Breaking: Frats Survive (for now); Hard Liquor Goes; Moral Education Returns
In presenting his ideas today for transforming campus life, Phil Hanlon ‘77 evoked the image of President John Kemeny coming to Hanover to build a strong Math department, and then transform Dartmouth via coeducation. But for all the drama of that anaolgy, and despite angry talk from faculty (their letter) and The D (its editorial) about abolishing the fraternities, Phil’s proposals are moderate, thoughtful, and with a little luck and the help of an energetic Dean of the College, achievable.
One could almost say that Phil is conservative (with a little “c”). Not for him the radical projects that rarely lead to the results expected. He has a sense of where he is going, and while that destination is not original, there is little likelihood that his plans will leave Dartmouth worse off, and a strong chance that campus life in Hanover will be better for his thinking.
The Greek System: The Greeks will not be abolished (what chaos that would have brought us — a full two thirds of upperclassmen are in a house), nor will they be forced to go co-ed (over the years co-ed frats have occasionally made it onto the College’s list of problem houses, too, and Phil understands that sorority women decidedly do not want to move into fraternities). Phil also wisely noted that schools with/without Greeks, and those who have abolished their fraternity/sorority system, all suffered from the same social pathologies as the College. At meetings with faculty in recent days, he noted that sexual predators might well gravitate to fraternities now, but abolishing frats would only lead predators to change the locus of their depredations (not that he phrased it exactly like that).
Hard liquor will be banned in “residential spaces or other college property” (though it seems unclear whether that verbot can/will extend to privately owned Greek houses). Phil noted that incidents of intoxication severe enough to require hospitalization almost always stem from the hard stuff. Henceforth the consumption of alcoholic beverages stronger than beer and wine will not be permitted (the technical limits is 15% alcohol by volume — which rules out California zinfandels, a good outcome). Social events at which beer and wine are served must have “third party security and bartenders” — though it is unclear who will pay for this support.
Enforcement of the no-hard-alcohol rule will be unrelenting, but punishment for underage drinking of beer and wine in frats and dorms will be dialed back. However Phil made no reference in his speech and in his earlier discussions with faculty as to whether taps would once again be allowed in frats. Nor is it clear if henceforth S&S and the UGAs will turn a vision-impaired eye to students bringing beer into the dorms.
All frats will be required to have “active faculty advisors of both genders,” “active alumni boards,” and each house will undergo a thorough annual review.
In addition, Phil went out of his way to praise the set of proposals advanced by the Greek Leadership Council, which he noted “introduces more serious ideas for reform than the system has seen in 50 years.”
In his implementation document, Phil put some teeth in his request for reform:
But, of course, we are also quite aware that promises and plans for reform generated by Greek organizations have not, in the past, led to substantive and lasting changes. If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on our campus.
En garde, ye Greeks. You have been warned.
Residential Life: Phil expanded on his previous thoughts regarding residential “house communities” on campus, of which their will be six, with each one to:
… organize and host social and academic programs, and eventually each will have dedicated space for study and social interaction… Each Residential Community will have a house professor and graduate students in residence.
Overall Phil expects that “faculty and grad students [will] play more influential roles in the lives of undergraduates.”
Although freshmen will know in which house community they will live starting in their sophomore year, and “be included in all community activities and events,” they will continue to be segregated in their own dorms.
Moral Education: Phil’s proposals are suffused with the sense that campus life lacks a moral compass, that the College has erroneously abdicated its role in directing student behavior and establishing a healthy climate for undergrads, and that students have too much free time for mischief. Among his ideas:
• I am asking the faculty to consider a number of ways to increase the rigor of our curriculum — from curbing grade inflation, limiting lay ups, to not cancelling classes around celebration weekends, to earlier start times for classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
• We have signed on to the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, which helps admitted students find Gap Year projects if they wish, and going forward will be investing more heavily in additional educational opportunities.
• We will be investing an incremental $1M each year in experiential learning - both to support faculty in their efforts to design and evaluate programs and to expanding current efforts and seeding new ideas.
Incoming freshmen will be asked to “sign a Code of Conduct that articulates the expectations - as they relate to civility, dignity, diversity, community, and safety - of all members of the Dartmouth community.”
Faculty and staff will participate in “first responder training,” and students will all take part in a new program — Dartmouth Thrive — which seems to be a rollout of the Athletic Department’s DP2 initiative.
As regards sexual assault, the College will supplement existing enforcement programs with extra education:
• Introduce a comprehensive and mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program for students.
• Create an online “Consent Manual,” including realistic scenarios and potential sanctions to reduce ambiguity about what is and what is not acceptable.
• Develop a Dartmouth-specific safety smartphone app for students to easily and immediately seek assistance if they ever feel threatened.
• The College will continue to enhance our partnership with the Upper Valley advocacy and crisis center for victims of domestic and sexual violence, WISE.
• Increase the presence of faculty and other positive adult influences in the lives of students.
To monitor the College’s progress in improving campus life, an external Oversight Committee will be established, to be be chaired by Tufts President Emeritus Larry Bacow. The College will participate in two regular climate surveys (an AAU Sexual Assault Climate Survey and a Dartmouth campus climate survey), and promptly publish their results.
Addendum: There was a fourth leg to Phil’s speech, one about inclusiveness. Remarks about the topic were painfully out of place, but I guess that Phil was following one of the unwritten rules of today’s academy: thou shalt never speak about anything without mentioning diversity. As a result, in a speech that was otherwise entirely focused on student life and its perversions, Phil found time to talk about initiatives for hiring a “representative” faculty, recruiting diverse students, and making campus life more open (Dartmouth’s Greek houses are already famously open to non-members). There was nothing at all original in this section of his remarks. I am sure everyone went to sleep or shifted impatiently in their Bentley Theater chairs as he waded through the boilerplate.
The back beat to my time in Hanover was “You have so much reading; you have so many papers.” I heard the same thrumming when I first came back to town two years after Commencement. One refuge for me from the pressure of undergrad life was the woodworking shop in the basement of the Hopkins Center. I don’t recall the name of the weathered New Hampshire teacher there, but he had the kind of accent that you don’t hear anymore, and his toolbelt fit him as if he had grown up wearing it — which he probably had. In the Hop I built a shelf for our dorm room stereo, other furniture, and columns to grandiosely frame our door in North Fayer.
The tradition of craftsmanship and good student support seems to live on in the shop. Recently Gabrielle Emanuel ‘10, a Rhodes scholarship winner in 2010, did a story for NPR on one of her favorite teachers, Hop woodworking shop teacher Dudley P. Whitney:
Addendum: According to her bio, Gabrielle is now an NPR Kroc Fellow working at WBUR in Boston. On the fellowship she has been an assistant producer in Washington on NPR’s Weekend Edition and a reporter on the National Desk. Since graduation, she has also worked for UNAIDS in Mali, on microfinance in India, and on access to higher education in Uganda. In addition, Gabrielle has written a children’s book that is coming out this fall.
Addendum: Who was that New Hampshire man? Several alumni correspondents have suggested that he was Walker Weed:
The guy you remember is probably Walker Weed. He was there when I haunted the Woodshop in the winter of ‘70 - ’ 71 as a second year Tuck student. I needed the furniture I made then and still use it to this day. End Table pairs in mahogany and walnut. And two hefty mahogany coffee tables, one of which went to a professor for the cost of the wood. I got an “A” in the course.
Walker Weed is the person you fondly remember at the Hop Shop. He was a gentle and delightful person [and the object of a fond obituary recently in the Valley News].
Another proposed Ralph Rogers:
That’d be Ralph Rogers. Splendid carpenter and teacher. Even his van had beautifully turned woodcraft roof bars.
Having read your addendum to the post, I’m going with Rogers. Weed was born in New Jersey. Hard to get the emmett accent down there. He was named after a relative — I assume an uncle — who was killed on a flight training run in WW!.
I never heard of Weed in college - and still “let” my wife handle the carpentry, but my uncle, a high school teacher in Massachusetts somehow weaved Walker into his teaching of literature and writing. That’s how I know about him.
The Alumni Magazine often has a slyly subversive side to it; let’s tip our hat to the editors over in Allen Street. Look at the recent entry regarding Jim Kim in a story summarizing the achievements of all of the members of the Wheelock Succession (except Phil).
What are we to take away from this summary: that poor Jim was put upon as a youngster; that he’s a good golfer; that he hobnobs with the famous and powerful; that he scored points for diversity; and that he parlayed his job at Dartmouth into something that he liked better? That’s thin gruel — no mention of any achievement at all — and DAM’s writer does well to point out the fact in a laughing way.
A recently retired professor once told me that over his forty-year career he’s watched students regress one year each decade: today’s seniors are at an intellectual level of the freshmen of his early years of teaching. I have no way of evaluating that assertion, but there are a fair number of faculty members who believe that a gap year would do students a world of good. Perhaps a year of decompression from the admissions process and time spent building confidence would give students the means to resist some of the baser group temptations that seem to mark freshman year.
Princeton has put this idea into action with its Bridge Year Program: nine months of overseas public service work. This year 35 soon-to-be-Tigers will spend their time on Princeton’s dime in Brazil, China, India, Peru and Senegal.
Good for Princeton for insisting on a serious commitment here — not just edu-tourism. Nine months is an honest invesment, as one undergrad noted:
I remember that the first time we told local shopkeepers and community members that we were staying for nine months, they thought we had misspoken in our broken Hindi. “You mean nine days or nine weeks,” they’d reply. It was beautiful to watch them realize over the course of our stay that we weren’t just tourists passing through, but students and volunteers who cared about forming lasting relationships in our new home.
The College might consider such an idea.
Addendum: Harvard has long had a curious feature called the “Z-list,” which the Crimson defines as follows:
Z-list, that elusive list that comes after the waitlist. A handful of students will be plucked from uncertainty and receive an offer of admission deferred. If they agree to take a gap year, Harvard guarantees a place for them next time. For 2018 applicants, that would mean a spot in the Class of 2019.
Harvard takes 20-50 people off the Z-list, and the Crimson notes that Brown has a similar program which averages about 26 admits each year.
Addendum: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I was an undergrad, B-schools accepted most incoming students straight out of college. That practice is a rare thing today — for good reason: back in the day, newly minted MBAs had a reputation for being long on arrogance and short on experience and wisdom. Should undergraduate education move in this direction, too?
The rue du Faubourg St. Honoré in front of the Elysée palace — home to the French Président — is now closed to all traffic, though the H&K MP-5-carrying policeman there assured me that this state of affairs would not last too long. That said, one thinks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, which has been shut down since 9/11.
Later on my bicycle ride, I was stopped by a hurrying young trooper when I tried to photograph the U.S. Embassy. He went so far as to look at the last images on my iPhone 6 to make sure that nothing depicting the fortified building was recorded there.
The Embassy is surrounded by heavy, concrete posts at about one-foot intervals — in order to prevent bomb-carrying vehicles from parking directly against the building’s walls. It seems that a distance of several feet from a wall allows a bomb’s blast to disburse, limiting interior damage significantly. This fact was once explained to me by a Guinness salesman on the Falls Road in Belfast, when I asked him why there were garbage cans filled with concrete all around the pubs that we were visiting to collect money. He also enjoyed telling this erstwhile Bain consultant, after the fact, that in one of the bars we entered, “everyone was carrying a gun.”
A film about sexual assault on campus with the name The Hunting Ground appears ready to be released in March. There is no mention of Dartmouth in the official trailer, but at 1:15 an image of SAE appears, and a young woman asserts that the letters stand for “Sexual Assault Expected”:
The same filmmaking team produced The Invisible War, an exposé of sexual assault in the military. That film focused on the problem of serial predators, a scourge previously evoked in these pages.
Government Professor Russ Muirhead, who graciously allowed me to audit his Political Speech seminar four summers ago, is a fellow admirer of Winston Churchill. He is also the kind of guy who has a favorite footnote. On the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, let’s enjoy it together. Historian A. J. P. Taylor’s included the note in his 700-page English History, 1914-1945 (Oxford History of England). Please read all the way through to the end:
To my mind, one can fairly make the assertion that Winston Churchill singlehandedly saved more than Britain; he saved the world.
Jane’s Defense Weekly, the go-to publication for matters relating to weaponry and defense, has weighed in with its own witty take on the world’s favorite phrase. It notes that France’s only aircraft carrier, the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle, is en route to the Persian Gulf to participate in the fight against the Islamic State:
Winston would have been pleased at the resolve shown by today’s French government.
In a memo to the students who asked for a review of their punishment for violation of the Honor Principle in Randall Balmer’s Religion 65 class, Interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer details the different sanctions leveled on students:
As we have reported, once students have paid their debt to Dartmouth, no trace of a probation or suspension will appear on their transcript.
Dean Ameer is nobody’s fool. Students seem to have made every possible argument as to why they should not have been put on probation/suspended/had their course grade reduced. The Dean replied dutifully to each point, and in addition, she included this more forceful replique in her memorandum:
Addendum: Congrats to the Dean for her vigorous prose (ignoring, of course, the infelicitous repetition of the word “purposeful” in the above paragraph) and tight reasoning. One can scarcely imagine such language coming from the pen of her predecessor, the justly forgotten Charlotte Johnson.
Addendum: The Valley News summarized the state of the cheating scandal in an article yesterday.
Although Dartmouth’s Office of Public Affairs has said nothing, Penn State’s Department of Philosophy is proud to announce that it has a new chair: Professor Amy Allen, currently the Parents Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities at guess-which-College on the Hill.
Professor Allen’s research interests are not to my taste — according to the Philosophy department website, “Her research and teaching interests are in Continental philosophy, with a particular emphasis on the intersection of critical social theory, poststructuralism, and feminist theory. She has published widely on the topics of power, subjectivity, agency, and autonomy in the work of Foucault, Habermas, Butler, and Arendt.” — but by all accounts she is a good colleague, a serious scholar, and she is respected in her field. Allen was the chair of the Department of Philosophy from 2006-2012, and she is currently chair of the College’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program
Addendum: When do I get to write about the stars that we have stolen from other schools?
The selection of Matt Slaughter as Tuck’s next Dean is another great decision for the school. As with so many other professors at Tuck, and in the undergraduate Economics department where he taught from 1994 to 2001, Slaughter excels in multiple areas: he is an excellent teacher (winner of the Tuck Class of 2011 Teaching Excellence Award and the 2001 John M. Manley Huntington Teaching Award for undergraduate faculty), a superb research scholar (author of 28 publications that have been cited in more than 100 other scholarly works), a distinguished participant in government (a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the advisory committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and a member of the academic advisory board of the International Tax Policy Forum), and a respected public intellectual (op-ed pieces in The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post).
Once again, Tuck is showing Dartmouth how a small school in New Hampshire can compete with anyone.
When students pushed the administration at 1,100-student Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa to change their dining services provider, V.P. for Student Affairs John Harp (right) did his homework. He understood students’ concerns about the mediocre quality of food provided by Sodexo, a publicly traded corporation that provides dining servces to institutions all over the world. Students put forward the name of the Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMC) as an alternative.
BAMC — which is unrelated to the cooking magazineBon Appétit — was founded in 1987 in Silicon Valley, and its headquarters is still in Palo Alto. It began life as a purveyor of dining services to companies and museums in California, and it branched out when its management saw a real opportunity to serve high-quality food to schools.
Harp found the idea of BAMC’s fresh dishes prepared to order to be enticing in comparison to Sodexo’s steam tables of food cooked in large batches. In visiting three other colleges, he found that BAMC does what it says. Not only is BAMC’s food fresh as advertised, but the structure of the storage areas of the company’s dining halls backs up that assertion. As compared to standard institutional food businesses, BAMC’s sites have far less dry storage space devoted to canned goods and other pre-packaged food items, and a great deal more space allocated to coolers holding fresh ingredients, many of which were sourced from local farms and small businesses.
Cornell College came to an agreement with BAMC, and the company began serving food to its students in 2012. The entire Sodexo staff was hired directly by BAMC. They were given extensive training, an effort that was needed because serving freshly prepared food requires better organization and more intense work. In its first several years of operation in Mount Vernon, BAMC increased both the number of food service workers and the wages and benefits that they received. Nonetheless, within two years approximately 75% of the Sodexo workers had left for other jobs. BAMC’s open-to-view food preparation — which it calls “exhibition cooking” — and its work pace are more akin to a private restaurant than an institutional dining hall. It seems that many workers were unwilling or unable to adapt to these changes, despite better compensation.
For students, the cost of Cornell College’s obligatory, all-you-can-eat dining plans increased somewhat. However Harp found that students saved money overall: the high quality of BAMC’s food meant that they chose to eat less frequently in town restaurants. Harp says that Cornell College’s dining hall cuisine is “the best food in town.”
The only hiccup in the transition was finding the right BAMC managers to supervise the dining facility. Harp watched BAMC work with several people before finding the right leaders in their organization to work at Mount Vernon.
Addendum: Cornell College’s full dining plan with BAMC will cost $4,800 for the 2015-2016 academic year. That figure contrasts with the total current cost of $5,550 for Dartmouth’s SmartChoice20 plan. Once again, I would cite this difference as an example of Dartmouth doing less with more.
Education: Penn, MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Case Western Reserve, Denison, Hampshire, Carleton, Oberlin, Reed, St. Olaf, University of the Pacific, Washington U. in St. Louis, Wheaton College.
Museum and specialty venues: Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago, AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants), Getty Center and Villa (Los Angeles), Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix), Theory at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Public House (San Francisco), Panorama at the Saint Louis Art Museum, TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum.
Addendum: John Harp also noted that BAMC listens attentively to students’ wishes for particular recipes. Here’s a flyer from the dining website at Carleton College, a longtime BAMC client :
A reader writes in to let us know that other schools do things differently from high-cost-low-quality-much-disliked Dartmouth Dining Service:
I’m a follower of Dartblog who has never written before, but this one prompted a reply, not only because you featured one of our favorite food servers here in Concord, NH, Boloco’s Ben Nawn, but also because it appears Dartmouth is ripe for the kind of student-initiated foodie takeover sweeping the nation, in which huge food service companies are ousted in favor of real food from a clever chef.
Our daughter, now in MS working for FOOD CORPS, and others in the class of 2012 at tiny Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA (the “other Cornell”) worked very hard to replace Sodexo, the pricey and somewhat bland food service at their college with one far healthier and responsive.
Of course, Dartmouth Dining Services is not run by a “huge food service company”; the situation is even worse: an institution of higher education managed by academics and their subordinates is trying to run a dining service that can serve thousands of meals per day. The results are predictably appalling and expensive.
Bon Appétit seems to be the real deal. Its website announces the following attributes of its food service sites:
Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, museums, and other specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, we operate more than 500 cafés in 32 states. All Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. Widely recognized as a pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, we are proud to be the first food service company to:
● Cook 100% from scratch
● Directly support small, local farms
● Serve only sustainable seafood
● Address antibiotics overuse in our meat supply
● Serve only cage-free shell eggs
● Tackle food’s role in climate change
● Advocate for farmworkers’ rights
● Commit to pork raised without gestation crates
● Serve only third-party verified humanely raised ground beef
Geez. Wouldn’t it be amazing if students went to Class of ‘53 Commons because they wanted to do so, rather than because the College’s rules forced them to go.
Addendum: The Bon Appétit company has produced an engaging video:
Addendum: The success of the King Arthur Flour café in Baker is an example of what dining at the College could become in the hands of a creative, entrepreneurial operator.
As expected, Phil will be unveiling his Moving Dartmouth Forward agenda on Thursday, January 29. What was not expected is that his oration will take place at 8:30am the morning after Wednesday night Greek house meetings:
The stated capacity of Moore Theater is 480 seats. Given that there are about 4,000 students on campus, and Greek membership totals 2,213, will the fire marshal have to keep an eye on overcrowding? Or will students be too worse for wear to show up? Maybe that is Phil’s point?
Me thinks that Wednesday night meetings will be animated. In the Greeks’ place, I’d make sure that brothers and sisters attended Phil’s presentation in massive numbers.
Addendum: The second para in Phil’s memo reads like an SAT prep question:
The NYT seems to have understood that if only fraternities — and not nationally affiliated sororities — can hold campus parties with alcohol, then they will likely abuse their monopoly power:
The article spends a moment focusing on a local Dartmouth sorority that holds parties:
An interesting case study exists at Dartmouth, where Sigma Delta, a sorority with no national affiliation, does hold parties with alcohol in its well-kept house. Events feature female bartenders, female members at the doors and women designated to remain sober and monitor the scene. A social chair at Sigma Delta, Molly Reckford [‘15], said that female students routinely have said they preferred parties there rather than at fraternities.
“Especially younger girls feel much more comfortable coming to our sisters for help if they need it, rather than men having almost all the power,” Ms. Reckford said. “That dynamic is one of the key reasons fraternity members feel so entitled to women’s bodies, because women have no ownership of the social scene. You can’t kick a guy out of his own house.”
A great many people in Hanover have comprehended this sad fact for a great many years, but the administration’s policy has long been that no new sororities would be created that weren’t affiliated with a national. Such sad, and typical, short-sightedness. I wrote about this issue starting in 2010, and this space’s clearest statement came in 2012: Reforming Fraternities: Reduce Their Absolute Power.
Addendum: The College’s sororities are not as dry as all that, but the drinking takes place behind closed doors, thereby belying Dartmouth’s honorable and longstanding tradition of open-door parties.
The other day we noted stars who had been poached away from the College by more energetic and ambitious schools. We cited people like Mike Gazzaniga, Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, and Jamshed Bharucha; however, several people have written in to justifiably mention Professor Victor Ambros (below left) as being of the same quality — see his CV here. In fact, Scientific American puts him in its “Should have won a Nobel Prize” category. He left the College for UMass Dartmouth in 2007 after fifteen years in Hanover.
To say that Ambros’ scholarly work has had an impact on his field is a serious understatement. Let’s turn to Google Scholar, which lists eight research papers that have been cited by more than 1,000 other researchers, and 38 papers cited by more than 100 colleagues in Ambros’ field:
Ambros’ departure is yet another example of Gresham’s Law applied to the academy. If the College were supporting our top faculty members, their continued presence would attract other young professors of potentially equal quality — leading to a further increase in the average ability of our faculty members and a concomitant improvement in the intellectual climate of the Dartmouth community. Over the past twenty years, the flow has been very much in the opposite direction.
Addendum: An alert reader notes that in November Ambros was one of 14 biologists, physicists, and mathematicians to win a Breakthrough Prize — an award which the Globe noted was “founded by a Who’s Who of entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley technorati.” Each recipient was given $3 million.
When I return to New Haven for my Law School reunions, I often note posted directions to both Yale undergrads’ reunions and Yale Directed Studies events. Directed Studies is Yale’s optional freshman year Great Books program, and it seems that the bonds among its participants are so strong that they group together after all these years. The program defines itself as follows:
Directed Studies, a selective program for freshmen, is an interdisciplinary study of Western civilization. One hundred twenty-five students are accepted each year.
All students enrolled in Directed Studies take three yearlong courses—literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought—in which they read the central texts of the Western tradition. The fall term introduces students to the principal works of classical antiquity and to the Judeo-Christian tradition. The fall term ends with the Middle Ages. The spring term begins with the Renaissance and ends with the twentieth century.
Each course meets weekly for one lecture and two seminars; seminars have eighteen students and one faculty member. The regular lectures and seminars are complemented by a series of colloquia. Distinguished members of the faculty are invited to speak on major issues arising from the work in the program, on related disciplines not included in the program, and on the relationship between Western civilization and the non-Western world. Colloquium topics in recent years have included poetry and translation, the origin of consciousness in Greek art, Christians, Muslims, and Jews in medieval Spain, and Western views of China.
Interestingly, DS attracts the attention of top Yale faculty members. The erstwhile Dean of the Law School, Tony Kronman, teaches in Directed Studies now.
The closest Dartmouth gets to Yale’s successful program is our Humanities 1-2 sequence, which seems to be enjoying renewed popularity under the direction of Professor of French and Comparative Literature Andrea Tarnowski. According to The D, the program this year received 135 applications for its 48 slots. The courses immerse students in some of the classic works of Western literature and fulfill the requirements normally represented by Writing 5 and the Freshman Seminar. I like this self-description:
Humanities 1 and 2 draw students who love reading, who enjoy immersing themselves in books that have profoundly influenced Western culture from Antiquity onwards, and who are not daunted by intellectual challenge.
In the age of Instagram and Twitter, the phrase “students who love reading” seems almost old fashioned and romantic. How nice to see it again. The Humanities 1-2 website also offers a deeper rationale for participating in the program.
In a well functioning institution, the administration would build on Humanities 1-2’s success. First off, I’d suggest putting all of the freshmen signed up for the Humanities sequence next year in the same dorm (not the Choates, please). The faculty could also offer an optional Humanities 3 course in the spring term. Once the education and social value of that arrangement is proven, the College might consider a Dartmouth version of Directed Studies. Imagine students reading great books over an entire year in the company of other students whom they know well, with everyone support by the same engaged faculty members. Such a program could well encourage undergrads to choose to do other things than vomit on each other in dirty basements.
Addendum: Dartmouth Now did a good profile of the resurgent Humanities 1-2 sequence in November.
It is a shame that someone can’t get their act together to make Sophomore Summer a signature learning experience at Dartmouth. Jim Wright saw the potential there but fumbled around with it because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do (he envisioned classes with field trips and such). Jim Kim saw it as simply another way of promoting himself and his networking opportunities rather than creating a serious learning opportunity (shocking, I know).
But it would be the perfect opportunity for some sort of shared learning experience like a Great Books program or something. And I think by sophomore summer the kids are mature enough to actually get something out of that (Freshman year I think might be too difficult). In addition, I think that the usual crop of Dartmouth profs could be supplemented by some really outstanding visiting profs who would be happy to spend a summer in Hanover teaching Dartmouth kids in that sort of environment.
To put it another way, the only year of law school that really works well is first-year, and the reason is that it is a shared learning experience, where the in-class and out-of-class experiences reinforce each other. After that the students become so scattered with different classes and activities that the academic experience breaks down.
The problem, of course, is that it takes not only vision, but vision of the right sort to turn Sophomore Summer into a signature learning experience for the College rather than an obligation that every student has to undertake.
Paris is decidedly on a war footing: there are pairs of combat-ready troops in front of Jewish institutions all over our neighborhood. They are carrying the French FAMAS assault rifle and they wear flak vests and full camouflage uniforms. Two soldiers stood guard outside a synagogue near us that had been attacked in 1980: four people died there in a bombing. To their right is a wall-mounted plaque that reads:
To the memory of Jean-Michel Barbé, Philippe Bouissou, Hilard Lopez Fernandez, Aliza Shagrif. Killed during an odious attack perpetrated against this synagogue on October 3, 1980.
A Canadian man of Lebanese descent was recently extradited to France and charged with the bombing. His is accused of detonating 22 pounds of explosives packed in the saddle bags of a motorcycle parked in front of the synagogue containing 300 Sabbath worshipers. This event was the first fatal attack against the Jewish community here since World War II, but far from the last.
The French have deployed about 10,000 troops to stand guard at threatened institutions. That figure has to be somewhere near 10% of France’s front-line combat troops — a figure that is unsupportable in all but the short-term, if France is to fulfill its other defense obligations. However the public reaction could be negative when the protective troops stand down from our neighborhood’s school’s and synagogues.
Addendum: Heavily armed gendarmes were also present at our children’s school out in the suburbs.
Entrepreneurs never take no for an answer when they believe in an idea, especially if they can’t implement it in the organization where they work. (Think of Ross Perot, who tried to convince IBM to go into services when he was employed there; Big Blue said no, and Perot left to found EDS, which he ended up selling to GM in 1984 for $2.5 billion — which was a lot of money in those days).
A case in point is Gregg Fairbrothers, who was relieved of his positions at Tuck and the Dartmouth incubator under disputed and acrimonious conditions last summer. Gregg has now recruited a team of entrepreneurially-minded alumni, and he seems to have begun his own educational enterprise — ExL University — which is offering weekly lectures on Tuesdays in various Dartmouth fraternities. ExL defines its goals thusly:
The ExL program is a bootstrap collaboration between Dartmouth Greek houses, alumni, and students. The program will expose students to the skills that form the core of an entrepreneurial mindset—critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and communication. These also happen to be the skills most sought by companies when hiring.
The ExL website is polished and the program shows evidence of a great deal of work. But then Gregg has a large network of alumni to call on. I wonder where he is going to go with this.
Click here to watch Gregg’s introductory lecture, which took place at GDX on January 6.
Addendum: Curiously enough, it seems that for several days, logging onto ExL’s site via Dartmouth’s servers was impossible, but that problem went away on Wednesday of this week.
This week’s Charlie Hebdo sold out before we could get to the neighborhood newsstand, and supportive graffiti have appeared in a few places. The below hearts and cartoonist pencils were stencilled on the wall of the 16th arrondissment’s main reservoir at the corner of avenue Paul Valéry and the infamous rue Lauriston.
One of the wonderful characteristics of Dartmouth in my day (and up until the mid-1990’s, as I understand it) was the College’s all-four-classes dormitories. Not for Dartmouth of that era the freshman dorms of other schools (and the College today) where a bunch of rudderless 18-year-olds try to outdo each other as the handle of cheap vodka is passed around. Not for us the feckless Community Directors who seek to organize the kind of dorm life that grew organically among people who lived together for four years and passed on dorm traditions.
At some point about twenty years ago, some dean somewhere decided that we had to be like everywhere else, and while today freshman year is still marked by close friendships among needy freshman, sophomore year is now notable for the tearing asunder of those meaningful social bonds.
Listen to Becky Marder ‘15, an ardent défenseuse of the Greek system, who found herself in that situation after her tight group of freshman-year friends was scattered around campus at the start of sophomore year:
I think that I’ve really opened up since joining the Greek system. My freshman year I was really, really close to my freshman floor, so when I came into sophomore year, I kind of lacked that sense of community that I had, and we were all across campus at that point. We weren’t on the same floor, and I couldn’t walk out my door and find my all best friends anymore. So joining a sorority, I really found that community again, and I found those people that I could look up to and that I could turn to. And I felt like I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I really pushed myself to make new friends…
How sad those last words, “new friends.” What about her old friends from the previous year? Becky had invested time during her freshman year getting to know a diverse group of students in her dorm — as diverse as the College wanted them to be — and then the College throws them to the winds, and Becky had to start over again. Sure, she still knew those people, and no doubt she made efforts to see them from time to time, but as she says, it is easier to build friendships with the people next door than to maintain long distance relationships with classmates who might be on the other end of campus — or, frankly, even in the building next to yours.
One does not have to be an anthropologist to understand the role of proximity in establishing communities, though that observation seems to have escaped everyone in the Dean’s Office.
So let me make a last plea for mixed-class dormitories. Phil’s new shared-interest residential clusters might be somewhat successful in grouping together everyone of a certain narrow set of interests or orientations starting in sophomore year, but they do so at the cost of all the effort that went into building friendships during freshman year. Why throw away that successful activity? And ask yourself if a dorm of upperclassmen will ever be as tightly knit as the freshmen who cut their teeth together — especially when a goodly number of sophomores will be off campus on LSA/FSA programs during part of their second year as students.
If Phil wants to create an honest alternative to the Greek system, he has only to look at his past experience in dorm living. Some students, like he did, moved out of their home dorm and joined a fraternity, but a great many stayed in the same dorm and found the same social support that the Greek system provides. For people looking for the proverbial “alternative social spaces,” the example is in front of you, if you look to Dartmouth history.
Addendum: I can’t for the life of me understand the College’s blind fealty to the idea of freshman-only dorms. Are administrators afraid that upperclassmen will prey on the first-year innocents if they live in the same building? Or do they fear some kind of ideological contamination from older students who refuse to let the old traditions fail? Someone from anthropology or sociology should weigh in here.
The Admissions Office has announced that applications have rebounded from last year’s 14% decline; they are up 6.6% this year to “about 20,500” according to a Dartmouth Now story. That figure is still over 11% below the record-setting 23,110 applications received for the Class of 2016, which was called “the worst class ever” when it arrived in Hanover.
After last year’s embarrassing drop, Admissions did everything in its power to increase the number of applications to the College for the Class of 2019. A modest increase of 6.6% points to the fact that Dartmouth is both suffering from the ongoing string of campus scandals that have made the national news, and the absence of countervailing positive stories in the press. Translation: we still have to dig ourselves out of a deep hole.
Addendum: Applications to Princeton rose 1.45% to 26,993 potential students. This figure is in line with the past few years, in which applications have ranged just below 27,000.
Addendum: The Classes of 2017 and 2018 were also adjudged to be the worst classes of all time, and from initial appearances, the Class of 2019 will continue this sorry downward trajectory.
Last week The D breathlessly reprinted a college press release about a Med School professor receiving a small grant:
Geisel School of Medicine pharmacology and toxicology professor Michael Spinella is being awarded a $250,000 two-year grant by the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to support his research, which could lead to a treatment for testicular cancer that is more effective and less toxic than current treatment options.
Moore has written or co-authored over 400 peer-reviewed papers, editorials, and book chapters. He is also founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal BioData Mining and the founding editor of the Cambridge University Press book series on systems genetics. He has served as an editor and editorial board member of numerous other publications.
Among his many awards and accolades, Moore was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2011 and was selected as a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.
Of course, the College has lauded Moore’s achievement’s, too. Click here to watch a video about Dartmouth’s Discovery Grid:
Now that Moore is gone, we have to ask, again, why we can’t keep such a spectacular scholar in Hanover, and why we lose talent like this and never seem to poach equivalent people from other schools. When is the last time the College opened a new research center and found an academic leader of the highest order to run it?
Well, Jim Kim did open the the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which was funded by a $35 million grant. But then Kim picked Al Mulley to run it — the same Al Mulley who headed the search committee that picked Kim as Dartmouth’s President. Only the crony should be the College’s theme song, and as a result of this weak appointment, the once-promising Center has gone nowhere, having recently been absorbed into the pre-existing Dartmouth Institute.
Who says that good management doesn’t make a difference?
Addendum: Jason Moore joins a long list of talented professors who have left Hanover for climes more conducive to excellence. Think Mike Gazzaniga, Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, Jamshed Bharucha and any number of rising young scholars. Let’s hope that Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever can turn things around; and after Mike Mastanduno is replaced as Dean of the Faculty, that the new Dean may be able to help them, too.
Addendum: Meanwhile, this very day, Geisel announced the creation of a pair of new basic science departments: biomedical data science and epidemiology. I don’t know much about epidemiology, but it seems a shame to announce a new department of biomedical data science within weeks of your biggest star in the field leaving town.
Paris is returning to normal, but many police officers are now carrying high-powered weapons — the better to respond, I expect, to AK47-bearing terrorists. The obliging neighborhood gendarme on the right holds a submachinegun in addition to his usual semi-automatic service pistol. The gendarmerie is the equivalent of the local police, the lowest level in the French law enforcement hierarchy
Notable for their absence from Sunday’s enormous manifestation were a senior representative of the U.S. government (Come on. Joe Biden could not have been too busy, and security for dozens of national leaders, including the heads of state of Israel, Germany, the U.K. and France, was certainly tight enough to protect the Veep) and also senior figures from the major religious groups. Charlie Hebdo was both ecumenical and unsparing in satirizing religions: Christianity, Judaism and their institutions fared no better than Islam in its pages. Of course, it is possible that the heads of the different groups determined that the demonstration was more about civil liberties than religion and therefore was best left to secular groups.
Addendum: The German Embassy on the avenue Franklin Roosevelt declares that, “We are all Charlie,” while the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris on the avenue Président Wilson makes the now ubiquitous proclamation in the first person:
Addendum: Yesterday John Kerry announced that he will be going to France at the end of the week. And in Washington, a spokesman at the White House acknowledged that the United States should have been represented at the demonstration by an official of a higher rank than the newly appointed ambassador to France.
Addendum: As an example of a multi-background demonstration, look to the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel — the white-bearded father of Dartmouth Professor of Religion Susannah Heschel — joined the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and a diverse group of civil rights leaders. According to Wikipedia, in the front row starting on the far left are John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Fred Shuttlesworth. Visible behind King and Bunche is Rabbi Maurice Davis:
Addendum: For the curious among you as to why the marchers in the front row of a civil rights demonstration in the South are each wearing a lei, the garlands were brought to Alabama by members of the Hawaiian delegation. To my knowledge, on that day no charges of cultural insensitivity were lodged against King and the other protesters, unlike in 1999 at the College when a fraternity/sorority luau party was cancelled for just that reason. As the D reported at the time, “The controversy was sparked when Omar Rashid ‘00, president of the historically Latino fraternity Lambda Upsilon Lambda, sent a BlitzMail message late last Thursday night to various students and administrators calling the planned party ‘a vile act of incivility.’” Plus ça change.
In addition to Religion Professor Randy Ballmer’s assertion above, The D is reporting that most Religion 65 students found to have cheated will face a term’s suspension, and also lose a full grade for the course. But just how severe is the punishment in reality?
Certainly there will be an inordinate number of B’s in the course. When we last calculated the average grade in the Religion department, the median was just below an A-. And given Professor Ballmer’s attitude towards the Religion 65 students, as quoted in The D, we can assume that his grading is more generous that the department norm:
Part of the reason I designed this course was that I had the sense that some athletes coming here to Dartmouth might have felt just a little bit overwhelmed or intimidated academically. I wanted to design a course that would appeal to their interests and allow them to have an early success in the classroom, and I’d hoped that they would be able to build on that success throughout their time at Dartmouth. [Emphasis added]
However, as to the rest of the punishment, think slap on the wrist rather than permanent stain. In point of fact, the students will have nothing at all on their Dartmouth record related to their punishment once their term of suspension term has elapsed, as the College’s Student Handbook makes clear:
Suspension is recorded in the student’s Undergraduate Deans’ Office record and on the student’s transcript, for the period of suspension. Students who have been suspended must answer any question as to whether they have been subject to disciplinary action at Dartmouth in the affirmative, as student requests to the Undergraduate Deans’ Office for College verification of their records in connection with law school, graduate school, employment and other applications will include reports of suspensions imposed. Suspensions will be considered in any proceedings resulting from further violations of the Standards of Conduct.
Practically speaking, employers are not contacting the Undergraduate Deans’ Office for verification of college records. They may request that an employee provide his/her transcript certifying that the degree was awarded. At that point, the notation would have been removed as the suspension had been served.
As to the impact of the suspension on students’ graduation timing, one can surmise that only seniors will have a delay in their graduation plans. For other students, given the flexibility of the D-Plan, we can expect a goodly number of athletes to be on campus next summer. It will be fun to hear them talk about the (unplanned) internships that they enjoyed during the prior academic year.
More importantly, I wonder how many athletes will miss games with their teams. Recall that most of the students in Religion 65 were athletes, according to The D:
Varsity athletes comprise just under 70 percent of the 272-person class, including more than half of the football team, or 61 players, more than half of the men’s hockey team, or 16 players, and more than two-thirds of the men’s basketball team, or 12 players. The men’s soccer team has 10 players in the class, and the baseball, women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse teams each have nine. Athletes in the class represent 24 of Dartmouth’s 34 varsity teams, and about a quarter of Dartmouth students are varsity athletes.
Students will have figured out that they can time their start of their suspension to a certain degree. Again, Leigh Remy writes:
Students do not have the option of choosing which term or terms a suspension will be served. For almost all cases, a suspension would be effective immediately. When a hearing is scheduled during the final exam period (this would be at the student’s request), the Chair or the COS can identify if the suspension begins immediately (the student would lose that term) or once grades are posted (the student keeps that term and is suspended for the next term).
Student perpetrators who want to take the winter term off will accept their guilty finding from the fall. Others — here’s looking at you, hockey players — will probably use the review process to extend the timing of their final adjudication until their season’s end.
All in all, the lasting impact of these punishments will be slight.
Addendum: Just how seriously will the College take the Religion 65 incident? Will the adminstration treat it as a unique situation or as the tip of the iceberg on unethical behavior? At a minimum, I hope that in the future professors will emphasize at the start of each course the essential value of the College’s Honor Principle.
If you want the very best, you have to go the Ivy League.
Some stories come along that are just too good. They either hit a sweet spot of absurdity or capture irony beyond your powers of imagination. In the latter category comes the news late yesterday of a cheating scandal at Dartmouth.
OK, so, cheating at Dartmouth. Well, that’s not the most outlandish thought. It is Dartmouth, after all. It was the model for the college portrayed in “Animal House.”…
Addendum: A senior professor writes in:
I think it is obscene that these students are being so lightly punished. In some ways, this incident is far more serious than the standard individual cheating episode. The collaboration in cheating, when everyone knows this behavior is forbidden by the Honor Code, makes it particularly cynical. They should all have been made to fail the course and made to take at least a one-year Parkhurst vacation. The deep message here is that athletic success trumps academic integrity.