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Which image is more evocative of history: the multi-gun German battery at Longues-sur-Mer overlooking both Omaha and Gold beaches?

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Or the hobbnailed jackbootprint of an awkward soldat who put his foot into wet cement as the casemate for one of the four 152-mm navy guns was being poured — undoubtedly leading to a tongue-lashing from his unhappy feldwebel?

Longues-sur-Mer Bootprint.jpg

Of course, the answer to most either/or questions is “both,” and in this case one without the other is incomplete.

Addendum: The guns are set well back from the cliffs overlooking the invasion beaches. Their fire was controlled from a bunker further forward with a view over the landing areas. The telephone link between the two was severed in the Allied bombardment during the night before the D-Day landings, and although the battery fired 170 rounds, it had little impact on the fighting. The guns were captured on June 7 by the members of the British 231st Infantry Brigade.

The wits at the Jacko have come up with a fun T-shirt and tank top for Green Key. They are adorned with a striking image:

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You can order one here for $15.

At the recent Green-White game, Bruce Wood on Big Green Alert noted that the football team was modelling its new Black-White uniforms. Past uniforms have had black accents, but I don’t ever recall green-free uniforms on a Dartmouth team. Qué pasa?

I guess that black is the new black; the younger set likes the color (is it a color?). Softball had black pants for a while, and a few years ago Jay Fiedler ‘94 (who had a fine pro career in Miami) funded black pants for the football team, though this sartorial choice didn’t sit well with then-AD Josie Harper. She later banned black — a verbot that remained in place until the arrival of a more open-minded AD: Harry Sheehy.

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To the left of Buddy Teevens ‘79 is quarterback Dalyn Williams ‘16; to the right is Linebacker Will McNamara ‘16 and wide receiver Ryan McManus ‘15.

Addendum: A few years ago Buddy told me that he is ten pounds lighter than during his playing days, lo 35 years ago. Would that we all could say as much.

McGrew5.jpgI am beginning to discern a certain style of expression among some students. In this case, Jennifer Mcgrew ‘13 — who lambasted the College in The D for multiple sins, pronounced that she could not wait to turn her back on Dartmouth, and then turned around (or perhaps didn’t turn around?) and took a job in the administration — writes in to complain that I referred to her in a recent post (actually, one of my correspondents referred to her indirectly). Can’t we all just get along?

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On her LinkedIn Page, Jennifer announces that she is a “community driven, passionate educator ready to take the Department of Education by storm!” She lists her current professional responsibilities as follows:

McGrew Professional Profile.jpg

The College has released a statement to the Associated Press saying that AD has lost its appeal and has been permanently derecognized.

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Addendum: Below is the complete text of the College’s statmeent:

On April 9, Dartmouth’s Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) found Alpha Delta fraternity responsible for violating Dartmouth’s standards of conduct in connection with the branding of some new members of the fraternity by other members in the fall of 2014. Alpha Delta was also found responsible for violating the terms of its suspension in effect at the time of the branding. Based on these findings, on April 13, the OAC derecognized Alpha Delta as a Dartmouth student organization. On April 20, the fraternity appealed the decision. After careful review and consideration the appeal has been denied. Derecognition stands.

So what is the right and wrong of publishing the vulgar diatribe directed at SA President Frank Cunningam ‘16 that appeared on the Afro American Society’s Facebook page? D journalist Zach Hardwick ‘16 reported today on the same page that The D’s Editor-in-Chief Katie McKay ‘16 has assured him that The D will not be reprinting (nor reporting on?) the screed:

Hardwick Post.jpg

Let’s reason a little bit by analogy: if a fraternity has homophobic comments on its Facebook page — comments that receive numerous “likes” — would The D report the story? And what about racist comments on a sorority’s page? Or how about misogynist comments in a frat-members-only, in-house (pre-Facebook) newspaper? On the latter issue, we don’t have to ask the question; let’s just look at The D’s past behavior:

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The D did not hesitate in choosing to out the brothers of soon-to-be-derecognized-for-their-crime Zeta Psi.

The first principle in this situation is that a broadly disseminated act of racist vulgarity (or any vulgarity for that matter) deserves to have the light of day shone on it. Perhaps in shaming the piece’s authors, my post might cause them to refrain from committing such a hateful action in the future.

Addendum: On the thought that a person need not be haunted forever by undergraduate indiscretions, I have refrained from publishing the names of the two authors of the attack on Cunningham.

The following post regarding Student Assembly President Frank Cunningham ‘16 appeared on the closed Facebook page of the College’s Afro American Society. The page has almost 700 members, all of whom could see the below diatribe:

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Afro Am Screed 2.jpg

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When I attempted to verify the post’s authenticity by writing to a student whose name had appeared as having “liked” the page, I received the below response from a different student, one who had been part of the Dartmouth Action Collective demonstration at which Frank Cunningham ‘16 behaved inappropriately:

Dear Joe Asch,

I’m going to try really hard to be nice to you and appeal to any conscience or sliver of a soul you may have in you and ask that you please not publish the posts that were made on the Afro-American Society’s page.

If you do, you will be complicit in making a spectacle of black people’s pain. You will be complicit in making a community even more vulnerable than it already is.

Is there any way that I can convince you to not publish words that people shared in confidence on that page? And I don’t mean to insinuate that we won’t stand by our words — many of us will — but all you will do is give us more evidence of what we already know: that we need to work through our internal power dynamics in order to build the strength necessary to defend ourselves from people like you.

Please consider giving us a break.

I’ll leave the above letter without comment, except to say that it is clear that the works of Dale Carnegie are no longer being taught at the College.

Addendum: In response to my question about what she meant by “people like you,” the author of the above note followed up with the following:

People like you means people who ruthlessly publish private information and insult people I care deeply about. You made a black woman’s life a living hell while she was on campus, and I don’t even understand to what end…??

PLEASE do not publish it. It will be detrimental to people’s mental health. You are targeting people who are already so vulnerable and you will make their lives on this campus even harder than they already were. I really don’t want you to throw my friend into another deep depression. Please please please.

I assume that she is referring to this Dartblog post concerning Jennifer McGrew ‘13.

A parent writes in to offer a new idea in the grade inflation debate: it is easier to measure quantity than quality, but if one thinks about quality, the College is doing well:

I wanted to comment upon the grade inflation issue. As I mentioned before, I have had other children graduate from other highly selective LAC’s/Ivy’s. In view of this one parent’s experience, does Dartmouth have grade inflation — yes. The question I have come to believe is most important, though, deals not with grades but with a student connecting with the professor and being inspired by the professor (this inspiration is obviously a two-way street, i.e. the student must come open and ready to be inspired).

From first hand experience, I can tell you that rigor can go to a point where inspiration is not possible and thus counter-productive. I have also seen massive quantities of class assignments being passed off as teaching/class excellence, rigor or both, where in reality they are neither. Of all the schools our family has experience with, Dartmouth has the highest percentage of professors who have proven inspirational and thus given my Dartmouth student an exceptional experience.

I hope I have conveyed my thoughts clearly in the above paragraph since inspiration is much harder to graph than GPA :-)

For instance, how does this inspiring story about Dartmouth Economics Professor Doug Irwin fit into an analysis of grade inflation?

Bi-modal distribution.jpgThe problem with Phil’s call for increased rigor at the College is that the student body breaks into two groups: kids who work hard day in and day out, like the sophomores in the Social Entrepreneurship class that I audited last summer — an impressive bunch who were to a man and women prepared for class each day, and were called upon to prove it; and students for whom the focus at the College is on areas other that academics. Professor Mark McPeek wrote on his blog:

… a very large group of students at this elite Ivy League institution really do not care one bit about their education.

A student summarized for me this situation, which I have heard described on many occasions:

I think at any college you can take bogus classes or majors, or hard classes and difficult majors. My girlfriend took two of the easiest majors she could find here, tailored her classes every quarter to the easiest ones being given, partied all the time, was your typical frat-going-partier, and now hopes to graduate as Phi Beta Kappa. Few things instill more anger and a sense of injustice than thinking of the chem major with a B average being considered less of an “honor” student than the student I have described my girlfriend to be.

Professor Randall Ballmer’s course Religion 65, the locus of the Clickergate scandal last year, was notorious as a gut, as one student wrote to me last fall:

The fact of the matter is that Religion 65 is one of the most widely acknowledged lay-ups in the entire course catalog. 287 students signed up for the course because they believed that it would be incredibly easy in terms of the amount of work that was demanded of them. A friend of mine took the course last fall and went to class three times — once on the first day of class, once for the midterm, and once for the final — and received a B.

I don’t know how the effort curve would actually appear in this bi-modal distribution, but upping the stakes for the College’s students who are already working extremely hard could have unintended consequences. A demanding professor whose courses attract diligent students reports on a recent class discussion concerning this topic:

You should have heard my students today during our discussion of “rigor.” They went bananas! They perceive themselves to be under enormous pressure as it is, mainly from employers who will only talk to students with high GPA’s and who care just as much about demonstrated leadership in extracurriculars. So they’re going 18 hours a day, and — they say — the mental health issues in the student body are widespread and severe. The prospect of increased “rigor” in their courses makes them start blowing gaskets.

At the same time, they note that a number of subtleties are getting lost in the discussion: Dartmouth as an undergraduate community that is nicer to be part of than other college communities; the danger of lowering Dartmouth GPAs while competitor schools keep grades where they are; the extra intensity that comes with the D Plan; the fact that, even if rising SAT’s don’t explain rising grades (in the sense that SAT’s went up first, then grades), nonetheless, the Admissions Office systematically increased the SAT average by a standard deviation or more, meaning students are in fact better now than they were; the way students “mix” courses, taking one or two hard courses and a layup in the same term — maybe we should weight courses by their demands, so every course doesn’t confer the same amount of credit.

All in all, the students have strong reactions and considered views on this. I wonder if they’re getting their views across?

Perhaps Phil’s attention should be turned towards the subset of professors whose courses year in and year out make the layup lists put together by many of the College’s organizations and teams.

Addendum: An undergrad weighs in:

I completely agree with your last point. I find it hilarious that the discussion regarding academic rigor has centered on early morning Thursday classes and somehow changing the behavior and culture of the student body. The fact of the matter is that academic rigor starts from the top. A portion of the classes offered today at Dartmouth are complete jokes — either because the professors don’t care or because they are incompetent. Phil should instead focus on actually holding his faculty accountable. Perhaps he could start by publishing course reviews and making sure that classes like Religion 65 don’t get approved. “Academic rigor” has started to sound like an attack on the student body, when really it should be directed at the men and women responsible for our education — the professors.

Addendum: As if on cue, Bloomberg had a story today about a recently minted alumna, Katy Feng ‘14, taking a coding class in Boston — and working hard in it:

In a Boston basement that houses a new kind of vocational training school, Katy Feng says she’s working harder than she ever did at Dartmouth College. The 22-year-old graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and studio art that cost more than a quarter-million dollars. She sent out dozens of résumés looking for a full-time job in graphic design but wound up working a contract gig for a Boston clothing store. “I thought, they’ll see Dartmouth, and they’ll hire me,” Feng says. “That’s not really how it works, I found.” She figures programming is the best way to get the job she wants. Hence the basement, where she’s paying $11,500 for a three-month crash course in coding.

Feng sits in the class five days a week from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., tapping on a laptop and squinting at the syntax of the programming languages JavaScript and Ruby. Homework swallows her nights and weekends—a big change from Dartmouth, where after a few hours of class “you could just do whatever,” Feng says. “This is definitely like, you’re doing it all day long.” [Emphasis added]

Good to see that Katy is definitely like, getting some work done for a change.

Frank Cunningham ‘16 has apologized for his actions towards one of the members of the Dartmouth Action Collective at the Derby party:

Cunningham Mea Culpa.jpg

Addendum: A member of the Class of 2016 writes in:

I have a comment I would like to add to the Frank Cunningham issue. Frank has been a good friend of mine for quite a while, and it’s honestly astounding how offensive the names some people have called him. The afternoon of the incident in question he was called “a fuck nigga Tom,” in reference to the incredibly abhorrent term, Uncle Tom, the main character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel. Throughout his Dartmouth career Frank has been labeled; he has been called a “white mans puppet,” “Uncle Tom,” “Fuck Nigga Tom,” and finally, “The New Clarence Thomas.” Perhaps those who expect respect should start practicing civility. I’ll let you make your own conclusions, but there are two sides to every story.

When the air lightens and springtime smiles at us, the women of Kappa Delta Epsilon put on their well regarded Derby party. As I wrote about the gathering two years ago when I chanced to be in Hanover at that felicitous time of year: “No more attractive collection of flamboyant hats and gossamer sundresses is to be found in the land.”

This term, however, as part of its protests against events in Baltimore and other acts of police violence, the Dartmouth Action Collective group of about 25 students decided to disrupt the party with noisy, bullhorn-enhanced chanting. How these students feel that the cause of justice will be advanced by shouting at partygoers at a social event is beyond me.

The group has sent an e-mail to the campus with the above video attached. Particular note is taken of the behavior of bow-tie-wearing SA President Frank Cunningham ‘16:

What is perhaps the most disturbing is the reaction of the incoming Dartmouth Student Body President — Frank Cunningham, class of 2016 — who taunts, mocks, and forces his way into the face of a much smaller female activist. The taunting of his peers occurred during a chant memorializing the last words of Eric Garner: “I CAN’T BREATH!”

Despite what one might think of the protesters or their message, surely such embarrassing behavior by the student body president is uncouth, unjustified, and out of step with the values of mutual respect protected and encouraged by Dartmouth’s mission statement.

Our supposed leaders must be held accountable!

Perhaps we can agree that all merriment of any kind should stop until social injustice has been eradicated from the earth?

Addendum: The main demonstration on Friday evening, somewhat more substantial than the one the next day, was also filmed:

Addendum: No statistics were available to Dartblog at this time as to whether the incidence of violence by urban police officers has been affected by the Dartmouth Action Collective protests.

Addendum: The protesters also brought their roadshow to the Pigstick party at Alpha Chi Alpha, where they rejected the brothers offer to work together, according to a column in The D by Robert Herbst ‘16, a brother at Alpha Chi.

Addendum: An e-mail has just gone out asking recipients to sign a petition calling for SA President Frank Cunningham ‘16 to resign. As of 3:40am today it has received four signatures.

Addendum: A longtime Dartblog correspondent writes it:

Thank you for posting the video of the (attempted) disruption of the Derby party. It is worthwhile to fully display the tactics of this segment of the undergraduate population. On a positive note, did you notice the young woman (in a large blue floral print outfit with a white back ground and long sleeves with a natural color hat) who seems to be trying to move the Derby attendees away (mostly on the left hand side) from the group of the aggrieved disrupters (sp) of the peace? What great common sense and quick thinking she displays when presented with a group of the aggrieved, clearly desirous of attention, she realizes that peacefully not providing the group the desired attention is the best course to shorten and diffuse the situation. Kudos to the sorority and attendees for having the social, political and common sense skills to handle an unanticipated disruption so well. How many people do you think the disrupters convinced that their cause is worthy that day? Not a one, I would bet. Continued thanks for your efforts on behalf of the college!

Erratum: An early version of this post attributed this various above demonstrations to a group called Big Green Microagressions; in fact, members of the Dartmouth Action Collective set up the events. The post has been corrected to reflect that fact.

I don’t know about you, but however well supported the authors’ conclusions are in the below article — “If everyone in the top 20 percent of the income distribution (those with family income over $121,000) upped their tips by an average of only 65 cents per day, an extra $11.6 billion annually would end up in the pockets of the working poor and middle-class. According to one recent study, the major minimum wage hike in 1996 generated just $11.4 billion (in 2013 dollars…) annually in take-home pay” — they appear destined to receive Dartblog’s Marie Antoinette Award very soon, and come the revolution they’ll earn a trip to the guillotine:

Skinner Tipping.jpg

Addendum: I have a confession to make. If I hadn’t spent all that money buying iPhones and Microsoft software and Dell Computers and the myriad other great products out there, then Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Michael Dell and the other multi-billionaires would not have made so much money. Income inequality is my fault.

Addendum: John Skinner is one of the College’s most cited researchers. He has published 48 articles that have been cited in one hundred or mores works authored by people in his field.

Addendum: A young alumnus writes in:

Just saw your post on Jon Skinner’s article. It’s worth mentioning that in addition to being widely cited, he’s an outstanding professor in the classroom as well. Very lively and engaging, and doesn’t need the chocolate covered espresso beans he hands out at the start of class.

Mark McPeek.jpgBio Professor Mark McPeek — an ecologist and evolutionary biologist — seems on his way to becoming a grade inflationist as well. On his blog Mind Games 2.0, he is teasing out the effects of higher grades on Dartmouth students and on the overall environment at the College, and by extension, on all schools. He has six posts up now, all of which look in greater detail at points that he made during his half-hour presentation to the faculty last week. His theme is that grade inflation needs to be stopped in its tracks, lest it have ever-more-deleterious effects on student life.

At the Yale Law School we enjoyed an Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail grading system. People worked hard, and an Honors grade was a reward for extra effort. Word was that 10-15% of the grades awarded were Honors; about 85% of grades were Pass; and you’d get a Low Pass if you sold crack to your professor’s daughter. We’d laugh at the transgressions required to earn a failing grade.

Yet I think that we can agree that Dartmouth undergrads are not Yale Law students, or so it seems to me. However in Hanover there exists a contingent of faculty members who believe that there is no need for grades at all. What a curious kind of academic utopianism. Next these folks will argue that we should all equally share the wealth that the national economy produces. But rather than speculate in a void about such things, Professor McPeek has summarized the findings of the academic research and his own study of the effect of high grades on student effort. His blog post on this topic is entitled: Student Effort Declines When The Average Grade In A Classes Increases. An excerpt:

[Researcher Philip Babcock’s] regression analyses indicate that students in classes where they expect to get an A study half as much as students in classes where they expected to receive a C. Thus, simply based on the grades that the average student receives in the class, the work effort on the material for all students in the class could double depending on how easy or hard a grader you are.

Let’s say you went into a class one year, and on the first day you said, “I am going to set the average grade for this class to a C” and then you simply teach the class as you always do but grade assignments to a C average. Then in the next semester, you teach the identical class, but on the first day you say “I am going to set the average grade for this class to an A”, and then teach exactly the same class but grade all assignments to an A average. Which class do you think students would get a better education in, and by “get a better education” I mean know more, be better able to apply what they learned in the class to new situations, and have more skill with the material in the class? Based on human nature alone, the answer is obvious.

I see the same relationship in analyses I have done of the self-reported data from Dartmouth students when they complete their course evaluations at the end of each term.

Makes sense to me, but then I live in the real world where I observe the effects of market incentives every day — and where I pay a high price if I mis-read them. Certain professors at Dartmouth see the world as they want it to be, without asking if people will actually act as the profs dream that they will.

Addendum: McPeek’s other posts on grade inflation are worth reading:

But Nobody Will Get Into Medical or Professional Schools?

Do We Really Have To Come Up With A Grading System That Faculty Can’t Game?

But I Use The Latest Innovations In Teaching?

Are Entering Students Better Prepared For College?

What If Every Student At A University Truly Deserved To Get A’s In Every Class?

Addendum: I am quite enjoying the current discussion on grade inflation. Our debate will bring about interesting changes at the College — ones that could have us actually leading higher education in an area (rather than just saying that we are doing so).

What a surprise. Not only are we having a principled argument about grade inflation, here’s a piece in today’s D by Psychology Professor Peter Tse ‘84 that argues intelligently for a core curriculum at the College. There are many valid criticisms of the idea of a core body of knowledge; however, to my mind, the only thing worse than having a core curriculum is not having one at all.

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Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Good post re Prof. Peter Tse’s piece. He shows how his own education had huge gaps due his taking a variety of what seemed at the time interesting courses that met the distributive requirements, but which didn’t add up to an adequate general education.

The bit about a new core that would not consist of “Ancient Greek, Latin, the Bible, and other canonical books,” but a “modern core that fosters understanding of our world,” suggests to me that his education failed in ways he is not well enough educated to recognize. Are not Sophocles, Thucydides, and Plato important for us? Are not Cicero and Tacitus? Can we even begin to understand our world without any knowledge of the Bible?

Without works like these and the other “canonical books” he dismisses we cannot begin to understand the human condition.

On September 29, 2014 we published a report on the special treatment given by the Dartmouth Admissions department to the children of wealthy donors. Last month Gawker ran a story — How the Rich Get Into Ivies: Behind the Scenes of Elite Admissions — that described the horsetrading engaged in by a senior executive at Sony in order have his daughter accepted to Brown. Numerous e-mails document the quid pro quo of a commitment to a million dollar donation in exchange for a slot in the class of 2019. Ugly stuff, indeed.


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