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Here’s a Lie For You

A few months back, this space greeted the incoming 2016’s with a post entitled, Freshmen, There Will Be Lies, wherein we attempted to sensitize the incoming class to the notion that senior members of the administration will distort the truth in order to advance their aims. This idea is hard to swallow for incoming students, filled as they are with a sense that integrity must be omnipresent in leaders of an Ivy League institution. Ha!

Let me give you a recent example. This summer, when most upperclassmen were out of town, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson introduced serious changes in the enforcement of the rules concerning the serving and consumption by students of alcohol. Among her ideas were three significant ones: random walk-throughs of students social spaces (private and College-owned); heightened enforcement of a ban on punches; and the obligation that only licensed bartenders serve hard alcohol at student events.

I attended Dean Johnson’s presentation of these ideas, at which the good Dean emphasized that these new policies simply aligned the College with rules in place at schools similar to Dartmouth. Of course, she trotted out Jim Kim’s favorite phrase, “best practices.” (This expression was well on its way to becoming a cliché when I was a Bain consultant in the mid-1980’s; today when you hear it, check your wallet.)

The only problem with the Dean’s assertion is that it is not true. The worthy sleuths at the Dartmouth Review have gathered information about alcohol policies at other Ivy schools from students, admissions officers, campus security police, and university websites, which they cogently assembled in the chart reproduced below (from the Review’s October 25th issue). No school has all three of Dean Johnson’s new policies in place, and only one school, Penn, has two out of the three. How’s that again, Charlotte?

Review Best Practices.jpg

In a normal world, when someone tells a lie, there are consequences. Does Dean Johnson believe that the Review’s information is incorrect? If so, she should say as much; if not, she should resign.

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