Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
Not Sig Ep, you say? The goody two shoes frat. The fraternity with the highest GPA — grade inflation notwithstanding, 3.6 doesn’t come easy. The brothers who supposedly don’t haze. Even the Review likes the house:
Sig Ep is the cheese pizza of fraternities. They’re not known for one thing in particular, but they still manage to appeal to everyone. They probably have the easiest new member term of any house, which, along with their large pledge classes, probably explains why their brotherhood isn’t particularly close. The antithesis of pompous, the brothers of Sig Ep want to have a good time without spending the night trying to dance with freshmen girls or engaging in excessive alcohol consumption. The house itself is probably one of the most sanitary on campus and is home to an absurdly large jack-of-all-trades sisterhood.
It’s hard to understand what’s going on at Sig Ep these days, given the curious dynamic between the brotherhood’s national organization and its Dartmouth chapter. And who knows what the Hanlon administration is doing in the background?
The facts are these: the national organization went dry, at least officially, due to soaring insurance costs. When the Dartmouth chapter was put on alcohol probation by the College, the national came down on it like a ton of bricks. All the brothers were suspended, and of the 102 active members, 63 applied for reinstatement (many juniors and seniors did not want to go through the entire process). The brothers were interviewed by a committee composed primarily of non-Dartmouth adults. And in the end, only 19 were invited to continue participating in the organization.
The process seemed entirely opaque, and as a result, a number of alumni brothers have written a document criticizing the whole affair and the current management structure of the house. It’s worth a read, if only to understand that manipulative processes are not the sole province of the Dartmouth administration. Here is the first page:
Read the rest of the memo here.
The national does not seems to understand the College’s unique Greek dynamic. For example, they have asked that parties be limited to invited guests — an arrangement that goes against the Dartmouth Greek system’s admirable rule that almost any party is open to anyone. And to have a process that seems skewed against minority students harkens back to the bad old days of restrictive brotherhood covenants.
Where this will all end for Sig Ep is unclear. The administration’s death by a thousand cuts strategy has already claimed two victims (AD and SAE). Will Sig Ep be next?
My recommendation does not stem from the fact that Gina Barreca is a ‘79 (though that helps), rather because she is thoughtful and funny at the same time:
Wikipedia seems to want to delete her profile. I wonder why.
Addendum: What’s with the “Dr.” in the College’s headline? Almost everybody around here has a Ph.D., yet Dartmouth professors don’t bandy this title about. I hope that Gina did not request this silly term.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I wonder what Dr Barreca would think about the ladies lingerie controversy….
with a dose of reeducation camp spirit to boot.
There was a time a great many years ago when the very thought of women’s undergarments was a source of titillation. Petticoats and pantaloons were considered risqué, and as the attached poster from a bawdy Paris nightclub shows, men would pay real money to see some ruffle and frill.
This Victorian sensibility even extended to forbidding references to the stomach, for example, because the stomach leads to the intestines, and — trigger warning — we all know where the intestines lead.
Similarly, at that time spoken references to women’s undergarments elicited a frisson or worse. Hence the amusement when an elevator operator in a department store would announce that the lift had reached the floor where certain almost-unmentionable goods could be purchased: “Ladies lingerie” he wouldn’t intone to general merriment.
In a certain way (like mother-in-law jokes or references to pollution off the New Jersey Turnpike) the trope entered the language and it endured long after elevator operators had been replaced by automatic buttons (I have made the joke myself in elevators on several occasions — without an untoward reaction by listeners), and it continued even when the time came that actress Jayne Mansfield could pitch a Playtex 18-hour, long line bra on television as being particularly appropriate for “us full figure girls.” Personally I recall the time in the 70s when the word “bra” could first be spoken in polite company.
That’s a long run up to a current controversy which has members of the International Studies Association all atwitter because former Dartmouth Professor of Government Ned LeBow, a 76-year-old man, had the poor grace to invoke the “ladies lingerie” joke in the elevator at an ISA conference. An attendee, Simona Sharoni, age 56 and a professor of women’s and gender studies at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, announced herself to be grievously offended, and she filed a formal complaint with the ISA.
No, I am not kidding.
What kind of person, let alone a college professor, is so bereft of common sense as to take offence at a somewhat tired joke? Humorist P.J. O’Rourke wrote about the perennially indignant, but at least such folks protested about things of greater moment than a flip remark. And if I told you that Sharoni had a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University? Unreal. You’d think she would have ceased being upset by such things when a boy first called her a poo poo head. In the sandbox at nursery school.
But not only did the ISA conference organizers take Sharoni’s complaints seriously, they ordered LeBow to apologize “unequivocally.”
In other words, he couldn’t apologize in a manner that sought to explain or justify his lighthearted comment or that cast doubt upon the reaction of the faint-hearted feminist academic who heard his joke. He had to issue a mea culpa in no uncertain terms.
Again, no, I am not kidding.
In mandating a specific type of apology, the ISA has moved from the support of an ever-so-precious Victorian morality to a kind of Communist re-education that I thought had ended up on the ash heap history, at least in Eastern Europe in 1989. I understand that such things still take place in North Korea and China.
LeBow, to his credit, is fighting back against the scolds and the commissars.
If you want to read more about this irredeemably silly controversy, it has been reported on in the Washington Post, the Valley News, Inside Higher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Associated Press.
I guess that there are no other more important topics to discuss at our colleges and universities.
Addendum: The next time you wonder why a significant percentage of Americans feel disdain for higher education, the above might be Exhibit 1 in your argument.
Addendum: Several alumni wrote in:
As part of the College’s capital campaign, Tuck is running its own effort. The school’s endowment today is $353 million, and its campaign is for $250 million in cash and commitments, and another $25 million in bequest pledges. Tuck knows its business:
Poet & Quants notes:
The participation rate of alumni who contribute to the annual fund exceeds 70%, the highest level of support for any business school in the world.
As we have often commented, Tuck is what Dartmouth was (and could be again).
Addendum: The BusinessBecause website has ranked Tuck #2 among 5 Of The Best US Business Schools For African-American MBAs:
The criteria for determining the ranking are not laid out in the article, but better to be on such a list than not.
Addendum: Tuck seems to take the time to sweat the small details, too. Good for the folks at the end of Tuck Mall:
A reputation is built by an infinite series of effective gestures.
After leading by as much as 16-7 in the first half, the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club was unable to hold on for a victory in the national championship, losing to the University of Mary Washington in Fullerton, California by a score of 38-30:
(Click on the image to enlarge it)
Next year, boys.
Should the College shut down all money-losing parts of its operation? After the Hanover Country Club and UPNE, will the Skiway be next? What about the football team? After all, the administration tried to axe the swimming and diving team for budget reasons in 2002.
The big question comes down to what we see as the College’s core functions. The English department certainly loses dough, though not as much as the hard sciences like, say, Biology. Nobody is suggesting that we cancel those departments — though other schools have chopped their German departments among others, and a ways back, the College tried to end the teacher training program in the Education department.
Where to draw the line? And on what side of it does scholarly publishing fall? The Chronicle of Higher Education offers some background:
Local author Yvonne Daley writes in:
I read your piece on the closing of UPNE. I am the author of six books, two of them published by UPNE, one by Simon & Schuster, and the others by small independent presses and a dying newspaper. Your addendum:
The University Press of New England has published about 60 books a year on the subjects of the humanities, liberal arts, literature, New England culture, interdisciplinary studies and fine, decorative and performing arts. The press has also published a number of books about higher education.
speaks to my concern.
I found the people I worked with at UPNE to be hard-working, thorough, and smart but I am only seeing the press from the outside. Of course, I don’t know the employees’ salaries or the press’s budget, but it seems to me that there should be a way to save UPNE by doing just what you observe they didn’t do: having the Tuck folks or someone else restructure a valuable asset to the region and to knowledge itself. I heard that alum had found $10 million to save or repair the golf course. What would it take to save UPNE?
To my mind, an academic press is a core part of the scholarly ecosystem. Not only does a publisher print books (or put them up online), but its key function is working closely with authors to prepare a book for publication. After that, a press can publicize a work far and wide. And a small entity like UPNE can steer authors in the direction of larger presses if a book merits more ample resources.
Needless to say, UPNE focused on Dartmouth authors, along with faculty members from its ever-declining pool of participating schools. For the College to be without a press makes it a weaker institution. Asking our faculty members to throw their best work up online will condemn it to a lesser audience than those books that merit publication and marketing support.
What to conclude? As I have written many times now, each year the administration does less with more. Or to put things another way, once again Parkhurst has cut bone and saved fat.
Addendum: The D reported late on UPNE’s shutdown.
Will all buildings look like this one day? Not leaning over, I mean. This is Milan, after all, not Pisa, and you are only seeing camera distortion. But will buildings be covered with real trees that are, in the present case, ten to twenty feet high, equal to a three-acre forest:
Milan’s Bosco Verticale complex — the Vertical Forest — had me smiling, but then I laughed out loud when I walked by the singular apartment complex that resembles stacked luxury yachts in the City Life (not a translation) complex that is going up on the site of Milan’s old commercial fairgrounds:
Designed by Zaha Hadid (1950-2016), an Iraqi-British architect, the apartments are a great favorite in this northern Italian city.
Addendum: Creative architecture is the sign of a healthy and ambitious city. Prosperous Milan meets that test in spades.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
“Creative architecture is the sign of a healthy and ambitious city.” Well then; just back from a D alumni trip to China and Shanghai meets this standard as well. Holy Moley! What audacity! Buildings that actually curve and tilt for example.
(And thanks to Art 57 Prof. Hugh Morrison for giving me the eye to see.)
Americans may be lamenting the rise in gas prices:
However, if you want to see real pain, check out the price of different grades of gas in Paris this week:
Regular (SP95): €1.75/liter; $7.98/gallon
Super (SP98): €1.87/liter; $8.53/gallon
Diesel (Ultimate): €1.76/liter; $8.02/gallon
Red Diesel (Gasoil): €1.68/liter; $7.66/gallon
Add the tax on gas to the high levels of French income and capital gains tax, and then factor in the 20% Value Added Tax on most of your other purchases, and you can see why it is hard to do business here.
When I was a student, we had to take English 5, a Freshman Seminar, four courses each in the Humanities, the Sciences and the Social Sciences, and satisfy the language requirement. Since my day, the pendulum has swing back and forth, with current requirements being a hodgepodge of priorities.
On Monday, without any public debate involving students, the faculty will vote on the newest iteration of undergraduate distributive requirements:
Here is the entire document regarding the new distributives.
Addendum: Curiously, despite Professor Deborah Nichols’ request at a faculty meeting on April 29, 2015, no data has been put forward describing just how students actually choose to take courses.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
How about a course teaching administrators/faculty to write more clearly and concisely?
The College’s list of honorary degree recipients has three big-money donors on it:
1.Mindy Kaling ‘01, actor, writer, producer, author, and comedy star;
2. Peter M. Fahey ‘68, Dartmouth trustee, president of the Class of 1968, and a retired partner of Goldman Sachs;
3. Frank J. Guarini ‘46, former U.S. congressman and representative to the United Nations;
4. William H. Holmes ‘79, surgeon and global public health leader involved with more than 20 humanitarian aid organizations;
5. Sylvia Kaaya, psychiatrist, researcher and dean of the School of Medicine at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania;
6. David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of the Carlyle Group and supporter of The Giving Pledge.
Meanwhile at Brown, there isn’t even one billionaire receiving an honorary degree:
1. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Educator, historian and museum director
2. J. Michael Kosterlitz, Physicist, educator and Nobel Prize winner
3. Beverly E. Ledbetter, Chief legal officer and community leader
4. Nancy Northup, Attorney and global reproductive rights leader
5. Giuseppe Penone, Visual artist
6. Sting, Singer-songwriter, author and activist
7. Trudie Styler, Actress, activist and UNICEF U.K. ambassador
Now here’s something that I don’t get. I wrote on January 15:
Brown President Christina Paxson took office on July 1, 2012, and three years and three months later, on October 23, 2015, following a two-year “quiet phase,” she launched the $3.0 billion BrownTogether capital campaign. Last week, with $1.64 billion raised in a little more than a total of four years, the campaign passed its halfway mark. Brava, Christina.
Meanwhile in Hanover, over four and a half years into Phil Hanlon’s Presidency…
Maybe Phil is giving too many honorary degrees to rich guys? Would he do better at fundraising if he gave more recognition to artists, scientists, educators and people fighting for causes.
Addendum: Give Brown credit for ambition. Compare President Paxson’s capital campaign of $3.0 billion to her $3.5 endowment. Dartmouth’s endowment is a hair below $5.0 billion, and Phil’s campaign is the same $3.0 billion.
I wish that today’s post were fake news, but it isn’t. Hot on the heels of Hany Farid’s departure to Berkeley, the Government department is now losing one its brightest young stars, Brendan Nyhan (so bright that the department made him a full professor with astonishing speed). He’s leaving for Michigan.
Nyhan has been in Hanover since 2011, and he understands the special place that the College occupies in higher education, as he told The D in an interview on January 24, 2017:
What was most attractive about Dartmouth was the combination of being able to teach really bright undergraduates in small classes and also have a top-tier research faculty. The teacher-scholar model was especially appealing to me because I went to Swarthmore as an undergraduate and I believe in liberal arts education, but I also have research aspirations and Dartmouth seemed like a place where I could fulfill both of those goals…
The Dartmouth ideal is someone who is committed to teaching — particularly to undergraduate teaching — while also being an active participant in their research field as well as a contributor to the collective knowledge that academia hopefully produces. The professional system in higher education tends to drive people toward one of those two roles. Most professors are focused on teaching while there’s a small set of people who are focused on research. It’s sometimes difficult to balance those roles or to find places that encourage you to do both the way Dartmouth does. I think the teacher-scholar model is something that is genuinely unique about the College. It’s one of the most appealing aspects of this institution to me.
And yet Nyhan is now off to mega-University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Uh, Phil?
A huge get for Michigan. Just enormous. A huge loss for Dartmouth. Just enormous.
Nyhan’s work has focused on the manipulation of information in the media — a more relevant subject is hard to find — and he has always been an equal opportunity critic: the right and the left have both been subject to piercing criticism for distortions of the truth. In addition to being a prolific and widely cited researcher, Nyhan has written dozens of Upshot columns for the New York Times since 2014.
Addendum: Phil Hanlon’s policy with the faculty has been clear: ‘If you want a serious raise, show me an offer from another school.’ Obviously, that message has set members of the faculty to hunting, and as I have predicted, a good number of them will like what they find at other institutions. I know several professors who are entertaining attractive offers right now — as smart schools try to poach our crown jewels, too. They recognize a teetering college when they see it.
Addendum: The College does not publicize the departure of faculty members. Please write to me if you learn that a professor is leaving Hanover.
Addendum: The D now has a report on Nyhan’s departure.
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)
Part 1, Part 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…
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…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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