so large that they can afford the extra-spending on financial aid. You really think that Will Dudley ’89 (new president of Washington and Lee) loves non-rich people less than Adam Falk? Hah! But some of the differences might have interesting explanations. Why would, for example, Swarthmore have less than half as many students from the 1% as Williams?

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Diversity and Equity Forum VI

Record reporter Daniel Jin’s ’20 excellent article on the first diversity and equity forum of the year merits discussion. Today is Day 6.

Buell said that the faculty will vote on EDI this year and that the Committee on Educational Affairs, led by Professor David Edwards, is already reassessing EDI. “We will be hoping to make some pretty major changes,” Professor Gail Newman said.

The vision is for EDI to adopt a greater focus on social justice.

The Committee on Educational Affairs is the (somewhat neutered?) successor to the old Committee on Education Policy. Comments:

1) Background: My sense of the politics behind this change is that the Administration found the CEP to be (excessively) independent and hard to control, both because the CEP had student members and because Administration allies were too small a percentage of the votes. So, they split the CEP’s responsibilities between the CEA and the Curricular Planning Committee, which has no student members and is where the real power lies. Informed commentary on this speculation is welcome.

2) It would nice to have some more transparency about this proposed change. Has the College studied how well the current EDI is (or is not) working? Has it surveyed students and/or faculty? Has it compared the results of EDI in practice with the promises made by its proponents? Background reading here, here and here.

3) The evolution of Political Correctness course requirements at Williams would make for an interesting senior essay. First, we had the “Peoples and Cultures” requirement.

The peoples and cultures requirement is designed to ensure that all students graduate with at least some basic understanding of the cultural pluralism of American society and of the world at large.

Now, we have “Exploring Diversity Initiative.” Is that really going to change into a “social justice” requirement of some sort? Or does this seem like another one of EphBlog’s stupid parodies of political correctness run amok? Can you even tell the difference? Without checking, can you be sure that I just didn’t make up that quote in the Record?

4. The best solution is to remove all requirements, other than 4 courses per semester and a major. There is no need to micro-manage student course selection beyond that. Suggestion: Remove the EDI, quantitative and writing requirements for one Williams class, say the class of 2021. This is an easy experiment! Then, examine the choices that those students make. I bet that their choices will be almost indistinguishable from the choices made by current students. And, to the extent there are differences, I bet that those differences would be sensible and would reflect well on those students.

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Diversity and Equity Forum V

Record reporter Daniel Jin’s ’20 excellent article on the first diversity and equity forum of the year merits discussion. Today is Day 5.

Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell then shared some statistics regarding the College’s efforts to diversify the faculty. Of last year’s 13 newly hired tenure-track faculty members, nine identify as persons of color, and 10 are women.

Are you a white male interested in a faculty position at an elite college? Your chances are much worse than you think. Williams would much rather higher a woman or a person of color or, ideally, someone who is both.

The Record’s reporting does not really line up with College’s announcements (here and here). Professor Buell kindly provided me with this clarification.

There are actually 15 tenure-track faculty beginning this year (some were hired prior to last year’s hiring season and some folks hired last year have deferred their start dates). Of those 15, 9 identify as people of color and 11 as women. For purposes of institutional reporting, we are now keeping track of the stats for each entering cohort, so this is probably the best information to report out.

During the 15-16 hiring season itself, the college hired 16 faculty members into tenure-track positions. 12/16 identify as faculty members of color and 12/16 identify as women. But what [you] may be citing refers to the results of hiring from national searches. During the 2015-16 academic year, Williams College hired 13 tenure-track faculty into 11 academic departments and programs from national searches. 9/13 identify as persons of color; 10/13 are women. 3 additional tenure-track faculty members were hired through opportunity appointment requests.

Below the break are links for all the new faculty. Comments:

1) The Record could do a fun article comparing the qualifications of the white male hires versus the POC female hires. Even more fun would be interviewing Administration officials about what the comparison should show! The trap is that Williams wants us to believe two contradictory things: first, that the qualifications are the same and, second, that the College gives preferences to POC/female hires. Both can’t be true!

2) No time today for detailed racial bean counting, but it is unclear how Buell gets to 9 POC starting this year. Some googling suggests that this number might include: Chen, Constantine, Ford, Harris, Saint-Just and Tokeshi.

fac

But what about Eqeiq, Nassif, Singh and Yacoob?

fac2

This is 10 (plausible?) POC, without even trying to figure out if any of the other new faculty and have a grandfather from Spain.

3) As always, the fun is in the details. Should someone with Indian (from India) ancestry be classified as Caucasion or Asian, either according to the US Census (yes) or to Williams College (as long as they check the box)?

4) The most important potential change to these numbers concerns the proposal to include a MENA designation on the next census. This would allow people from the Middle East and North Africa to select a category other than “white.” If this passes, then there would, in an instant, be a much higher percentage of POC faculty at Williams. Or does Williams already count faculty from MENA countries as POC?

5) Since MENA includes Israel, it would not be unreasonable for an American Jew of European descent to check the MENA box since his ancestry derives, ultimately, from the Middle East. The Williams faculty could, in this scenario, be majority POC by 2020!

Read more

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Diversity and Equity Forum IV

Record reporter Daniel Jin’s ’20 excellent article on the first diversity and equity forum of the year merits discussion. Today is Day 4.

John Herrera ’17 urged the administration to revise the Exploring Diversity Initiative (EDI) requirement.

EphBlog agrees! The EDI is PC nonsense that ought to be abolished. As a reminder:

Williams College is committed to creating and maintaining a curriculum, faculty, and student body that reflects and explores a diverse, globalized world and the multi-cultural character of the United States. Courses designated “(D)” in the College Bulletin are a part of the College’s Exploring Diversity Initiative (EDI); they represent our dedication to study groups, cultures, and societies as they interact with, and challenge, each other. Through such courses, students and faculty also consider the multiple approaches that engage these issues. Rather than simply focus on the study of specific peoples, cultures, or regions of the world, in the past or present, however, courses fulfilling the requirement actively promote a self-conscious and critical engagement with diversity. They urge students to consider the operations of difference in the world and provide them with the tools to do so. The ultimate aim of the requirement is to lay the groundwork for a life-long engagement with the diverse cultures, societies, and histories of the United States and the rest of the world.

Should we spend a week on EDI? In the meantime, back to the Record:

He [Herrera] said that EDI classes could be more successful if professors designed courses specifically to focus on diversity.

That is a strange comment. Does Herrera think he knows more about course design than the average Williams professor? I have my doubts! Consider some current classes with the “D” designation like AFR 343: Racial-Sexual Violence with Joy James or AFR 129: 20th Century Black Poets with David Smith. Does Herrera think that these courses are poorly designed, the readings too narrow, or the assignments ill-conceived? Perhaps. If so, he should give us some details!

Herrera suggested that the College increase the requirement from one credit to two and spread EDI classes more evenly across divisions.

Ahhh. Herrera is a Social Justice Warrior, Eph Division. He has no complaints against courses like AFR 343. He wants more such courses and he wants to force more students to take them. What a proper little Leninist!

Think that is too harsh? Perhaps. But what is the appropriate terminology for a student who wants to force other students to take courses they don’t want to take? As Morty Schapiro described it, Williams students have 32 Golden Tickets, just 32 chances — and only 24 if the spend junior year abroad — to study fascinating topics with amazing professors. Every time you force them to take a class that they would not otherwise take — whether because of requirements for EDI, divisional distribution, writing or quantitative reasoning — you steal from them.

One might argue that, for the faculty, this is an obligation. Part of their job is to make students do things — like take 4 courses a semester and major in something — that not all students would willingly do. But for a student like Herrera to argue that his peers are too stupid (or racist?) to willingly select the courses that (he thinks!) they ought to is to display the sort of arrogance that can give (some!) Williams students a bad reputation.

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Diversity and Equity Forum III

Record reporter Daniel Jin’s ’20 excellent article on the first diversity and equity forum of the year merits discussion. Today is Day 3.

Matthew Hennessy ’17 then provided an update on the Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History (CSIH). CSIH spent the spring semester of 2016 investigating the history of the Log mural and surveying students about the mural, he said. The committee concluded that the College should keep the mural but add written contextualization.

President Adam Falk praised CSIH for its work and stressed the importance of student engagement with complicated issues. Hennessy said this semester CSIH will continue to look into objects, spaces and names on campus that no longer align with the College’s current institutional beliefs.

1) The CSIH is one of the great wins at Williams in the last year. See our previous coverage here and here. I am still hopeful that readers will want us to spend a week on this topic . . . No takers so far!

2) Can’t we start calling this the “Merrill Committee?” That would be much catchier than CSIH.

3) The CSIH ought to tell us exactly which “objects, spaces and names on campus” they are looking at. Perhaps they are planning another open forum? We have tried (and failed!) to come up with issues that might enrage the student SJW crowd. Perhaps the Haystack Monument?

In the spring of 1806, Samuel J. Mills matriculated at Williams. The son of a Connecticut clergyman, Mills was eager to spread Christianity throughout the world.

One Saturday afternoon in August 1806, Mills and four other students gathered for one of their regularly scheduled prayer meetings. On this particular day, it is said that the skies opened up and the students sought refuge in the shelter of a large haystack. While gathered at the haystack, the students conceived of the idea to found an American missionary movement focused on spreading Christianity worldwide, particularly to the East.

Whoa! I just realized, after writing about Williams for 13 years, that “Mission Park” refers to the religious missions that these white male cisgendered Christians launched 200 years ago. Could be problematic!

Mills House is named after Samuel J. Mills who, after leaving Williams,

engaged in missions in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, in the Southwest United States, and in New Orleans. He influenced the founding of the American Bible Society and the United Foreign Missionary Society before he died in 1818 while returning from a short-term mission trip to Africa with the American Colonization Society.

I suspect that the activities of the American Colonization Society might not meet with the approval of the current Williams faculty . . .

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Diversity and Equity Forum II

Record reporter Daniel Jin’s ’20 excellent article on the first diversity and equity forum of the year merits discussion. Today is Day 2.

Wilkinson also asked that counseling services be more available. Students with mental illness often do not know how to access help, she said.

Wilkinson, who is on the Mental Health Committee, added that the College’s geographic isolation makes on-campus psychiatric services the only option for students. The availability of those services, as a result, is essential.

Vice President of Campus Life Steve Klass said that the College has greatly improved its mental health services in recent years and is looking to hire a new director of counseling services in the near future. The College has doubled the number of counselors on staff in the last six years.

“We’re paying attention, and we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

The Record provided more coverage of his topic yesterday.

This week, Erin Hanson ’18 launched a petition on change.org titled “Williams College: sell 4–5 marble slabs to pay for a new therapist at the Health Center.” In the petition, which is directed at the College administration, Hanson references the multi-million dollar renovation and quad project.

Hanson also quotes the Williams Committee of Transparency and Accountability, a new committee on campus: “There are only eight therapists and one psychiatrist who serve a community of 2200. At least one in five college students … have some kind of mental illness. Even if all eight worked full time, there would not be enough time for all students with need to be served. Furthermore, three of eight are fellows, who [are not licensed, paid less, and on short term contracts]. Of the three people of color on staff, two are fellows. There are few LGBT staff, and no transgender staff.”

1) I am always in favor of moving a dollar from other stuff to student spending. For example, the College ought to close the Children’s Center and spend that money on students.

2) This is clearly a topic that many students feel strongly about. The Record should report more about it. Are there really 9 full time employees working as therapists? How many students are treated? How many total hours of treatment are provided? How does all of this compare to peer schools? Without knowing more facts, it is hard to make an informed judgment.

3) The total number of non-faculty employees at Williams should stay constant. Williams has enough employees. Anyone making the case for more employees in category X should be challenged about which category Y of employees should be cut. The marginal dollar of spending should be devoted to matching the financial aid packages provided to students at Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford, at least for admitted students who are accepted by those schools.

4) Does therapy for Williams students work? I have my doubts! I am ready to believe that hundreds (?) of Williams students today will make use of therapy if it is free and convenient, just as they will make use of free massages and other luxuries. Ten or 20 years ago, only scores (?) of students made use of the (less free? less convenient?) therapy that was available. But what is the causal effect of that therapy?

5) Never forget The Tablecloth Colors! Ainsley O’Connell ’06 warned us a decade ago:

I am frustrated by many of the ways in which the campus has changed, most particularly the sudden prominence of the well-intentioned but detrimental Office of Campus Life [OCL], which is locked in a stagnating cycle of its own design. By in effect naming itself “the decider” when it comes to student life, the campus life office has alienated the College’s best leaders. As a result of this rift, the office has become inwardly-focused, self-promotional and deeply resistant to constructive criticism. Student life is student-driven no longer.

The more therapists the college hires, the less room there is for students who fulfill similar roles. Should Williams replace RASAN, for example, with paid employees? I hope not! But, the more counselors we hire, the more likely that outcome. Back in the day, a melancholy first year would talk to her JA. Do we really prefer a Williams at which this JA is told (required?) to send her student to a paid therapist?

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Diversity and Equity Forum I

Record reporter Daniel Jin’s ’20 excellent article on the first diversity and equity forum of the year merits discussion. Today is Day 1.

On Thursday, students and administrators discussed major campus issues at the first diversity and equity forum of the year.

The forum was held in Griffin 3 and was hosted by Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Leticia Haynes. Haynes began hosting the forums last year and plans to continue them this year.

The article is well-done but not perfect. First, tell us how many people were there! The picture that goes along with the story shows 15, but perhaps it was taken early or late in the proceedings.

100516_DiversityForum_GraceFlaherty_C_GF

Of course, even a forum with 10 (?) students may be worth running, but Record readers (especially trustees!) need to know if this is a topic that truly engages the student body. As best I can tell, it doesn’t. Students don’t really care about diversity/equity, or at least they don’t care enough to show up at a forum.

Students raised concerns about the high standards and expectations brought on by the student culture. They said that many students feel the need to aim for perfection in all facets, a pursuit that can cause unnecessary and unhealthy stress.

“It’s an absurd ideal, and it’s not achievable,” Natalie Wilkinson ’19 said.

Recall Brandi Brown’s ’07 work on Eph-ailure almost a decade ago. (EphBlog has been around so long that a student who participated in that discussion is now a Williams professor!) My thoughts have not changed much.

First, it is unsurprising that Williams students are stressed, competitive and fear failure. That’s what Williams selects for. If you are comfortable getting a C on a paper in high school, then you don’t get into Williams. You may be a happier, more well-adjusted person, but you won’t be hanging out with Natalie Wilkinson in Paresky.

Second, I don’t mind a little stress and competition. I want students to be worried when taking a math test from Steve Miller. I want them to think twice before handing in something sloppy to Joe Cruz. Moreover, stress and competition require failure (or at least low grades). There is much less value in getting an A from Bill Wagner for a well-done paper if even sloppy work gets the same grade.

Third, I worry much more about problems where one can make a plausible claim that Williams is worse off than other schools. Is there any reason to think that this is more of a problem here than elsewhere? I doubt it.

Fourth, stress and failure are a part of life. Want stress? Try losing your job and still having a big mortgage to pay. It would be a bad thing if the first stress/competition/failure that Williams students encountered happened after they graduated.

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April 2012 Faculty Meeting Diversity Presentation

In our on-going efforts to make Williams more transparent, here (pdf) is a 2012 presentation on faculty diversity. A representative chart:

fac_diversity

Comments:

1) Graphs in Excel give me a headache! Please use R, like all the cool kids in the Williams statistics major.

2) I think that “US Minority” includes Asian Americans who are, of course, significantly over-represented among Ph.D. recipients and, I think, on the Williams faculty.

3) What is the latest count of Hispanic professors at Williams? Recall our detective work 11 (!) years ago on the magnificent 14. At that time, we though that these were the only Hispanic faculty at Williams:

Gene Bell-Villada (Romance Languages)
Maria Elena Cepeda (Latino Studies)
Ondine Chavoya (Studio Art)
Joe Cruz (Philosophy and Cognitive Science)
Antonia Foias (Anthropology)
Soledad Fox (Romance Languages)
Berta Jottar (Theater)
Manuel Morales (Biology)
Enrique Peacocke-Lopez (Chemistry)
Ileana Perez Vasquez (Music)
Merida Rua (American Studies and Latino Studies)
Cesar Silva (Math)
Armando Vargas (Comparative Literature)
Carmen Whalen (Latino Studies)

Some of those folks have left. Others have joined. What is the current count?

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Asian American Studies at Williams

We talked a little bit about cultural studies at Williams earlier in the week. Today, keeping with that theme, we turn our attentions to this record article:

The administration’s response to students’ demands for more Asian American studies courses and professors specializing in Asian American studies has proven lackluster. At the panel, it was stated that the administration has suggested that student demand for Asian American studies is insufficient. The administration thinks that it would be more fruitful to dedicate the College’s resources to an area in which courses have traditionally been more popular and overenrolled, such as economics.

Shameful! We ought not to be just offering what’s already popular. My thoughts:

1) While I equivocate on the value of cultural studies generally, I don’t find any reasons not to hire an Asian-Americanist to the faculty convincing.  All reasons to have Africana or Latino studies stand as fine reasons to offer more courses in Asian American studies.

2) Although I struggle to find good principles here. What is our metric for what subfields of ethnic/cultural studies deserve our attention? Is our standard rough proportionality of offered courses to population? Native Americans comprise about a percentage point of the U.S population, and a total of four students at Williams.  Should we be offering a major/concentration in Native American studies? I ask that honestly, and w/o facetiousness.

Moreover, the College’s American studies major is incomplete without Asian American studies courses. An examination of Asian American issues is essential to understanding America as a whole. Also, the College is not in a position to say that there is insufficient demand for Asian American studies courses if students do not even have the option of taking an Asian American course every semester.

3) Essential? Okay, does that hold for the study of every ethnic group of size in the US? Or is there something about Asian-Americans that’s supposed to be supranormally edifying? I’m on board w/ expanding Asian American studies, but, I don’t know that I’m not also for expanding the race critical studies of other ethnicities, too!

For example, we don’t have any dedicated, tenured professors in Arabic. Maybe we should have one. And what about people of/from the Indian Subcontinent? Asian-American studies could, technically, include them too but it seems “Asian” is usually construed to mean “East Asian” at Williams.

Someone, either in the administration or among the growing swell of student activists, needs to sit down and have a long think about what our approach to cultural studies is generally — what courses to offer, what faculty to hire, what departments to found. Every student lobby to hire more professors of X discipline is going to fail if we can’t find a way to frame this holistically and lay down operative standards of what to teach.

Alas, I am not the person to figure any of these things out. But, perhaps you are? If so, Ephblog is always looking for new authors!

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Catsam ’93 to return to Rhodes U.

As with American institutions affected by what Politico recently labeled “The Great Renaming of Craze of 2015,” South Africa’s Rhodes University has seen recent protests about the propriety of continuing to honor its namesake:

The momentum to transform Rhodes University is gathering pace and moving with urgency, including its possible renaming, vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela says.

The university’s student representative council (SRC) has led the drive for both institutional transformation and the name change. Students who embarked on protests this year at the Grahamstown-based university called for the name change because Cecil John Rhodes stood for racism, colonialism, pillaging and black people’s oppression.

More so even than the figures at the center of controversy in the United States — historical leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Andrew Jackson — the question of whether Rhodes’s name is educationally appropriate is an intellectual challenge. Cecil Rhodes is not only the now-reviled architect of South African segregation and a colonialist ideologue, but also the provider of land and funds for the University of Capetown and Rhodes University (and Oriel College at Oxford), as well as the revered enabler of a liberal (even, arguably, progressive) education for individuals from Cory Booker to Bobby Jindal (not to mention Bill Clinton and Bill Bradley).

EphBlog regular Derek Catsam ’93 is not only a renowned historian with an expertise in race, history, politics, and Africa, but a former Rhodes University student. And now, he’s headed back to Grahamstown, where Rhodes is located:

University of Texas of the Permian Basin history professor Derek Catsam will be making what he terms a “grand return” to Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, on a Hugh le May Fellowship.

Catsam has made many trips to South Africa over the years and plans to spend from February to about mid-June in the country. The Hugh le May Fellowship is available in alternate years to senior scholars who wish to devote themselves to advanced work in one of the following subjects: Philosophy, classics and a variety of history and languages.

“It’ll really be a great experience,” Catsam said.

He added that he’s currently juggling two book projects, both of which are relevant to South Africa and the United States, but he’s going to focus on the 1981 visit to America by the national South African rugby team nicknamed the Springboks. The team came to this country to share their greatness and help improve American rugby, Catsam said.

Catsam is no fan of Rhodes or colonialism (and has offered useful, critical commentary on Rhodes Scholars at EphBlog in the past), but I don’t recall him expressing any views on the #RhodesMustFall campaign last year during his visit to Capetown. It will be interesting to see if he becomes involved in the renaming question during his fellowship. And even more interesting to see what he writes about rugby. You can follow him on Twitter @dcatafrica. Congrats on the fellowship!

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Julian Bond at Williams

2005 Commencement (Source: Williams College Archives)

2005 Commencement (Source: Williams College Archives)

Civil rights giant Julian Bond passed away last week at the age of 75. Co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, enactment of the Civil Rights Act enabled Bond to be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives — which refused to seat him. Bond took the legal fight over his election to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor 9-0, and Bond remained in the Georgia Legislature for the next two decades. A civil, calm, and eloquent face of the civil rights movement, he later became a professor at the University of Virginia and chairman of the NAACP, a post which he held for a decade.

During his career, Bond wasa repeat visitor to Williams. In April, 1969, he came to Williams to advocate “Community Socialism,” speaking in Thompson Chapel to a standing-room crowd. Later, he returned as an Arnold Bernhard ’25 visiting professor in 1992, a keynote speaker for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2000, and the Baccalaureate Speaker in 2005.

According to the April 15, 1969 Williams Record (pdf) Bond’s 1969 speech focused on his rejection of capitalism:

“Income for the many instead of profits for the few” should be the rationale of economic reform. Bond told the standing-room-only Chapel audience. He stated he was strongly opposed to the principle of single ownership. President Nixon’s
call for Black Capitalism, now termed Minority Entrepeneurshlp, would force the Black
poor “to adopt an economic systsm which hasn’t even worked for the whites,” Bond said. Unfortunately, a policy of “wholesome lives for many rather than profits for few” would not get a politician far in this country today,” Bond stated…

At present, “America’s Black poor constitute a colony within the larger white nation,” Bond continued. In this system of colonialization the mother country steals from the blacks and gives nothing in return, he said.

Bond, as pictured in the Williams Record, 1969

Bond, as pictured in the Williams Record, 1969

In his 2000 address, Bond began, as he often did, with the story of his grandfather’s rise from slavery to valedictory speaker, and then with the history of the NAACP, before moving into a strident condemnation of modern-day American society as racist and a demand for equality of outcome. Here’s an excerpt from the Record’s coverage :

After Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus James MacGregor Burns ’39 introduced Bond as a “healer” and unifier of the civil rights movement, Bond began his lecture by asking, “How do we speak about race in America without making people uncomfortable?” Race issues, he said, make people uncomfortable, but they must be discussed in spite of this.

Bond noted that only his father’s generation separates him from slavery. His grandfather was born in 1863 in Kentucky. At age 15, he walked across Kentucky to Berea College. Fifteen years later he graduated and gave the commencement address. Bond said his grandfather demonstrated the attitude that will change race relationships in America.

He berated those who want to replace race-based affirmative action with economic based affirmative action. “As long as race counts in America, we have to count race,” Bond argued.

He disparaged the failure of many cities to compile statistics on race motivated crimes, noting that without data, “there is no discrimination.”

The end of “American apartheid” in the 1960s has made it too easy to believe discrimination has disappeared when, in reality, Bond said, it has not. Polls have shown that inequalities still exist in educational opportunities and rates of success for minorities in America.

According to Bond, “race is a central fact of life for all non-white Americans.” He warned the audience about a “dangerous nostalgic narrative” in recent movies and books that eliminate civil rights violations and racial complexities from their portrayal of the past.

Bond’s 2005 Baccalaureate address began in the same place, with the story of his grandfather and the history of the NAACP. But it ended far more optimistically:

Most of those who made the movement were not famous; they were faceless. They were not notable; they were nameless – marchers with tired feet, protestors beaten back by fire hoses and billy clubs, unknown women and men who risked job and home and life.

As we will honor you graduates tomorrow for what you have achieved, so should you honor them for what they achieved for you.

They helped you learn how to be free.

They gave you the freedom to enter the larger world protected from its worst abuses.

If you are black or female, their struggles prevent your race or gender from being the arbitrary handicap today it was then.

If you belong to an ethnic minority or if you are disabled, your ethnicity or disability cannot be used to discriminate against you now as it was then.

If you are Christian or Jewish or Muslim, your faith cannot be an impediment to your success. As you grow older, because of what they did then, you will be able to work as long as you are able. Your job – your responsibility – is to make these protections more secure, to expand then for your generation and for those who will soon follow you.

Wherever you may go from here, if there are hungry minds or hungry bodies nearby, you can feed them. If there are precincts of the powerless poor nearby, you can organize them. If there is racial or ethnic injustice, you can attack and destroy it.

The choice is yours.

Not every choice you make will be momentous. But in order to be ready for the momentous, you need to be guided by moral principles in the mundane.

Don’t let the din of the dollar deafen you to the quiet desperation of the dispossessed. Don’t let the glare of greed blind you to the many in need.

You must place interest in principle above interest on principal.

An early attempt at ending illiteracy in the South developed a slogan – “Each One Teach One” until all could read.

Perhaps your slogan could be “Each One Reach One.”

As you go forward, remember these final lines from James Russell Lowell’s poem:

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ’tis truth alone is strong.
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong.
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And beyond the dim unknown
Stands God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.

May He watch over you.

I don’t have any information about his stint as a visiting professor, so if there are any readers with recollections, please share.

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Williams Stands Up Archive

Before they disappear down the memory hole, I wanted to archive these three documents from the Williams Speaks Up archives:

View incident reports from three different sources:

* The Record
* Campus Safety and Security (PDF)
* The Multicultural Center Timeline (PDF)

I have been meaning to provide a thorough Fisking for several years, but there is never enough day in the blog. Standard example:

Williams humor magazine, The Mad Cow, distributed an all campus leaflet on the “Goth Studies Initiative,” which poked fun at the Latino Studies Initiative. This disturbed many students who had been ardently working toward the creation of a Latino Studies program (MCC Annual Report 2000-2001).

1) Are the MCC Annual Reports on-line? I bet that they would make for interesting reading.

2) Don’t the writers at Mad Cow know that making fun of minority students/causes is verboten! Time for some re-education . . .

3) Now that Williams is eliminating the position of MCC Coordinator, who will be keeping track of these “incidents?”

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Black/Asian SAT Scores at Elite LACs

1) This graph uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF). This data seems to be easily available to academics, so readers are encouraged to replicate my analysis themselves. Please let us know if you do so. Rory: Does this graph look correct to you?

2) NLSF does not allow users to indicate which data come from which school. So, for example, I am not allowed to report that the average SAT score for Asian-Americans at Williams is X. I can only report the results in groups like “elite liberal arts colleges,” as I have done here.

3) To select my sample, I use “la0102 <= 10″. This restricts the observations to students who attended a liberal arts college ranked in the top 10 by US News in 2001-2002.

4) Within this universe, I look at students marked as “A” (Asian) or “B” (Black/African-American) by NLSF. There are 66 such students in the sample from elite liberal arts colleges: 35 Asian and 31 Black. This is, obviously, not a very large sample and only includes data from two schools. There is reason to believe, based on what I have read elsewhere, that these results are not entirely an artifact of small sample size, but this data alone doesn’t show that.

5) 7 A students and 10 B students are missing SAT scores. For 3 As and 5 Bs, I am able to impute their SAT scores using their ACT results. But removing those observations does not matter to the overall distributions.

6) With the imputed scores, we have a final sample of 31 Asian-American and 26 African-American students. Their SAT scores are used to create the plot.

7) The middle 90% of the distributions do not overlap. The kernel smoothing method I use obscures that fact a bit. In other words, if you delete the three highest B scores (1400, 1420 and 1460) and the three lowest A scores (1200, 1340 and 1350), there is no overlap between Black and Asian SAT scores at places like Williams.

8) Poking around the NLSF for other schools, it seems like the A/B gap of around 250 points is larger in elite liberal arts colleges than anywhere else.

Among elite universities (say, top 10 in US News), the gap is about 100 points smaller because African-American (and Hispanic) students have significantly higher scores. This is consistent with what I have heard elsewhere. Places like Williams lose many/most/all of the African-American (and Hispanic) students they most want to larger universities. If you want to attend college at a place where SAT scores for Asians and African-Americans are only (?) 150 points different, don’t go to an elite liberal arts college like Williams.

Why is it that – for the most part – the highest scoring African-American high school students have such a strong aversion for the elite liberal arts schools (or such a strong preference for the research universities)? Is is principally a name recognition factor? But why would that effect be different for African American students as compared to white students?

Do we have any readers who work with NLSF data? Tell us what you think!

Special thanks to Rory for pointing out the existence of the NLSF and encouraging/shaming me into taking a careful look at it.

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Zero African-American Phi Beta Kappa Members in 2009

I recently observed that, as far as I can tell, none of the students in the 2009 Phi Beta Kappa (pdf) are African American. My methodology is certainly not flawless (based essentially on talking to students in the class of 2009), and it’s possible that a few of these students are African American.

(Previous post about the same results for the class of 2010 here).

I am genuinely interested in why African Americans at Williams appear (at least for two years) to be underrepresented in Phi Beta Kappa. Is it random chance? Academic and extra-curricular choices made by African-American students? Other factors? Does anyone have any thoughts on the relative weights of these factors?

Or is this something that we should never publicly discuss?

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“Always tough to know if”: Redux and a side bar to the post above this …

Ed Note. It has been some time since 7 February, 2004. Yet this post, “Always tough to know if”, from that date shows up with a current comment yesterday and another comment follows adding further detail to this inspiring story. Lucy Terry Prince: what an interesting sidebar extension to the discussion above, perhaps suggesting that the ability to perform is not the issue.

Always tough to know if stuff on the web is reliable or not, but this article caught my eye.

I would like to introduce you to the first Black in America to compose a poem. No, not Phyllis Wheatley, but rather her name is Lucy Terry Prince. She could not read or write, but in 1746, she composed the poem, “Bars Fight.” This poem was verbally passed down until it was published in 1855. Although Lucy Terry Prince was not a literary genius her contribution to Black history is unquestioned.

Lucy Terry Prince was an eloquent speaker. She argued to get her son Festus, into Williams College. This, “illiterate” former slave debated in front of the hyper-educated board of trustees to the college. Although unsuccessful, she later was successful in arguing a property dispute before the U.S. Circuit Court in 1796.

I had never heard this story before. If true, it would make for a great senior thesis. It would be especially interesting to know where the descendants of Festus Prince are today.

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African-American Enrollment Declines by 1/3 at Swarthmore

An interesting comment from hwc:

Swarthmore is reporting their fall 2010 enrollment both ways: the new for 2010 federal mandated way with the multi-racial category and (on a page 2 of the PDF), the old-style reporting methods for historical comparison. By clicking back and forth between Page 1 and Page 2 of the PDF, you can compare the numbers for Fall 2010 enrollment under the two reporting systems.

I haven’t digested exactly what these changes mean, but I know that it is basically going to end my spreadsheet and chart of diversity with data going back 40 years. Thanks, Uncle Sam.

———

Right off the bat, I can see that the new federal reporting rules will increase the apparent “Hispanic” enrollment as “Hispanic” must be reported regardless of the race. The reported “Hispanic” enrollment at Swarthmore actually increased with the new reporting mandates.

With the reporting of 86 “multi-racial” students, the reported enrollment of Asian American and “black” students fell sharply under the new reporting rules. With what is likely to be a sharp decline in reported African American enrollment in US higher education under the new rules, I wouldn’t be surprised if the racial victimization lobby makes some loud noise over these new rules. With the stroke of a Washington bureaucrat’s pen, Swarthmore just went from 9.6% African American enrollment to 6.4%, purely from reporting the same student body under the new federal rules.

1) I hope that Williams, like Swarthmore, will report the data both ways for at least this year. I would expect that we will see similar drops in Asian-American and African-American enrollment at Williams.

2) Recall previous discussions on the topic of racial backgrounds. In the past, Swarthmore and Williams have treated someone with 4 African-American grandparents the same as someone with 1 African-American grandparent and 3 white grandparents. As long as they checked the “African-American” box on the Common Application, they were black.

But the new scheme makes that much more difficult. I would bet — commentary from people with expertise in the literature welcome! — that the applicant with four black grandparents is highly unlikely to check the new “mixed race” box while the applicant with just one black grandparent is much more likely to do so. What happens? At Swarthmore, the number of African-American freshmen goes from 43 to 22. Wow! Does this mean that half the 43 African-American freshmen at Swarthmore have one non-African-American parent?

3) Could the 1/3 total drop in African-American enrollment that hwc highlighted be a underestimate of the final effect? I find it interesting that the drop is almost 50% in the freshmen class. Swarthmore probably finds it much harder to figure out which seniors would classify themselves as mixed race. Or perhaps seniors responded less often to whatever new surveys Swarthmore has done. If future classes are like this year’s freshmen class, Swarthmore will report a drop of 50% in African-American enrollment.

4) What does that say for the future of measures of diversity at elite schools? Hard to say. Currently, diversity is measured by adding up all the students who checked any non-White box, including Hispanic but not including “Race/ethnicity unknown / Other.” (Everyone assumes that these are overwhelmingly white students.) That is the metric that Dick Nesbitt uses when he describes the current Williams class as being our most diverse ever. But that metric becomes much more problematic with the new classification scheme. Consider:

a) How do you avoid double-counting? Swarthmore presents numbers for “Hispanic, of any race” and the individual racial groups but no information on the overlaps. These 175 Hispanic students could all be white, in which case a measure of total diversity would just add them to the numbers for African-American, Asian and so on. Or many/most of them could also be racial minorities, in which case we can’t just add them without double-counting. (Thanks to Rory for pointing out my mistake in his comment below.)

b) How do you handle “Two or more Races?” On the one hand, these should clearly be included in any diversity measure because many students with African-American heritage check this box, as the Swarthmore data shows. On the other hand, this box becomes an easy one to check for students who are, for all practical purposes, white but hope to get a bit of an admissions edge. (Useful discussion here.)

I predict that we will see a dramatic increase in the number of students checking the “Two or more Races” box. Think of the incentives. Colleges will get to count these students in any plausible measure of diversity, so they want to get as many of these students as possible. Students will feel much more comfortable “stretching” to check this box than they felt doing the same for just “African-American.” There are also an ever increasing number of applicants of Asian-white mixed parentage who suspect, probably correctly, that checking this box is much better than checking either White or Asian.

What do you predict will happen?

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Faculty/Student Racial Classification

Like all academic institutions, Williams is currently reclassifying the race/ethnicity of its students, faculty and staff. I can’t find any good Williams links on the topic, but here (pdf) is background from Harvard and an overview from the Feds. Highlight is that Ephs will now be able to (easily) classify themselves as belonging to multiple racial groups. Previous posts on this topic here and here. Comments:

1) I am still hazy on the exact mechanism by which Williams manages to provide a racial classification for every student. Background reading here. If I were Williams, I would move toward the approach that Amherst and other elite schools use, allowing for students to refuse to classify themselves. (Amherst classifies 360 students as “Race/ethnicity unknown.” Williams has zero students in that category. Which report do you believe?)

2) The 2009 Common Data Set for Amherst (in what I think is a new addition) reports (pdf):

42 of these 113 “race/ethnicity unknown” identified as multiracial [in the freshmen class]. Because it is not possible to report students who identify with more than one race, and because Amherst is unwilling to use racial trumping rules, these 42 students of color are added to the “unknown” category.

Interesting! I think that Williams would have classified those 42 students as belonging to whichever racial/ethnic category Williams viewed as most desirable. So, a student who checked both Asian and African-American would be classified by Williams as African-American. Williams would then classify the remaining 71 students — those who declined to provide a race — as white. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

3) Do you prefer the Williams policy or the Amherst policy?

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Expanding the Chaplain’s Office?

Those of you who are on-campus or who read the Record probably know that, as the Record recently reported, Chaplain to the College Rick Spalding and the Muslim Students Union are cooperating in an effort to add a Muslim chaplain to the College staff. Currently, the campus Muslim community is served only by a “Muslim Advisor,” Parvin Hajizadeh. Hiring a Muslim chaplain would presumably elevate the level of spiritual services available through the chaplain program to that currently enjoyed by Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish students: (Rev. Spalding is a Presbyterian, and the other two chaplains are Father Gary Caster and Hazzan Bob Scherr).

From the Record:

The Muslim Students Union (MSU), a group of active Muslim students that addresses Islamic issues on campus, is currently drafting a proposal that would bring a Muslim chaplain to the College. In tandem with this proposal, College Chaplain Rick Spalding and his colleagues will write a similar proposal and then synthesize the two drafts.

The MSU has long hoped to hire a Muslim chaplain for the College. “We’ve been laying the groundwork for this for five or six years,” Spalding said.

In 2004, the College hired Parvin Hajizadeh as an advisor to Muslim students to nurture the campus Islamic community…

First thought: I’d sure like to know more about Parvin Hajizadeh, who gets a nod in this article, but has rarely appeared in the pages of the Record or other Williams publications.  Her brief bio at the Chaplain’s Office website is intriguing:

I’m originally from Iran and have lived in Williamstown for 18 years. Williams’ increasing diversity has had a very positive impact on our small Muslim community, and I love working with students of different backgrounds. We welcome all believers and seekers, and encourage participation in interfaith activities. I’m happy to share my energy, ideas and, I might add, my home to help us enjoy and learn from one another.

The remark about her home is true — according to the (not quite up-to-date) website of the MSU, “Girls Nights at Parvin’s House” are indeed among the organization’s events. And a Berkshire Eagle article earlier this year on the Eid-al-Fitr celebration noted that the MSU “eats halal food throughout Ramadan at the house of their adviser, Parvin Hajizadeh, of the chaplain’s office.” Opening your home to students is impressive — an example that some of the faculty follow, and that many others could learn from.

David-style suggestion to the Record: maybe it’s time for a longer profile (like this feature on Father Caster?) of Ms. Hajizadeh?

Other thoughts:

I think there’s a good case to be made that support for student religious communities may merit a greater allocation of the College’s resources. Even so, is upgrading the level of support to a community that is already served by an advisor the best next step? Isn’t it likely that the College would be better served by building on the “successful[]” model of an advisor by adding advisors to other faith communities (Buddhist? Hindu? LDS?), rather than increasing the resources dedicated to those already so served? Is there a source of information on the College’s religious demographics, i.e. the number of Catholic students, Buddhist students, Muslim students, etc.? I know it’s not in the annual class profiles, such as the one for the  “Class of 2014.”

And how best to evaluate the proposal for growth of the Chaplain’s Office as opposed to the requests for secular services to be better resourced? Many of these have even been discussed recently at Ephblog, including support for non-traditional students (thanks to current Eph Tatiana for filling us in about her student organization); veterans; the Log (recently noted in Speak Up!), and many others.

Also, the Record suggests that this proposal is prompted by the  “expanding needs” of the Muslim population. Does this reflect just a growth in the numbers of students (numbers again!), or something else — and in what ways are those needs best served through an elevation of the staff position?

Finally, will the proposal be made public? Or will it just be submitted to “Human Resources and the College’s senior staff” to act on without input from the broader Williams community?

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Student Request on Group Performance

This week’s seminar focuses on evaluating the academic performance of groups of Williams students.

A February e-mail from a Williams student:

You probably don’t remember me, but I wrote to you a couple of times last year when I was abroad. I’m now doing a project for my senior seminar in Anthropology and need some information about GPA’s at Williams. In short, I’d like to research the extent to which this ‘wonderfully diverse student body’ performs academically.

Though I’ve heard many second hand stories about black and Hispanic GPA’s being below (1) the Williams average, and (2) even further below the white average (a phenomenon that surfaces in graduate rates, too, apparently), I haven’t been able to find any data on the topic. Do you happen to know if the school releases this kind of information broken down by race?

What should I have told this student?

We ended up having a 30 minute phone conversation. Very fun! What approach do you think I recommended?

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Apology

I recognize that my past posts on academic performance at Williams have offended people, and I apologize. I realize that I have raised the subject in such a way that does not produce a useful exchange of ideas. Rather, my approach has antagonized readers and has resulted in overly personalized exchanges. I realize that I am responsible for this sad state of affairs.

I am striving for a new beginning. To that end, I am trying to write this post in a way that I hope will generate a civil exchange of ideas.

To begin with, I thought it would be useful if I posed a question and asked readers to offer their own thoughts on this difficult topic. With this in mind, I will do my best to avoid dogmatic assertions and hopefully many readers will be able to provide facts to add to the general knowledge of the subject. So here goes:

Do African-Americans and other minority groups have a disadvantage at Williams because of their background?

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Zero African-American Phi Beta Kappa Members in 2010

This week’s seminar focuses on evaluating the academic performance of groups of Williams students.

In a recent thread, Derek (“you then don’t have empirical numbers”), Name-Removed-by-Request (“make up statistics out of thin air”), Rory (“make up numbers”) and others chided me for a lack of data about the racial breakdown of Phi Beta Kappa membership at Williams. Point taken! So, let’s gather some data using the distributed power of the EphBlog readership. There are no African-Americans in Phi Beta Kappa for the class of 2010 at Williams College. See the course catalog (pdf) for the raw data. Start with the Summas:

Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude
*+Christopher Alan Chudzicki, with highest honors in Physics
*Kristine Grønning Ericson, with highest honors in Art
*Ruth Madeline Ezra, with highest honors in Art
*Cristina M. Florea, with highest honors in History
*Andrew Lawrence Forrest
*Sophie Ariel Glickstein
*Yibai Li
*Zachary Clair Miller, with highest honors in History
*+Ralph Elliott Morrison, with highest honors in Mathematics
*+Kathleen Malone Palmer, with highest honors in Neuroscience

The * indicates membership in Phi Beta Kappa. None of these Ephs are African-American. (Corrections welcome!) See below for the Magnas.

Read more

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28% Asian?

UPDATE: Chris Abayasinghe kindly replied to my e-mail and explained that he had been misquoted on WSO. In fact, the 28% figure is for all incoming college students, not just for Williams.

This WSO thread includes an interesting claim, attributed to Chris Abayasinghe, the assistant director of dining service.

Okay, this doesn’t actually have to do with anything that was complained about on this post, but one interesting thing that Chris mentioned was his belief in the cuisine reflecting the student population. By the time the class of ’15 or ’16 will have matriculated, 28% of our student population will be Asian (south, southeast, far east, middle east).

Comments:

1) Is that true? I don’t know. Informed comments welcome.

2) The 2009-2010 Common Data Set (pdf) tells us:

As we have discussed before, there has been a big jump in Asian American students at Williams. If future classes are as Asian American as the class of 2013 — Does anyone have pointers to 2014 data? — then Williams will soon be 13% Asian American. But 13% is not 28%.

3) What is the breakdown of international students by country of origin? I don’t know. But 31 out of 548 is only 5.7%. Even of all of them came from Asian countries (which is not true), this only gets the total to 19%. Where are the extra 9%?

4) The missing numbers are, presumably, students of Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi or Middle Eastern descent who are not classified by the College (or by themselves) as Asian. These students are placed in the “White, non-Hispanic” category. Yet I would not have guessed that there are anywhere near 50 such students in each class. Also, where does the College keep track of their numbers, if anywhere.

Conclusion: It is highly unlikely that “28% of our student population will be Asian (south, southeast, far east, middle east)” in three years. Or am I missing something?

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Faculty Racial/Ethnic/Nationality Breakdowns

From our friend Director of Institutional Research Chris Winter ’95, a breakdown of the Williams faculty bu race/ethnicity/nationality for the 2009-2010 school year.

                    men    women   total 
nonresident alien    3        3       6
black                7        8      15
american indian      0        1       1
asian               11       15      26
hispanic             8        8      16
white              135       76     211
total              164      111     275

Comments:

1) Thanks as always to Chris for providing us with this data. The more transparent that Williams is, the more likely it will be successful in the future. And, for all our detractors, there is no other place where you can get this 2010-2011 data other than EphBlog. Enjoy!

2) These data are collected annually as a government requirement and reported to IPEDS. I think that IPEDS now has a decent time series of this sort of data. Do we have any IPEDS wizards who would be willing to grab it? (There is a reporting delay, so I think that the latest available data via IPEDS is 2009-2010.).

3) In the past, I have made mischief by trying to figure out just which professors fall into which categories. (The College declines, reasonably enough, to release that data.) See discussions from 2005 and 2007. Too lazy to click those links? Here are the best parts (slightly reworded): Read more

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Diversity at Williams Part II

Part II of a video on diversity at Williams featuring senior Virginia Cumberbatch. Interesting discussion midway through about Williams Christian Fellowship and its new journal Telos. Why isn’t it available on-line?

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Diversity at Williams Part I

Interesting video featuring Williams senior Virginia Cumberbatch. Comments:

1) Cumberbatch is interested in non-profit work related to race. Other students interested in jobs/careers like this should recognize that it is extremely competitive. Devoting some time at Williams to getting some technical skills (i.e., computer programming and data analysis) will dramatically increase your odds of success.

2) Cumberbatch notes at the end of the video that the 2009 Claiming Williams required students (or maybe just the members of sports teams?) to attend two events. True?

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Another Agenda Filled Post about Affirmative Action

Rory suggests that it would be best if our post on Hollander Hall not become “another agenda filled post about affirmative action.” I agree! So, I have moved the relevant comments to this thread.

Your Friday night question: Should Williams count professors from Brazil as “Hispanic/Latino” in reporting its diversity numbers? Why or why not?

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