Thursday, April 24, 2014

Freedom Budgeters Wrist Slapped

The most amazing part of Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s cave-in to the Freedom Budgeters is that she allowed them to negotiate the terms of their punishment. In short, they said that they would stop committing their per se violation of Code of Conduct Standard VIII (not to mention NH statute TITLE LXII CRIMINAL CODE CHAPTER 644 BREACHES OF THE PEACE AND RELATED OFFENSES Section 644:2) only if the College charged them in the lightest possible manner.

Standard of Conduct 8.jpg

Here is the relevant part of their “agreement” with Dean Johnson.

FB Agreement Excerpt.jpg

“We need to be assured that there will be no punishment for anyone who participated in this sit-in at any point beyond low-level judicial review not noted on any student’s record, no COS process, no financial aid or scholarship revocation, no impact on any 5th or 6th year of study, no impediment of [sic] graduation, no FSP/LSA revocation, or any other impediments to our educational or social experiences. However if a student if brought up on judicial charges again, this particular violation can be taken into account in determining the level of sanction.”

And so it goes that the marshmallow hammer has now come down on about 16 of the Freedom Budgeters:

FB Charge Comp.jpg

Their punishment will probably be an official “please don’t do that again,” followed in all likelihood by someone from OPAL saying how much everyone admired their courage. Is that what a Dartmouth education has come down to?

Posted on April 24, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Baby and the Bath Water

In Charlie Wheelan’s introductory remarks at the Should the Greek System Be Abolished? debate, he made an especially fine point:

Charlie Wheelan.jpgI would urge you to be analytically rigorous. This is my inner public policy professor speaking to you. I appreciate the comments that came before me, but when I hear things like “strongly associated with,” I get very uncomfortable because what I care most about is causal relationships. It is entirely possible that Greek institutions exacerbate/cause behaviors that we do not like, particularly with regard to binge drinking and particularly with regard to sexual assault, but it is also true in some counterfactual where people binge drink in another place, where 18-22-year-old irresponsible people congregate in different ways [i.e. without fraternities], many of those problems would still exist. It is incumbent upon us to figure out what causes those behaviors that are unacceptable to everybody who is part of this community, and to change them, rather than to call for abolishing the system writ large, rather than changing the things in the system that are most dangerous to the students who are here.

We should circle back for a moment and ask ourselves what it is about Dartmouth that inspires the fierce loyalty of its alumni. Could the fraternity system be an integral part of Dartmouth’s uniqueness? Even the most skeptical observer has to acknowledge the possibility that an aspect of the College in which 67% of upperclass students participate (far higher than any other school in the Ivies) plays an important role in bonding students to the College.

My larger observation is that we are playing with fire here. Any precipitous decision about changes in Greek life could have far-reaching consequences for the school. As we saw yesterday, an action can have unintended consequences, and in effecting one change, we could well cause many others. The modification to the beloved-by-many Dimensions show is a case in point. Some people, it seems, bridled at the rah-rah nature of the performance. It didn’t show the College, warts and all, they said. So the ever-pliable administration has decided to sanitize the event. Another beloved tradition bites the dust; and Dartmouth loses its individuality in yet another way — and possibly a good many prospies.

A further example is the new Foltian academic calendar that provides a six-week break from just before Thanksgiving to after the New Year. The administration achieved its aims of saving a little money and relieving students of the burden of flying home for Thanksgiving and then coming back for exams, but at what a cost: painfully compressed terms, negligible reading periods, a football game in the middle of exams, an interminable Xmas break in Hanover for students unable to return home, and so on.

We risk the same unintended consequences as regards the Greek system. As Professor Wheelan admonishes, we should tread carefully. Precipitous and unthought-out moves could leave us with a school that still has problems with binge drinking and sexual assault, but not the Greek institutions that have bound so many people to their friends and to their College.

Addendum: Another example of ill-considered change was the College’s decision to no longer grant academic credit for AP courses completed in high school. Clearly the deanery did not do its homework on the issue as regards practices at other schools (all the other Ivies grant some kind of credit for AP work, contrary to assertions made at the time of the faculty vote on the issue). The end result is that, while the College may take in more money in tuition, many people believe that a good many prospective students are shying away from applying to the College, particularly some of the strongest candidates, because they cannot get any credit for AP work.

Posted on April 23, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Housing: How About Some Data?

Mike Wooten.jpgWhere is the data in the discussion on reforming Dartmouth’s housing policy? Has anyone canvassed alumni from different eras and asked them how and where they made their best friends at the College? In fact, have any anthropological or sociological tools been brought to bear in this discussion? Jim Kim used to talk about his “ethnography” of the College, but I fear that this was no more than another empty, but impressive-sounding, term from our ex-leader. Similarly, Director of Residential Education Mike Wooten (right) regularly throws up a storm of jargon, but I have yet to hear a single statistic from him. Memo to Mike: properly sourced numerical data contains more information than buzzwords.

Dartmouth’s housing policy can be divided into three eras since the advent of coeducation:

a) 1972 to the mid-1980’s, when students had the option of remaining for four years in a dorm and all classes were mixed in each residence hall;

b) Mid-1980’s to mid-1990’s, when students were shunted around campus each time they returned to Hanover, but all classes were mixed together;

c) Mid-1990’s until today, when freshmen were segregated in their own dorms, and upperclass students moved from dorm to dorm.

How about a survey of alumni from all three periods? They can then share with us their perception of the quality of their residential experience at Dartmouth, and from their responses we can pick and choose policies based on real information.

My correspondent today was in no doubt about the importance of his dorm life in the late 1980’s, even though he was a member of a fraternity. And my own experience in the 1970’s — in a dorm that was almost like a private club — was the highlight of the social side of my time in Hanover. Will anyone from the last twenty years speak highly of dorm life among Dartmouth students? Shouldn’t we find out the answers to these questions in a manner that befits a College where first-class research is conducted?

Posted on April 22, 2014 4:00 PM. Permalink

The Law of Unintended Consequences

A College insider from a class in the late ‘80’s writes in with a review of the administration’s consistently wrong-headed policy towards the fraternities over the last three decades:

Silly me, when I first saw the headline that Hanlon was taking on “extreme behavior” at Dartmouth, I thought he was talking about the activists who occupied his office!

LUC.jpgIt all, of course, comes back to the decades of mismanagement by the administration and Trustees. In a nutshell, the story is this: since Freedman, the administration has waged war on the fraternities, and tried to abolish them. Wright doubled-down when he first came in via the Student Life Initiative, whose expressed intent was to re-engineer the Greek system. The real reason that the administration wanted to outlaw them is that they aren’t PC (for example, for many years the fraternities supported the Indian symbol and the traditional alma mater). The administration used the phony rubric of physical facilities, etc., to try to squeeze them financially, and get them to surrender to the College.

The result is that they basically turned the fraternities into outlaws, and cultivated hostility and distrust between the fraternities and decades of administrators. This approach basically drove the fraternities underground. While there certainly were excesses in my day, my impression is that the fraternities are much worse and more extreme today. I know with complete certainty that drinking is more excessive — to put the matter simply, when I was a student we played beer pong with one beer per player. Today the norm is five beers per player and often more. This will sound odd, but in my day the point of the game was to socialize and have fun while drinking beer. Today, it is to simply get drunk.

At the same time, the central planners destroyed the dorms as a viable competitor to the fraternities in a variety of ways, mainly by moving students around and destroying dorm continuity. So kids were living in different dorms every year with a different set of friends. When I was there, my dorm was a co-equal part of my community with my fraternity.

This was reinforced by Dartmouth’s unique schedule, where kids frequently spend quarters away from Hanover, either in foreign study programs or doing something else. So it is not infrequent to not see friends for several quarters, so you need a home away from home. The Greek system provides that.

Rather than hostility to the Greeks based on PC concerns — but dishonestly represented as something else — which bred corresponding distrust and outlawry, the College administration could have sought decades ago a more productive collaborative process with the Greeks that recognized that they play a uniquely valuable role in providing continuity at Dartmouth. They could have also cultivated the dorms as a competitor — as they were during the time I was in Hanover.

Instead of thinking about what students want and need and building up from there, the administration has for decades adopted a top-down central planning strategy of trying to coerce into existence the communities that the administration wants. So, for example, there used to be no freshman dorms. That was changed several years ago. Why? I think for social engineering purposes — the administration thought that the upperclassmen were bad influences on the freshman, and so were interfering with the Freedmanite goal of engineering the “new Dartmouth man/woman.” Instead, this policy simply destroyed dorm continuity over time and increased demand for the fraternities.

A remarkably failed experiment in social engineering. And now the College appears set to try to impose new central planning and social engineering to try to rectify the sins of prior generations.

The Trustees, of course, were a complete joke this whole time. Completely out of touch with any of this, they were unwilling to look through the smokescreen put up by the administrators that all was sweetness and light. A complete and utter failure of leadership across the board.

Addendum: An older alumnus is equally pessimistic:

President Hanlon seems to think his mission is to reform the mass culture of 17-21-year-olds. Lots of luck with that.

It makes one wonder whether the old single sex approach to higher education didn’t have a sound basis.

Hanlon wants to serve as the spiritual leader of a moral reform movement to change students’ social lives. Nothing about seeing that there is sufficient rigor to the educational experience that students aren’t left with endless free time for partying.

Having validated the complaints of the protestors, he is now stuck with this role. It starts to look like yet another failed presidency in the making.

Posted on April 22, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Critique of Phil’s Housing Plan

Carson Hele ‘16 had a good column in The D last Wednesday that is critical of Phil’s cluster/neighborhood housing plan. Entitled An Ill-Conceived Initiative, he rightly notes that segregating freshmen from upperclassmen dooms the upperclass dorms to irrelevance. If you don’t get the College’s housing right from freshman year onwards, you are not going to make things better during the upperclass years, especially given the mobility engendered by the Dartmouth Plan.

Hele also correctly observes that a cluster made up of many different dorms — he cites the “Fayerweathers, Ripley/Woodward/Smith, Wheeler and Richardson” clusters — is not really a cluster at all from a social point of view. Is a student from South Fayer going to feel any affinity during sophomore fall with someone from North Fayer? And when both go on LSA during their sophomore winter, will they build on their friendships when each goes to another Fayerweather dorm in the cluster in the spring term. This rhetorical question is not rocket science; it not even complicated social science: the bigger the cluster, the less likelihood there is that an enduring community will come into existence.

You see, the goal in housing policy should be to encourage repeated random interactions among a limited number of students, say, by crossing paths repeatedly, term after term, in a dorm lobby. As students grow to recognize each other, they grow more confident and they begin to speak to each other. Friendships form, and are deepened by further interactions. Then dorm-based structures spontaneously come into being: teams, parties, other initiatives. Once these are in place, students seek each other out to support their ventures. And the culture is off and running. We can say that familiarity leads to real content in relationships, and then familiarity breeds contentment.

However, Hele is wrong on one count. The dorms can be an alternative to the frats, and they are so in part because of the students who leave dorms to go live in the frats. Let me explain: over the years, under the old dorm priority system that I have written about for a decade, each individual dorm had its own culture and personality. Students who enjoyed the atmosphere could come back each term. But students who wanted something different would move to a fraternity or to a different, more convivial dorm (where they could move in with friends, and then keep the room for consecutive terms on campus). In that way, the culture of dorms and frats reinforced itself.

North Fayer.jpgThis natural churning, or perhaps winnowing is the better word, gave dorms character and a sense of community, and, as Hele points out, active intramural teams, too (I played softball, touch football, and soccer for North Fayer, and hockey for the combined Fayerwearther team). Sports were a great way to integrate a dorm: in North Fayer during Freshman Week, the juniors who were our unofficial IM organizers came to your humble servant’s room to ask the three of us to play for the dorm softball team. Unless everyone in the dorm participated, they said, we would not have enough people to field a team. We were only too happy to say yes, a response that we followed upon with questions about professors, libraries, meal plans, and many other things about the College.

Why does ORL (called in our day, the Office of Ruining your Life — though they did a much better job of it than than today’s larger bureaucracy) insist on segregating freshmen today, a feature of Dartmouth life that has only existed since the mid-1990’s? I think the administrators’ idea is that they want to protect ‘shmen from the supposedly pernicious influence of upperclassmen. Wrong. Their goal should be just the opposite.

In the end, I agree with Hele:

Rather than turning to neighborhoods as yet another Band-Aid in its series of residential life initiatives, the College should reassess the fundamental setup of our dorm system.

Sadly, there is no sign that this is being done.

Addendum: Back in the day, there was no official UGA program, with pay and a bureaucracy. Upperclassmen advised freshmen as a matter of generous support, and as payback for the upperclassmen who had advised them. No Community Directors were needed. The College had too much sense to waste money and space on people like that.

Addendum: A professor writes in:

Today’s post with quotes from from Carson Hele goes to the heart of the issue. One of our core problems is the inadequacy of our dorm structure and policies. Hanlon should seek the mega gift that will convert our existing structures into real “houses,” with their own identity and social space. Continuity in residence from the first year on is desirable. We might also re-think the presence of alcohol. In modest amounts (wine and cheese socials; pretzels, beer and movie nights), parties in the dorms could take away the Greek system’s lock hold on and abuse of alcohol.

Posted on April 21, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Words to Live By

John Sloan Dickey.jpgA thoughtful alumnus from the Class of 1954 pointed me to John Sloan Dickey’s closing comments in his Convocation Address in 1949. Perhaps beyond his list of things not to do, President Hanlon could appeal to today’s students to seek higher values in their behavior at the College.

Gentlemen, the fashioning of your usefullness to yourself and society as open-minded, reliable and cooperative men is in your hands.

And now, men of Dartmouth, as I have said on this occasion before, as members of the College you have three different but closely intertwined roles to play:

First, you are citizens of a community and are expected to act as such.

Second, you are the stuff of an institution and what you are it will be.

Thirdly, your business here is learning.

Posted on April 20, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Milan Diary: Do You Even Lift?

I tell you, we could not for the world figure out how these guys were performing this stunt. The seemingly Indian fellows were in the Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle, a shopping street just behind the Duomo in Milan. They neither wobbled nor showed any sweat. As we arrived they were motionless, and when we left a few minutes later, they had not moved. Go figure.


Posted on April 20, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Whole World’s Watching Us

Chavez Comp.jpg

Chavez goes on to note that the banning of fraternities at Bowdoin had little effect on the kind of excesses that Phil is decrying. Read the entire column here.

She might have also noted Williams’ experience in the same vein.

Addendum: A close observer of the College notes:

I think I speak for many when I say that, at this point, we would just like a brief respite from the unrelenting negative publicity — much of it self-inflicted. Coming as it did on the heels of the obnoxious Freedom Budget sit-in, dishonest articles like Kyle Ashlee’s, the constant talk of sexual assault and the (improper) closed-door Summit, the timing of Phil’s speech could hardly have been worse.

At the very least, the College should not have released advance copies of the speech to the media. To what possible purpose? There is a time to defend — or at least be quiet. Instead, Phil chose to embrace, and thus legitimize, every wildly exaggerated stereotype out there re: Dartmouth students.

Today alone, the heavily-trafficked aggregator RealClearPolitics linked to two (more!) articles [the above piece and a column in the Washington Post] concerning problems at Dartmouth and Hanlon’s speech. While I have nowhere near the number of contacts that you have, I can tell you that the ones I do have are thoroughly fed up.[Emphasis added]

Addendum: Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit linked to the Chavez column and commented:

Dartmouth’s applications are in steep decline already (14 percent last year). Making it a place where men are stigmatized and PC reigns won’t help that. If you want to curb student partying, how about reinstating tough academic standards and eliminating grade inflation. Oh, wait, that won’t help applications either … .

Posted on April 19, 2014 4:00 PM. Permalink

Another Chance to Help The Drive-In

Not long ago we ran the below post about a Kickstarter campaign to help the Fairlee Drive-In equip itself with a new digital projector. The effort did not quite get there, but Cooper Trapp and his family are giving it another shot. Here is their new Kickstarter page.

Drive-ins all over the country are facing the same problem, and Honda is helping out. Check out this short video that the car company has produced:

Assisting the Fairlee is a good cause. There is something right and good about being outside on a summer night in front of a movie screen. Give generously.

— *** —

Save the Fairlee Drive-In

Thumbnail image for Fairlee Drive-In.jpgIf you spend four years at Dartmouth and don’t see at least one movie at the Fairlee Drive-In, you can’t honestly say that you went to school in New Hampshire. Sitting in the warm grass watching a flick makes for a summer memory that one day will cause your children to look up from their iPhones in wonder. But only if the place survives.

The Fairlee is run on a shoestring by the Trapp family, and it seems that they don’t have enough shoestrings to afford a $77,208 digital projector. The movie studios are phasing out 35mm film in order to save money, and theaters are converting to the new technology. The Fairlee has scared up $22,100 in donations so far; they still need another $55,108. Want to help? The drive-in has a campaign going on Kickstarter, which they are running for another week. Hurry.

Note: there are only two drive-ins in the country that have an adjacent motel. At the Fairlee you can watch movies from the comfort of your own room. What will they think of next?

Fairlee Drive-InA.jpg

For more information, you can reach Peter & Erika Trapp at 603-272-5008. Their e-mail address is:, and they have a Facebook page.

Posted on April 19, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, April 18, 2014

Next Up, President Phil Hanlon

Inside Higher Education has a good summary today of the endless fruitless iterations in Dartmouth’s war against demon rum and bad behavior.

Hanlon CHE.jpg

It’s worth reading the whole article here.

IHE’s reporter, Ry Rivard, a proud 2008 graduate of West Virginia University, where he was the editor of the student newspaper, doesn’t make a single mistake of fact in the piece, and he taught me a few things about the College, too. Bravo. That all young journalists were so thorough.

Posted on April 18, 2014 4:24 PM. Permalink

Good News Department

Let’s grasp at positive news when we can. According to a story in The D today, it seems that the College will soon open official student course evaluations — the ones done by everyone at the very end of term — to perusal by students. Heretofore their contents have been limited to faculty members. If approved by a vote of the faculty in May, professors will have to opt into the system; otherwise their reviews will not be visible. I predict that almost everyone will do so. Would you take a course from a prof who hid from the opinions of students?

Phil has pushed for this change behind the scenes — as we reported in August. Good for him. It will move Dartmouth forward.

Posted on April 18, 2014 3:00 PM. Permalink

“We Will Move Dartmouth Forward”

So what is Phil up to? At this point, having listened to the various Improve Dartmouth sessions, it’s pretty clear that these exercises are no more than eyewash. Wednesday night’s meeting in 105 Dartmouth was just more of the same: infogathering-crowdsourcing-brainstorming about issues, even though the College’s upcoming policies have long since been devised. However, for PR reasons, students and everyone else are invited to voice their opinions. Then, later, when the official announcement comes down from on high, an obligatory bow to consultation can be made.

What will the College’s new social life policies be? Phil seemed to go out of his way in his opening remarks at the grandiloquently named Summit on Extreme Behavior to sound tough — as quoted in the Washington Post:

…Dartmouth’s promise is being hijacked by extreme behavior, masked by its perpetrators as acceptable fun.

The list of offenses is familiar. From sexual assaults on campus…to a culture where dangerous drinking has become the rule and not the exception…to a general disregard for human dignity as exemplified by hazing, parties with racist and sexist undertones, disgusting and sometimes threatening insults hurled on the internet…to a social scene that is too often at odds with the practices of inclusion that students are right to expect on a college campus in 2014.

The actions I have detailed are antithetical to everything that we stand for and hope for our students to be. There is a grave disconnect between our culture in the classroom and the behaviors outside of it—behaviors which too often seek not to elevate the human spirit, but debase it.

IT IS TIME FOR DARTMOUTH TO CHANGE. And as your President, I will lead that change…

Phil even admitted that the 14% drop in applications was tied to the various campus scandals of the past few years:

On campus, extreme behaviors are harming too many Dartmouth students, dividing our community and distracting us from our important work of teaching and learning and advancing the frontiers of knowledge.

And they are doing serious damage to Dartmouth’s reputation:

In the last year, applications have declined by 14%.

A Title IX investigation is under way.

External scrutiny of our campus life has never been higher. [Emphasis added]

He concluded:

We can no longer allow this College to be held back by the few who wrongly hide harmful behaviors behind the illusion of youthful exuberance. Routinized excessive drinking, sexual misconduct, and blatant disregard of social norms have no place at Dartmouth. Enough is enough.

I am calling on us to create fundamental change in every place on campus where social activities take place—residence halls, Greek Houses, Affinity Houses, Senior Societies, [“sports teams” were also added in Phil’s spoken remarks], and other campus organizations.
[Emphasis added]

Hmm. As background to these remarks, recall that every administration for the past 40 years has called for students to clean things up. Jim Wright put hundreds of students on campus discipline each year for underage drinking, before giving up on that effort. The Hanover Police used to arrest more Dartmouth students in a single year than all the other Ivies combined, to no effect.

So what’s next? Hire a hundred more S&S officers to make sure that nobody drinks too much, everyone gives consent, and we are all fully inclusive?

Or maybe, just maybe, the Trustees and Phil are going to take a serious run at the Greek system — that awful, awful group of fraternity and sororities in which 67% of eligible students are members, a figure which has increased in absolute terms by 27% over the last decade.

Recall that in 2000, when Jim Wright announced the end of the Greek system “as we know it,” there was a huge demonstration in front of his mansion on Webster Avenue, and Winter Carnival was cancelled by the Interfraternity Council.

Dartmouth could be in the newspapers for another long while.

Addendum: Phil also released a brief video statement about his concerns:

Addendum: I listened in to one small group at the Summit as participants described the animal and color that best represented them; then everyone offered ideas (“the crazier the better!”) in an oh-so-non-judgmental way. It’s safe to say that no breakthroughs were made.

Posted on April 18, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A National PR Meltdown

The College is making sure that everyone on its Facebook page is aware of the battering that we are taking in the national media.

Hanlon PR Comp.jpg

From the Post’s story:

Asked whether he also worries about shining a spotlight on Dartmouth’s troubles, Hanlon said students and parents should take heart that the college is mobilizing to address its problems.

“These are issues everywhere,” Hanlon said. “A prospective student or parent should be concerned if a campus is not talking about them.”

I sure hope so.

Addendum: Here are the links cited above: The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Moving Dartmouth Forward.

Posted on April 17, 2014 11:49 PM. Permalink

What School Are You Talking About?

The other day we noted that OPAL was actively training students to see themselves as endlessly victimized by racial prejudice and to respond aggressively to anything that they might perceive as the slightest slight. The people involved in that effort are coming into focus now. However, two of Dartmouth’s most notorious social justice warriors are no longer with the College.

Ashlee Consulting Comp.jpgI’m talking about Kyle and Aeriel Ashlee, she an Assistant Dean and OPAL Adviser to Pan-Asian Students, and he the acting Director for the Center for Gender and Student Engagement. It seems that while he had been working “fulltime” for the College, and she had been on “medical leave,” they had been working hard setting up their private consulting business. Both recently resigned.

This space has commented on Aeriel Ashlee before, when she was Aeriel Anderson. Her blog gives one an inkling of her approach to the world:

I have written before about microaggressions and stereotypes targeting Asian Americans. I have written about my frustration of traveling far away from the streets of a racialized America and yet still being accosted by the ignorant. I have shared stories of racial prejudice towards Asian Americans and thoughts on triumphs of breaking boundaries of racial typecasting. I have rambled and reflected, and yet here I am again making issue of Asian American identity. What’s my beef? Why can’t I just “let it go”? Because this shit is in my face everyday.

However Kyle Ashlee has not heretofore come to our attention. That’s a shame. Judging from a piece that he wrote on Monday in The Good Men Project entitled Bravery in the Ivy League, his views are provocative, to say the least. Read his take on daily student life in Hanover:

It’s late on a Friday night and a rowdy group of drunken co-eds stumble through the entryway of the student center at Dartmouth College. Shouting obnoxiously, one of the inebriated students kicks over a wet floor sign while another angrily tears down a flyer advertising a gathering for student protest on campus. The student worker behind the food counter sighs deeply and prepares for the impending exchange. Sadly, it’s one that she is all too familiar with.

As the hostile group approaches the counter, the alpha male of the group barks his order at the young Black woman without apology. Despite having received a scholarship for tuition, this First-Generation college student took on the serving job as a way to survive the high cost of college without financial support from her family back home. She rang up the order and moved on to dealing with the other demands and slurred food orders. A few minutes later, one of the students stumbles back to the counter:

“You’re all out of forks. Where the hell can I find a God damn fork around here?”

Having dealt with his type many times, she responded with dignity:

“There are more forks on the other side of the dining hall. And do you mind treating me with a little respect, please?”

A puzzled look of disbelief fell over his face. Without thinking, he gathered all of the alcohol soaked saliva in his mouth and spit a violent wad of phlegm directly in her face: “Respect? A n***** like you doesn’t even belong at this school. You should feel lucky to be serving me food.”

Disgusted and appalled, she immediately phoned Campus Safety to report the egregious offense. Later, a security officer arrived to the student center in response. The drunken aggressors were long gone at that point, having left behind their half-eaten slices of pizza and chicken tenders for someone else to clean up.

While this may sound like an extreme incident of disrespect and racism, it is a scene not wildly uncommon at the prestigious institution of Dartmouth College. As a former administrator at the college, I heard from many students who had been treated similarly at some point in their academic career…

During my two years at Dartmouth, many students came into my office with heartbreaking accounts like the one shared here. These are the stories that the outside world never thinks about when Ivy League schools like Dartmouth College come up in conversation.

Come again? Does Kyle Ashlee seriously assert that it’s “not wildly uncommon” for a male Dartmouth student to spit in the face of a female undergrad working at Collis and call her a “n*****” in front of several other students. Frankly, I don’t believe for a minute that the incident occurred. How could such an event (or many events?) go unreported and unpunished on a campus where only last year Safety & Security conducted a manhunt for a student who spoke faux-Chinese to two Asian students?

Of course, the slanderous story is out there now. I bet that in eight months year applications to Dartmouth will probably drop by another few percentage points due to the fervid imagination of a now-former employee of the College.

Addendum: OPAL is an ongoing soap opera. A couple of years ago, Assistant Dean of Student Life and Advisor to Black Students Quantrell Willis resigned his position after only five months on the job. His stated reason was “in order to have additional time to focus on his family.” Uh, right. Certainly his extremely close advisory role with an undergraduate had nothing to do with his departure.

Addendum: Kyle Ashlee’s piece has already been picked up by Business Insider.

Addendum: Some quick answers from students about the supposed incident at Collis:

Quite easy to prove that article false in multiple ways: the biggest being that we use our student ids to buy food. Go back to the time the guy paid for his meal, find out who paid at that time, match face, boom, kid expelled. This article is a huge lie.


Ashlee’s story reeks of lies - small ones, like saying Collis serves pizza or that the woman was both a food handler and a cashier at the same time, and big ones like claiming these men could not have been caught. Post-renovation Collis is rigged with *many* security cameras and if she was a hybrid food handler/cashier (which doesn’t actually exist), the incident would have occurred somewhere near a cash register. These men would have been identified, the incident would have been in safety and security logs, and it would have been reported by the daily Dartmouth.

It’s getting harder and harder to separate the lies from the truth. Whatever, as long as it makes good story…


I also hated the Ashlee piece because it’s such a transparent fabrication. I would add that, standing at the Collis register, I think you can’t see someone entering the building and you definitely can’t see them tear down a flyer on the bulletin board, which is on the opposite side of the wall and facing the opposite direction. Furthermore, the same student couldn’t both “ring up” and “take” an order. At Collis, you ask for food from people inside the area, and you pay at the register. There is no “counter.” And, yeah, the first thing that jumped out at me as a total lie is the pizza and chicken tenders thing. Collis doesn’t have both of those things! I wish though!

Posted on April 17, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Student Life Initiative, Part 2?

Phil is beating the tomtom for change at the College. But will anything more come of this effort than a rehashed Year 2000 Student Life Initiative — the one that pleaded for dorm continuity, etc.?

Call to Action.jpg

Posted on April 16, 2014 4:43 PM. Permalink

The Summit of All Fears

So Phil is taking a break from fundraising to convene an invitation-only Summit to Address Extreme Behavior tonight in 105 Dartmouth. I wonder what the carefully chosen people in attendance will discuss, and why the event is not open to the campus.

Methinks back to Carol Folt’s select little group that voted to shut the College for a day last year. Is Charlotte’s web growing tighter?


Posted on April 16, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let’s Play Free Association

Dartmouth Social Media.jpgThe College is fighting back on the social media front: UltraViolet’s campaign will not be left unanswered. If you see the image at right on a webpage and you click on it, you will be directed to Dartmouth’s Sexual Assault Prevention, Education, and Response page. UV says we have a sexual assault problem, and the administration’s campaign says that we are taking serious steps to fight the problem. Oh, joy. What will high school seniors, parents and college counselors think of first when the words Dartmouth College are mentioned?

Posted on April 15, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Students Should Follow the Rules

Now there’s a crazy thought? The Improve Dartmouth website is a forum for commonsensical ideas. Here’s one of them:

Standard of Conduct CompA.jpg

We’re not talking about victimless crime here — like a 20-year-old drinking a beer — but students aggressively invading Dartmouth events and spaces where the work of the College is being done. We’ve discussed the same idea in the past in relation to the RealTalk disruption of Dimensions last year:

…the principles of non-violent protest include an acceptance of punishment. In being sanctioned, the demonstrators show commitment to their cause, and if their cause is just, their plight elicits further community support.

This space likes to refer to the value of precedent. If the RealTalkers are not punished, how can the College contemplate punishing any future group that disrupts College events such as films, concerts, speeches, lectures, or other gatherings of members of the Dartmouth community?

Of course, the possibility exists that last year’s RealTalkers and this year’s Freedom Budgeters had and have little or no support in the community.

Addeundum: Don’t hesitate to vote for this proposal.

Posted on April 15, 2014 3:59 AM. Permalink

Dan Fagin ‘85 Wins Pulitzer

Dan Fagin Comp.jpg

He won for his book, Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation.

Fagin was the Editor-in-Chief of The D when he was at the College.

Posted on April 15, 2014 12:06 AM. Permalink

Monday, April 14, 2014

BREAKING: Distubance at Parkhurst

David Vincelette1.jpg

The D is reporting that Vincelette is a member of the Class of 1984. That fact would mean that the man was about 27 years old when he graduated from the College.

Last year at the Town of Hanover annual meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, Vincelette, who is listed by the Better Business Bureau as a general contractor, made a series of extended statements (as recorded by the minute taker of the meeting). The following is an excerpt:

David Vincelette stated that he has lived in Hanover for 32 years. He stated that he is concerned about the conservation group because he is facing foreclosure on his home. The Upper Valley Land Trust and conservation groups have called him to ask about purchasing his land and force him off the land next to it. He stated that the Town has already forced him off other land that he owned and removed all of his papers and effects and he noted that there hasn’t been a word from any member of the community. He stated that he is not running for anything and he’s not running from anything. He stated that he came here (to Hanover) with a golden invitation from a College on a hill after he served 3 years in the military. He stated that he’s not sure why he has been treated this way by the Town. He stated that he lives simply and has very little money. He stated that he owes a debt of appreciation to Kate Connolly who helped him with his purchase of a run- down camp near the Tanzi Brook. He stated that he was badly injured in the Army and served his family, God and his country. Mr. Vincelette went on to state that he’s a flawed man but that they are all citizens and deserve the rights to citizenship.

A person in attendance at the meeting referred to Vincelette’s comments as “the rantings of a crazy man.”

Posted on April 14, 2014 4:19 PM. Permalink

Improve Dick’s House? Who Cares?

If you are a Dartmouth undergraduate and you want first-class medical care, there is an easy solution to your woes: withdraw as a student (your folks will be happy; tuition is costing them a fortune) and get a job at the College. As an employee, you will have advisers and counselors begging to provide you with health-related services.

Student have been complaining about Dick’s House for years, and the complaints just keep on coming at the Improve Dartmouth website:

Dick's House Improve.jpg

However, if you become a staffer you can join the College’s concièrge medical service. It’s for employees only, of course. At Dartmouth Health Connect, you will have a dedicated wellness coach and an entire team of healthcare providers eager to look after you:

Dartmouth Health Connect Comp1.jpg

Also, for mental health care, there is the Faculty/Employee Assistance Program, which will regularly solicit you to come in for one of the eight free chats that you are offered by the College’s healthcare plan each year:

FEAP Site Visit.jpg

As well, you can get advice on your various medications. Note that you will be assisted by a full-bird psychiatrist:

FEAP Medication.jpg

And if a tragedy takes place, say in Boston, by all means come in for a consultation:

FEAP Marathon.jpg

And how much do these luxurious benefits cost the College? That’s hard to tell, but in 2013, the total cost of benefits for all Dartmouth employees came to $124,583,000. Meanwhile, at Brown, which has approximately the same number of full time employees as the College, employee benefits cost $94,185,000. That’s a difference of $30,398,000.

Addendum: After deducting financial aid, the College took in $119,186,100 in undergraduate tuition and fees. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut employee benefits to Brown’s level and pass the $30,398,000 in savings on to Dartmouth students and their families? That money would be enough to effect a 25% cut in tuition.

By way of background, tuition, room, board and fees at the College will be $61,947 during the 2014-15 academic year; at Brown comparable costs will be $59,428 — a difference of $2,519 (-4.2%). We all know where that extra money goes.

Posted on April 14, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Gentle Burst of Spring

I have always loved spring’s earliest days for the color of tree leaves. The pale green mixed with yellow possesses a freshness that makes one want to breathe deeply and exult (though riding a Vélib through Paris at high speed has the same effect):


The 17th Century Italianate Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption church in the rue St. Honoré in the 8th arrondissment is the religious center of Paris’ Polish community.

Posted on April 13, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

The Resonance of Duke Lacrosse

David Shribman ‘76, a Trustee from 1993-2003, has written a fine review for the Wall Street Journal of William D. Cohan’s book, “The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities.” His observation below holds an echo for anyone who follows the current life of Dartmouth College:

But this book is also about the power of narrative. The narrative in Durham and across the country growing out of this episode was simply too delicious for its own good: Snotty, privileged boys at an elite school playing an elite sport hold a private party where their worst impulses were played out in a drama involving a woman who was a member of both a racial minority and the economic underclass. The story satisfied every politically correct assumption. The only obstacle was that, while the snotty/privileged/elite part was true, and also the loutish behavior, the boys didn’t rape the woman. The rush to judgment on the part of the campus community—well ahead of due process—was a travesty of its own.

Mr. Cohan captures brilliantly the theater of the absurd that is played out on campuses every year over one controversy or another: the predictable groups behaving predictably, the loudest advocates for social justice often too impatient to let legal justice take its course, the voices of reason drowned out by the clatter of cliché…

That said, it is clear in these pages that, while the members of the Duke lacrosse team were not guilty of the crimes for which they were arraigned, they also were not innocents.

Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press.

Addendum: An alumnus points us towards some of the aspects of the Duke situation that did not come up in Shribman’s book review:

Interesting WSJ review from Shribman. However, he passes lightly over some of the most egregious misconduct from the prosecutor, and the Duke administration and faculty. The prosecutor didn’t just “have a taste for hype and hyperbole,” he had political ambitions that he thought would be served by inflaming black voters’ paranoia, and was willing to wreck people’s lives to further them.

Shribman does not mention the faculty statement signed by over 80 members condemning the defendants, at least not directly. The fact that the faculty had no knowledge of what had in fact happened did not slow them down in the least.

The authority on what happened at Duke and the aftermath is K.C. Johnson, who has followed this nearly from the inception on his Durham-In-Wonderland blog. Johnson demolishes author Cohan here:

Shribman’s review appears in a very different light after one reads Johnson.

Posted on April 13, 2014 12:41 AM. Permalink

Saturday, April 12, 2014

UltraViolet Story Goes National

Last Saturday, we reported on UltraViolet’s campaign against what it called the College’s “rape culture.” The story has now made the national media. Here is Bloomberg’s story:

Ultraviolet Bloomberg Comp.jpg

Read the full story here. The College’s social media ads direct the viewer to this College webpage.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has noted the disparate evolution in the number of applications at the different Ivies:

NYT Admissions Graph 2014.jpg

In the piece, Dean Laskaris trots out the tired old explanations to deflect attention away from the significant drop, but the Times is not fooled:

“We are doing some work to understand why,” says Maria Laskaris, Dartmouth dean of admissions and financial aid. For one, there are fewer applicants from the Northeast and Midwest, mirroring declining pools of high school students in the regions. And with most attending college within 200 miles of home, she says, “there are fewer students in our own backyard.” Dartmouth’s reputation has also taken a hit over charges that it has failed to combat sexual violence on campus, spurring the president last month to propose a new sexual assault disciplinary policy.

Is anyone fooled?

Addendum: Numerous papers, including the Valley News, have picked up the Bloomberg report.

Posted on April 12, 2014 3:20 PM. Permalink

Learn to Invade Phil’s Office

At Dartmouth there are bureaucrats who spend time teaching hardworking freshmen — kids who want to be doctors and scientists — that they are aggrieved minorities who need to express their new-found unhappiness disrespectfully:


Students don’t come up with protests like the Freedom Budget and the invasion of Phil’s office in Parkhurst on their own. OPAL is there to teach them.

Addendum: How about replacing these payroll radicals with tutors and other academic support professionals who can help students succeed despite their relative lack of preparedness to study STEM subjects in the Ivy League.

Addendum: No better example of the end result of OPAL’s teaching is to be found than in the case of Jennifer McGrew.

Posted on April 12, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Just in Time for Admissions Season

The book will be out on September 16.

Lohse Amazon.jpg

Posted on April 12, 2014 3:59 AM. Permalink

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Hundred Million Dollar Man(del)

The consistent talk around Hanover is that the benefactor who gave $100 million to the College is outgoing Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Mandel ‘78. He’s #314 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America with a total net worth of $1.8 billion.

Among his many other gifts to Dartmouth, Mandel is also known to be the “anonymous donor” of $35 million to the Center for Health Care Delivery Science. Forbes profiled him as follows:

Steve Mandel.jpgDartmouth grad Steve Mandel worked at Mars & Co. and then Goldman Sachs before joining fellow billionaire Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management as a consumer analyst. Mandel departed in 1997 to launch Lone Pine, named for a mythical Dartmouth pine tree that survived an 1887 lightning strike at his alma mater. The firm currently manages approximately $21 billion across its funds, which were up between 10% and 16% through the first half of 2013 after a great 2012. Mandel contributed $134 million to his Zoom Foundation in tax year 2010, which now has more than half a billion dollars in assets. Past beneficiaries include the Children’s Aid Society of New York, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Fairfield County Foundation. Mandel also serves on the board of Dartmouth College and Teach for America.

Mandel’s tenure as Chairman covered most of the Presidency of Jim Yong Kim, the Interim Presidency of Carol Yong Folt, and the selection and first year of Philip J. Hanlon ‘77 as Dartmouth’s current President. It is safe to say that, despite his extraordinary generosity to the College, Chairman Mandel left Dartmouth weaker than he found it.

Addendum: A couple of sources have written in to assert that Steve Mandel did not fund the troubled Center for Health Care Delivery Science.

Posted on April 10, 2014 6:00 PM. Permalink

Kim Watch: The Knives Flash

Following the Financial Times’ story on Monday about the ongoing chaos at the World Bank, the paper followed up with an editorial yesterday. What Monday’s report did not say directly, the commentary says straight out: Jim Kim is not up to the job.

Restructuring hell at the World Bank

Jim Yong Kim should get a grip on the troubled institution

When Jim Yong Kim was appointed to head the World Bank he was hailed as an inspired choice who would help to renew its purpose. Two years later, the bank is in turmoil and there are growing doubts about Mr Kim’s grip. Far from restoring its relevance, he has unleashed a restructuring hell that has demoralised staff and entrenched doubts about its long-term role.

Mr Kim still has time to turn the bank round. But he will need to make it far clearer what he is trying to do. Too often, the instinct to reorganise is a substitute for strategy. With this week’s spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, it is the right moment for Mr Kim to spell out the method behind the apparent madness.

morale is at rock-bottom. Mr Kim has fired several senior managers and even reinstated ones that he has fired. The top 48 division heads have been asked to reapply for their jobs. Meanwhile, the bank is crawling with overlapping consultancies. It is one thing to have McKinsey advising you. It is quite another to have former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s business entering the equation. The latter’s inclusion demands explanation.

All of these developments come amid Mr Kim’s drive to cut costs by $400m in the next three years. Yet there is a feeling among staff that Mr Kim himself is exempt from the austerity. The FT has reported that Mr Kim has taken 13 trips on private jets. There may have been no commercial flights available, as Mr Kim says. But the perception is damaging.

Removing Mr Kim at this stage would only add to the confusion. He must now make the best of it. But his self-generated problems underline why such jobs ought to be filled on merit. It makes no sense in today’s world for the US to retain the stale bargain whereby it appoints the World Bank president and Europe has first right to choose the IMF’s managing director.

If there is a silver lining to the bank’s turmoil, it is this: the Bretton Woods institutions belong to the world. From now on, they must be headed by the best people available. [Emphasis added, happily]

To date criticisms of Kim voiced by various people have focused on his specific policy and managerial choices, but sources at the Bank tell me that underlying all of the unrest is the understanding that Kim is an arrogant, manipulative liar who has little real expertise in running an institution.

But then, we have known that at Dartmouth for close to five years now, n’est-ce pas?

Addendum: Monday’s FT piece contained a note that will elicit knowing looks from anyone who wonders why Dartmouth alone among the Ivies uses Microsoft software rather than market-leading Google Apps:

Another example is the technophile Mr Kim’s unhappiness, when he first arrived at the bank, with its Lotus Notes email system. At considerable expense, he alone was switched over to Microsoft Outlook. The bank says it was a trial for eventually switching all of its staff and declined to disclose the cost.

Jim Kim a technophile? Ha. But, give the guy credit. He’s still a persuasive salesman.

Addendum: English cartoonist Kipper Williams saw where things were heading when Kim was chosen to run the World Bank:

Kim Cartoon1.jpg

Addendum: In David Brooks’ column in the Times he talks about the power of curiosity and about people who dig deeper in understanding their subject. He refers to the contrasting type of person — a type that we all recognize:

If you are primarily motivated to make money, you just need to get as much information as you need to do your job. You don’t have time for deep dives into abstract matters. You certainly don’t want to let people know how confused you are by something, or how shallow your knowledge is in certain areas. You want to project an image of mastery and omniscience.

On Wall Street, as in some other areas of the modern economy that I could mention, this attitude leads to a culture of knowingness. People learn to bluff their way through, day to day.

Some folks get through all of life like this; for others, there is a day when the music stops.

Posted on April 10, 2014 2:00 PM. Permalink

Understanding $100 Million

Cost Reduction.jpgYesterday’s anonymous gift to the College of $100 million dollars should be put into financial context. The administration will not put this money into an account and use it as needed; rather, it will go into the endowment, be invested, and then funds will be drawn off of the endowment at the usual draw rate of about 5%.

As a result of the $100 million gift, the administration will be able to increase its annual operating budget in perpetuity by about $5 million.

Similarly, when a donor gives $5 million to endow a scholarly chair, that money is invested in the endowment and each year it throws off the sum of $250,000 — the same 5% as above — enough to perpetually fund the salary and other expenses of a senior professor.

The point of this post is to shed light on the virtue of cost reduction. If the administration reduces, say, the bloated cost of the College’s employee benefits package by $5 million — which should be easy to do given that the cost of benefits at Dartmouth is currently $30 million more than the cost at Brown, even through the College and Brown have the same number of fulltime employees — then each year into the future an extra $5 million will be available for our operating budget to use for other, more productive functions.

Such a saving would be the exact equivalent, at least in the short term, of receiving another gift of $100 million, though it would not make headlines.

Addendum: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and your math is correct, too. If the administration could cut our benefits package by $30 million to make it the equivalent of Brown’s, that savings would be the equal of receiving an alumni donation of $600 million.

Posted on April 10, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

$100 Million and Counting

How nice to hear some good news for a change. I wonder who the generous donor is?

$100M Gift.jpg

And what does Phil mean by our “global footprint”? Will we be establishing an overseas campus, or more foreign programs?

Addendum: The D’s story on the gift adds the following information:

The gift, the largest single outright donation in College history, includes a matching mechanism that could double its amount to $200 million through the end of 2015, senior vice president of advancement Bob Lasher ‘88 said.

Here is the College’s press release.

Addendum: Progress like this for the College is a psychological relief from the unrelenting, negative news reports about Dartmouth. Phil should take note. The way to get us out of our funk is to do positive things.

Posted on April 9, 2014 9:18 PM. Permalink