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Rickford Hits the Road

Rickford1.jpgOn some level, I am sad that History Professor Russell Rickford is leaving the College to go to Cornell. From his predictably doctrinaire writing to his predictably inflammatory speeches, there was something comforting about harkening back to the Cold War, when there were a good many more people of his ilk in the academy. Of course, the fall of the Soviet Union made it clear to all but the most obtuse academic that Marxism just does not work — but still, having an old-fashioned radical around was like someone wearing a retro fashion accessory: sure, it looked dumb, but it was fun in an ironic way.

Rumor has it that the History department in Carson Hall will be replacing Rickford with a piece of East German software that only runs under MS-DOS: Karl&Friedrich Pro Plus. You just type in the name of your issue, choose the length of the dialectical analysis that you need, and out comes the usual verbiage. No thinking required.

Addendum: Yesterday’s D ran a brief story about Rickford’s departure that contained a parting shot from the good professor:

Rickford said Cornell was the “right move” for his family.

“The prospect of my 5-year-old daughter, who is entering kindergarten this fall, attending an elementary school in which she will be somewhat less racially isolated is especially appealing,” Rickford said. reports that Hanover is 74.2% white, and black people living alone make up 4.2% of the population. Ithaca is 66.7% white, and 6.1% of the population is composed of black people living alone. Is that a statistically significant difference?

We hope that Professor Rickford enjoys his time in upstate New York.

Addendum: A thoughtful, even witty, letter has come in across the transom:

My name is Adrienne Clay. My husband is Russell Rickford. I can say that we will miss you too, in a way. The role you play in the Dartmouth community is an interesting one, often welcome despite my many disagreements with you in light of the poor state of most of the reporting by The D. Perhaps good ol' muckrakers are as important to the intellectual and social health of a community as good ol' leftists, eh?

Anyway, I'd like to provide you a better set of stats since you seem interested in evaluating our decision re: our child's education.

We currently live in Lebanon, where the school our child will enter in Sept is 88% white, 2% black, 6% Asian and 4% Hispanic.

The Ithaca City school district as a whole is 69% white, 12% black, 13% Asian and 5% Hispanic. Of the 2 schools our daughter is most likely to attend there, one is 48% white, 28% black, 10% Asian and 8% Hispanic, while the other is 58% white, 25% Asian, 8% black and 4% Hispanic. (All data from

I would argue that is statistically significant, and certainly more relevant than the percentage of “black people living alone,” an odd measure of much of anything besides, well, black people living alone.



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