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Black/White SAT Scores at Amherst

From page 22 of Race and Class Matters at an Elite College by Amherst professor Elizabeth Aries.

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There was more than a 200 point difference (1284 versus 1488) in combined SAT scores between blacks and whites at Amherst. Although this data is a decade old and for Amherst, I believe that the same is true today and at places like Williams. Has anyone heard differently? And, as you would expect, students with lower SAT scores do much worse in Amherst classes:

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Interesting stuff! Should we spend a week on other highlights from this book?

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Does Amherst Lie About Its Admissions Data?

Williams and Swarthmore (and most other liberal arts college) have a meaningful number of students with sub-600 SAT scores. For Williams:

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Amherst (pdf) does not.

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I think that Amherst is “lying” about its admissions data. Recall this discussion and this one. There is simply no way for an elite liberal arts college to have competitive sports teams (especially in male helmet sports) and meaningful racial diversity (especially African-American) without around 5% of the student body having either math or verbal SAT scores (or both) below 600.

The trick:

Amherst consistently reports SAT plus ACT totalling 100% of their enrollees (or the 99% that results from adding rounded numbers).

Both Swarthmore and Williams are consistently reporting a total SAT plus ACT in the 110% to 120% range.

Clearly what is going on here is that Swarthmore and Williams are reporting both the SAT and ACT for students submitting both (as they are supposed to according to the instructions).

Amherst is not. Amherst is pulling a “Middlebury” and only reporting whichever score (SAT or ACT) they used for admissions purposes, presumably whichever is higher. (I know that they receive both scores for the dual test takers). It is incomprehsible that not one single enrolled Amherst freshman took both the SAT and the ACT when 20% of both Williams and Swarthmore’s freshman classes the last two years took both.

This a 2008 comment was from HWC, whose contributions I still miss. Looks like Amherst is still cheating. In the latest Common Data Sets, we see for Williams:

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For Amherst:

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Do you see the trick? About the same percentage of students at Williams and Amherst report ACT scores. That makes sense! Williams and Amherst draw their students from the same populations. But Amherst claims that only 52% (instead of 68% at Williams) report SAT scores. That is the lie. Amherst almost surely gets SAT scores from about the same percentage of its students. It just chooses to ignore those scores from those students whose SAT scores are worse than their ACT scores, pretending that it did not “use” those scores in making its admissions decisions. If that is what they are doing (and it almost certainly is), then Amherst is guilty of fraud. How else to explain their divergence from places like Swarthmore:

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And Pomona:

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And Wellesley:

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There is a great story here for the Record, or for The Amherst Student . . .

Perhaps our friends at Dartblog can help us out. For Dartmouth:

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I think that Dartmouth is “pulling an Amherst.” Way more than 51% of the first year students enrolled at Dartmouth took the SAT and reported their scores to Dartmouth when they applied. Dartmouth just “forgets” the scores for those with better ACT than SAT scores when it reports its data. How else could the SAT percentage be 51% at Dartmouth but 85% (!) at Harvard, 74% at Yale, and 67% at Brown. (I think that SAT percentages at Harvard/Yale are inflated due to their prestige. Brown’s percentage is in-line with elite liberal arts colleges. Is there an innocent explanation for Dartmouth’s low percentage? I doubt it.)

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Amherst Mascot Process

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I would love to mock (or, even better, hack!) the process by which Amherst is choosing its new mascot. Unfortunately (!?), it seems sensible and competent. See the link (or the above chart) for details, but the whole thing is very well done. I especially liked the 145 pages of mascot suggestions and rationals. Example:

wolf

Why can’t Williams be equally transparent (and competent!) in its decision-making?

Our main hope for a disaster is that the committee, choosing from the 30 semi-finalists, selects at least one easily mockable mascot for inclusion among the five finalists, and then the students vote for that one as a joke. That is a thin reed!

Which one would you vote for if you were a Lord Jeff? (Wolves!) Which one would you prefer they choose so that we can mock them more easily? (Amethyst? Radiance?)

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On a lighter note…

Hamster My brother forwarded a link to me this morning about Amherst’s search for a new mascot, to replace the deposed Lord Jeff.   While its probably not our place here at EphBlog to get involved in the internal deliberations of the Defectors, I can’t help but hope that they pick the potential mascot highlighted in the linked article.  What do you think?

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Cultural and Racial Sensitivities at Amherst

From The New York Times:

Scott MacConnell cherishes the memory of his years at Amherst College, where he discovered his future métier as a theatrical designer. But protests on campus over cultural and racial sensitivities last year soured his feelings.

Now Mr. MacConnell, who graduated in 1960, is expressing his discontent through his wallet. In June, he cut the college out of his will.

Hey, Biddy! When you are so left wing that you have lost the theatrical designers, you might have a problem.

“As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” Mr. MacConnell, 77, wrote in a letter to the college’s alumni fund in December, when he first warned that he was reducing his support to the college to a token $5.

“Old, white bigot” is an accurate description about how the people behind Amherst Uprising feel about you and every other Amherst alum who objects to their Year Zero transformation of your alma mater. Comments:

1) There is enough meat in this article for a week of quotes and comments. Worth it?

2) No mention of Williams! A good thing — because Williams is handling current controversies better than schools like Amherst — or a bad thing because we want any article that mentions Yale to mention Williams?

A backlash from alumni is an unexpected aftershock of the campus disruptions of the last academic year. Although fund-raisers are still gauging the extent of the effect on philanthropy, some colleges — particularly small, elite liberal arts institutions — have reported a decline in donations, accompanied by a laundry list of complaints.

3) Any word on changes in donations to Williams? None that I have heard.

4) Any speculation as to the reasons why Williams suffers less turmoil? The Administration might like us to believe that they are better maintaining a calm/happy campus than their counterparts at Amherst/Yale are, but I doubt that that is the explanation. More likely is that Williams is today, as it has always been, among the most “conservative” — or, better, “least leftist” — among elite LACs, both in terms of the students it attracts and its campus culture. Other opinions?

5) My sources report that the most common political question Falk gets at alumni meetings concerns the self-inflicted wound of the Derbyshire cancellation. Can any readers provide reports from their local events?

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New York Times on Lord Jeffs

The New York Times covers Amherst’s decision to, sort of, eject Lord Jeffery. Comments:

1) Best part is the correction:

An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of the colonial commander for whom Amherst College is named; it is Lord Jeffery Amherst, not Jeffrey.

The Times reports, as undisputed fact, that Amherst is “named” after Lord Jeffery Amherst. Note that the Trustees at Amherst disagree:

The town of Amherst was named after Lord Jeffery, and the College was named after the town.

Well, which is it? Perhaps some of our historian readers (dcat?) could help us out.

2) Diversity is the godhead, not only at Williams, both also at Amherst and the New York Times.

The institution, which is one of the most diverse private colleges in the nation

One can make a factual claim that Amherst is, for example, one of the most expensive colleges in the country. Tuition is measured in dollars. But how is “diversity” measured? What makes Amherst more (or less) diverse than Bates/Middlebury/Williams/wherever? This is an honest question! I suspect that, for the Times, “diversity” means “least white.” Does someone have a better definition?

Other comments?

(Entire article is below the break.)
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No More Lord Jeffs?

This letter from the Amherst Trustees is not — How to put this kindly? — a model of clear writing.

Dear Members of the Amherst College Community,

During the past several months President Biddy Martin and the members of the board of trustees have had scores (all right, hundreds) of communications from alumni, students, and others about the matter of Lord Jeffery Amherst. The communications reflect and embody many points of view. A lot of them begin with something like the following: “I know there are far more important issues facing the College, but….”

And I agree—with the first part of the sentence and also with the “but.” The controversy over the mascot may seem small in itself and yet in many minds it’s symbolic of larger issues. The controversy is bound up with feelings about matters as specific and recent as the protests at the College last fall and as broad and old as the College’s mission and values. It’s bound up with personal memories and personal experience. I’ll come back to the mascot shortly, but the larger issues deserve some recognition first.

Get to the point! Is it too much to ask that, somewhere in the first two paragraphs, the trustees might tell us what their decision is? Will Amherst continue to use “Lord Jeffs” as a nickname/mascot or won’t it? After several hundred words, we finally get to:

Lord Jeff as a mascot may be unofficial, but the College, when its own resources are involved, can decide not to employ this reference in its official communications, its messaging, and its symbolism (including in the name of the Inn, the only place on the campus where the Lord Jeffery name officially appears). The Board of Trustees supports such an approach, and it will be College policy

Split the baby, Solomon! By claiming (correctly?) that “Lord Jeff” is unofficial, Amherst allows (encourages?) its continued use by the whole world. Consider a typical article from last week:

The Jumbos saw their five-game unbeaten streak broken the day before with the loss to the Amherst Lord Jeffs at home.

If the people at Tufts (and Bates and Williams and . . .) continue to refer to the “Lord Jeffs,” then it doesn’t really matter if the Amherst Trustees have primly turned up their sensitive noses to its usage. If everyone — include Amherst athletes (and coaches? and fans?) — continues to use “Lord Jeffs,” then the Trustees have accomplished nothing but to assuage their own consciences and to infuriate the social justice warriors on their own campus.

Should I spend a week fisking the letter or is this topic too boring to bother?

This provides Adam Falk (and Williams coaches) with some outstanding trolling opportunities! Whenever interviewed by NESN or any media outlet, always use the term “Lord Jeffs” when describing the opponent.

Entire letter before the break, saved for posterity.
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Dinesh D’Souza at Amherst

Dinesh D’Souza speaks at Amherst. (Hat tip to Ace of Spades.)

Love the part where the audience giggles when D’Souza quotes Martin Luther King. Stay classy Amherst!

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Amherst Uprising V

Amherst is descending into the insatiable maw of vicious political correctness. Let’s spend a week mocking them! This is Day 5.

Here is an account of last week’s events from an Amherst parent about the experience of his son at the library sit in.

His main observation of the original sit-in was that people seemed to have enormously negative experiences as persons of color on campus and he found that surprising. He reported that people talked about their life at Amherst as, say, a black female, being a living hell, one that my son found hard to jibe with the general intolerance in the classroom for even an ambiguously racist comment.

Indeed. This is a common reaction among white/Asian students.

One thing my son reported was that there were a lot of threats made against white students who somehow were not present in the library at the sit-in, as if non-presence at an unannounced event was somehow in and of itself racist. The general tone of the discussion was very authoritarian — everyone should be forced to be here, everyone should be forced to take diversity courses, etc.

Correct. We saw the same thing at Williams during Stand With Us in 2008.

A sleepy New England town was not so sleepy late last Wednesday night, as hundreds of students, faculty and staff poured from a packed Baxter Hall into the Williamstown streets, loudly promoting Stand With Us’ message of respect. That the movement — and this rally in particular — has galvanized much of the campus is undeniable. Yet for all the good energy that poured forth on Wednesday, a little bad energy seeped through as well, and threatened to add a tinge of dissatisfaction to an otherwise successful evening.

This dissatisfaction is due in large part to how a few members of the march handled students studying in Schow that night. In several instances those in the library that didn’t join in were yelled at and made to feel uncomfortable. Some who did not immediately stand with the rest of the group were intimidated into doing so.

Funny how these protests move so quickly from complaints about oppression to confrontations with other students.

In any event, we should not be surprised that Amherst, being Amherst, the movement has completely fizzled.up3

The protesters are so lame that they declare victory when their demands are “acknowledged.” Pathetic. And after I offered them some genius advice! Pearls before Jeffs . . .

Below the break is a copy of their most recent letter, an embarrassing climb down from their initial demands. Key section:

As an important note, the movement, both at its inception and now, by no means intends to stifle free speech. Such allegations are misinformed and misguided.

What gibberish! Their web page still demands:

President Martin must issue a statement of support for the revision of the Honor Code to reflect a zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech.

If you don’t think that honor code requirements to avoid “racial insensitivity” stifle free speech, then you might just be dumb enough to go to Amherst! Here is a concrete example:

At Amherst, the average math + reading SAT scores of male Asian-American students is more than 150 points higher than those of male African-American students.

This isn’t racial sensitive but it is, for good or for ill, the truth. Would Amherst Uprising protest against an Amherst professor who mentioned this fact in class? I bet they would!

Recent letter from Amherst Uprising below the break.
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Amherst Uprising IV

Amherst is descending into the insatiable maw of vicious political correctness. Let’s spend a week mocking them! This is Day 4.

Continuing our analysis of President Biddy Martin’s statement:

And the administration will ensure that no students, faculty, or staff members are subject to retaliation for taking advantage of their right to protest.

Did an Amherst lawyer vet this? What an absurd (and dangerous) promise to make! “Right to protest” is a very different thing than the right to free speech. I am writing this prior to the events, if any, on Wednesday, but hasn’t Martin given the students carte blanche — Is that word a micro-agression?! — to do anything they want, short of violence? Imagine students protest by shutting down the presidents office (or the presidents house!) by refusing to leave. Martin has just guaranteed that they won’t be punished? What if they occupy the two or three largest lecture halls on campus, thereby preventing classes from meeting there? Again, they can’t be punished!

Amherst has committed itself to equal opportunity for the most talented students from all socio-economic circumstances.

Uhh. No. Amherst actively discriminates in admissions against non-poor students. (Discussion here, here and here.)

The College also has a foundational and inviolable duty to promote free inquiry and expression, and our commitment to them must be unshakeable if we are to remain a college worthy of the name. The commitments to freedom of inquiry and expression and to inclusivity are not mutually exclusive, in principle, but they can and do come into conflict with one another. Honoring both is the challenge we have to meet together, as a community.

“Inclusivity,” thy name is “Speech Code.” Either Amherst students have the same free speech rights as UMass students or they don’t. Which is it? Getting clarity on that point (at least for Williams College) is perhaps the most important issue in this debate. What do our readers think?

Those who have immediately accused students in Frost of threatening freedom of speech or of making speech “the victim” are making hasty judgments.

If I were an Amherst trustee, I would be reaching for George Orwell right about now, and wondering if I can trust Martin to be truthful. The protesters have demanded punishment for other Amherst students whose only “crime” was to put up posters about free speech. If this isn’t “threatening freedom of speech,” then words have no meaning.

It takes time, attention, and serious discussion to sort out and make clear how we protect free speech while also establishing norms within our communities that encourage respect and make us responsible for what we do with our freedom. That is the discussion we need to have.

Does Amherst have a history of left wing presidents? President Martin, like President Marx before her, is certainly more stridently leftist in her pronouncements (and career?) than any Williams president.

You heard it here first: Why not rename Amherst? The student protesters don’t like the Lord Jeff mascot because Lord Jeffrey Amherst fought the King’s enemies in ways of which they disapprove. They want a new mascot. Fine. But the college would still be called Amherst! (I am hazy on whether this Amherst (the town?) is also connected to Lord Jeffrey.) So, why not solicit a gift for a billion dollars or so from some really rich megalomaniac and rename Amherst after him? Everybody wins!

And I even have a candidate: Weill College, after Citigroup’s Sandy Weill. This is perfect because a) Biddy Martin has raised money from Weill before, b) Weill has (at least?) a billion dollars and c) the Weills have tried before to get a college named after them.

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Amherst Uprising III

Amherst is descending into the insatiable maw of vicious political correctness. Let’s spend a week mocking them! This is Day 3.

Here is President Biddy Martin’s statement. First, why write 100 words when you can write 1,400? Second, are we allowed to make fun of President Martin’s first name? If “Biddy” isn’t the most WASPy name among elite liberal arts college presidents, then my name is David Dudley Field! Highlights:

The organizers of the protests also presented me with a list of demands on Thursday evening. While expressing support for their goals, I explained that the formulation of those demands assumed more authority and control than a president has or should have.

Hmmm. This might be a good strategy in that, if the President really can’t do thing X, then how can the protesters demand that she does? But, like the teller reporting to the bank robber that there is no money in the till, it is risky. First, college presidents are, on some dimensions, fairly powerful. There is a lot that Biddy can, in fact, do. Second, if she really does “support” the goals (and the demands?), then she is just passing the buck to whomever (the trustees? the faculty?) actually run the College. If I were an Amherst trustee, I would want Biddy to take responsibility for saying “No” to these brats. I would not want them bothering me.

Our students’ activism is part of a national movement of students who are devoted to bringing about much-needed change. They are exercising a fundamental American right to freedom of speech and protest.

Do students have free speech rights at Amherst? FIRE says No, giving Amherst a Yellow Light rating. (Sadly, Williams gets a Red Light.) I ask this question in all seriousness. Compare Amherst to UMass. Students at the latter have free speech, due to a long line of court decisions outlining that no part of the government, including state colleges, may violate the First Amendment. But those cases do not apply to private colleges like Amherst? So, is there something that a UMass student could say without fear of university retaliation but which would, if said by an Amherst student, result in punishment?

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End Lectures As Usual

Deadline for our friends at @UprisingAmherst is midnight tomorrow. What should they do when their demands are not meant? Simple:

Slogan: “End Lectures As Normal.” This is supposed to be a play on “End business as usual.” Does it work? Suggestions welcome!

Goal: Stop all large lecture classes from meeting together in their usual lecture halls. I don’t know enough about Amherst to target specific classes/rooms, but there must be some, probably fewer than a dozen, with more than, say 40 students.

Method: Have at least one student (or, ideally, two or more) go to the lecture hall a few minutes before the start of class. Stand at the front of the room at the podium. Start reading aloud material relevant to the Amherst Uprising movement. Content does not actually matter but more relevant is better. You are like a filibustering Senator, so even just reading a compilation of all the supportive letters/emails you have received is fine. The important thing is that you are, non-violently, taking over that lecture hall and freely speaking about what matters to you and what should, indeed, matter to everyone at Amherst. And you are not going to stop talking, even if the professor asks you to, even if she just wants to start class, even if the students start to complain. You are standing witness. You will not be silenced.

Result: The professor will have no choice but to cancel and reschedule class. And that is OK! Your goal is not to prevent the students from hearing a lecture in Statistics 111. You goal is to prevent “lectures as usual.” Since this large lecture hall is not available — and since Amherst Uprising will be speaking witness in all large lecture halls until further notice — the professor will have no choice but to say to the class:

“We need to reschedule this large lecture into 4 smaller sections that will meet in a smaller classroom at these four times. Please attend one of them.”

In fact, you are available to help the professor with this process by providing her with a list of smaller classrooms, their seating capacity and their current availability. In fact, you have already prepared a possible schedule for her!

Result: No student is hurt. (A few may be slightly inconvenienced by having their classes meet at different times/locations.) If anything, students are better off. A discussion section of 20 is a much better way to learn statistics than a lecture of 80. Yet the professors are very annoyed. They don’t want to quadruple their teaching time. They like large lectures.

Unfortunately, as much as you probably like these professors, you have to annoy them. You have to (non-violently and using your free speech rights) make their lives difficult enough that they will force the Administration to change. It is very hard for you to get President Martin to do what you want. It is much easier for a group of inconvenienced Amherst professors to do so. Force them to only teach students in classes of 30 or smaller, and they will do whatever is necessary to make your protest go away.

Even better, it is hard/impossible for the professors to complain to you. After all, many of them have sent you letters of support! They are on your side. And you are not preventing them from doing their jobs. They can still teach their classes, as long as they do so in smaller settings.

Pushback: Might the Administration come down hard against you? We should be so lucky! You are non-violent. You are doing nothing but speaking. You are even providing convenient lists of alternate times/locations where classes can occur. How can they attack you? And, even if they do, what are their options? Send in security? You then refuse to move; link arms; go limp. You use all the best non-violent tricks to stand your ground. Are they going to call the Amherst police? Arrest you? If they did that, hundreds of students would rally to your side. Your movement would be unstoppable.

President Martin is smart, so she would see the futility of using security and/or the police to force you out.

Summary: Your biggest leverage point is the faculty. You are not powerful enough to force substantive change. Students never are. But the faculty is. You need to force — non-violently and cleverly — the faculty to force the Administration to agree with your demands. Preventing them from lecturing, while allowing them to teach the same material in small groups, is your best strategy.

Good luck! Your friends at EphBlog wish you nothing but success.

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Amherst Uprising II

Amherst is descending into the insatiable maw of vicious political correctness. Let’s spend a week mocking them! This is Day 2.

Consider some of the demands from Amherst Uprising.

President Martin must issue a statement to the Amherst College community at large that states we do not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the ”All Lives Matter” posters, and the ”Free Speech” posters that stated that ”in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech.” Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats; alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.

I swear, this is not a joke! These clueless students really believe that free speech has no place on the Amherst campus.

President Martin must issue a statement of support for the revision of the Honor Code to reflect a zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech.

Zero-tolerance works out so well in other aspects of social policy that we ought to apply it to campus discussion and debate. What could go wrong?!

Recall our discussions about the failed (and misguided) efforts to police student speech in the Williams honor code.

Perhaps I have too much faith in Amherst President Biddy Martin, but I doubt that she will comply with these demands. The students have set a deadline of tomorrow. What is their best strategy?

First, they should heighten the contradictions. They need some racist graffiti, some death threats on Yik Yak and/or some nooses left around campus. Alas, it is unlikely that these will just materialize. Skinheads are, sadly, a marginalized and underrepresented group at campus. So, Amherst Uprising may just have to create these epiphenomenon of the underlying racism that is everywhere. So, be it!

Second, they should avoid getting caught in doing so! Nothing undermines campus activism more than unsuccessful false flag operations.

Third, they should carefully plan their direct action. Suggestions from our readers? Tough to know the best plan without having a sense of their numbers. Maybe a sit in at the President’s Office? A blockade of major lecture halls? Most aggressive would be an attempt to organize a campus wide boycott of final exams. If no students take any finals, Amherst can’t fail all of them.

Either way, good luck! The more that Amherst Uprising makes Amherst appear to be a seething cauldron of clueless leftism, the better for Williams.

Entire list of demands, saved for posterity below the break.
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Amherst Uprising I

Amherst is descending into the insatiable maw of vicious political correctness. Let’s spend a week mocking them! This is Day 1.

The Boston Globe provides a useful overview.

A group of 11 students at Amherst College, a private liberal arts school in western Mass., issued a list of 11 demands to administrators that includes making them apologize for signs that mourned the death of free speech.

The group, who call themselves the Amherst Uprising, said the college’s president Biddy Martin must issue a statement to the Amherst College community at large that says the school doesn’t tolerate the actions of students who posted the “All Lives Matter” posters, and the “Free Speech” posters that stated “in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech.”

Via former professor KC Johnson, this is the sign.up1

Apologies for the poor quality. Does anyone know of a better reproduction? The Globe continues:

“Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats;” the post said. “Alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.”

Could this all be a joke, or a false flag operation from someone like James O’Keefe? Or could these students actually believe that putting up a poster merits disciplinary action?

“If these goals are not initiated within the next 24 to 48 hours, and completed by November 18th, we will organize and respond in a radical manner, through civil disobedience,” the group wrote. “If there is a continued failure to meet our demands, it will result in an escalation of our response.”

Pass the popcorn! I hope these students bring Amherst to its knees!

By the way, the Amherst Uprising twitter account linked above seems so absurdly over-the-top that it must be a parody. Right?up2

UPDATE: It is a (genius!) parody. Well done Lord Jeffs! Here is the official account.

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Kafka at Amherst

From former Williams professor KC Johnson:

Kafka was born too early to write about Amherst College. At campus hearings on claims of sexual assault, procedures are relentlessly stacked again males and evidence of innocence doesn’t count. Amherst expelled a student for committing rape—despite text messages from the accuser, sent immediately after the alleged assault, (1) telling one student that she had initiated the sexual contact with the student she later accused (her roommate’s boyfriend); (2) inviting another student to her room for a sexual liaison minutes after she was allegedly raped.

Amherst, on grounds that the accused student (who, per college policy, had no attorney) didn’t discover the text messages until it was too late, has allowed the rape finding to stand, even though the college’s decision relied on the accuser’s credibility (which is now non-existent). Amherst faces a due-process lawsuit in the case.

Johnson’s summary of the case is even more damning than the Globe article we looked at yesterday. Read the whole thing.

What advice do you have for Amherst? I would settle with the student by either re-admitting him or paying him to finish elsewhere. You don’t want to go to trial with facts like these . . .

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An Innocent Bystander

A commentator (who should be an author!) notes this story from the Boston Globe:

In December 2013, Amherst College imposed its first major sanction under a new get-tough sexual misconduct policy, expelling a 21-year-old senior after a disciplinary board concluded that he had forced a female classmate to perform oral sex during an alcohol-infused encounter nearly two years earlier.

In April 2014, however, the expelled student presented the college with new evidence — a series of text messages the woman sent to two other male students immediately after the alleged rape, according to a lawsuit. To one, a dorm counselor, she described the sexual encounter in language that suggested it was consensual and she wrote, “It’s pretty obvi [obvious] I wasn’t an innocent bystander.’’

Entire article is below the break. Sure seems to me like this student is a victim of a witch hunt. Would our readers disagree?

And, since this is happening at Amherst, does it also happen at Williams?

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(Don’t) Give Me Your Poor VI

Sixth installment in a two week discussion of the recent New York Times article “Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges” by Richard Perez-Pena. Interested readers should check out our collection of posts about socio-economic issues related to admissions, from which I have plagiarized extensively.

“If you come from a family and a neighborhood where no one has gone to a fancy college, you have no way of knowing that’s even a possibility,” said Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, and a former president of Amherst. “And if you go on their website, the first thing you’re going to look for is the sticker price. End of conversation.”

Does anyone else find Tony Marx as annoying as I do? Doubtful! After all, his main societal function is to be the courtier for the plutocrats who fund the New York Public Library, a gig for which he gets paid almost $800,000 per year. (Who knew that librarians did so well?)

And, of course, I am sad that Marx is no longer president of Amherst since he seemed well on his way to making Amherst a much less formidable competitor (here and here).

But the real sleaze here is Marx and others like him misleading poor students about the actual costs and benefits of elite colleges.

But even top private colleges with similar sticker prices differ enormously in net prices, related to how wealthy they are, so a family can find that an elite education is either dauntingly expensive or surprisingly affordable. In 2011-12, net prices paid by families with incomes under $48,000 averaged less than $4,000 at Harvard, which has the nation’s largest endowment, for example, and more than $27,000 at New York University, according to data compiled by the Department of Education.

Marx is concerned that poor students go to the NYU website and get scared by the tuition. I, on the other hand, am glad! To a large extent, NYU is a sleazy deal, especially if you are a poor student. The fact that people like Marx won’t even discuss these issues, won’t even mention that not all “fancy colleges” are created equal, makes me angry.

If you are poor, and you get in to Harvard (or Williams), then, obviously, you should go. It is free! But borrowing $100,000 (27k times 4 years plus tuition raises) to attend a “fancy college” like NYU is a very, very dicey proposition. Why doesn’t Marx tell poor students the truth?

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Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview EXTRA: FINAL!

UPDATED:  I have moved this preview up, and added many new links, for today’s NCAA hoops action.  As expected, Williams, VWU, Amherst and RIC all advanced to an absolutely loaded sectional in Chandler.  A few links pertinent to this weeken’s action: the latest basketball show, video highlights from the Becker game,  the North Adams Transcript’s preview, Williams’ sectional preview (including webcast links), and Amherst’s sectional preview.

Of the five teams who have dominated D-3 basketball from 2003 through 20010 (Williams, Amherst, Virginia Wesleyan, Wisconsin Stevens Point, and Wash U., who have combined to win every title during that time period, with an additional five runner-up finishes), three, number ten VWU, number nine Amherst, and number four Williams, will battle for a spot in Salem.  D3hoops previews the tourney here, Williams previews its sectional here, and Amherst previews its portion of the bracket here.  Watch the webcasts of the Williams games here.

If you want in on the Ephblog NCAA pool, there will be a bonus of five points per pick for each D-3 Final Four team.  My picks are Williams (of course), Stevens Point, Middlebury, and Wooster (I’m not exactly going out on a limb, as these are four of the eight favorites, along with Augustana, Randolph Macon, Whitworth, and Amherst).  Either post your picks, or send them to me via email.  My analysis of the teams in the Ephs’ bracket is below the break.

[Note: the women’s team also made the NCAA tournament, but they are certainly long shots … even if they win their first two games, both on the road, they will almost surely have to face Amherst, who has already defeated them three times, at Amherst in the Sweet Sixteen].

(Ed note: from Jeff’s great round-up [note: click on the Whittington article, which is truly a must-read] PLUS this additional story on NESAC Player of the Year.  For the uninitiated, I also highly recommend checking out some of Troy’s innumerable highlight-reel plays).

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Hoops Rivalry Weekend: Payback Edition

(Photo from Williams Athletics site)
The Williams hoops squads had a disappointing trip to Lefrak gymnasium in January.  They are hoping to repay the favor tomorrow afternoon during the last regular season home game for seniors Troy Whittington and Harlan Dodson.  Hopefully the students will get there early to pack Chandler, and boisterously support the home team with some creative cheers.  Because, unlike the first meeting, these games count in the conference standings, the stakes are even higher.  The winner of the men’s game between second-ranked Williams and third-ranked Amherst earns the right to host the NESCAC tournament (unless Amherst loses to Middlebury tonight while Williams beats Trinity; then, an Amherst win over Williams would result in a three-way tie, with hosting rights decided by a coin flip), which is especially crucial this year, since the second-seeded team will likely have to face an equally-talented Middlebury squad in the conference semifinal.

Read game previews from Amherst here and the Berkshire Eagle here.  Watch the weekly Williams basketball show here.  For those in attendance, be sure to bring a few bucks Read more

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Community College Transfers

From Inside Higher Ed:

Community college students can successfully transfer to some of the nation’s most selective four-year institutions and perform as well as those who start as freshmen, if they are given appropriate academic and social support, a new report on a five-year project by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation finds.

The Community College Transfer Initiative, started in 2005, provided about $7 million over four years to eight four-year institutions — Amherst College, Bucknell University, Cornell University, Mount Holyoke College, University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Southern California — in an effort “to promote sustainable, long-term increases in the number of high-achieving community college students from low-income families transferring to the nation’s selective four-year institutions.” These institutions worked with nearby community colleges to eliminate kinks in the transfer process and also offered potential transfers specialized orientation and ongoing tutoring to smooth the transition. In recent years, some of the participating institutions — like Mount Holyoke — have formalized such transfer programs for the long term.

See the whole article for links and details. Can any of our Amherst readers tell us about their program?

My opinions are unchanged. Williams has, historically, made very limited use of transfers. And that is a good thing! We want to maximize the attachment that alumni feel to Williams and the best way to do that is to ensure that all of them are here for four years (or studying abroad with their Williams classmates). Transfers, whether they be from community colleges or Division 1 schools or the Ivy League, will, on average, feel less attachment. So, use those spaces for 4 year students.

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Winter Rivalry Weekend Preview and Liveblog

There are several high stakes Little Three Williams-Amherst showdowns happening this weekend.  incredibly, nine of the ten teams in action (all but Amherst hockey) are nationally ranked, and six of the ten teams are ranked in the top FIVE nationally!  Hopefully, a large crew of students will travel to support both the men’s and women’s hoops teams in action at Lefrak on Saturday.  Williams previews all the games here, and Amherst previews them here, including links for how to watch the events online.  You can watch highlights of the Eph basketball teams on the Williams basketball show.  For those following online, feel free to post about the events in progress here.  Detailed preview continues below the break. Read more

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Interesting Amherst Athletics Forum

Reposted from a D3hoops.com public message board:

I attended a talk/discussion of student/athletes at Amherst that included students, profs. and led by the AD.  Several bits of info that may be of interest to posters:
 1. Amherst was most pleased the past year to get a high number of top students who are also “stars” in their sports.  These are students that will be impact players and do not require “tips” or whatever they are called in admissions.  I forget the “label” the AD put on them….1A?.
  2. Amherst is incorporating a program that introduce professors with students that play sports.  Teams have faculty advisors and players work on community service  projects with faculty, etc……all to reduce any “division” in perception mainly…between teachers and sport playing students.  Varsity sports should be considered at Amherst as any other activity outside of class such as publications,  singing, etc.   It seems to be going well.
  3. Coaches are taking a more aggressive approach in recruiting due to the changing world of college recruiting … even in Div3.
The recruits are more knowledgeable about options, and top recruits are involved in their sports outside of high school….such as AAU/club teams and for longer periods of the year.
  4. Once top impact students are identified, willing professors are encouraged to “recruit” the individual.
  5. There are “particular” events that conference coaches are allowed to attend to see players and to be seen.  These region wide events in a given sport bring together players that have been considered qualified academically for IVY schools, Patriot League schools, UAA, NESCAC, etc.  

Point one had been mentioned here previously.  If true for Amherst and not for Williams (I have no idea either way), that is something Williams needs to work on — to the extent non-tipped athletes go on to become stars and not just minor contributors, that is a huge advantage when both schools are constrained to 66 tips, in total (and Williams is already at a slight disadvantage since those tips are allocated among more varsity sports than at Amherst). 

Point five I’ve also heard before, and point three does not surprise me.  But points two and four are very interesting.  I wonder if Williams does the same thing?  I think that, time permitting, professors calling admitted students generally (not just athletes) makes a lot of sense.  And while Williams teams are very active in community service (see the most recent examples here), I’m not sure whether they work together with professors on any of those projects.  I wonder also if Williams teams have faculty advisors.  Sounds like some ideas that are worthy of consideration.

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Williams v. Amherst, Facebook Edition

The Williams Facebook page has (as of December 16) 5587 fans (and counting), as compared to 4076 for Amherst.  The new Eph Alum Facebook page (2643 fans) is likewise already more popular than its Amherst counterpart (1998 fans).*  The Williams Athletics page is also very popular, with 1299 fans; there is no direct Amherst equivalent, and the closest approximation has only 206 fans . . . yet another way in which Williams College kicks Amherst in the butt.

Will Slack ’11 summarized other Williams pages on Facebook (and elsewhere) in this useful post.  Hopefully, Williams’ soon-to-be-hired new webmeister will create a single, fully comprehensive, centralized directory of Williams-related sites on the web.

[By the way, for those interested in the two huge Williams spikes in the Google Trends chart in the link included above, they correspond to two events: College Gameday on campus in November, 2007, and the release of the Forbes rankings on August 12, 2010.  Those are, by far, the two highest search days for Williams in Google history].

* a fair-minded observer would note that Williams does have more alumni than Amherst.  I am not a fair-minded observer.

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Big Concerts Have Their Downside

Many Ephs are familiar with the one thing Amherst has that Williams lacks: Antonio’s, a quality pizza-by-the-slice joint. (And no, Jeff, the opening of Supreme Pizza and Wings in North Adams doesn’t solve that problem). I’m sure most of you have been there after a basketball game or before vandalizing the Amherst sculpture garden.

Well, it looks like they had a rough weekend before Thanksgiving:

When a man wearing backstage Bob Dylan concert credentials around his neck walked into Antonio’s early Saturday morning, management at the pizza restaurant say they believed his claim that he was a member of the concert crew working at the Mullins Center during Dylan’s Friday night performance there.

The man, who Antonio’s owner Walter Pacheco estimated was in his 40s, ordered 178 extra-large gourmet pizzas. The total bill, including delivery, would be $3,900.

The man stood in the restaurant at 31 N. Pleasant St. for 10 minutes talking on his cell phone before leaving, promising to return to pay for the pizzas in several hours, Pacheco said.

They never saw him again.

I guess he left the manager singing a cover of “A Fool Such as I”. And to those always seeking “more” and “bigger” concerts at Williams — I hope you’re ready to bail Hot Tomatoes out when this joker strikes again.

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Biggest Little Game in America: Bigger than Ever Edition

Congrats to Williams on destroying Wesleyan on Saturday, earning at least a share of the NESCAC championship and earning the right to Walk (see photo below, and video here).  But that is just the appetizer for what is sure to be a tougher test at Amherst.  Last year, a 6-1 Williams team hoped to spoil the perfect season of 7-0 Amherst; they came agonizingly short.  This year, the roles are reversed.

Where to begin recounting how much is on the line for both teams?  For 6-1 Amherst, a chance to earn some redemption after a discouraging loss to Trinity last week, breaking its 14 game winning streak; a tie for the NESCAC championship; a chance to beat Williams twice in a row for the first time since 1986; and the first home win vs. Williams for any member of the Amherst team.  For 7-0 Williams, a chance to avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss to Amherst; a chance to win a solo NESCAC title for the first time since 2006 (the Ephs’ most recent undefeated season); and of course, new coach Aaron Kelton’s first Amherst game.

Williams leads the all-time series vs. Amherst, 70-49-5.  Previous posts on the history of the Amherst-Williams football rivalry, including links to various stories of interest, can be found here and here.  Amherst is first in the NESCAC in scoring offense with an astounding 38.6 points per game; Williams is not far behind, at 37.4.  Williams has the edge in defense, giving up only 13 points per game, as compared to Amherst’s 18.3.  Williams leads NESCAC by a wide margin in total offense, while Amherst has been more opportunistic, leading the conference, also by a wide margin, in turnover margin.  Williams previews the game (including viewing information) here, Amherst, here, the Chronicle of Higher Education (!) here, iBerkshires, here, the New York Times, here and here, and Fanhouse, here.   [By the way, I will be attending my first Amherst-Williams football game since the 1997 48-46 classic, which will likely never be topped for drama.  If you’re at the game, say hello — I’ll be the crazy shirtless guy painted head-to-toe in purple, and engaging in fistacuffs with the “Lord Jeff” … perhaps].

Below the break, my extended game preview, featuring key players to watch.

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Yard by Yard

More than fifty years ago, Ephs took the field against Amherst. Frank Uible ’57 led the way.

Tomorrow, they will do the same. And ten years from now. And one hundred. Do our Eph football players recognize their history?

TB Jones ’58, my father’s sophomore roommate, played varsity squash at Williams. I remember seeing his picture as one of the many team photographs that lined the walls of the old gym. Walking by those snapshots of Williams history each day on my way to practice provided me with a great sense of the players that had come before. Years later, those emotions were perfectly captured by Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” when he takes his class to view the old photographs on the walls of his fictional New England prep school.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVXKz0j9fvs&start=70

Decades from now there will be another young man at Williams who will walk down those halls on his way to practice. Perhaps he will play squash like TB Jones and I did (although I hope that he plays more like TB than like me). Perhaps he will go on to the Marine Corps, like TB, my father and I. Whatever his future might hold, I hope that he sees our pictures and wonders about us, about where we went from Williams and how prepared we were for the journey. I hope that he realizes how fortunate he is.

The glory of Williams athletics lies not in our wins and losses. TB Jones and Frank Uible last wore the purple and gold more than five decades ago. I left behind my playing days before today’s Williams freshmen were even born. Almost no one recalls the games we won or the games we lost. But play them we did, with just as much heart and nerve and sinew as the Ephs who stand in our places today.

“Carpe diem” — Seize the day — was the message that Mr. Keating sought to instill, a message appropriate for his high school students. Yet Williams athletes, adults for all those with eyes to see, should be beyond such exhortations. For them the message should center on their relationship to Williams history, to the players that have come before and to those that will follow in the years and decades to come. Which lineman tomorrow will play in Frank Uible’s position? Which squash player this winter will occupy TB Jones spot on the ladder?

Does football coach Aaron Kelton remind his players of the history of those who have gone before? Does he know their names and their stories?

I hope so.

Williams may win or lose tomorrow. Yet, in the longer sweep of history, one game, one loss, is as dust in the corridors of memory. What matters is the day itself, and the place we each occupy within the traditions of the Williams community.

No one remembers the score of the game these men played 100 years ago. But we look in their faces and see ourselves.

I am Frank Uible ’57. I am TB Jones ’58.

Who are you?

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Big-Time Athlete Infusion at Amherst

Some folks here talk about Williams as if it is some sort of outlier in terms of athletic emphasis in NESCAC.  But check out what’s been going on at Amherst (and indeed, at other NESCAC schools) in recent years: if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Williams should be VERY flattered.  I’ve long been making the point that Amherst has dramatically improved its athletic performance over the past decade to the point where, in team sports, it performs just as well (if not better) than Williams in the aggregate.  One area where Amherst most certainly emphasizes athletics more than Williams is in terms of transfer students.  Check out the  summary below of transfers, mostly from higher-division programs, currently playing key roles for Amherst athletic teams.

I’m not suggesting these transfers aren’t qualified to attend Amherst, or that they don’t belong there.  Indeed, on the contrary, read the article on Jeff Katz, an impressive scholar-athlete, who I imagine is typical in that regard.  But I am suggesting that Williams gets unfairly branded as some sort of athletics factory while many of its peers are pouring millions into new athletics facilities (while Williams’ are the last buildings on campus to be renovated, and only when the situation becomes nearly desperate), or are placing more emphasis than Williams on bringing star athletes to campus, or are spending far more, on a per-athlete basis, than Williams, or are actively poaching Williams coaches (two to Wesleyan, one to Bowdoin, all making roughly lateral moves in the last year).

And indeed, as I constantly remark, Williams kicks butt in the Director’s Cup not primarily due to occasional strong runs from the higher-profile team sports, but more often because of the consistent, year-to-year excellence of individual sports like track and field, swimming, cross country, crew, tennis, skiing and wrestling.  Almost every year, Williams earns  a ton of Director’s Cup points from all of these teams.   And the higher participation rate in athletics at Williams is not, again, reflective of a larger number of heavily-recruited athletes on campus, or a larger percentage of students playing TIP-heavy sports like football, basketball, soccer, and hockey.  Rather, as I often note, it’s because of the large number of varsity teams and in particular the ENORMOUS rosters for no-cut teams like crew, swimming, skiing, cross country, and track and field, none of which require substantial (if any) admissions concessions, nor, would I argue, have a dramatic impact on campus culture beyond bringing a high volume of active, outdoorsy type students to campus.  (I would agree that Williams has a higher percentage of fitness-minded / outdoorsy students than all of its peers save for, arguably, Middlebury, but that is very different from having a culture more in thrall to team sports).

In sum, Williams’ tremendous success in athletics is not a product of a disproportionate emphasis on athletic recruiting or expenditures relative to its NESCAC peers.   Keep in mind that, while men’s hoops came very close last year, no Williams team sport has won a national title since, I believe, 2003.  Since then, Middlebury, Amherst, Trinity, Tufts and Bowdoin have been winning team titles (often multiple titles) in TIP-heavy sports including men’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s field hockey, and baseball.  And while Wesleyan hasn’t won any titles, they have been bringing in high profile coaches from other NESCAC schools (hiring away Bates’ basketball coach and the aforementioned Williams coaches)  and really amping up the most prominent (and recruit-heavy) teams on campus: men’s soccer, football, basketball and lacrosse, all of whom have been establishing (or soon will establish) new standards for success at Wesleyan following very difficult stretches.

Again, I want to emphasize that I’m not saying Amherst (or any other NESCAC school) is doing anything untoward.  Just pointing out that, if you are qualified academically and are a star athlete who wants to transfer down a division or two, Amherst is, apparently, usually going to be far more interested than Williams.  [Williams may have one, max two, high-profile transfers on campus at any given time — Ryan Malo ’11 in wrestling comes to mind, and his success has been amazing — but the difference is substantial].   And Amherst has also been bringing in very prominent recruits as first years in recent years, in particular in basketball and ice hockey, but also in sports like tennis, where this year Amherst had the top-ranked recruiting classes in the nation for both men and women.  Here are the Amherst transfer athletes (that I know of via Amherst publicizing them), all but one of whom came from D-1 or D-2 programs, and all but one of whom arrived on campus in the last two years:

  • Jeff Katz ’11 , 24 year old all-conference football player, former pro baseball player, transfer from Lafayette
  • Reggie Fugett ’11, basketball/football transfer from University of Cincinnati (note: injuries have unfortunately derailed his promising athletic career, and in all events, an unusual case since his dad is a high-profile Amherst alum)
  • Matt Pietersi ’13, football star who transferred from Springfield College after leading them in tackles as a frosh; currently doing the same for Amherst
  • Luis Rattenhuber ’13, men’s tennis star who transferred from San Diego State
  • Joe Brock ’11, ice hockey star who transferred from Holy Cross and proceeded to lead Amherst in points last winter
  • Jake Hannon ’12, another top-notch ice hockey transfer, from Army
  • Jackie Renner ’12, top-notch women’s hoops player who transferred from University of Vermont and finished second in minutes on Amherst as a sophomore
  • Jasmine Hardy ’13, women’s hoops player from University of New Haven
  • David Fredlund ’12, baseball player from Davidson
  • Erin Babineau ’12, ice hockey transfer from Bemidji State

Not coincidentally, the last few years, Amherst has had more success in men’s football, women’s basketball, men’s tennis, and men’s ice hockey than at any time in recent memory.   Amherst has also been kicking butt in men’s basketball, women’s tennis, and women’s ice hockey, without the aid of  (prior to this year) any high-profile transfers.  And to be fair, even for teams with high-profile transfers, the star players have mostly been home-grown.  Williams may have juggernauts in women’s tennis and women’s crew, but Amherst has built (in some cases with amazing speed) juggernauts in women’s ice hockey, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, and women’s basketball, all four of which (!) will likely be favored to win national titles this year.

The Director’s Cup is still fairly safe, and will be most years, particularly because Williams has a few varsity sports that Amherst lacks (wrestling, women’s crew, skiing), and because of Williams’ consistent excellence in the individual sports.  But the days of Williams dominating, or even having a decided edge, over Amherst in team sports are over, and have been for several years — they are truly even as athletic rivals in most sports at this point, which is probably a good thing overall.  If, however, Amherst keeps on bringing in three-to-four scholarship-level transfers per year as it has the past few years, I wonder how long Williams can hope to compete on even equal terms in team sports.  And yet, there is still the reputational lag, where Williams is frequently portrayed as some sort of athletic factory, as opposed to its peers who are taking far more aggressive steps to improve their athletic programs.

It’s really a credit to Williams’ coaches, athletes, and tradition of excellence that, despite rivals pumping up their athletic programs at the same time that Williams has been reducing admissions concessions and tightening budgets, and  despite the generally-dated athletic facilities, Williams has managed to maintain such a high standard of achievement.  And I’m not really critical of most of the changes at Williams — if the school can still win NESCAC titles and Director’s Cups while tightening athlete admissions, more power to it.  But it would be nice for the outside rhetoric to match the reality.  And it would be doubly nice if, in the next fund drive, the relatively deficient state of many of the athletic facilities — particularly the football field and field house, but also certain outdated aspects of Chandler — is recognized and addressed.

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Amherst is Getting Stupider

Jeff and I are having a dispute about the interaction between Amherst’s increased committment to enrolling lower income students and the quality of its student body. See the thread for details. Jeff claims that:

Amherst DID meet [President Tony] Marx’s goal, and without any negative impact on the school’s aggregate SAT scores, which are precisely the same as Williams (essentially), and precisely the same as they were before Marx’s tenure (or maybe a tad higher).

Facts are stubborn things.

Amherst, to its credit, makes public an annual Report to Secondary Schools. (Williams ought to do the same. We should always be at least as transparent as Amherst.) The Reports are excellent documents, thorough and thoughtful. Consider this table about the Critical Reading test scores for the class of 2009.

am1

A lovely distribution. Amherst is an amazing college because it has amazing students. Then, President Marx comes along and decides to increase the enrollment of lower income students. Since admissions spots are limited (let’s ignore recent changes in Amherst class sizes), this means decreasing the enrollment of high income students. Alas, because of the correlation between family income and SAT scores, the only way to do this is be decreasing SAT scores at Amherst. Four years later, we have this for the class of 2013.

am2

1) Jeff is wrong. Amherst’s verbal SAT scores are significantly lower. (Math and ACT scores tell a similar story.) In admissions, there is no free lunch.

2) The trade-off is exactly as I described it four years ago.

The basic thrust of the article is that Marx is going to start letting in lots of 1350 SAT students from lower income families while rejecting more 1550 SAT students from higher income families.

And that is what happened. The percentage of Amherst students with a verbal SAT score from 750-800 has decreased from 47% to 35%. That is a huge change, accomplished mostly by only accepting 467 such students, down more than 580 from 4 years previously. The percentage of Amherst students with a verbal SAT score 600 or below has increased from 4% to 10%. Again, a large change in the context of elite higher education.

I hope that Marx’s successor continues with this policy, that he pushes Amherst to be even more socio-economically diverse, that he rejects even more (rich) students with 1550 SATs (who Williams will accept) while accepting more (poor) students with 1350 SATs (who Williams will reject).

It does not take a genius to figure out where Amherst will be in fifty years if it continues down this road.

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Marx To Leave Amherst

From the New York Times:

At a time when the digital revolution has thrown the mission of libraries into question, the New York Public Library is planning to name Anthony W. Marx, the current president of Amherst College, a native New Yorker and a passionate advocate of public education, as its new president.

Hat tip to reader David H.T. Kane ’58.

1) Most likely explanation for this change is that Marx was ready for a change after 8 years at Amherst. He is from New York, has a commitment to public education and a wife on the faculty at Columbia. All in all, an unsurprising move.

2) This change saddens me because I want Williams to significantly outpace Amherst, and Marx’s emphasis on socio-economic diversity was helpful to that goal. Enjoy these rants from 4 (!) years ago. A snippet:

Letting in smart low-income kids does nothing to Amherst’s reputation (except to improve it). Letting in not-so-smart low-income kids has the potential to be devastating to that reputation.

Bringing in more low-income kids would require added compromise. To meet Marx’s 25% goal, Amherst would have to take more threes [on a 1-7 scale], says Parker, meaning those who may have straight As but SATs as low as 1360. Even though Amherst already does so for minorities, legacies, and athletes, faculty members are worried. “This could be a radical departure that fundamentally changes the character of our institution,” warns physics professor David Hall, who heads the Faculty Committee on Admissions & Financial Aid.

Hall is right to be worried. If you think that, on average students with 1360 SATs do as well as though with 1560s, then you don’t know what you are talking about. People like Marx like to tell stories about specific students who come to Amherst with low scores and then thrive, winning academic awards, writing excellent theses, being named to Phi Beta Kappa. And such stories are certainly true. But they do not represent the average result. In fact, the typical academic performance of 3s is certainly worse than that for 1s, even during senior year (by which time any disadvantage in terms of preparation should have been alleviated).

The only way to meaningfully increase the percentage of students from the bottom quarter of the income distribution is to admit a bunch of applicants that you currently reject, applicants that are not as academically talented/focused as your other students.

I hope that Marx’s successor continues his policies and goes even further. Fill Amherst with low income students with 1360 SATs while Williams takes all the high income students with 1500 SATs which Amherst used to accept but now rejects. Guess what happens after a few decades . . .

3) Total speculation alert! Could there be a nasty understory here? Perhaps Marx’s mismanagement has left Amherst in such a precarious position that he is simply getting out while the getting is good. Recall hwc’s evisceration of Amherst’s financial standing nine months ago. There is a non-trivial change that Amherst is in huge financial trouble.

Also, recall the scandals besetting Jide Zeitlin, head trustee at Amherst. (Love the comments at the end of that post from EphBlog’s readers in India!)

By the way, is anyone shocked Zeitlin is still chair of the Board at Amherst? I am. The guy sure seems like trouble, and trouble is the last thing that Amherst needs.

The odds that Marx’s departure is an indication of real problems at Amherst, problems so serious that they might significantly weaken the college relative to its peers, are low. But they are not zero . . .

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What’s an Eph to do…

…if he or she is a Delaware voter, and is inclined to vote for Chris Coons in the upcoming Senate race:

Chris is a graduate of Amherst College with a B.A. in Chemistry and Political Science, and earned his law degree from Yale Law School and a Master’s in Ethics from Yale Divinity School. Chris also studied at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

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