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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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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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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.

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Misstated My Position

The latest race-ha-ha at Harvard has a (tenuous) Williams connection.

It was a private dinner conversation among three friends. The topic: affirmative action and race. The debate presumably was passionate, given the divergent opinions of the Harvard Law School students.

Stephanie Grace, a third-year law student, felt she had not made her position clear, so she followed up via e-mail, according to a person with direct knowledge of events.

“I just hate leaving things where I feel I misstated my position,’’ Grace wrote. “I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African-Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.’’

The lengthy e-mail, sent to her two dinner companions six months ago, ignited an Internet firestorm this week when it was leaked and first reported Wednesday by the legal blog abovethelaw.com, followed by other websites.

Yesterday, Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, condemned the e-mail that suggested blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites.It was a private dinner conversation among three friends. The topic: affirmative action and race. The debate presumably was passionate, given the divergent opinions of the Harvard Law School students.
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Stephanie Grace, a third-year law student, felt she had not made her position clear, so she followed up via e-mail, according to a person with direct knowledge of events.

“I just hate leaving things where I feel I misstated my position,’’ Grace wrote. “I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African-Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.’’

The lengthy e-mail, sent to her two dinner companions six months ago, ignited an Internet firestorm this week when it was leaked and first reported Wednesday by the legal blog abovethelaw.com, followed by other websites.

Yesterday, Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, condemned the e-mail that suggested blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites.

Minow is married to Joseph Singer ’76. Comments:

1) Is there a single Williams student who agrees with Grace that there is a possibility that race differences on IQ tests like the SAT and LSAT are partially caused by genetics? I assume that there must be. What would happen to that student if she raised the topic in conversation? Or a Record op-ed?

2) Wondering what I did during my two month EphBlog vacation? I spent many hours working on the Wikipedia article Race and Intelligence. The article is still a mess but it is much better than it used to be.

3) Imagine that, instead, Grace had written “I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that Asian-Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less athletic.” Would that have been more acceptable?

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Reverse Racism

Below is a comment from former Williams professor John Drew that I moved from a different thread. The key part:

Given the fact that there are no young, white male Republicans on the staff at Williams College now, I think I’m on very strong grounds to argue that I was among the first of probably many young white male Republicans mistreated by the institution. I don’t think it is wrong to identify this institutional behavior as reverse discrimination or reverse racism – and I use these words very carefully…

Before we look for evidence for and against this claim, I would curious to hear beforehand what facts on either side readers would find relevant. If, right now, you think Drew is wrong (or right), then what new information would cause you to re-evaluate your prior beliefs?

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On Race in Selective Higher Education

This post was requested here as a means of hopefully providing some counterbalance to the overwhelming number of words David Kane ’88 has written about his opinion on the persistence of racial inequality in elite education. In sum, these books and articles are intended to be a collection of relatively easily available (I hope) examples of the scholarly research. Where possible, I will include links to publicly available versions of the articles themselves.

While I originally intended for the comment section to be turned off, I will instead keep it on. However, it will not be a place for opinion. Instead, factual questions and additions to the list of scholarly work are welcome. Please keep them to recent work.
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Honorary Degree/Commencement Speaker for ’11

From WSO:

Who would you want? I just read that e-mail and thought that if we form some kind of small consensus here on wso, then we can send e-mails to the committee and get someone who we would really like.

1) What e-mail? Please put it in the comments if you have a copy.

2) Has the Honorary Degree committee solicited student opinion in past years? If so, how? If not, why the change? (Kudos either way. The more that student opinion is gathered and listed to, the better.)

3) Suggestions from readers? Obvious choice is soon-to-be Senator Martha Coakley ’75. I am in favor of any alum. I am against (almost) any non-alum.

4) I first raised the issue of the ideological diversity of commencement speakers 6 years ago. The last identifiably Republican/conservative speaker was in 1996. An easy way to break that streak would be to invite Harry Jackson ’75.

5) The racial breakdown of Commencement speakers provided for a rollicking discussion last year, including an apology from me, prompted by Sam Crane and (then) Frosh Mom. During the last nine years, every speaker but one has been either Jewish or African-American. The exception, Morris Dees, was (I think) the most embarrassing.

6) Who can help us improve our knowledge of the history of Commencement Speakers as maintained on Wikipedia? If you remember who spoke in your era, add them.

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On Responsibility, Speech and Censorship

(promoted from this discussion)

When Pastor Niemoeller was sent to the concentration camps, we wrote 1937; when the concentration camps were opened, we wrote 1933, and the people who were sent to the concentration camps then, were “Communists.”

Who cared for them? We knew about it– it was printed in the papers. Who raised their voice in response– as the Church of Witness? We thought then: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians.

‘Shall I be my brother’s keeper?’

Then they took the sick, the so-called incurables.

I remember a conversation with a man, who had taken up the Pretension, of being a Christian. He told me: “Perhaps it is the right thing. These unhealable people cost the country money, they are only a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it the best for all involved, when one casts them out of the Middle?”

Only then did the Church as such come to the matter. Then we spoke of things in strong tones, until such voices were again cut off and suppressed in public.

Can we say, we were not responsible? Read more

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EphBlogger spotted on C-SPAN

Derek Catsam ’93 speaks about the fight to desegregate trains, buses, and other modes of public transportation. The talk is part of a Civil Rights panel discussion that was held during this year’s Virginia Festival of the Book. Professor Catsam’s book on the Freedom Riders is entitled Freedom’s Main Line, and is available from your nearest online bookstore (such as this one or this one).

Link to video of Derek’s talk (opens in a new window).

Longtime readers may remember the Red Sox book Derek mentioned at the very beginning of his talk, Bleeding Red: A Red Sox Fan’s Diary of the 2004 Season, which was based on a series of EphBlog posts. In the words of one SNL cast member, this earlier work by Professor Catsam is “a great way to remember the best year in the history of mankind or any other species.”

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Diversity at Williams

A regular but anonymous commentator at College Confidential writes:

Diversity at Williams

I’m interested in learning students’ and alumna’s opinions concerning inclusivity at Williams. Let me be clear, by ‘inclusivity’ I am referring to the degree to which different racial and socioeconomic groups actually meaningfully interact, not statistical diversity. This thread is intended to be descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Personal biases tend to detract, rather than add, to constructive discourse.

I’ll begin.

As a minority male upperclassman, I have had the privilege of experiencing firsthand social interactions between different “groups” of students at Williams. The central issue surrounding inclusivity (or lack thereof) at Williams, I believe, is the disparity between different racial and socioeconomic sections of the student population. Williams, like other elite institutions of higher learning, has lost its racial homogeneity in the decades following educational integration and the inception of affirmative action policies. Unlike other institutions, however, Williams’ undergraduate student body numbers a mere 2,000. The result is carefully partitioned groups of students that share little in common.

Simply put, Williams lacks a large enough “middle section” of middle class ($50,000 and below) students that, despite racial differences, possess commonalities that create the ‘glue’ that allows students to feel comfortable enough to pursue intimate social interactions. The tendency at Williams is to avoid that which might expose one to social criticism, with the result being a social chasm between different social groups.

When I visit the campus of my local state university (an institution with an undergraduate population numbering 15,000) , I do not feel that such a chasm exists. While there are certainly instances of extreme intolerance (this same campus was the site of a nationally covered racial incident 2 years ago), such incidents reflect the views of individuals rather than those of wide cross-sections of the student body.

But, let’s dig a bit deeper. With regard to such sensitive issues as inter-racial relationships, views on affirmative action, etc., the chasm that divides the student population at Williams widens. When I go on walks with white female friends at Williams, I see and feel the “unsureness” of passersby that creates a palpable tension. In addition, the sexual exotification of black males in particular, leads me to believe that some Williams students carry deep-seated misperceptions of who, and how, a minority student is, and should, behave.

After the racial incident my freshman year, in which a racial slur was sprayed across an entry door, there was a decided gulf in the reaction of the student body that produced a split between those who advocated for a social honor code, and those who went as far as to advocate against it. As the rallying cry was “Stand With Us!”, a small cadre of students responded with the corollary “Or Against Us?”, indicating that one did not have to voice one’s opposition to intolerance to be ‘against’ intolerance. To me, this indicates a degree of complicity with regard to the specific incident that mirrors social attitudes at Williams – not only does no one seem to care about the divide between race and class that exists here, but no one condemns it, as well.

So, that’s my perspective. Yours?

I would be interested to read what current students and recent graduates think about this. Read the posts in our Willy E. N-word category for some background. My thoughts later.

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Racial/Gender Breakdown

Thanks to Director of Institutional Research Chris Winters ’95, here is the racial/gender breakdown of Williams for the fall of 2008.

                           First Year    Total
                              M/F         M/F
Nonresident alien            31/15       88/56
Black                        21/35       77/117
Native American               0/4         2/9
Asian                        28/36       100/122
Hispanic                     23/30        88/97
White                       152/164      635/592

Total                       255/284      990/993

Chris notes that this data has already been reported to IPEDS and should appear there sometime this fall. Comments:

1) Many of these patterns are common among elite colleges. There are many more Black females than males and a similar, although less striking, imbalance among Hispanics and Native Americans. The standard explanation for this effect is that female URMs on average have much stronger high school academic records than make URMs. So, it its attempts to get enough URMs while simultaneously maximizing a student’s chances of success at Williams, the College has no choice but to put up with a gender imbalance. Isn’t that the standard story?

2) Why the gender imbalance among Asians? Obviously, a single year tells us little, but I did not expect to see this. A random effect? True for other elite colleges? Caused by differential rates of classifications. (See more below.) For example, are bi-racial Asian-American females more likely to identify as as Asian-American? I am stumped. UPDATE: See below.

3) As hwc has noted in the past, it is very hard to get data out of IPEDS. Looking at trends over time, both at Williams and its peer group, would be an interesting exercise.

4) The biggest difference between Williams data and that from similar schools is that Williams somehow manages to assign a single ethnic/racial category to every single student. Chris provided the exact details of the process 2 years ago. See that post for all sorts of interesting discussion as well as fun ideas for trouble-making. Summary: Williams tries very hard to classify students and gives them a chance to “opt-out.” None (not a single one?) do. Other schools report very different results. More than 20% of the students at Amherst (pdf) are classified as “Race/ethnicity unknown.” I believe that, if those students were at Williams, they would be classified as white. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

5) All these numbers are somewhat skewed because they ignore students studying abroad and those students are more likely to be female.

UPDATE: hwc kindly provided this graphic.

asian

I second his analysis:

One thing that may be happening here is that engineering and tech oriented schools (at least the elite schools) are considerably more Asian American than their all-purpose equivalents. These schools also tilt heavily male. So, it could be that male Asian Americans tend to mass at these tech-oriented schools, leaving the equivalent all-purpose schools more heavily female in the Asian American cohort. This is logical and echoes the overall gender trends.

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Obama Complains About Eph Arrest, contd.

Discussion continued here. On-topic comments have been moved here from the other thread. Please play nice.

APTOPIX Harvard Scholar Disorderly

President Barack Obama said that Cambridge police officer Sgt. James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., a Williams honorary degree recipient, for disorderly conduct.

How’s that for the best start to an EphBlog post this year? As PTC notes, the case has race, class, town-gown and US politics all rolled up into a tight little ball of wonderfulness. More below.
Read more

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One Kenyan’s Perspective

Binyavanga Wainaina is (or was?) a visiting professor of Africana studies at Williams College. NPR’s Speaking of Faith program recently did an hourlong program featuring Wainaina on the ethics of aid. You can listen to the broadcast program, or the full unedited interview, and follow the program notes which contain additional sources and charts.

Wainaina is “is among a rising generation of African voices who bring a cautionary perspective to the morality and efficacy behind many Western initiatives to abolish poverty and speed development in Africa.” He is worth both listening to and reading. Here is his acerbic, satirical style on display in a 2005 article, “How to Write About Africa“:

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life — but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.

Describe, in detail, naked breasts (young, old, conservative, recently raped, big, small) or mutilated genitals, or enhanced genitals. Or any kind of genitals. And dead bodies. Or, better, naked dead bodies. And especially rotting naked dead bodies. Remember, any work you submit in which people look filthy and miserable will be referred to as the ‘real Africa,’ and you want that on your dust jacket. Do not feel queasy about this: you are trying to help them to get aid from the West. The biggest taboo in writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or suffering white people.

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Courses That I Wish Had Been Offered When I Was At Williams, Pt. 1

This:

[Jeff Thaler] recently created and directed a program for Williams College students entitled “Resettling Refugees in Maine”. The program brings Williams College students to Maine and introduces them to Maine’s new immigrant communities through an experiential three week course which requires that the students have a home stay experience with a refugee or immigrant family. The course first ran in January of 2008 and is scheduled to run again in January 2009.

You’re welcome to carp abow how this SHOULD BE CUT, and IMMEDIATELY, because of the STOCK MARKET and the ECONOMY, and we have NO MORE MONEY, ANYWHERE!!! in the comments thread below.

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Video of Congressional Black Caucus at Williams

 

Source link (a tip o’ the hat to commenter Parent ’12 for the link) Facebooktwitter

Breaking the Code

This interpretation of Obama’s recent speech (watch), by Chris Caldwell writing in the FT, presents an excellent analysis of the way I saw issues of race treated during my time at Williams College, and precisely highlights the problem with elite, liberal, mostly-white institutions like our college embracing ‘sensitivity’ at the cost of communication – especially around the time of our annually scheduled Racial Controversy. It is the most damning indictment I have seen of political correctness.

Full article after the jump. Read more

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Nose Counting

Interesting Record article entitled “Faculty diversity increases, remains College priority.”

While the student body becomes more diverse with each year, increasing faculty diversity remains a priority and a challenge for the College as it struggles to find and attract eligible candidates.

Is “eligible” the adjective to use in this case? Also, it sure would be nice if writer Sasha Zheng made it clear that the Asian American portion of diversity is not really an issue. We continue to seek details on how the College classifies students by race. The article continues:

In 2007, persons of color made up 18 percent of the faculty. This number included 24 professors of Asian heritage, 10 black professors and 16 Latino/a professors. Statistics from 2006 showed that 97 out of 252 faculty members were female, a total of 38 percent. There were no faculty members identified of American Indian heritage.

We love nose counting at EphBlog! Comments:

1) 16 Hispanics? When last we considered this topic, the College claimed 14 Hispanics. Who are the new Hispanic faculty? With help from our readers, we (tried to) identify those 14 faculty members two years ago.

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)

I think that all these faculty members are still at Williams.

2) Asian (Americans?) make up about 10% of the Williams faculty. Asian-Americans make up 10% of the student body. Both percentages are about twice that of the American population at large. So what is the problem? Does Williams need more Asian faculty? Should the office of the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity be devoting time and energy to bringing more Asian faculty to Williams? Why? Worrying about the number of Asian faculty is like worrying about the number of Jewish faculty. There is no problem.

3) There are 10 black professors at Williams. Hmmm. Who? I come up with:

Layla Ali ’91 (Studio Art)
Ernest Brown (Music)
Gretchen Long (History)
David Smith (English)
Joy James (Political Science)
Kenda Mutongi (History)
Kaye Husbands Fealing (Economics)
Alex Willingham (Political Science)
Ngonidzashe Munemo (Political Science)

But nine is not ten. (And I am not even sure that all these faculty are African American.) Who are we missing? (Does the College count athletic faculty in this number? It had better not!) Please help us readers. The great fun in the College’s constant search for diversity is always in the details of how the process works, or fails to.

More on this interesting article later.

And, just for fun, here is a trivia question to try out with Professor Wendy Raymond who is now spending less time teaching and more time quota enforcing. When was the last time that a African-American professor was tenured/tenure-track in a Division III department at Williams?

Great background reading on faculty diversity at Williams from KC Johnson here.

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Ephs on Watson

The Record had an excellent article two years ago on the reaction of faculty members to remarks on female intelligence by then-Harvard President Larry Summers. More on the substance of that debate another day. Normally, the Record should focus on news from Williams, but by surveying faculty members on their views about a controversial issue of the day, especially faculty members with some relevant expertise, the Record was doing exactly what a good college newspaper should do. Kudos!

Nobel Prize-winner James Watson‘s recent remarks on race and intelligence provide an occasion for another such article. The Record should seek reaction from faculty members in just the manner that Matthew Simonson did two years ago. Which faculty members should be interviewed? EphBlog readers should make suggestions in the comments.

Required background reading here.

UPDATE: Pace Rory’s comment below, the reason that the above link is “required reading” for a Record reporter working on this story is because most Williams professors will disparage Watson’s viewpoint. So, the reporter needs the best defense of that viewpoint in advance. That link is the best that I have seen, Readers are welcome to propose better links, either pro- or anti-Watson. The more diverse our links, the better.

My two favorite recent such links are here and here. Highly recommended. Naive readers might consider these (implicit) refutations of Watson and people like him, but I am not so sure.

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Counting Noses: The Details

The process of racial classification at Williams is endlessly fascinating (see here, here and here). In a previous thread, I was struck by this comment from fellow EphBlog author Reed Wiedower ’00.

As I pointed out during Winter Study, I’m still curious as to why the college keeps lying about the racial question.

Many people my year refused to answer the question, especially those of mixed heritage. Many so called “whites” were equally dismissive of it.

I think that removing oneself from racial aggregate data is statistically a good move. Why? Because it forces the administration to take a look behind the numbers at what is going on.

I should have challenged Reed at the time on his use of word “lying.” First, there is the issue of the anthropomorphizing the “college” — a sin of which I am regularly guilty. The college doesn’t lie (or talk or tell the truth). Individuals at the College do. Second, the honest and hard-working Ephs at the College who are actually responsible for these statistics are doing the best that they can given the constraints that they face.

In fact, Chris Winters ’95, Director of Institutional Research (and the man whose name appears on these documents), was kind enough to explain the mechanics of what happens. Endless details below the break.

Winters writes:

Like all colleges and universities Williams is required to submit reports to the government via the IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) system. Below is probably more than you ever wanted to know on the subject, pasted from the IPEDS website .

Method of collection – The manner of collecting racial/ethnic information is left to the discretion of the institution provided that the system which is established results in reasonably accurate data, which may be replicated by others when the same documented system is utilized. One acceptable method is a properly controlled system of post-enrollment self-identification by students. If a self-identification method is utilized, a verification procedure to ascertain the completeness and accuracy of student submissions should be employed.

Assignment to categories – For the purpose of this report, a student may be included in the group to which he or she appears to belong, identifies with, or is regarded in the community as belonging. However, no person may be counted in more than one racial/ethnic group. Racial/ethnic designations are requested only for United States citizens, resident aliens, and other eligible non-citizens. (See definitions below.)

Racial/ethnic descriptions – Racial/ethnic designations as used in this survey do not denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins. The categories are:

  • a. Black, non-Hispanic – A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa (except those of Hispanic origin).
  • b. American Indian/Alaska Native – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.
  • c. Asian/Pacific Islander – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or Pacific Islands. This includes people from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, American Samoa, India, and Vietnam.
  • d. Hispanic – A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central, or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
  • e. White, non-Hispanic – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East (except those of Hispanic origin).

Other descriptive categories

  • a. Nonresident alien – A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely. NOTE – Nonresident aliens are to be reported separately in the places provided, rather than in any of the five racial/ethnic categories described above.
  • b. Race/ethnicity unknown – This category is used ONLY if the student did not select a racial/ethnic designation, AND the postsecondary institution finds it impossible to place the student in one of the aforementioned racial/ethnic categories during established enrollment procedures or in any post-enrollment identification or verification process.

    As you can see from the last paragraph the government is clear that use of the “unknown” category is to be considered a last resort and not used as a convenient punt.

    At Williams the racial classification begins with the box that is checked by the student on their common application for admission. Most students will self-designate at this point. A small number do not and some will choose multiple boxes. Once students matriculate, the Registrar’s office makes every effort to assign that matriculant to one of the race classifications as defined above. Students are given the final say however, in that the Registrar’s office then contacts every student informing them of the racial assignment they have on file, and explaining the IPEDS requirement for racial assignment, and the official definitions of those race classifications (as above). The student is asked to inform the Registrar if they wish to change the classification to which they have been assigned. In practice, very few students request changes.

    This is the process used at Williams. This process has been designed to achieve the best results given the sometime competing objectives of:

    • maximizing compliance with IPEDS
    • maximizing data accuracy
    • minimizing student discontent
    • minimizing administrative burden

    Thanks to Chris for taking the time to clarify these issues. Comments:

    1) It is a pleasure to interact with someone like Chris who takes the time and trouble to explain things to interested alumni. Although many/most college officials (Dick Nesbitt, Jim Kolesar, Jo Proctor, to name just a few) are similarly helpful, not all are.

    2) It seems to clear to me from the above that the College is not “lying” about anything. People like Chris are doing the best they can given the constraints that they face.

    3) It would be interesting to learn more details about how the office of the registrar “makes every effort to assign that matriculant to one of the race classifications as defined above.” We have at least one description of this process from Jonathan Landsman ’05.

    Early freshman year, I received a letter from the Admissions Office. It stated that I had declared myself a minority on my application, specifically Puerto Rican. It asked if I still wanted to be considered so, and if not, to contact them and say otherwise.

    Sounds like the Admissions Office does its best to classify people and then passes the baton to the registrar. But how, exactly, does the registrar have a classification “on file” if the student did not check any boxes on the Common Application or if she checked more than one? On the one hand, the “best” description — or at least the most sociologically accurate one — for any student who checks white and some other box is probably white. So, perhaps the Registrar/Admissions Office puts all such multi-box checkers in the white category. On the other hand, there is a lot of pressure on the College do be as diverse as possible, so why not minimize the use of the white box by following a policy of classifying students in the most diversity-increasing manner possible?

    4) I have no opinion on what is the “right” answer here. I just want to better understand how the process works. If a students checks both the Asian and white boxes (as my daughters might) on the Common Application, what happens at Williams?

    5) It would be great fun if a member of the class of 2010 were to make trouble about all of this, either for ideological or entertainment reasons. Surely, there are a couple of Young Republicans out there! Simply insist to the Registrar that you want to be categorized as “Race/ethnicity unknown.” Demand that the College supply evidence for any other classification that it might want to make. Inform the Registrar (in writing!) that you will be checking the College’s common data set to ensure that your classification is correct.

    6) There is an interesting Record article to be written about this topic. Who will write it?

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    The Fisher DeBerry Case (With a Self-Indulgent Williams Perspective)

    “It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me they run extremely well.” These are the words that U.S. Air Force academy football coach Fisher DeBerry said in remarks broadcast Tuesday night by Denver television station KWGN. Given that his comments were about race, and may have been courting a stereotype, I suppose we should not be surprised that he is in hot water. I hope that my civil rights/anti-apartheid historian credentials are enough that what I am about to say does not get me in hot water, but I hope Air Force does not punish DeBerry, who, in addition to being a very successful coach, also did not really say anything wrong.

    Now don’t take me the wrong way – I would not place DeBerry as the most eloquent spokesman on race in America. But look at what he said – from his years of coaching football, in general black kids run well. There are white ids and others who run well, but black kids run well. Now I do take issue with the implied inclusion that “all ” black kids run well. They do not, of course, and I am sure DeBerry knows this.

    Let me illustrate my argument by way of two anecdotes, both related to my own years as a track athlete in college, one of which may not make me look all that great, so I will tell it first:

    I competed in events that Fisher DeBerry might associate with black success: The jumps, especially the long and the triple jump. Williams had a very good track team, and one of the great things about track and field is that you get to find out exactly where you are in the global hierarchy. In addition to being very numbers driven, if you are good enough at a lower level you will qualify for bigger meets. Williams is a division III school, but we routinely competed against DI schools. I was a good enough jumper to compete against the big boys, but I was well aware of where I fit into the overall world of track and field. In any case, when I would get to bigger meets where I may have known fewer of the athletes, or if I competed away from New England, say in the South, I would look around and scout out the competition. When I was trying to size up the other jumpers, when I was looking at strangers wearing university of Miami or Florida State or Christopher Newport or whatever other jerseys, I would tend to focus more on the black jumpers than the white guys. I am not proud of it, but I am also not ashamed. And I certainly would not say that it was an illogical conclusion to draw. I would guess that I have a batter grasp on track and field than most of my readers, but even acknowledging that, I think I am on pretty firm ground to ask anyone who would criticize me the following question: Name five truly great white American long jumpers in the last ten years. Twenty years. Now the irony, as I discovered many times, is that there were times when I should have been watching out for the big white guy from Western Carolina or Albany State or the University of Miami (at the biggest meet I ever competed in, the Florida Relays in 1993, I got beaten out for third place by a Miami [Florida] guy on his last triple jump who was, if it is possible, paler than I am. There were even times when those guys maybe should have been looking out for me, as I ended up winning.

    Anecdote #2: When my fellow jumper and teammate “Boogie” (His name was Stuart, but we called him Stu, and then it became “Boogie” after the Led Zeppelin song “Boogie With Stu”) would get to the really big meet, the DI/All New England meet, say, we’d always joke as we watched the early rounds of the sprints about the white guys and how they had better enjoy their time, because they would be watching the finals. Boogie was also a sprinter. He was also black. And lo and behold, once the finals of the 60 or 100 rolled around at the All New England meet or the Florida State relays or nationals, the finals were overwhelmingly African American. We were always joking, but the joke, like many jokes, had an element of truth to it.

    I have no idea why this is so. There are certainly fast white guys. And Asian guys. And Hispanics. And most people, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic, are slow, cannot jump, cannot lift things and so forth – when you are looking at college athletes you are already talking about a genetically exceptional subset, so drawing widespread racial differences from the whole population seems foolish. But I will double down my bet on the long jumpers. I’ll grant you Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 Olympic Champion in the 400. I’ll even give you the Greek 200 runner who won in 2000 (and who failed a piss test in 2004 . . .) And I will remind you exactly what DeBarry said about white athletes: “That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run.” And then I will ask a simple question related to the one I asked earlier: Howe many white medalists have their been in the Olympics and World Championships in the 100, 200, and 400 since 1968? That is 10 Olympics, times three events, times three places in each event. I’m not much at math, but that is 90 possible medals. Even keeping in mind that the United States, the world’s most dominant sprint nation for most of that period, boycotted the 1980 Olympics, is there anyone out there who wants to bet that thirty of those medals went to athletes who were not black? Anyone want to bet on whether or not twenty did?

    Now let’s bring it back o football. Jason Sehorn made some waves for the very fact that he was a decent white starting cornerback in the NFL. And in some attempts to explain why that was so, there was one compelling argument made: That one factor is that coaches simply steer black athletes toward certain positions and white athletes toward others so that irrespective of actual abilities, black kids in integrated high schools will play corner, their white teammate safety. That makes at least some sense. But whatever the case, can anyone honestly say that however anecdotal, and however clumsily stated, Fisher DeBarry was actually wrong? And can his desire to recruit more black athletes to the Air Force Academy actually be something we want to condemn? Especially when DeBarry’s black players have rallied around him? It would seem patently unfair to punish him for his comments. There is lots of very real, very serious, very disturbing racism out there. There are coaches who certainly are racists. But it would be absurd to punish Fisher DeBerry for the current reality of the nature of the sprinting and jumping events and the skill positions in the NFL (and anyone who has been to a college track meet knows that these two things are fungible).

    Cross-posted from dcat.

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    First Days

    If it is a rainy day at the end of August, it must be First Days at Williams. Throughout the 80’s the day of then freshmen now first year arrival seemed to always be a day like today, overcast with a bit of rain but not enough to make moving in too hard. At least, that was the weather 21 years ago.

    But, from EphBlog’s point of view, there are two key questions: First, is anyone blogging the First Days experience? We are most interested in the presentations that the College makes. I heard some negative comments about last year’s speakers and wonder if things will be better this time around. Second, is anyone taking pictures?

    Previous posts on First Days here and here. And, of course, I wonder if the class of 2009 will be learning The Mountains?

    The central goal of First Days should be to ensure that every first year makes at least a friendly acquaintanceship with 50 or so other members of the class. A week is not enough time for friendship, of course, but it would be nice if everyone knew enough people well enough that there was always a table for them to join in Baxter (or wherever it is that first years are eating now). Also, it is best if these meetings are as randomized as possible. Ephs of specific interests and backgrounds will have no doubt congregate in the years to come. First Days is the time to meet those who you might not ordinarily meet.

    The College already starts this process in the right direction by ensuring that entries are a microcosm of Williams as a whole. There is nothing wrong with well done social engineering. It is also wise to provide a week for the first years to do things as a class, without the pressure/distractions of other obligations. (Am I right in thinking that first year athletes don’t start practicing with their teams until after First Days are over?) I hope that the JA’s also mix up people (perhaps via entry-pairings?) in the discussions after the various speakers. And, certainly, every discussion should begin with the sort of learn-everyone’s-name game that is a staple of summer camps and retreats.

    It would be also good to see more of this forced mixing. I hope that WOOLF groups are, for example, not organized by entry but instead mix up the entries as much as possible. It would be even better if the College put WOW later in the semester so that URMs are not (self-)segregated from the very start of their Williams experience.

    We are all purple first.

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    Counting Faculty Noses

    As a follow up to our discussion of undergraduate nose counting, it is interesting to consider the question of faculty nose counting. The Diversity Initiatives (excellent) data tables report that there are 14 “Hispanic” faculty at Williams.

    Are there really? And, who are they?

    To be clear, I am not certain that the 14 number is correct. The chart is hard to read. Whatever the exact number is, I’ll make the following predictions:

    1) The readers of this blog, in their collective wisdom, can not come up with the 14 names. Start with Joe Cruz, Gene Bell-Villada, Cesar Silva, . . .

    2) Vista will not like some of these names. Although most people agree that ethnic identity is one that people may largely (and acting in good faith) claim for themselves, there are limits to what ethnic activists will allow for. If a non-Spanish-speaking professor’s grandfather emmigrated from Spain, should she be counted as Hispanic? I suspect that Vista will answer No.

    3) The College will refuse to release the list of faculty names. (I haven’t yet asked but will soon.) There may be legal reasons for the refusal. Federal law places severe restrictions on what information an employer (like Williams) can provide about specific employees. If so, this raises the interesting question of how any of us can know how many Hispanics teach at Williams.

    EphBlog Koan: If there is a Hispanic teaching at Williams, and no one knows it, does the MCC website celebrate?

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    Counting Noses

    In retrospect, I should have brought up the interesting issue of what counts as “Hispanic” at Williams as a general topic and not tied it directly to one particular student. So, let me bring it up here. The Record reports that:

    [Director of Admissions Richard] Nesbitt said he was “ecstatic” with the yield of minority students. “We’re doing very well by any standards,” he said. Included in the class are 53 Asian Americans, 42 African Americans (down from 53 last year at this time), 55 Latinos (a record high) and three Native Americans. Thirty-two international students have also accepted offers. Nesbitt expected the number of African Americans to rise to 9 percent of the class as decision extensions expire this month.

    Question: Is it true that there are 55 “Latinos” in the class of 2009?

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