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A college president, Donald R. Eastman III of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, has had the courage to say what parents all over the country have been telling their kids forever:

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Will colleges and universities begin to decide that all morality is not relative? There are safer and less safe ways for individuals to behave.

I’ve addressed this topic in a post entitled Indicting the Hook-up Culture.

The Jacko’s annual parody of The D has rich pickings this year. However stories like the one below are no more than an example of art following life. Don’t you think that this piece could be a typical Dartblog post about, say, the Hanover Inn renovation?

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Prince Thanksgiving.jpg

William Meade Prince (July 9, 1893-November 10 1951) painted magazine covers just as Noman Rockwell did, and his work appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, Red Book, Cosmopolitan, and Collier’s, and the Country Gentleman. His papers are held by UNC-Chapel Hill, were he taught art during WWII. Thanksgiving Pie appeared in 1930.

Today the idea seems quaint that magazines would commission oil paintings to appear as cover art.

A Dartmouth professor writes in:

How could the Dartmouth trustees be so bamboozled by Kim?

They were not just bamboozled by Kim, dear professor; they are bamboozled by the whole of Dartmouth. To understand why, you have to look at the common features in the profiles of virtually all of the Trustees:

● They are too busy: most of the Trustees have demanding day jobs running investment funds or major enterprises. The have families with soon-to-be-College-age kids (wink, wink), and they are on the Boards of Directors and Trustees of seven or eight other businesses or charitable institutions. We’ve noted previously how thinly stretched they are.

● They know little or nothing about higher education: with only three or four exceptions on the 24-member Board, our Trustees haven’t been on the inside of an institution of higher learning since they graduated from B-school or law school (their most common academic credentials). I like to call them the Upper Valley PTA; as a group they have barely more expertise than a parent/teacher association.

● They don’t really want to govern the College: though the Trustees have the power to effect real change at Dartmouth, their goals seem to be in areas other than governance. Being a Trustee carries with it great prestige: when Trustees are mentioned in the news, the description of their backgrounds includes three items: their current professional position, their educational background, and the fact that they are on Dartmouth’s Board. As well, the networking opportunities are endless. And, as winked at above, all Trustee children are admitted to the College.

So why have Trustees at all? Federal Second Circuit Judge José Cabranes, formerly a Trustee at Yale, Columbia, Colgate and Fordham (and whose wife, Kate Stith Cabranes ‘73, was a Trustee at the College from 1989-2000), has little hope that a Board can govern effectively. In a widely read Fordham Law Review article, entitled Myth and Reality of University Trusteeship in the Post-Enron Era, he paints Trustees as totally out of touch with the life of their institutions:

In my thirty years as a university trustee, I can recall few serious discussions of academic questions or curricular directions other than in response to a very general presentation by a dean or faculty leader regarding particular programs. Indeed, it was in these settings years ago that I first encountered the delightful expression “dog and pony show” to describe presentations to trustees by deans, designed in large measure as enervating tours of the horizon (the academic version of essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”). This sort of presentation gives the appearance (but only the appearance) of substantive interaction between the faculty and the trustees on a core activity of the university.

In having such presentations, the subjects of which are invariably selected by the president or provost, there is a suggestion that trustees have a governance role in this area of university life. But the suggestion is misleading if not entirely false. When it comes to academic matters, trustees generally acquiesce passively, and routinely ratify the decisions of other stakeholders of the university. By their formal actions ratifying the extensive “recommendations” of the faculty and administration, trustees merely appear to have a role in shaping such university policies. In reality they have no role, or virtually no role, in such matters.

I have greater hope for Boards than Judge Cabranes, but only if their members do enough legwork to fulfill their serious responsibilities. The Trustees are smart people, but they just don’t know enough about the College to think independently about its governance. For instance, had they talked extensively to members of the Hanover community, they would have quickly learned of the contempt held for Jim Wright, Jim Kim and Carol Folt, and they would have had enough information to see through the snowstorm of false information provided to them by these dishonest leaders.

I’ve written in The D (May 8, 2008) and in this space (November 2, 2009) that the Trustees need to spend time on campus unsupervised by administration handlers. There is ample precedent for such independent investigation. For example, Directors at General Electric have as part of their fiduciary obligations to look in depth each year at the operation of a GE subsidiary. Not only has this task not been part of Dartmouth Trustees’ brief, but when several of the petition Trustees met a few years ago with members of the Economics department, then-President Jim Wright graced them with a screaming tirade during a Board meeting.

However, it seems that progress is possible in this world. Last month, The D reported on a new Trustee activity:

Adding a new component to the weekend, board members met with small groups of faculty for dinner on Thursday night and students on Friday night, Board of Trustees chair Bill Helman ‘80 said. Attendees at both dinners included students and faculty from both the College and the graduate schools.

Student assembly chief of staff Thomas Wang ‘16 said about 50 students met with trustees over dinner in groups of around eight to 10, with three to five trustees at each.

Wang and student body vice president Frank Cunningham ‘16 proposed the idea to Helman in August to improve transparency, Wang said.

“As students, our reach is limited, but he heard our side of things, took the time to meet with us and he followed up,” Wang said.

Helman said that while trustees have met with students in more formal settings before, Friday night was the first time students met with trustees with “no theme or agenda.”

Helman said that trustee and student conversations ranged from discussing “layups,” or easy classes, to grade inflation and time management, and noted that “students have a lot on their minds.” [Emphasis added]

That effort is a start, but the paradigm does not go far enough. Large group sessions with disparate folks do not lead to the kind of unbridled unburdening that the Trustees need to hear. Let me propose a different model, as I did a little more than five years ago:

At each future Trustee meeting, the members of the Board should set aside a full day to speak with faculty members. Each Trustee should contact an individual professor and ask to meet in that person’s departmental office. The Trustees should invite the prof to ask several faculty colleagues to join them — anyone of the professor’s choice. A small group of academics in the privacy of an individual office will tell Trustees the same things that they have been telling alumni for years.

The point here is to created trust and intimacy. A single Trustee, alone, with a faculty member (or a student or a staff member) who independently chooses several colleagues to participate in the discussion, will learn far more in such a setting about the College than at any number of cocktail parties or group sessions of the type recently held.

Want proof? Read these pages each day. I don’t make this stuff up. My sources are members of the faculty, student body and staff who care about the College. In a setting where Trustees could hear the same truths that I hear, they might come to the same conclusions as Dartblog does. However, if the Trustees don’t do their homework, they’ll continue to be bamboozled by any President who sits in Parkhurst Hall, and they won’t even know it.

Addendum: I continue to be astounded at how uninformed the Trustees are about the College.

Addendum: A ‘16 writes in to report that the members of the Student Assembly and other prominent campus leaders continue to shoot themselves in the foot. They, too, met with several Trustees earlier in the month to discuss life at the College. Sadly, these folks, who are supposed to represent the student body, did not tell undergraduates that a meeting was to take place. Shame that. Students could have written and spoken to their representatives to describe issues that needed to be raised with the Trustees.

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At least the SA leaders had the good sense not to wear their Patagonia fleeces.


There are people at the College for whom diversity is life’s chief goal. How tiring. If the extent of one’s ambition is to have a faculty and a student body that “look like America,” then the real goals of higher education would seem to have faded away. To quote that great humanitarian Jim Kim:

The way we deal with diversity on American campuses is so superficial that it is dangerous. The worst of it is that smart young people can see through the superficiality and conclude that diversity is not important or that the shallow, stylized way we deal with cultural competence is sufficient. It is not. In the end we have to understand each other’s humanity.

Of course, true to form, Kim entirely recanted this position, once he understood what his new audience wanted to hear, but he makes a good point nonetheless: the real issue in choosing professors and students is intellectual and pedagogical quality, not skin color or gender. After taking about 70 classes at the College, I can happily say that the four courses that affected me the most were taught by two white female and two black male professors — even though I am neither female nor black. Somehow, despite the prevailing ethos, I was able to learn from people of a different gender and race, and from the scholarly material that we and the other members of the class covered together. W. E. B. Du Bois, the first African-American to earn a doctorate at Harvard (in 1895) made this latter point in his book The Souls of Black Folk (1903), pp 67:

I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed earth and the tracery of the stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the Veil.

Yet a video is now circulating at the College in which various students of color lament the departure of minority administrators and faculty members over the past year. One student goes so far as to state that, “I’ve never had a faculty that I could relate to.” What sad nonsense. The implication is that this student cannot “relate” to a professor who is not of his race. Has he had nothing else in common with any of his professors? Has he learned only to see the world through the lens of race? Did he not share a religion, nationality, political sensibility, passion for the Red Sox, sense of humor, or a love of learning with even one member of the faculty? Listen to a sampling of Dartmouth students. Are they thinking intelligently about race based on their lived experience, or have they just learned to say what they are expected to say?

Of course, the alternative explanation for the departure of various professors and administrators of color is that they left Dartmouth because they were not competent: think of Russel Rickford, Tiffany Moseley, Aeriel Ashlee, and the wretched Charlotte Johnson. You could argue that they were only hired in the first place because of their race — undoubtedly at the salary premium that people of color command in the academy.

The low point in the video comes from its sole white male, Zack Fowler ‘15 (a Sociology major, an AD brother, and Rugby Club member), who expresses himself thusly (at 10:45):

We pride ourselves on diversity, but in actuality look at the students that make up this campus: you know, we’re predominantly white and predominantly from private schools. You know, we’re kind of feeding the elitist culture in a sense, and I believe that a lot of the hiring of faculty reinforces the status quo in that sense. You know, you have these white kids from private schools coming in, so, you know, it’s almost like an effort by the school, you know, this is just an assumption, but, you know, to bring in these white privileged professors who have studied at Yale and Harvard, and have Ph.D.’s from these kinds of institutions, and then come in and teach these kids who are, you know, privileged, and who are being funneled into this as well.

Yikes, what a soup of ignorant misinformation and unsupported prejudice. Dartmouth’s student body contains only 49% white Americans in a nation where 62.4% of people are white, and 40% of students come from a broad range of private schools, including inner-city parochial schools. Moreover, would Zack prefer that we ignore graduates of the doctoral programs of the nation’s most highly regarded institutions?

In the end, the College should focus on scholarly and teaching excellence in hiring faculty members and administrators, with the thought that the best teachers and scholars do the best job working with undergraduates. In support of that goal, let me propose some language for our official hiring policy to guide our administrators and faculty members in this effort:

Dartmouth does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability, military or veteran status in its programs, organizations, and conditions of employment and admission.

Ooops. That’s already the College’s current policy in all areas, except its actual practice. At the present time, we have faculty and administrative slots that are reserved for minorities, even if we cannot find competent people. We should recall the original meaning of affirmative action: taking energetic, positive steps to recruit members of minority communities, who will then be hired if they can compete and win in the pool of applicants for a position. No corners were to be cut in the hiring process.

Addendum: Dollars to donuts, a good many of the students in the above video did not spout the party line (this is the phrase we used in the 1970’s for political correctness before that phrase achieved currency) until they learned of their oppression at the College in extracurricular classes taught by administrators.

Ivy Titles.jpgEven as the football team shows that a program can be turned around, and soccer shares an Ivy title and goes to the NCAA tournament (losing 3-0 yesterday in the second round), we do well to note the hole out of which the Athletics Department has been climbing. A victim of Jim Wright’s depredations, Dartmouth Athletics out-performed for generations (we still boast more football championships than any other Ivy, even though the last one was in 1996). However, since the mid-1990’s varsity sports have been on a downward slide; what was once an article of pride at the College declined to the point that we were an almost-always-also-ran. The above table shows how low the once-mighty Green has fallen. AD Harry Sheehy is doing a fine job re-building — helped a great deal by Buddy Teevens’ first-rate Floren Varsity Fieldhouse — but recruiting and staffing are tough when a school earns a reputation as a loser. Things are looking up now, but let’s review in detail just how bad they were in recent years.

The Athletics Department at Brown, the only school to do less well than Dartmouth over the past decade, has published a Strategic Plan for 2014-2019. Give it a look, if only to see what a real plan looks like (in contrast to Carol Folt’s miserable effort regarding the academic side of the College): it contains dates, budgets, specific goals and milestones. The document also has several comparative graphs of interest.

The green line below is dispiriting. Since 2004 we have finished last on average in the Ivies in more sports than any other school except Brown:

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Despite what people may say, size has nothing to do with quality: dominant Princeton has the second lowest undergraduate enrollment in the Ivies (just ahead of us), and middling performers Penn and Cornell have over double the number of students at Princeton.

Yet our singular lack of success is not due to a failure to commit money to the Athletics Department. As in so many other areas of the College, we over-compensated a weak staff. According to Brown’s most recent figures, the College’s Athletics budget is the fourth highest in the Ivies, even though we do business in the lowest-cost locale:

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We have had the fourth or fifth highest budget in the Ivies for a good many years:

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In the end, quality is independent of cost, as long as one is in shooting distance of the market wage. What counts is leadership, and fortunately, if only in the last few years, we have begun to see it again. The results are already beginning to become apparent.

Addendum: As I’ve pointed out in the past, the College’s baseball program, managed by the engaging Bob Whalen, wins the Red Rolfe division almost every year. And the men’s soccer squad, built by Jeff Cook, and now coached by his assistant Chad Riley, is enjoying its eighth NCAA appearance in the last decade. If the northern-most Ivy school can win at baseball and soccer, we can certainly be competitive in any sport.

Addendum: Columbia and Penn don’t have hockey teams (their loss), but the difference in spending between their Athletics programs and that of the College is hardly explained by the cost of a hockey program.

Addendum: The College certainly had risen to the challenge of educating its student-athletes. From an Athletics Department press release dated November 3:

The NCAA has released its annual student-athlete graduation rate survey, and Dartmouth College once again has been shown to lead the nation in Graduation Success Rate (GSR). With a GSR of 99 percent for student-athletes who began college in 2007, Dartmouth led Division I institutions for a third straight year. Tying for the top spot this year were College of the Holy Cross and the University of Notre Dame.

Common decency can be a lovely thing. When the singer’s mike cut out at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on Tuesday night during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, listen how the crowd rises to the occasion:

Ridwan Hassen1.jpgAnother Dartmouth student has won a Rhodes scholarship: Ridwan Hassen ‘15 spent his first two years at Emory University in Atlanta; in the summer following his sophomore year there, he participated in the Office of Graduate Studies Academic Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program, and he subsequently transferred to the College. He will graduate in June. His Rhodes profile was released today:

Ridwan Y. Hassen, [from] Marietta, is a senior at Dartmouth College where he is majoring in Computer Science modified with Neuroscience. Before Dartmouth, he attended Emory University for two years. The child of refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia, he has always worked to help support his large family, up to 30 hours per week, all the while achieving a superb academic record and leading many campus and community activities. Ridwan founded a global development project focused on the Horn of Africa, was a volunteer coordinator for the NAACP, and founded Emory’s first AIDS activist organization. He has done neurobiology research at UCSF, and on an implicated gene in Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is an active mentor of students and a community activist at South Cobb High School, from which he graduated. He is a member of the Dartmouth Endurance Racing Team and competes in many mid- and long-distance runs. Ridwan plans to do a Master in Public Policy at Oxford.

And here is the description of him on the ASURE website dated July 24, 2013:

Ridwan Hassen is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but he now lives outside the city in the town of Marietta. He will be a junior next school year at Emory University in Atlanta where he is double-majoring in neuroscience and chemistry. While part of the ASURE program this summer, Hassen is researching the PTEN gene and how it relates to the development of autism, more specifically, he’s exploring the potential for possible therapies relating to autism by doing exploratory research on phospholipase A2. “I’m really enjoying the research because I’m learning so much!” Hassen is working with Assistant Professor Bryan Luikart in the physiology and neurobiology department at the Geisel School of Medicine. Hassen hopes to one day apply to MD-PhD programs or complete a doctoral fellowship where his specialty will be neurology and/or chemistry.

When he’s not working in lab at DHMC, Hassen is taking advantage of the many outdoor activities there are in and around Dartmouth. Although quite different from the urban setting of Atlanta, Hassen is enjoying the rural feel of the Upper Valley. “I’ve gone canoeing and hiking… and I got into rock climbing this summer. I’d never been rock climbing before, and now I love it!”

Congratulations are once again in order.

Addendum: Of the world’s 47 Rhodes winners announced this year, 15 came from the Ivy League: Dartmouth: 2; Brown: 3; Princeton: 3; Harvard: 2; Cornell: 1; and Yale: 4.

Addendum: See the College’s press release.

Especially after the football team would have shared the Ivy championship, but for Harvard’s victory over Yale. The greatest college prank ever:

Addendum: A Dartmouth prankster writes in:

The H-Y prank makes for good reading, but it was so much easier and simpler in my day: on the Tuesday night before the Dartmouth-Harvard game in Cambridge, in the fall of 1983, two compatriots and I drove down from Hanover with a fire extinguisher (“liberated” from Bones Gate, IIRC) in the trunk of my 1965 Chrysler New Yorker. We had refilled the extinguisher with green enamel paint under pressure.

So when we arrived in Harvard yard around 2 am, after a walk-through recon, the three of us were able to calmly and deliberately coat the statue of John Harvard with a uniform green covering, but for the top of his pate; one of us held the hose and nozzle to aim as the tallest of us held the tank under his greatcoat. We calmly walked on and casually dumped the extinguisher in the trashcan before we drove home to Hanover.

When we returned on Saturday for the game, you could see trace spots of green paint on the sidewalk and flagstones, but otherwise Harvard had removed all of the paint from the body of the statue.

The New York Times is reporting that Leon Black ‘73 and his wife Debra have purchased a new home in New York City. Let’s call it The Black House:

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Located at 19 E. 70th Street, the official purchase price for the 20,575ft² building was $50,250,000. The New York Post estimates that the building will need approximately $20,000,000 in renovations in order to once again become a private home. No word yet on whether Black will exhibit his $750,000,000 art collection in what was formerly the Knoedler & Company art gallery. His paintings includes Edvard Munch’s The Scream, for which he paid $120,000,000, and a $48,000,000 Raphael.

A comfortable #96 on the Forbes 400, Black’s net worth is currently estimated at $5,300,000,000 — a sum that he conjured up out of hard work, buccaneering business ethics, and a $75,000 insurance payout that he received when his father passed away. In addition to his Dartmouth degree, Black has an MBA from Harvard. He has been a generous donor to the College; his most recent contribution was a gift of $48,000,000 towards the Black Arts Center. The College has also repeatedly invested endowment money in Black’s Apollo Management funds.

He once was a freshman in Hanover, as we all were, but though the hill-winds no longer carry his voice, his family name remains on the library, a dorm, the Berry Sports Center, and an endowed chair of Economics. George Berry ‘66, one of the College’s most generous donors, died of cardiac arrest on November 12, 2014.

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The Globe published an excellent obituary, a full account of a Dartmouth life well lived. An excerpt:

In 1995, George and his wife Roberta started Berryfield Farm, which trains dressage horses and sponsors therapeutic riding programs, namely Friends for Tomorrow, for special needs children. He derived great joy from sharing his farm with others and loved watching the smiles that his horses brought to so many faces on a daily basis. A dedicated philanthropist, George channeled his many passions, especially classical music, education, and science into charitable work for several local and national organizations. Among his more notable roles, George proved a great supporter of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, serving as an Overseer for many years. At the BSO’s summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts, George and Roberta have sponsored a student musician every year as part of of Tanglewood’s summer student orchestra program. George and Roberta helped create and sponsor the celebrated Film Night concert at Tanglewood, which the Boston Pops has performed annually every August since its inception. George, an active alumnus of his alma mater, served on the board of the Hopkins Art Center and Dartmouth College’s Presidential Leadership Council.

George’s memorial service will take place today at 2 PM in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Regrettably President Hanlon and his spouse Gail Gentes are participating in a special alumni brunch Saturday morning prior to the Princeton game, and they will be unable to attend the service. That’s not the decision I would have made. Let’s hope that a good number of Trustees make the trip to join the many alumni who will celebrate George Berry’s life.

The invitation to the ceremony requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Friends for Tomorrow at Berryfield Farm, and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge Boston.

Janet Halley.jpgIn an extended memorandum, Janet Halley, the Royall Professor at Harvard Law School, excoriates the sexual assault enforcement procedures recently enacted at Harvard. The policies are similar to those at Dartmouth, having been guided by regulations and non-binding publications issued by the federal Departments of Justice and Education. Halley’s introductory paragraph:

Today colleges and universities around the country enjoy a moment of special opportunity: a chance to change slipshod, dismissive and actively malign handling of sexual harassment claims, and to offer genuine remedies for victims. But it is also a moment of danger: because one such remedy involves discipline for wrongdoers, the rules must define misconduct to include the conduct we want to sanction and deter (and not socially valuable or unharmful behavior), and to process complaints in a way that is fair to all parties. The new University Policy and Procedures realize these dangers: they provide an overly broad definition of sexual harassment, far beyond anything that federal courts recognize; they trench directly on academic freedom and freedom of speech; they threaten stigmatized minorities with unjustifiable findings of responsibility; they will rush low-income students who cannot afford counsel to unfair judgment; and they are defective on every known scale of equal procedural treatment of the parties and due process. [Emphasis added]

In addition to bringing to bear her legal scholarship on sexual harassment, Halley draws on her “own service as a sexual harassment enforcer in a university setting.” The memo is well written and easily accessible to non-lawyers.

The piece appears to be a detailed follow-up to an open letter to the Boston Globe in which twenty-eight members of the Harvard Law faculty denounced the myriad unfairnesses of Harvard’s new assault policies.

The fact that the procedures are entirely out of touch with traditional notions of legal and adjudicatory fairness illustrates a larger problem in the academy. How is it that Harvard administrators can draft such policies without consulting members of their university’s own Law School faculty? As we have noted in the past, educational administration has become a world of its own, entirely divorced from the learning and experience of scholars. Johns Hopkins Professor Benjamin Ginsberg has written a book on the subject: The Fall of the Faculty, The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters.

Addendum: Former Yale quarterback Partick Witt, now a student at Harvard Law and previously the object of sexual assault accusations while an undergraduate, has written a piece in the Boston Globe deriding the prosecution of assault charges.

Addendum: The New York Times published a lengthy report in the same vein last Sunday entitled: Mishandling Rape, and it followed up on Wednesday with another piece headlined: New Factor in Campus Sexual Assault Cases: Counsel for the Accused.

Uh, that’s the National Book Award for fiction, which Klay won last night in NYC. NPR reports:

Former Marine Phil Klay took home the National Book Award for fiction, winning the prize for his debut short story collection Redeployment.

Klay, who had been deployed in Iraq, appeared taken aback by the honor on stage.

“I can’t think of a more important conversation to be having — war’s too strange to be processed alone,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I want to thank everyone who picked up the book, who read it and decided to join the conversation.”

Across a dozen stories told in first-person, Redeployment is at its heart a meditation on war — and the responsibility that everyone, especially the average citizen, bears for it. The book beat out a shortlist that included Marilynne Robinson, one of literature’s most celebrated living writers and the favorite coming into the night. Also on the shortlist were Emily St. John Mandel, Anthony Doerr and Rabih Alameddine.

We’ve written about Klay’s fine work twice now (here and here). The ‘05 who wrote to me with the news noted, “Some good news for a change.”

Addendum: The College’s press release also gives background on past Dartmouth winners of the National Book Award.

A persistent student complaint over the years has been the lack of availability of timely mental health counselling at Dick’s House. I’ve always wondered about the perceived need for this kind of support; I guess that the pressures of modern student life are intense enough that many more students need assistance than in my day. But just how bad is this situation? Are we in some kind of invisible crisis?

We’ve writen about the widespread abuse of cocaine at the College, and The D has reported extensively on student use of Adderall and othe stimulants. And while we are on the subject of excesses, there is no need to provide citations to confirm undergraduate overuse of alcohol. But a question needs to be asked: are we dealing with no more than youthful experimentation/exuberance with regard to such substance abuse, or can this behavior fairly be described as self-medication? In his book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, William Deresiewicz suggests the latter possibility:

Deresiewicz Mental Health.jpg

The extent of the mental health problem at Dartmouth became more apparent to me via a recent comment on the Improve Dartmouth website by Heather Earle, Director of the College’s Counseling and Human Development service:

As many of you may know, more and more students are feeling increased pressure in many areas of their lives. While many students work at trying to find solutions to these pressures through help from friends and other support systems on campus, increasingly large numbers are seeking counseling assistance. As one example of this increase: in October 2013, CHD had 976 student encounters; in October 2014, CHD had 1355 student encounters. [Emphasis added]

Come again? That’s 1,355 “encounters” last month alone — for a student body of 4,276 undergraduates, not all of whom are on campus for the term, and many of whom, freshmen I expect, have not learned to avail themselves of Dick’s House. So what do you figure? A quarter of our undergrads received mental health counseling in October?

All is not well in Hanover.

Addendum: A recent graduate of the College writes in:

Yes, it really is that bad. “Invisible crisis” is not an overstatement. Many of my friends sought counseling during my time at Dartmouth. And these are just the people who were willing to talk about it — needless to say, sadly there’s a significant stigma associated with mental health issues. Couple the high-achieving Dartmouth student with the general reluctance to ask for help (for fear of seeming weak) and you have a very real problem.

Even more absurd is when students fail classes due to mental health issues, the College politely asks them to take a leave term. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Sound like anything else the College deals with?

Addendum: A concerned ‘15 offers a comment:

I read your most recent Dartblog post and I felt compelled to write to you, particularly in light of the SA fleece snafu. While “jacketgate” has left many questioning SA’s role on campus, it is important to recognize that they are, in fact, working tirelessly to tackle some of the most pressing issues at Dartmouth — namely, the mental health crisis that you describe. The “I’m Here For You” initiative that Casey and Frank launched recently has been met with significant enthusiasm, in addition to the “It’s on Us” campaign to combat sexual violence on campus.

While SA misstepped seriously in their use of student funds, let’s not rush to peg them as incompetent and corrupt. This year is the first in my time at Dartmouth when SA engaged seriously with campus issues and made itself a legitimate presence in campus discourse.

Addendum: Look at the size of College’s Counseling and Human Development service: nine psychiatrists/psychologists, three counselors, two nutritionists, five psychiatry/psychology residents/interns, and two administrators.

Addendum: A reader sent in a link to a column in the Dartmouth Mirror by Annie Fagin ‘15 in which she recounts her struggles with depression:

I’m that girl you see in Collis, the one with the starry jeans and the big glasses. If you’ve ever spoken to me, you probably thought I had my act together.

But mental health problems can and do touch many of us here at Dartmouth. My story is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is our community’s silence on mental health issues. Our peers and classmates suffer from anxiety, learning disabilities, eating disorders, PTSD, addiction and more. And my perspective is only one of many.

In the November 7 issue of the Mirror, Abigail Hartley ‘16 shares five rules on “Maintaining Sanity” at Dartmouth. One of them is:

See a therapist. I’ve heard the counselors at Dick’s House are a mixed bag. I got lucky and found one I really got along with, but there are also multiple places in town where you can go to dump your problems on someone else for 45 minutes every week. Even if you just don’t feel “right,” talking to a trained professional — not your roommate/best friend/Tuesday night hookup — can totally help.

I guess this is about as official as it’s going to get. As we reported almost two weeks ago, Senior Vice-President for Public Affairs Tommy Bruce is no longer employed at Dartmouth. The College has issued no press release to this effect, thereby sparing us a recitation of how Tommy wants to spend more time with his family, but at least the Public Affairs webpage now notes that an interim SVPPA has been named: erstwhile spokesman Justin Anderson:

Tommy Bruce5 Comp.jpg

Congrats to Phil Hanlon for cutting bait here. No need to struggle forward when the wrong person has been picked for a post. Of course, the question remains as to whether Phil will show similar resolve with Senior Vice President for Advancement Bob Lasher ‘88.



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  • August 14, 2013
    Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
    History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
  • June 25, 2013
    Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
    Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own interviews, a review of…
  • October 18, 2009
    When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
    We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
  • October 9, 2009
    D Afraid of a Little Competish
    So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
  • September 4, 2009
    How Regents Should Reign
    As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
  • August 29, 2009
    Election Reform Study Committee
    If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…

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