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Who Is the Bloodsucker?

We’ll avoid comment on the artistic merits of Louise Bourgeois’ spider sculpture (seemingly an example of the black widow family — Latrodectus foltius), but it is worth noting that the construction of the new Black Arts building was only partially funded by the generosity of Leon Black. When the College cut the cost of the structure, Black cut his contribution. A good portion of the remaining capital cost is unfunded; it is coming out of Dartmouth’s ever-growing debt. As for the annual running expense of the building, no money has been set aside; operations and maintenance will be paid for by tuition payments and the draw on the endowment — a burden on our finances for decades.

As we have noted before, a healthy institution fundraises not only to support the entire cost of construction, but also to endow the ongoing expenses of a structure. Otherwise, expensive buildings can suck the lifeblood out of a school.

Black Arts Spyder.jpg

We should call the sculpture The Trustee Spider, in honor of the supposedly competent people who have allowed the College’s non-faculty staffing level to soar 40% in the last 12 years; who have quadrupled Dartmouth’s debt load in the same time period; and who burdened us with labor contracts and benefit levels that are the most expensive in the Ivies.

Addendum: I expect that the window stenciling on the Black Arts building will be the first thing to go. At first glance, it makes one think that the windows are badly in need of a wash.

Addendum: The administration seems to be trying to get everyone to call the new building the BVAC — the Black Visual Arts Center. BVAC sounds a lot like VBAC , an acronym familiar to anyone wanting to have a baby the usual way after having had a C-section. Black Arts has a lot more irony in it than some combination of letters. Students will probably cut that down to “Black” anyways. Or perhaps the Trustees will rename the whole structure after President Folt?

Addendum: An early riser notes that the initials HVAC (spoken as H-Vac) are commonly used in industry to denote Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, as in the sentence, “The cost of the BVAC’s HVAC will come out of the College’s operating budget each year.”

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