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What to make of this Wall Street Journal article? It announces nothing, but it does seem to put everyone on notice that new policies regarding the Dartmouth Greek system are in the offing:

WSJ Frat Comp.jpg

Is the piece part of a scripted PR campaign to prepare the College for a major fall term announcement about frats? Given the press pieces that I noted yesterday, one could come to that conclusion. Ostensibly policy is still being formulated, but the Trustees have a long history of deciding first and then forming the committee later, so anything is possible.

In any event, before the administration rushes off and abolishes/restructures the 30 houses in the Greek system, we might ask a few questions and note a few facts:

● Membership in Greek houses as risen 27.5% over the past decade (+29.4% for fraternities; +15.4% for sororities; and +17.3% for co-ed houses). Participation in Greek life at the College is at an all-time high today: 67.4% of upperclass students are members (2,213 out of 3,282 eligible students). Students seem to be voting with their feet in favor of Greek houses. How much does the legendary loyalty of Dartmouth alumni have to do with the bonds forged as Greeks?

● Are the statistics for sexual assault, binge drinking and other banned activities lower at schools without an important system of fraternities and sororities, especially ones that have banned Greek life altogether on campus in the past, like Williams and Bowdoin, etc.? If not, one has to seriously wonder about the cause and effect relationship between fraternities and inappropriate behavior. In making major changes, would we be throwing out the baby with the bath water?

● Greek students have GPAs just slightly above the unaffiliated-student average.

● Dartmouth will not have a new Dean of the College to replace the hapless Charlotte Johnson before the summer of 2015 at the very earliest (a search committee has not yet been formed). Is it conceivable that major changes to student life will be enacted this fall without an administrator to oversee them? And how easy will it be to recruit a new Dean if the College is in chaos due to major changes in a central area of student life?

The people who are the most severe critics of the Greek houses often seem to be people who spend no time in them. Let’s hope that this decade’s effort to reform the system is the product of knowledgeable reflection and not animated by ignorance and prejudice.

The Huffington Post put out a breathless headline the other day: Hundreds Call On Dartmouth To Overhaul Its Powerful Greek System. The D was not far behind: Online Suggestions Point to Abolishing Greek Life. Let’s play the same game, but with the opposite goal: Only 0.3% of Dartmouth Community Wants to Abolish Greeks.

Greek Vote.jpgWhere does that tiny number come from? Start with 75,787 alumni; add 3,443 staffers; 1,059 faculty members; and 6,342 students. Those figures sum up to 86,631 members of the Dartmouth community who could vote on the future of frats and sororities.

In fact, fewer than 600 people cast votes on the Moving Dartmouth Forward website as regards the Greek system, and less than half of them (only about 43%) voted to abolish the Greeks. The others has different suggestions. To whose headline should we listen?

The College seems to have a stats problem. For example, negotiations with the Freedom Budgeters seems to be ongoing, but for whom do these 30 or so disgruntled students speak? Not for the student body, that’s for sure. The FBers bore no petitions with thousands of names, nor any other evidence of broad-based support. They speak only for themselves: 30 students out of 6,342. That’s 0.5% — one in two hundred students.

No mandate there either.

Addendum: If the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils wanted to be clever, they could get word out to their members that voting for the preservation of the Greek system would influence the Moving Dartmouth Forward committee. I wonder if a surge in votes in this direction would lead to different headlines in the HuffPost and The D.

While the College was not included in the Princeton Review’s Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges, we did make the Campus Pride Top 50 — with a picture no less in LGBTQNation:

Campus Pride Comp1.jpg

Meanwhile, Forbes ranked the College #10 in the nation in entrepreneurial activity and support:

10 Dartmouth College

Dartmouth’s Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) has provided support for over 500 projects and companies since 2001.

When we found out that Spencer and Sabrina Powers were breeding free-range chickens in addition to selling fresh eggs at Bear Knoll Farm in Canaan, we hustled right over to have a chat and purchase some of their broilers. They raise fast-growing Cornish Crosses in mobile enclosures that they displace every two days, so that their chickens have a fresh stretch of grass — and its associated bugs — to feed upon. Allowing the hens and roosters to live outside and move around results in the best tasting chicken that we have had in a while.

That was last year. This year we went one better and asked the Powers to raise Dorkings for us — a heritage breed of chicken that routinely wins chicken taste competitions. (Take my word on this. I could give you multiple links, but, really, you have better things to do.) Dorkings are like Cornish Crosses that have had a real education: they produce meat with a deep, more complex flavor and a finer texture than any chickens that we have ever had.

Dorkings.JPG

From now on, we’ll have the Powers raise about twenty Dorkings for us each summer. Spencer and Sabrina will slaughter them humanely in the fall, freeze them rapidly, and we’ll enjoy them for the rest of the year.

Addendum: Rather than paying a farmer, a distributor and a supermarket for our chicken, we go straight to the source. The Powers family makes a better living, and we eat better chickens. We do the same once a year with beef and maple syrup, and in Europe we buy olive oil and wine directly from producers.

                        

Or already looking for the next big job?

Kim Obama1.jpg

Birds of a feather…

Professor Tom Kurtz introduces a very fine film:

Why is what we did at Dartmouth fifty years ago so great? Well… let me think about it a second. Computing was coming into its own, but in all of the other projects that were undertaken by industry and by universities, the target was research and development computing ideas and so forth, whereas here at Dartmouth we had the crazy idea that our students, our undergraduate students, who were not going to be technically employed later on — social science and humanities students — should learn how to use the computer. A completely nutty idea…

The whole project was governed by the idea of introducing computing to everybody on the Dartmouth campus, or nearly everybody…

Bill Zani Tuck ‘64 observes:

In the fall of ‘64, we were invited to make a presentation at AFIPS [American Federation of Information Processing Societies]. It was a big deal of computer people in San Francisco. There was a room of, maybe, 2,000 people in the room. We hooked up the acoustic coupler with the handset, and we linked the Model 33 teletype to Hanover.

We got the dial tone, and all of this was videotaped on the screen for the audience. And we were entering programs in it, and lo and behold, out comes the answers and shown on the screen. And everybody went bananas on this simple, basic language being compiled and run in San Francisco over ordinary telephone lines in the computers in College Hall [now Collis] in Hanover.

And we were bombarded with questions of what it was. That’s the first time I really got to see the impact of what the Dartmouth Time Sharing had.

Kurtz concludes:

The second thing that was interesting about it was that it was all done by Dartmouth undergraduate students. Nowhere else do I know of in the history of computing has something like this been done.

Sounds a like a great bunch of teachers at a great school, don’t you think? In fact, the film is a remedial education unto itself about the real nature of the old Dartmouth; it is of particular usefulness to people burdened with prejudices about the nature of the College prior to their own arrival on campus.

Addendum: The film was made by Professor Dan Rockmore, the College’s Director of Media Production Mike Murray and filmmaker Bob Drake. It premiered at the College’s “BASIC@50” event on May 1.

The NYT graphs the evolution of the origins of the people living in all 50 states. As everyone knows, the Granite State is being overrun by refugees from Massachusetts:

New Hampshire Population.jpg

We are living through a revolution in the depiction of data. Never in the field of human endeavor can so few charts show so much information about so many people.

In late May, we noted Phil Klay ‘05’s fine essay in the Wall Street Journal — Treat Veterans With Respect, Not Pity. Klay has now published a set of stories about Iraq entitled Redeployment, and David Brooks ‘15 has written two pieces about Klay’s work for Business Insider: a review, This New Book Reveals That War Is Much More Than Combat; and an introduction to the initial chapter of Klay’s book, The First Chapter Of This Book Will Change Your Understanding Of Soldiers In Combat.

Redeployment.jpg

In his own review, the New York Times’ Dexter Filkins lauded Klay’s book: “Redeployment is hilarious, biting, whipsawing and sad. The best thing written so far on what the war did to people’s souls.” George Packer wrote even more fulsomely in The New Yorker:

“Redeployment” is military for “return,” and Klay’s fiction peels back every pretty falsehood and self-delusion in the encounter between veterans and the people for whom they supposedly fought…

Klay, a Dartmouth grad who served in the Marine Corps in Anbar Province during the violent months of the surge, in 2007, is a writer who happened to be a marine—you can imagine him writing well about anything, not just Iraq. His fiction is extremely funny and absolutely serious, his control over language and character so assured that the array of first-person narrators in these dozen stories—combat grunts, a desk-bound officer, a beleaguered State Department official, a Marine chaplain—are all distinct and persuasive.

High praise, indeed, for Klay and the College.

Addendum: Both Klay and Brooks are veterans, a group that is today more broadly represented in the undergraduate student body than at any time since the end of the war in Vietnam — an example of real diversity and a good thing for any number of reasons.

In the Harvard B-School case study of Google, that company’s ten golden rules are listed. In the Dartmouth context, one stood out:

Google Rules Comp.jpg

What could we do at the College to increase interaction between students and faculty, and to free up time for Dartmouth’s highly paid professors to teach, study and do research? Certainly as a matter of management, an effort in that direction should be one of the administration’s top, ongoing goals, don’t you agree?

The answer to that question, and one that will cost no money at all, is to rejigger the parking priorities at the College. Right now parking permits with equal rights are given out to all employees for a small fee. Janitors, administrative assistants and dishwashers can grab any open space on campus just like a full professor. So when hourly workers get to campus early in the morning at the start of the first shift of the day, they can park their cars behind Dartmouth Hall and leave them there for eight hours. When professors later come into town to teach a class, they find the central campus spaces all taken, and they are obliged to wait for a shuttle bus in one of the satellite lots that will eventually deposit them near their offices. Profs will put up with this inefficiency when it comes to teaching classes, but such delays make it hard to justify coming into town to meet with a student, especially when the time spent dealing with parking can exceed the time interacting with an undergraduate.

As a matter of efficiency, it would make sense for the administration to organize a system wherein full professors (many of whom earn $150k/year — almost four times what a janitor earns!) have their time optimized, even if some inefficiency is added to the life of a janitor (or other hourly worker). There is no shame in accepting that professors do more valuable work at the College than other employees — that’s why we pay them more. As Google opines about its élite engineers, steps should be taken to cater to professors’ every need.

The folks at Google would consider this question a no-brainer, as we used to say at Bain, and accord central campus parking privileges to the faculty. That the College does not do so is an example of egalitarian obtuseness that places a misguided ideology of equality over the goal of excellence in education.

Addendum: I’ve written about this subject before (here and here). One day someone somewhere in the administration is going to realize that a change of policy will not only free up faculty time in the service of education, it will also make professors deliriously happy. Is the latter a priority at the College? If it isn’t now, it should be.

Lisa Paige, Ph.D., who graduated from Harvard in 1980 and describes herself as a founder of the national coalition of alumni/ae working to end on-campus sexual assault, has written a piece in the Women’s Enew blog entitled My Acquaintance Rapist Finally Figured It Out. In addition to telling her own story, she details efforts underway at other schools to combat assault, before focusing on Dartmouth’s recent conference on the subject:

WE News.jpg

How interesting that other schools don’t want to follow the College’s lead. Methinks that the issue is not the $200,000 that Ms. Paige asserts was the cost of Dartmouth’s conference. Rather, nobody wants to challenge Dartmouth for the title of the nation’s rape school. Of course, Phil Hanlon doesn’t see things that way, as he said in an article in The Washington Post:

Asked whether he also worries about shining a spotlight on Dartmouth’s troubles, Hanlon said students and parents should take heart that the college is mobilizing to address its problems.

“These are issues everywhere,” Hanlon said. “A prospective student or parent should be concerned if a campus is not talking about them.”

To my mind, Phil is showing a mathematician’s sensitivity to the shaping of public opinion. His logical mind leads him to believe the public will applaud the College for assertively fighting assault, when, in fact, people will simply conclude that the problem is worse in Hanover than elsewhere; they’ll think that is the reason why Dartmouth is especially worried about assault. As I have said, the administration should have enlisted the seven other Ivies as co-sponsors of the recent conference. We missed an opportunity there.

Just in case you feared that the nation’s attention had been pulled away from sexual assault at the College by the Taylor Woolrich concealed gun story, USA Today brings people back to the administration’s “reality.” The full article is here.

USA Today Assault.jpg

I wonder if anyone at all is going to apply this fall.

Addendum: A Newsweek article by Alexander Nazaryan ‘02 takes the Ivies to task, but saves special opprobrium for the College.

In an article headlined, Long Odds for Hospital Jobs: Hundreds Seek D-H Training Slots, the Valley News described the competition and arduous training required to secure a position as a pharmacy technician or medical assistant at DHMC. The piece also details the wages paid for these jobs:

… as 350 job seekers flocked to a West Lebanon hotel Monday, formidable obstacles lay between them and 30 entry-level pharmacy technician or medical assistant jobs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The biggest challenge would not start until after Labor Day: a grueling training course, nine or 10 weeks without pay, 40 hours in class each week followed by 28 or more hours of homework. Then, a year-long apprenticeship.

But hopefuls faced long odds to even get into the class. More than 700 Twin-Staters signed up for the jobs. Prospects must also pass criminal records and reference checks and an online aptitude test and engage in two rounds of interviews.

Even as they arrived at the Fireside Inn, attendees began a winnowing process destined to frustrate the hopes of most. While they stood in line to register, assessments of their “behavioral competence” were underway, said Gerry Ghazi, the president of Vermont HITEC, which operates the program. Organizers noted who showed up wearing shorts despite instructions to wear “business casual” or failed to bring along resumes, he said.

…But first on the horizon are the 30 jobs that Dartmouth-Hitchcock advertised with a starting wage of $14 an hour and an increase to $15 to $17 an hour after the apprenticeship. In Lebanon, D-H currently employs 76 pharmacy technicians and 37 medical assistants, said spokesman Rick Adams. [Emphasis added]

Seems like demanding work, no? Especially given the lengthy, unpaid training period and the one-year apprenticeship.

Curiously enough, on the Dartmouth job search website right now, there are several openings for custodial positions — janitors, in plain English — jobs that require no formal education, little or no training, and even less responsibility:

Custodian Duties.jpg

As you can see below (Job Grade C), a Dartmouth custodian will earn more on the first day of employment than an extensively trained pharmacy technician or medical assistant at DHMC will earn after well over a year of training and apprenticeship:

SEIU Custodian 2014.jpg

What is the logic of such a high wage at the College?

Addendum: The housekeepers at my local business are paid above the going wage (at businesses not including the College) for their work; their wages and benefits add up to less than half the total cost of the Dartmouth custodian — even though they work a heck of a lot harder.

Taylor Woolrich ‘16 seems to have gone to ground after her story bounced around the Internet for several days. Her account of being denied permission to carry a gun on campus reached #1 on the hot news section of Reddit, where it had received almost four thousand comments as of early Sunday morning:

Woolrich RedditB.jpg

The story reached #10 on the overall section of the site.

However Woolrich then cancelled scheduled appearances on NBC’s Today Show and on Fox & Friends, and she issued a written statement to Today:

Woolrich later weighed in on Thursday to clarify her previous public statements, and noted that the university is taking steps to help her feel secure on campus.

“My intention was not to join the political debate on gun control, but to speak out about my situation in hopes of bringing awareness to the distressing challenges faced by victims of stalking,” she told TODAY in a statement.

“He is still awaiting trial… It’s a terrifying, emotional time for my family and me. I was concerned about not being able to protect myself once he is released from prison in the future. I think that my emotions on stage and my statements taken out of context online have led my message to be extremely misconstrued. At Dartmouth, we are a family. They are doing everything possible to ensure I’m safe and comfortable coming back to campus this fall.” [Emphasis added]

Sounds to me like the College effected some pretty good damage control last week. Woolrich, who is not on campus this summer with her sophomore classmates, went from an angry 2nd Amendment radical to happy College “family” member in just a couple of days.

Addendum: An editorial in yesterday’s Manchester Union Leader concludes:

It is understandable that college administrators want to keep guns off campus. But gun bans don’t do that. Nor do they keep students safe from rape, assault, or worse. If Dartmouth will not let Woolrich arm herself, the least it could do is provide her with an escort.

A number of readers have written in to express a fear that I voiced, too: how prudent would it be to allow students to carry weapons on today’s alcohol-soaked campuses? Well, it turns out that we are not alone in asking this question. In fact, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) has studied the experience of schools that do allow the concealed carrying of weapons on campus. Its conclusions:

There have been no reported problems with permit holders on any of the college campuses where permitted concealed handguns are allowed. That holds for the nine states that mandate that colleges allow permitted concealed handguns on campuses (Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin). Georgia should probably also be included as of July 1st, but it will take a court to make it official. As well as the 21 states that leave the decision on whether to allow people to carry on college campuses up to the individual school (the National Conference of State Legislatures lists 22 states, but we have included Pennsylvania in the mandated state list).

In addition, Michigan and Texas, which provide permit revocation data on the permit holder’s year of age, show college age permit holders are as responsible or even more responsible than older permit holders. Much of the gun control debate focuses on things that might possibly go wrong. Yes, some young people behave irresponsibly. But those who are willing to go through the permitting process are different from those who don’t. They are responsible.

Read the full report here.

In case you think that Dartmouth’s ongoing PR nightmare is the fault of Andrew Lohse, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Here’s one more item, drawn from the eleventh season of The Simpsons, episode 14: Alone Again, Natura-diddily, first aired on February 13, 2000. The country and western song therein makes a reference that I expect escaped most C&W fans:

Simpsons Dartmouth.jpg

The screen lyric is wrong. The singer clearly states the name of the College on the Hill.

Addendum: A Simpsons-loving alumnus writes in:

As a long-time reader of Dartblog, I’m happy to say the day has finally come when my love of Dartmouth and The Simpsons have finally come to a meeting point.

Season 11 of The Simpsons really had it in for the College - in addition to the recent song lyrics you put up, another Dartmouth gag came just two episodes later in “Pygmoelian.” At a bartending competition put on by Duff beer, Duffman introduces one of the events like this:

“Okay, our first event qualifies for course credit at Dartmouth College - Trick Pouring!”

No video evidence has turned up yet, but I remember it distinctly and have found the script online to match.

Thanks for all that you do, and here’s to frivolity.

Addendum: A third reference to the College on the Simpsons has arisen: in the episode “Home Away from Homer,” fictional Dartmouth Professor Stefan Whitmore, a banjologist, notes “the dying art of Peruvian banjo music on the Public Radio show Verbal Tea.”

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