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In other ivory towers…

One wonders if Schapiro is starting to miss Williams…

Schapiro “disappointed” by sex toy demonstration

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said he was “troubled and disappointed” upon hearing that Weinberg professor John Michael Bailey allowed a non-student presenter to be voluntarily masturbated with a sex toy during an optional after-class demonstration.

The full statement follows below:

I have recently learned of the after-class activity associated with Prof. Michael Bailey’s Human Sexuality class, and I am troubled and disappointed by what occurred.

Although the incident took place in an after-class session that students were not required to attend and students were advised in advance, several times, of the explicit nature of the activity, I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member. I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission.

Northwestern faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial. That is the nature of a university. However, in this instance, I have directed that we investigate fully the specifics of this incident, and also clarify what constitutes appropriate pedagogy, both in this instance and in the future.

Many members of the Northwestern community are disturbed by what took place on our campus. So am I.

More to come.

More from the Daily Northwestern:

Update 2: University spokesman Al Cubbage has released the following statement regarding the incident:

“Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines. The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”

Update: Prof. John Michael Bailey has released a statement regarding the demonstration. Read it here.

Northwestern students and administrators are defending an explicit after-class demonstration involving a woman being publicly penetrated by a sex toy on stage in the popular Human Sexuality course last week.

The optional presentation last Monday, attended by about 120 students, featured a naked non-student woman being repeatedly sexually stimulated to the point of orgasm by the sex toy, referred to as a “fucksaw.” The device is essentially a motorized phallus.

The 600-person course, taught by psychology Prof. John Michael Bailey, is one of the largest at NU. The after-class events, which range from a question-and-answer session with swingers to a panel of convicted sex offenders, are a popular feature of the class. But they’re optional and none of the material is included on exams.

Last Wednesday, Bailey devoted six minutes of his lecture to addressing mounting controversy regarding the incident and articulating his educational intent. He told the class he feared the demonstration would impact the after-class events, which are sponsored by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and he explained the educational purpose of the events.

“I think that these after-class events are quite valuable. Why? One reason is that I think it helps us understand sexual diversity,” he said, according to an audio file obtained by The Daily.

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you,” he said to loud applause at the end of his speech.

Thanks to Brandi for sending the link.



Television, anyone?

Does Williams have any groups which produce television shows for a local public access station? Is there such a station on the local cable system? Is there a television studio or television studio-like space on campus? I ask because I would think that anyone interested in journalism as a career would find it useful to be able to work on television production while in school, in much the same way that benefits accrue from working on the Record or working at WCFM (does the station still exist?)

Here in Arlington, there is a local non-profit which produces a roundtable discussion on different topics which is broadcast periodically on the local cable system. I’m sure Williams students could do just as good a job, if not better, on any number of topics:

News for Our Future (NfOF), Epidode 2 from Our Task on Vimeo.

If you fast forward to about 21:25 on the video, you can see a possible member of the Williams class of 2024 talking about recycling. Nick is a much better talker than I was at that age…



Excuse the all caps headline. This news comes to us via EphBlog math correspondent “12

Williams recovered the Green Chicken from Middlebury in a hard fought battle Saturday, November 7, 2009, winning 199-180 (maximum possible score was a 240). The top four scores for each side made up the team; the Williams team was led by Nick Arnosti (tied for top score overall), Carlos Dominguez, Ralph Morrison, and Wei Sun. There were 40 participants, 19 from Williams and 21 from Middlebury (making this one of the largest competitions on Middlebury soil). Pictures and a copy of the test. Celebration dinner this Wednesday, November 11, 5:45-7 pm, Mission (Dennett Room); all welcome. Congratulations to all participants and fans, including Coach Steven Miller and Professors Beeson and Stoiciu.

For extra credit, solve it yourself:

(thanks to nuts for the image)


Campus Leadership

To quote some of Frank’s comments:

Is there a significantly smaller quantity of campus-wide student leadership on a per capita basis than there was, say, 55 years ago? If so, why?

If not, does the campus require more leadership now than then?

To start off, I doubt that a similar % of students had work study 50 years ago, which inherently takes away from time to do leadership. Beyond that, I thought I would attempt a general survey of leadership opportunities. Please suggest anything I forgot; I’ll compare this list to past yearbooks in a later post, as part of an examination into student life in the last 50 years @ Williams.

Edit @ 12:49 AM, 3/12: The point of this exercise is to show how many groups and organizations are active on campus, requiring coordination and leadership. It may indicate why neighborhoods have trouble recruiting people to their boards, since other groups are more well-established.

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Michel Balinski ’54 and Majority Voting

Michel Balinski came to campus today for a Math/Stats colloquium and a well-attended presentation in Wege tonight. His presentation was on the problems with current voting systems, involving gerrymandering and how a minority can elect a majority, as is the case in the UK. This PDF is the hard academic text behind his work; I could not understand all of the involved math. Follow the jump for commentary.
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Looking for questions about Privacy in the 21st C.

Next month’s (Feb 2008) podcast for MIT Press is going to be different from the previous shows. Instead of separate interviews, I will be leading a discussion about the nature of privacy in the 21st century with Marc Rotenberg, Director of of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and co-editor of Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape and Susan Landau, Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems and co-author of Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption. MIT Press wants to include the public in on the discussion, so if you’d like to send a question along for me to ask either Mr. Rotenberg or Ms. Landau, send it along to publicity at mitpress dot mit dot edu. Please include your name and where you are writing from. The show will be recorded on Friday, Feb. 1st and be released that next week. Thanks.


People Respond to Incentives (the latest in an ongoing series)

In that same vein, we apparently have a very good explanation why there are so many econ majors of late — basically, their starting salaries are 50% higher than those of “liberal arts majors”.

As noted in last semester’s post on Gender Disparities and Incentive Effects, people make decisions based on their potential options and the expectation value of those options’ outcomes.

The trend toward Econ majors (or double majors), especially compared to DivI majors, seems quite rational especially in light of the increasing financial incentives involved. This is not something that can be weeded out, at least not to a substantial extent, by the admissions process.

The way to do that would be to find a field that has a use for lots of (e.g.) English majors, that pays comparable salaries to starting Econ salaries, and has numerous employers both willing and able to pay an enormous number of non-quants such a premium salary while remaining solvent.


Let’s Make a Deal

A former college roommate called me with a probability question based on Let’s Make a Deal (yes, my friends are also geeks). The problem is commonly refered to as “The Monty Hall Problem” (after the host of Let’s Make a Deal) and has a clear solution.

My friend posed the question as follows:

Phase 1: Three doors are on stage and Monty asks you to guess which one the prize is behind. You select a door, say door #1. Monty opens an empty door that you did not pick, say door #2. Monty then asks if you would like to switch to door #3 or stay with door #1. Should you switch?

Phase 2: Suppose three people from the audience play the game at once and all three have to pick different doors. Suppose further that Monty reveals door #3 is empty and that player is eliminated. Should the people guessing door #1 and door #2 switch?

Phase 3: Suppose there are three people playing the game simultaneously, but they are unaware of each other’s presence. Should players switch doors?

Okay, so no one actually talks like that and I am paraphrasing my friend. But the gist of the question remain the same.

Have your answer?

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