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In a column entitled Financial Aid for Dartmouth, the Valley News’ columnist Jim Kenyon made the following observation:

The compensation packages lavished on [Dartmouth] executives wouldn’t seem so egregious if the college didn’t nickel-and-dime its union employees in contract negotiations. In April, a month before the executives’ salary figures were disclosed, Dartmouth also announced that due to “present financial constraints, and the economy as a whole,” most rank-and-file non-union employees would be limited to 1.5 percent pay raises this year. These are often workers — office administrators, science lab technicians and library assistants — who perform essential duties but don’t have much clout.

That comment makes as much sense as the Freedom Budgeters’ complaint that the College doesn’t do enough for people of color. Look at the current SEIU union wage scale for Dartmouth employees. This isn’t “nickel and diming,” particularly when you add to these wages benefits that include five weeks of vacation for starting employees, pension payments that can go as high as 9% for older workers, and a Cadillac medical plan:

SEIU Wages 2014.jpg

But then Jim Kenyon never does take the time to get his facts straight. For example, while Kenyon criticizes the College for tight-fistedness, he glides over wages at the Hanover Consumer Food Co-op without comment. A recent Kenyon-generated Upper Valley controversy concerns the dismissal from the Co-op of wine section manager Dan King and cheese department clerk Dan Boutin, the latter a ten-year veteran of the Co-op. After a decade in a job requiring both extensive knowledge of cheese and good customer service skills, Boutin was making $15.66 an hour, according to an article in the Valley News — less than the Dartmouth union’s lowest-paid employee (a cook helper/dishwasher of whom no experience or education is required). Kenyon makes no comment on Boutin’s wage, just as he failed to do any research on the Dartmouth wage scale for his earlier column.

However, Dartblog readers might wonder why a ten-year customer service worker at the employee-friendly Co-op would make a wage almost 10% less ($15.66/hour vs. $17.12/hour) than a newly hired College dishwasher, who doesn’t even need a high school education to be employed by Dartmouth.

Addendum: Jim Kenyon should win regular awards for sour-spiritedness and lack of accuracy. His column the other day on the ongoing controversy at the Co-op could not be more vindictive and filled with prejudice. In it he can’t seem to decide whether to attack the Co-op’s management for two-facedness or the store’s members for being privileged and selfish. To my mind, he proves only the case — especially given that he puts forward no evidence for either of these propositions — that he enjoys wielding a blunderbuss.

Addendum: A reader wonders about Kenyon’s numbers, too:

To say nothing about how he claims that union employees are being nickel and dimed, and then cites NON-union employees getting 1.5%. What are the union employees getting? That’s the relevant information!

Hanover’s second mugging in a month:

July 27 AssaultA.jpg

Thirteen years and a six months after the horrific event, the NY Daily News has run an extended retrospective on the Janaury 27, 2001 murder of Dartmouth Professors Susanne and Half Zantop.

‘Tis nice to be loved:

NH Mag Comp.jpg


That the Allies faked the existence of an American army in the UK prior to D-Day is well known to historians and the public — the effort was even a core element in the popular 1981 movie The Eye of the Needle — but the clever subterfuge of spoofing the location of combat units during the fighting on the European continent was kept quiet for forty years, in the thought that we might use the same techniques in a war against the Russkies.

Rick Beyer ‘78’s film The Ghost Army tells the story of a group of artists, set designers, theater people (and some students, a cop, and a shoe saleman) who started off their war by learning the art of camouflage; then they changed gears with the goal of calling enemy attention to divisions that did not exist or were, in fact, elsewhere. There was no existing procedure for this unprecedented skill.

The group had mock tanks and vehicles that they could blow up like a kid’s inflatable swimming pool. They used “sonic deception”: recordings of tank engines and trucks and bridge construction; and they filled the air with the chatter of recorded radio communications — all to fool the Germans into thinking that there were units ready to jump off into attack at places where they were not actually present.

The 1:07-long film is narrated by Peter Coyote, and it is available on Netflix and on Amazon Streaming Video. Take a look at its website.

Addendum: The movie’s press kit describes Rick’s background as follows:

Writer/Producer/Director Rick Beyer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a bestselling author, and a long-time history enthusiast. His credits include Expedition Apocalypse, filmed in Siberia for National Geographic Channel; The Wright Challenge (winner of a Parents’ Choice Award), Secrets of Jamestown, Revolution in Boston and The Patent Files for The History Channel; and The Emancipation Proclamation (featuring President Bill Clinton) for the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life.” He is also the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books published by Harper Collins, which have been described by the Chicago Tribune as “an old fashioned sweetshop full of tasty morsels.” He began his career as a radio and TV journalist in Chicago and Boston.

Sure, I understand that correlation is not causality, but still, the below figures do make one pause. Why do students not needing financial aid stand a much higher chance of getting into the College than people who can’t pay full freight? Are they smarter? Does the supposedly need-blind Admissions Office peek at the financials just a teensy bit when deciding between two similar candidates whom to admit?

A loyal reader asked these questions when he noted that the College had boasted this year that 70% of all applicants had requested financial aid; then, a few weeks later, Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris ‘84 revealed that only 45% of admitted students were to receive aid (actually the link says 46%, but Dean Laskaris kindly updated the figure for me). Using the College’s numbers, let’s do the math on this past admissions season’s figures:

Applicants for admission: 19,235
Applicants asking for aid (70%): 13,465
Applicants not asking for aid (30%): 5,770
Admitted students receiving aid (45%): 999
Admitted students not receiving aid (55%): 1,221

Chances a student requesting aid will be accepted (999/13,465): 7.4%
Chances a student not requesting aid will be accepted (1,221/5,770): 21.2%

Hmmm. If you don’t need financial aid, you have almost three times the chance of being admitted to the College as compared to a student requesting aid.

Addendum: An alumnus has a question:

I’m not good with math, but aren’t you missing something in your stats in today’s entry? Surely you need to discover which of the students requesting aid were admitted and which weren’t, and which of the students not requesting aid were admitted and which weren’t. Plenty of people apply and request aid, then get admitted but don’t get aid.

Addendum: An a longtime reader comments:

This is not specific to Dartmouth - but I have heard that admissions offices do not always need to violate their own stated policies by peeking at actual financial disclosures in advance of making their decisions. Seems that one can infer an astonishing amount of information simply by using an applicant’s zip code - particularly in urban areas.

Addendum: As does another active Hanover resident:

… A related question to your illuminating post about “Need-Blind Admissions” statistics would be to separate out the recruited athletes from Dartmouth’s financial aid data and then look at the need-blind numbers again.

My guess is that it would echo what happens with the College’s Early Decision application pool. The bulk of Early Decision admits are actually recruited athletes who received admissions “tips” allocated to their coaches. So the likelihood of getting in Early Decision if you are not among the recruited athletes is much worse than the ED statistics would superficially indicate.

Anyway, I think that if you take the recruited athletes out of Dartmouth’s financial aid allocations, the “Need-Blind” admission statistics will look even less promising than Dartblog’s assessment this morning.

Addendum: Yet another perspective:

Dartmouth is a member of the 568 Presidents’ Group (you can Google it). As such, the College has formally certified that it is “need blind” as it must be under federal law to engage in protected discussions within that Group about financial aid policy as allowed under an antitrust exemption granted by Congress. If Dartmouth were, as you suggest, “peek[ing] at the financials just a teensy bit” the College would be exposing itself to a suit for violation of antitrust law. Are you suggesting that Maria Laskaris or Bob Donan would put the College in that position? Or that she is performing her duties as Dean of Admission in contravention of stated College policy?

More to the point, the no-aid-application pool, by definition, consists of students from wealthier families where education is a priority, where they often have access to the best public and private schools, not to mention that most all legacies are no doubt need blind.

By the way, “Need blind,” for purposes of the antitrust exemption, is defined in federal statute, leaving no ambiguity about what that standard is.

Addendum: All views elicit contrary views!

Time for me to do one of my favorite things - playing the devil’s advocate. One of my nephew’s closest friends during his time at the College was accepted ED. This boy was not a recruited athlete, not a legacy, did not hail from an under-represented state and is a Caucasian Episcopalian to boot — haha. He also comes from an economically challenged background, so needed almost full financial aid. The admissions process may be more mysterious than we know.

The other day we noted that the number of students receiving financial aid from the College had dropped in recent years from 51% to 45% of the student body — part of the Kim adminstration’s “soak the students to feed the staff” balanced budget initiative. Several readers wrote in to ask how we are doing versus the other Ivies. Here are the figures for Dartmouth, Penn, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard:

Ivy Financial Aid 2014.jpg

Not only are we again worst-in-show in the financial aid sweepstakes, but we have fallen off the previous trendline that related financial aid to endowment/student: by that latter measure we are still in fourth position in the Ivies behind HYP, and we used to be #4 in giving financial aid, too. Not any more.

A thoughtful observer of the College scene has read this space’s reporting on sexual assault. His reaction has been voiced by other correspondents in the past:

Joe, You noted in the first paragraph: “Yes, alcohol is always part of the equation …” [of sexual assault]

It is illegal in the U.S. (and in New Hampshire specifically) to consume alcohol prior to age 21. If Dartmouth College and its students honor this very simple, concrete law of the land, what effect would that have in reducing the incidence of sexual assault and rape on campus?

This illustrates why “the age of majority” makes sense, and deserves to be respected and enforced: Until you are 21, don’t drink at Dartmouth. If consuming alcohol as a minor in our campus community and under our institutional responsibility is more important to you than following that one simple law, then please go to school elsewhere. As an Ivy League student, plenty of other places will take you.

What to say about this position, an eminently logical one? Alcohol does have myriad negative effects on life at Dartmouth, and if the penalty for consuming it were expulsion, drinking would probably end at the College. Shall we bring back Prohibition?

To start, we should note that only a severe penalty like the expulsion of students could work to rein in student drinking. In the past decade, Jim Wright’s administration rang up hundreds of students on College discipline for underage consumption, and now-retired Hanover Chief of Police Nick Giaccone’s force arrested many hundreds more. Keystone Cop scenes of officers chasing Keystone-consuming students through the bushes played out over and over again on campus. To no effect at all, of course, except to give students disciplinary or criminal records that impeded their efforts to be accepted at grad schools.

We should also be cognizant of the fact that excessive student drinking has been decried in virtually every society from Ancient Greece (Plato’s Symposium means “Drinking Party”) to the present day, and certainly so at Dartmouth ever since Eleazar Wheelock supposedly arrived in Hanover with a barrel of five hundred gallons of New England rum. In 1772, student drinking was such that Wheelock wrote to John Sargent, who ran the Norwich-Hanover ferry (and a tavern, too),

I charitably hope …yt yo will henceforth Sell no Rum nor any Spirits to any Studt … belonging to ys College or School or to any Cook, Servt or Laborer … without a Written order undr my hand or one of ye Tutors-& pray sir, be so good as to signify to me by a Line …your complyce with my Desire …

Wheelock Rum.jpg

The imprecation didn’t work then, and it has not done so since. And frankly, as a society, I don’t think we much care. In some unspoken way, we accept that students on campus drink, though via our weak laws we tut-tut about the practice. Perhaps alcoholic excesses are our own form of Rumspringa, the period of time when Amish youth are allowed to depart from the strict norms of their faith, prior to taking vows to lead a restrained and observant life. In addition to working hard in Hanover, students have a chance to purge themselves of wild feelings, doing so in the knowledge that after Commencement the hard work of a responsible life begins.

I can’t come up with a better explanation than that one for an unstated tolerance that goes back centuries. Perhaps my correspondent is inspired by Utopian sentiments, and he is willing to harshly enforce them? Not me. A conservative approach would be to accept the world as it is, and have the serenity to accept what cannot be changed — while scolding the students for their naughty, naughty behavior.

Addendum: The element left out of the above argument is the new-found abuse of alcohol by women students, with obviously pernicious effects. Responding to that development might change the debate.

Addendum: A reader writes in:

There is one important consideration you omit. By turning a blind eye to underage drinking, we send the message that attendance at an elite institution allows you to selectively obey the law. It is at least worth asking to what extent the proliferation of insider trading and other lawbreaking in the financial world has been nourished by the attitude that the privileged are somehow above the law.

Addendum: As does a wit:

The problem is that the culture of drinking got established when there were different sociological facts than exist today, i.e., there are now women at Dartmouth. The solution is that all women should be required to take a daily dose of Antabuse. The assault problem is thereby mostly solved.

Addendum: And a veteran of the social wars:

Here is a question that I think begs an answer at Dartmouth and everywhere else: What is the driving force behind large numbers of today’s college students routinely drinking themselves into oblivion? What are they running from? What cultural forces are in play? I speak as someone who has certainly imbibed my fair share of cocktails through the years — but I simply do not understand what is fun about throwing up, passing out, making a fool of yourself and awakening with no memory of the night before. Have even heard that it is not unusual for some of these kids to wet their beds after passing out. Whaaaat? To me, the larger question is not about the relevant legalities or choosing to drink vs. choosing to abstain — my question is: Why the increase in continuous excessive drinking? In my day, this was a one or two time event — i.e. a learning experience — something that you never wanted to repeat.

Crowd-sourcing might not be the right term for what journalists do, but if you care about the College and see her weaknesses through the same lens as the writers in this space, you might want to help us out. Do you know areas of waste and incompetence at Dartmouth that need sunlight shone on them? By sharing documents, pictures and details with Dartblog, we can bring information to the attention of the public, the administration and the Trustees — the latter all read us almost every day — that they might never see.

All the P's MenA.jpgAnd you can do so risk free. Unlike Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (or Bob Woodward in real life), sources no longer have to meet reporters in underground parking garages.

Just create a new Gmail e-mail address for yourself, give it a playful name — how about — and send us news, tips, observations, documents, and your special thoughts about how to make the College a better place for students, faculty and staff. We can chat, and together we can expose secrets that should not be hidden. Needless to say, your confidentiality is guaranteed. Though we are eminently trustworthy, you really don’t need to trust us; equipped with an anonymous e-mail address, we have no way of finding out who you are. In fact, we don’t even try. Our concern is only that you care enough about the College to reveal what so many people don’t want revealed.

Write to us at We look forward to hearing from you.

At least we’re not in last place in the Ivies: Brown is ranked the 81st university in the world; we come in at 44th. The other six of the Ancient Eight are 14th or better:

CWUR Comp.jpg

The summary of the survey’s methodology is above. Clearly our small size is a hindrance to performance according to the scales the Center for World University Rankings has chosen to use. For a full description of the ranking methodology used by the CWUR — located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — click here.

Our favorite summer swimming spot over in Norwich is in fine form: freezing cold water tinged an emerald green. We go twice or even three times a day when it’s hot and humid.

Swimming Hole.JPG

Paddling around in a rushing current is refreshing; the flow takes away your body heat in short order. Also, it is fun to swim upstream under the current and then surface into the foam of the waterfall. Simple pleasures. Of course, getting in can take a little effort.

Just as New Hampshire is #2 in the nation for per capita beer consumption, so is the state in second place for wine drinking — this time behind the District of Columbia. Is it something in the water?

USA Wine Consumption Comp.jpg

The figures don’t indicate whether Washington D.C.’s nation-leading performance derives from high sales of Chablis or Thunderbird — probably both.

Of course, New Hamsphire’s wine consumption is fairly modest by international standards. We are on a par with the UK, but only at a fraction of the level achieved by the Latin countries of Europe:

Wine Consumption Int'l.jpg

Addendum: One might wonder if New Hampshire’s state liquor store system is skewing the results by selling a great deal of alcohol to bargain-hunting Massachusetts citizens, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. How to explain Vermont’s and Massachusetts’ high ranking?

Sexual Assault Summit Logo Comp.jpgSexual assault on Dartmouth’s campus is a real problem — anyone who denies that assertion has not spent time discussing the issue with young women at the College. For decades I have heard thoughtful undergrads describe events that befell them and many of their friends. Yes, alcohol is always part of the equation, but so are predators who maneuver vulnerable students into searingly regrettable situations. Just what percentage of students are assaulted is unclear, but the figure is significant.

By all accounts, Phil Hanlon’s administration did a bold thing in hosting this week’s conference on assault. Several presenters talked about the longstanding difficulty in finding a venue for the event. Of course, as this space has observed, the College will take it on the chin for doing so alone. I wonder if the administration spent any time investigating whether the other Ivy schools had an interest in co-hosting the event as a sign that they, too, take the problem seriously.

That said, as Alexandra Arnold recently noted here, both peer-reviewed research and local experience point to a small number of students being responsible for a great many assaults. Yet all of the event’s polished presenters — many of whom seem to have presented the same material many times; in fact, several of them had worked as stand-up comedians — had a tremendous investment in the notion of “the water in which we swim.” Speaker after speaker asserted that our entire society is at fault for sexual assaults, and that incitement to assault is all around us in the media, the general culture, in rape jokes, and even in children’s nursery songs (not that I have ever heard the ballads that were sung by two of the speakers).

Different presenters had trolled the internet for evidence of the objectification of women’s bodies (avant garde fashion ads directed at women seemed particularly at fault), the glorification of violence against women, and rape images. Dartmouth Professor Susan Brison described the entire world as deeply misogynistic, and more than one speaker made statements to the effect that, “Any time a women leaves the house, she fears being raped, harassed and beaten.”

Perhaps the latter statement is true of the women at the conference (90% of the 250-300 people in attendance), but the assertion is a long way from reflecting the attitudes of most women. Activists and victims have a particular worldview, but, no matter how justified, it should not be allowed to dictate policy. In this instance, such shrillness undercut the seriousness of many of the speakers.

Sexual Assault Conference.JPGSpeaking of policy and its dictation, one session of the conference was entitled Sexual Assault on Campus: Federal Perspectives. The speakers were Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and Anurima Bhargava, Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. These self-assured, well spoken regulators insisted that it was their role to enforce “the law,” not withstanding the fact that prior to the Obama administration, Title IX had never been interpreted to cover sexual assault.

Both women seemed to believe that the world of higher ed should bend to their will — for its own good — and that we’ll all be better off if the effort against assault is piloted from Washington. Bhargava mentioned that this year alone she had threatened four schools with the complete loss of Federal support and grants unless they complied with her department’s orders. Questions from the audience about “safe harbors,” so that schools can know if they are in compliance with regulations, were met with derisory laughter from the audience. The consensus seemed to be that the Feds could not do enough to force schools to follow rules developed in D.C.

The whole proceeding recalled for me the fight against crime in the 1960’s and 1970’s: for decades, many people asserted that criminality was “a social problem” that was difficult, if not impossible, to solve, stemming, as it supposedly did, from social injustice and inequality. That idea turned out to be untrue. Since the 1980’s, strong enforcement and the incarceration of a relatively small number of criminals have returned us to low crime rates not seen since the 1950’s. Despite the unsupported ideological posturing of other speakers, David Lisak’s research, which he presented with special conviction at the conference, leads self-evidently to the conclusion that enforcement efforts should be specifically directed at predators (here and here). Notions of a rape culture distract from the needed fight against only a few culpable people, and worse, they generate a pushback when this idea leads all men to be tarred with a broad brush.

The coming months will make clear in which direction the College’s bureaucrats will go.

Addendum: The press was not allowed to attend the conference’s working groups, which addressed specific issues of prevention and enforcement. These groups will report on their recommendations in several months, perhaps at another conference.

Addendum: MindingTheCampus notes that the conference organizers chose not to include any civil libertarians or defense attorneys among the presenters.

Addendum: Several speakers commented that the U.S. military was far more energetic in working transparently against sexual assault than our leading universities. The military is forthcoming with detailed statistics about its problem; colleges were accused are being motivated by PR to downplay or even hide the gravity of campus assault. David Lisak asked pointedly if schools want to behave honorably or whether they will choose to conduct themselves in the manner of the Catholic Church.

Would you send your child to this school? Or if you were a senior educator, how would you evaluate Dartmouth when asked to do so by U.S. News as it prepares its rankings for the coming year?

In some abstract way, the College is taking the lead in the fight against sexual assault. However, on the ground, the administration-induced harm to our reputation will last for decades. The Chronicle of Higher Education is widely read. Articles like this don’t help us.

CHE Assault Conf Comp.jpg

Read the entire Chronicle piece here.

For a place that has been dead in the water for several decades, a V-P in charge of academic innovation could be a good idea — or it might just be another layer of bureaucracy. The choice of the person to lead the charge will make all the difference.


My sense at the moment is that Phil is hiring tough-minded, honest people to run the College. A good change. There remains plenty more house-cleaning to do at the senior level, and the new hires will have to deal with the Augean Stables bureaucracies below them, but the signs are there that this is already happening. Are things looking up?

Addendum: Upon further reflection, I might inquire why everyone in the administration is not responsible for innovation.



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