More than a few people in attendance two weeks ago at the Bones Gate presentation on preventing sexual assault commented on the thoughtful questions and the mild demeanor of the brothers present there. The mood was no surprise to me; however perhaps some folks were expecting raw-meat eating animals and evidence of the “rape culture” that is broadly believed to exist in sticky basements?
I asked a young alumnus who had been a member of a supposedly out-of-control frat for his take on his brothers’ attitude to sexual assault even in their wildest moments. I have known him for several years and trust his integrity completely:
One of the hot topics about higher education these days is the culture. Specifically, much of the focus (outside of hazing) is on the existence of a supposed “rape culture.” The focus of my observations here will be whether or not the common description of the “rape culture” in fraternities discussed by academics (many of whom have never gotten within 50 feet of a fraternity in their lives) is the same as the general culture found in Dartmouth fraternities.
Obviously my experiences will neither confirm nor deny the existence of a generalized “rape culture” at Dartmouth, and my insight can generally only be taken as one alum’s observations based on his experiences in one fraternity. And much of this can only be written about in general terms as time has faded this 10’s detailed memories of the beer-soaked past.
With all of that said, rape jokes or boasting about rape was never a thing that I heard. There was clearly a level of respect and envy given to those young men who prolifically “hooked up” with women whether that meant intercourse or fellatio or “dance floor make-outs.” To a large degree these men were much more celebrated at brotherhood events than men with a wonderful girlfriend whom everyone liked. So, while there was much open praise like, “Congratulations to Bother X for hooking up with this hottie,” there was never, “Congratulations to Brother X who raped Ms. Y.”
Of course such a machismo culture did lead to questionable situations that, when combined with alcohol, surely led to some young women being sexually assaulted. I believe that it is in this way that the “rape culture” is most prevalent at a place like Dartmouth. While there is no active promotion of rape, and if a Bother told the Fraternity that he had forcibly raped a girl, he would likely have been condemned, the constant positive reinforcement and pressure directed at hooking up leads to a consistent search for sexual conquests for many men.
Further, when observing a Brother and a very drunk woman, the common course of action would be to look the other way rather than to inquire about the well-being of the young woman. I think this was driven by a desire for your brothers to be sexually successful and a desire to not be a “cock-block.” One final impact that might be felt was a likelihood to support a brother if he was accused of rape in any situation where the credibility of the parties mattered. About the only thing that could pressure the fraternity into punishing a brother whom a woman accused of rape was if the woman’s sorority threatened to socially punish the fraternity as a whole.
I also never witnessed any overt acts of rape or attempts at rape. For example, I never knew anyone to spike a drink with roofies or any other type of “date rape drug.” However, I did know of brothers who greatly enjoyed urinating in the punch. Gross and unsanitary, yes. Rape, no.
It is important to stop sensationalizing a fictional “rape culture” in order to address the culture and associated behaviors that do exist. Painting fraternity men as animals who constantly joke about rape while plotting rapes with their brothers does no good except to embitter the accused and distract attention from the things that could be fixed.
Lest one be tempted to decry social mores that place a premium on sexual triumph, let’s keep in mind that such a attitude is hardly limited to fraternity brothers, as I noted a few years ago in a post about sororities entitled Girls Just Wanna Have Some.
What to make of this Wall Street Journal article? It announces nothing, but it does seem to put everyone on notice that new policies regarding the Dartmouth Greek system are in the offing:
Is the piece part of a scripted PR campaign to prepare the College for a major fall term announcement about frats? Given the press pieces that I noted yesterday, one could come to that conclusion. Ostensibly policy is still being formulated, but the Trustees have a long history of deciding first and then forming the committee later, so anything is possible.
In any event, before the administration rushes off and abolishes/restructures the 30 houses in the Greek system, we might ask a few questions and note a few facts:
● Membership in Greek houses as risen 27.5% over the past decade (+29.4% for fraternities; +15.4% for sororities; and +17.3% for co-ed houses). Participation in Greek life at the College is at an all-time high today: 67.4% of upperclass students are members (2,213 out of 3,282 eligible students). Students seem to be voting with their feet in favor of Greek houses. How much does the legendary loyalty of Dartmouth alumni have to do with the bonds forged as Greeks?
● Are the statistics for sexual assault, binge drinking and other banned activities lower at schools without an important system of fraternities and sororities, especially ones that have banned Greek life altogether on campus in the past, like Williams and Bowdoin, etc.? If not, one has to seriously wonder about the cause and effect relationship between fraternities and inappropriate behavior. In making major changes, would we be throwing out the baby with the bath water?
● Greek students have GPAs just slightly above the unaffiliated-student average.
● Dartmouth will not have a new Dean of the College to replace the hapless Charlotte Johnson before the summer of 2015 at the very earliest (a search committee has not yet been formed). Is it conceivable that major changes to student life will be enacted this fall without an administrator to oversee them? And how easy will it be to recruit a new Dean if the College is in chaos due to major changes in a central area of student life?
The people who are the most severe critics of the Greek houses often seem to be people who spend no time in them. Let’s hope that this decade’s effort to reform the system is the product of knowledgeable reflection and not animated by ignorance and prejudice.
Where does that tiny number come from? Start with 75,787 alumni; add 3,443 staffers; 1,059 faculty members; and 6,342 students. Those figures sum up to 86,631 members of the Dartmouth community who could vote on the future of frats and sororities.
In fact, fewer than 600 people cast votes on the Moving Dartmouth Forward website as regards the Greek system, and less than half of them (only about 43%) voted to abolish the Greeks. The others has different suggestions. To whose headline should we listen?
The College seems to have a stats problem. For example, negotiations with the Freedom Budgeters seems to be ongoing, but for whom do these 30 or so disgruntled students speak? Not for the student body, that’s for sure. The FBers bore no petitions with thousands of names, nor any other evidence of broad-based support. They speak only for themselves: 30 students out of 6,342. That’s 0.5% — one in two hundred students.
No mandate there either.
Addendum: If the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils wanted to be clever, they could get word out to their members that voting for the preservation of the Greek system would influence the Moving Dartmouth Forward committee. I wonder if a surge in votes in this direction would lead to different headlines in the HuffPost and The D.
When we found out that Spencer and Sabrina Powers were breeding free-range chickens in addition to selling fresh eggs at Bear Knoll Farm in Canaan, we hustled right over to have a chat and purchase some of their broilers. They raise fast-growing Cornish Crosses in mobile enclosures that they displace every two days, so that their chickens have a fresh stretch of grass — and its associated bugs — to feed upon. Allowing the hens and roosters to live outside and move around results in the best tasting chicken that we have had in a while.
That was last year. This year we went one better and asked the Powers to raise Dorkings for us — a heritage breed of chicken that routinely wins chicken taste competitions. (Take my word on this. I could give you multiple links, but, really, you have better things to do.) Dorkings are like Cornish Crosses that have had a real education: they produce meat with a deep, more complex flavor and a finer texture than any chickens that we have ever had.
From now on, we’ll have the Powers raise about twenty Dorkings for us each summer. Spencer and Sabrina will slaughter them humanely in the fall, freeze them rapidly, and we’ll enjoy them for the rest of the year.
Addendum: Rather than paying a farmer, a distributor and a supermarket for our chicken, we go straight to the source. The Powers family makes a better living, and we eat better chickens. We do the same once a year with beef and maple syrup, and in Europe we buy olive oil and wine directly from producers.
Why is what we did at Dartmouth fifty years ago so great? Well… let me think about it a second. Computing was coming into its own, but in all of the other projects that were undertaken by industry and by universities, the target was research and development computing ideas and so forth, whereas here at Dartmouth we had the crazy idea that our students, our undergraduate students, who were not going to be technically employed later on — social science and humanities students — should learn how to use the computer. A completely nutty idea…
The whole project was governed by the idea of introducing computing to everybody on the Dartmouth campus, or nearly everybody…
Bill Zani Tuck ‘64 observes:
In the fall of ‘64, we were invited to make a presentation at AFIPS [American Federation of Information Processing Societies]. It was a big deal of computer people in San Francisco. There was a room of, maybe, 2,000 people in the room. We hooked up the acoustic coupler with the handset, and we linked the Model 33 teletype to Hanover.
We got the dial tone, and all of this was videotaped on the screen for the audience. And we were entering programs in it, and lo and behold, out comes the answers and shown on the screen. And everybody went bananas on this simple, basic language being compiled and run in San Francisco over ordinary telephone lines in the computers in College Hall [now Collis] in Hanover.
And we were bombarded with questions of what it was. That’s the first time I really got to see the impact of what the Dartmouth Time Sharing had.
The second thing that was interesting about it was that it was all done by Dartmouth undergraduate students. Nowhere else do I know of in the history of computing has something like this been done.
Sounds a like a great bunch of teachers at a great school, don’t you think? In fact, the film is a remedial education unto itself about the real nature of the old Dartmouth; it is of particular usefulness to people burdened with prejudices about the nature of the College prior to their own arrival on campus.
Addendum: The film was made by Professor Dan Rockmore, the College’s Director of Media Production Mike Murray and filmmaker Bob Drake. It premiered at the College’s “BASIC@50” event on May 1.
In late May, we noted Phil Klay ‘05’s fine essay in the Wall Street Journal — Treat Veterans With Respect, Not Pity. Klay has now published a set of stories about Iraq entitled Redeployment, and David Brooks ‘15 has written two pieces about Klay’s work for Business Insider: a review, This New Book Reveals That War Is Much More Than Combat; and an introduction to the initial chapter of Klay’s book, The First Chapter Of This Book Will Change Your Understanding Of Soldiers In Combat.
In his own review, the New York Times’ Dexter Filkins lauded Klay’s book: “Redeployment is hilarious, biting, whipsawing and sad. The best thing written so far on what the war did to people’s souls.” George Packer wrote even more fulsomely in The New Yorker:
“Redeployment” is military for “return,” and Klay’s fiction peels back every pretty falsehood and self-delusion in the encounter between veterans and the people for whom they supposedly fought…
Klay, a Dartmouth grad who served in the Marine Corps in Anbar Province during the violent months of the surge, in 2007, is a writer who happened to be a marine—you can imagine him writing well about anything, not just Iraq. His fiction is extremely funny and absolutely serious, his control over language and character so assured that the array of first-person narrators in these dozen stories—combat grunts, a desk-bound officer, a beleaguered State Department official, a Marine chaplain—are all distinct and persuasive.
High praise, indeed, for Klay and the College.
Addendum: Both Klay and Brooks are veterans, a group that is today more broadly represented in the undergraduate student body than at any time since the end of the war in Vietnam — an example of real diversity and a good thing for any number of reasons.
In the Harvard B-School case study of Google, that company’s ten golden rules are listed. In the Dartmouth context, one stood out:
What could we do at the College to increase interaction between students and faculty, and to free up time for Dartmouth’s highly paid professors to teach, study and do research? Certainly as a matter of management, an effort in that direction should be one of the administration’s top, ongoing goals, don’t you agree?
The answer to that question, and one that will cost no money at all, is to rejigger the parking priorities at the College. Right now parking permits with equal rights are given out to all employees for a small fee. Janitors, administrative assistants and dishwashers can grab any open space on campus just like a full professor. So when hourly workers get to campus early in the morning at the start of the first shift of the day, they can park their cars behind Dartmouth Hall and leave them there for eight hours. When professors later come into town to teach a class, they find the central campus spaces all taken, and they are obliged to wait for a shuttle bus in one of the satellite lots that will eventually deposit them near their offices. Profs will put up with this inefficiency when it comes to teaching classes, but such delays make it hard to justify coming into town to meet with a student, especially when the time spent dealing with parking can exceed the time interacting with an undergraduate.
As a matter of efficiency, it would make sense for the administration to organize a system wherein full professors (many of whom earn $150k/year — almost four times what a janitor earns!) have their time optimized, even if some inefficiency is added to the life of a janitor (or other hourly worker). There is no shame in accepting that professors do more valuable work at the College than other employees — that’s why we pay them more. As Google opines about its élite engineers, steps should be taken to cater to professors’ every need.
The folks at Google would consider this question a no-brainer, as we used to say at Bain, and accord central campus parking privileges to the faculty. That the College does not do so is an example of egalitarian obtuseness that places a misguided ideology of equality over the goal of excellence in education.
Addendum: I’ve written about this subject before (here and here). One day someone somewhere in the administration is going to realize that a change of policy will not only free up faculty time in the service of education, it will also make professors deliriously happy. Is the latter a priority at the College? If it isn’t now, it should be.
Lisa Paige, Ph.D., who graduated from Harvard in 1980 and describes herself as a founder of the national coalition of alumni/ae working to end on-campus sexual assault, has written a piece in the Women’s Enew blog entitled My Acquaintance Rapist Finally Figured It Out. In addition to telling her own story, she details efforts underway at other schools to combat assault, before focusing on Dartmouth’s recent conference on the subject:
How interesting that other schools don’t want to follow the College’s lead. Methinks that the issue is not the $200,000 that Ms. Paige asserts was the cost of Dartmouth’s conference. Rather, nobody wants to challenge Dartmouth for the title of the nation’s rape school. Of course, Phil Hanlon doesn’t see things that way, as he said in an article in The Washington Post:
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.”
To my mind, Phil is showing a mathematician’s sensitivity to the shaping of public opinion. His logical mind leads him to believe the public will applaud the College for assertively fighting assault, when, in fact, people will simply conclude that the problem is worse in Hanover than elsewhere; they’ll think that is the reason why Dartmouth is especially worried about assault. As I have said, the administration should have enlisted the seven other Ivies as co-sponsors of the recent conference. We missed an opportunity there.
Just in case you feared that the nation’s attention had been pulled away from sexual assault at the College by the Taylor Woolrich concealed gun story, USA Today brings people back to the administration’s “reality.” The full article is here.
I wonder if anyone at all is going to apply this fall.
Addendum: A Newsweek article by Alexander Nazaryan ‘02 takes the Ivies to task, but saves special opprobrium for the College.
… as 350 job seekers flocked to a West Lebanon hotel Monday, formidable obstacles lay between them and 30 entry-level pharmacy technician or medical assistant jobs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
The biggest challenge would not start until after Labor Day: a grueling training course, nine or 10 weeks without pay, 40 hours in class each week followed by 28 or more hours of homework. Then, a year-long apprenticeship.
But hopefuls faced long odds to even get into the class. More than 700 Twin-Staters signed up for the jobs. Prospects must also pass criminal records and reference checks and an online aptitude test and engage in two rounds of interviews.
Even as they arrived at the Fireside Inn, attendees began a winnowing process destined to frustrate the hopes of most. While they stood in line to register, assessments of their “behavioral competence” were underway, said Gerry Ghazi, the president of Vermont HITEC, which operates the program. Organizers noted who showed up wearing shorts despite instructions to wear “business casual” or failed to bring along resumes, he said.
…But first on the horizon are the 30 jobs that Dartmouth-Hitchcock advertised with a starting wage of $14 an hour and an increase to $15 to $17 an hour after the apprenticeship. In Lebanon, D-H currently employs 76 pharmacy technicians and 37 medical assistants, said spokesman Rick Adams. [Emphasis added]
Seems like demanding work, no? Especially given the lengthy, unpaid training period and the one-year apprenticeship.
Curiously enough, on the Dartmouth job search website right now, there are several openings for custodial positions — janitors, in plain English — jobs that require no formal education, little or no training, and even less responsibility:
Taylor Woolrich ‘16 seems to have gone to ground after her story bounced around the Internet for several days. Her account of being denied permission to carry a gun on campus reached #1 on the hot news section of Reddit, where it had received almost four thousand comments as of early Sunday morning:
The story reached #10 on the overall section of the site.
However Woolrich then cancelled scheduled appearances on NBC’s Today Show and on Fox & Friends, and she issued a written statement to Today:
Woolrich later weighed in on Thursday to clarify her previous public statements, and noted that the university is taking steps to help her feel secure on campus.
“My intention was not to join the political debate on gun control, but to speak out about my situation in hopes of bringing awareness to the distressing challenges faced by victims of stalking,” she told TODAY in a statement.
“He is still awaiting trial… It’s a terrifying, emotional time for my family and me. I was concerned about not being able to protect myself once he is released from prison in the future. I think that my emotions on stage and my statements taken out of context online have led my message to be extremely misconstrued. At Dartmouth, we are a family. They are doing everything possible to ensure I’m safe and comfortable coming back to campus this fall.” [Emphasis added]
Sounds to me like the College effected some pretty good damage control last week. Woolrich, who is not on campus this summer with her sophomore classmates, went from an angry 2nd Amendment radical to happy College “family” member in just a couple of days.
Addendum: An editorial in yesterday’s Manchester Union Leader concludes:
It is understandable that college administrators want to keep guns off campus. But gun bans don’t do that. Nor do they keep students safe from rape, assault, or worse. If Dartmouth will not let Woolrich arm herself, the least it could do is provide her with an escort.
A number of readers have written in to express a fear that I voiced, too: how prudent would it be to allow students to carry weapons on today’s alcohol-soaked campuses? Well, it turns out that we are not alone in asking this question. In fact, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) has studied the experience of schools that do allow the concealed carrying of weapons on campus. Its conclusions:
There have been no reported problems with permit holders on any of the college campuses where permitted concealed handguns are allowed. That holds for the nine states that mandate that colleges allow permitted concealed handguns on campuses (Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin). Georgia should probably also be included as of July 1st, but it will take a court to make it official. As well as the 21 states that leave the decision on whether to allow people to carry on college campuses up to the individual school (the National Conference of State Legislatures lists 22 states, but we have included Pennsylvania in the mandated state list).
In addition, Michigan and Texas, which provide permit revocation data on the permit holder’s year of age, show college age permit holders are as responsible or even more responsible than older permit holders. Much of the gun control debate focuses on things that might possibly go wrong. Yes, some young people behave irresponsibly. But those who are willing to go through the permitting process are different from those who don’t. They are responsible.
In case you think that Dartmouth’s ongoing PR nightmare is the fault of Andrew Lohse, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Here’s one more item, drawn from the eleventh season of The Simpsons, episode 14: Alone Again, Natura-diddily, first aired on February 13, 2000. The country and western song therein makes a reference that I expect escaped most C&W fans:
The screen lyric is wrong. The singer clearly states the name of the College on the Hill.
Addendum: A Simpsons-loving alumnus writes in:
As a long-time reader of Dartblog, I’m happy to say the day has finally come when my love of Dartmouth and The Simpsons have finally come to a meeting point.
Season 11 of The Simpsons really had it in for the College - in addition to the recent song lyrics you put up, another Dartmouth gag came just two episodes later in “Pygmoelian.” At a bartending competition put on by Duff beer, Duffman introduces one of the events like this:
“Okay, our first event qualifies for course credit at Dartmouth College - Trick Pouring!”
No video evidence has turned up yet, but I remember it distinctly and have found the script online to match.
Thanks for all that you do, and here’s to frivolity.
Addendum: A third reference to the College on the Simpsons has arisen: in the episode “Home Away from Homer,” fictional Dartmouth Professor Stefan Whitmore, a banjologist, notes “the dying art of Peruvian banjo music on the Public Radio show Verbal Tea.”
The September issue of Cosmopolitan magazine has a section on colleges, and Andrew Lohse ‘12 has popped up again with a piece in it. Once more, the College does not look good. Cosmo is now on the newsstands, but the issue is not yet available on-line.
Daniela Pelaez ‘16, a Dartmouth student in the U. S. without immigration papers, has received permission to remain in the country for two years under a federal immigration law deferring deportation of undocumented immigrants who arrived as minors.
Taylor Woolrich ‘16, who has been stalked by the same man for four years, has made a national issue of Safety & Security’s refusal to allow her to carry a gun while on campus.
While S&S offered to transport Woolrich whenever she desired, she maintains that officers there quickly began to complain about that obligation. Woolrich spoke recently at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. during a Students for Concealed Carry conference:
In addition to the report on Fox, Woolwich has published a column on John Lott’s blog on the Daily Caller (John Lott is the father of Roger Lott ‘14), David Brooks ‘15 has written about her on Business Insider, and Woolrich’s situation has been reported on by Campus Reform.
What to say about a student’s desire to carry a concealed weapon on campus? The College Handbook is categorical on the issue: “All weapons are prohibited on the Dartmouth campus.” Vermont has perhaps the most liberal guns laws in the nation: carrying a weapon openly or in a concealed manner is allowed without any kind of permit. New Hampshire’s laws are only slightly less permissive:
159:6 License to Carry. -
I. (a) The selectmen of a town, the mayor or chief of police of a city or a full-time police officer designated by them respectively, the county sheriff for a resident of an unincorporated place, or the county sheriff if designated by the selectmen of a town that has no police chief, upon application of any resident of such town, city, or unincorporated place, or the director of state police, or some person designated by such director, upon application of a nonresident, shall issue a license to such applicant authorizing the applicant to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in this state for not less than 4 years from the date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property or has any proper purpose, and that the applicant is a suitable person to be licensed. Hunting, target shooting, or self-defense shall be considered a proper purpose. The license shall be valid for all allowable purposes regardless of the purpose for which it was originally issued.
In Israel, citizens routinely carry a pistol in a holster on one hip and a cellphone in a carrier on another.
I wouldn’t know how to weigh Woolrich’s desire to carry a gun for self-defense against the danger of having a loaded weapon in a classroom and out and about on campus. Given the level of alcohol abuse as the College, how safe would we all be if students carried weapons. That said, in the event that a shooter like Elliot Rodger appeared at Dartmouth, the ability of students to defend themselves could be important.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I am not one for arming students with guns; but what would be the position of the College if there was an incident, and it appeared not to have taken the warning signs seriously enough?
Moreover, what is the position of women’s groups in a situation like the above?
And, isn’t carrying mace an option? Or are students not permitted to carry mace? (I can see the reasons for that, also; but the above might be a special exception.)
The College Handbook does not specifically mention Mace or pepper spray, and I know several women who do carry such devices — though when I have asked to see them, several minutes of harried rummaging preceded their appearance.
Addendum: A professor at the College sends in a thought:
Though I sympathize with this student’s distress, permitting the arming of students is no solution. I would not teach a class of 50 potentially armed students. The terror this woman experiences will be all our terror all the time.
As does an alumnus:
There are fewer “wackos” in Hanover than other parts of the country and the world, but the Dartmouth policy of being weapon-free is an outright invitation to anyone so inclined to come to campus and start firing. The risk of that happening would be significantly diminished by a policy - known on campus and to outsiders - that concealed carry is allowed. We can see the evidence but remain disinclined to learn from it. How sad and how risky.
And a young alumnus:
I saw your article on the wisdom of concealed carry on campus. I’m not against guns (my father and I go shooting regularly), but I can’t think of any situation during my time on campus where having a gun would have made things better. That said, I can think of plenty of situations where guns would have made things much worse.
In my fraternity there was at least one or two drunken scuffles/fights with non-brothers each quarter. 90% of the time these were resolved without police involvement or serious injury. I know concealed carry would not have helped these situations. Once at 3am on a Saturday night, I was with my then-girlfriend in my room when her ex boyfriend showed up, drunk and belligerent, and started pounding on the door, demanding we open it. I didn’t open the door and eventually he left. From what I learned later, it was an impulsive decision. If either of us had access to a gun that night, would I be writing this to you right now?
BTW Considering the high number of S&S officers and Hanover policemen on patrol at any one time, is there ever a time where a law enforcement officer is more than 30 seconds away at Dartmouth?
The Valley News had a serious interview yesterday with Athletics Director Harry Sheehy. An excerpt:
VN: How difficult is it to fire coaches?
HS: You have to really believe in your heart that you’re doing things for the right reasons. I work for Dartmouth College. I don’t work for any one of our programs, so my objective is to make the whole (athletic) program better, and sometimes you have to make really hard decisions.
We get the words “simple” and “easy” confused all the time in this country. When I look at some of the decisions I’ve made, they’ve been pretty simple, but they haven’t been easy. You’re impacting people’s lives, and it stinks sometimes. I go home and I agonize and I don’t sleep, but I know in my gut what I consider to be right.
VN: Do you agonize less now that you’ve been doing this job for so long?
HS: Yes, because I know if someone is ill-suited to a job, you aren’t doing them any favors by keeping them in it. As hard as it is to look at someone and tell them they’re losing their job … you honestly believe you’re doing the right thing for the institution.
Such rigorous thinking about personnel should apply to all other parts of the College, don’t you think? Of course, such a spirit of excellence already animates decisions regarding the reappointment and granting of tenure to young members of the faculty (at least we hope that it now does under Phil), but it should be extended to the administration, where most staffers seem to have jobs for life, no matter how poor their performance.
Sheehy also commented on the poor state of Dartmouth athletics at the end of the Wright administration:
I knew exactly what I was getting into here, and the first three years was just reworking stuff. It was really just last year that we started to think we should see results. I’m not criticizing anyone who came before me, but I don’t think there was much of a sense of where the department was going. It wasn’t always easy to get people on board, some of whom were collecting their paycheck and laying low.
The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, and that’s exactly where we were. There was a bit of a malaise, a sense of woe-is-me. Before I got here, dealing with admissions and financial aid and the whole environment was tougher. Jim Kim and (deputy director of athletics) Bob Ceplikas, during his year as interim athletic director, made my job tons easier because that stuff was taken care of.
Needless to say, the College’s press releases didn’t say so at the time, but clued-in alumni knew how bad things had gotten. That’s still true about other areas of Dartmouth today.
Addendum: Sheehy notes that his department’s annual budget is $22 million. That figure amounts to 2.6 % of the College’s $835 million in expenses in fiscal 2013. Money well spent, I’d say, especially when the Dean of the College’s budget is almost four times that amount.
Addendum: An alumnus from the 1960’s writes in with a comment:
I am surprised that in the entire interview Harry did not once mention the amazing successes of Dartmouth’s many club sport teams. And we are talking about national championships here: men’s rugby (two Sevens national champs in four years), sailing, women’s figure skating. These may not be teams under Harry’s direct oversight, but the kids wear the green just as proudly and they compete just as intensely as their DCAD compatriots. Harry’s omission, while seemingly inadvertent, may say something about his (unconscious) mindset when it comes to acknowledging the full range of athletic competition at the College. With all the mediocrity that has characterized so much of Dartmouth athletics in the past two decades, one would think he would jump at the chance to brag about the club sport successes at every opportunity.
English Professor Barbara Will led a discussion yesterday at Bones Gate on sexual assault. The brothers chose the witty title, Respect Works, for an event that drew approximately 120 students, mostly men. That figure is about a quarter of the male sophomores on campus for the summer.
Professor Will began her talk by reading the narrative of a college rape victim whose life had been irremediably altered for the worse by an assault at the hands of an experienced predator. Will then engaged the men in attendance in a thoughtful, respectful fashion, and the students who spoke responded in kind. (As an aside, the cogency and intelligence of her remarks illustrated to this viewer the wide intellectual chasm between members of the faculty and the College’s army of administrators.)
Will’s initial topic concerned the elusive nature of consent in sexual relations between students. She moderated a good discussion of Yale’s Sexual Misconduct Scenarios, inquiring whether the College should provide incoming students with similar descriptions of ambiguous sexual situations, and she asked her audience if, when and where such a document might be given to Dartmouth students. A half-dozen students answered her question, opining that such information would be useful if offered to students in small groups during freshman fall.
The consensus in the discussion was that safe sex — in the legal sense of the term — was only possible when a man received clearly expressed consent from his partner.
In response to her question as to how to “fix the Greek system,” only two responses were forthcoming: encourage upperclassmen to provide examples of good behavior; and require houses to elect an officer who would monitor and educate fellow members.
A lucuna in the discussion concerned the profile of students who engaged in sexual assault. While Will’s prefatory narrative clearly noted that the rapist’s skill was the result of past experience — a serial predator at work — the point was never built upon.
Will is the chair of a Presidential Steering Committee entitled Moving Dartmouth Forward, that includes Professor of Mathematics Craig Sutton; Professor of Physics and Astronomy Ryan Hickox; Senior Assistant Dean, Student Academic Support Services Deborah Tyson; Senior Associate Athletics Director for Peak Performance Drew Galbraith; Frank Cunningham III ‘16; John Damianos ‘16; Kayla Wade ‘16; Kelsey Weimer ‘16; Association of Alumni President Susan Finegan ‘85, and John Osborn ‘88. The Committee’s report on ending sexual assault and alcohol abuse, and improving inclusiveness, is expected in the fall.
Addendum: Barbara Will has been a Dartblog favorite ever since she came to Paris to promote her revelatory and controversial book on Gertrude Stein’s wartime years in Occupied France. That Phil has chosen a serious scholar to play a leading role in the reform of campus life says good things about him.
The Wall Street Journal has reported on the cost-cutting efforts of President Mitch Daniels at Purdue University. In the coming year, tuition will be flat, and the cost of dining will drop by 10%. Daniels describes the problem:
… the former two-term Republican governor of Indiana is drawing a line in the sand against which U.S. higher education can be measured. And by freezing tuition, he is forcing his own school to modernize its 19th-century business model with a combination of systemic cuts, organizational realignments and cash incentives.
“This place was not built to be efficient,” Mr. Daniels said when asked about the structural changes he was making at Purdue. But “you’re not going to find many places where you just take a cleaver and hack off a big piece of fat. Just like a cow, it’s marbled through the whole enterprise.”
… At Purdue, there are now 75% more administrators and staff on the payroll than there were 13 years ago.
J. Paul Robinson, a former president of the faculty senate, said Mr. Daniels’s worth as a leader will be tied to his ability to prune that administrative bloat. “Let me put it this way,” Mr. Robinson said: “A blind man on a galloping horse at midnight with sunglasses on can see the problem. The question is, What can he do about it?”
Purdue is not the only school to begin trimming unnecessary expenses from its budget. The attached memo from the President of Mills College details the cuts being made there.
Will Dartmouth join other institutions in leading in this area? Although Phil Hanlon had announced that tuition would rise no more quickly than inflation, his first budget had costs for students and their families rising at twice the rate of inflation, even though the increase itself was the lowest in many years. That’s a timid step. As we have noted in the past, Dartmouth could reduce total expenses by $200 million each year (about 25%), and our cost of operations per student would still be higher than the cost per student at Brown.
Addendum: President Daniels’ phrase that excessive spending is “marbled through the whole enterprise” recalls the thrust of my column in The D dated February 10, 2009:
… if you examine the evolution of Dartmouth’s personnel directory from 1997 to 2007, you will find that every administrative office has increased its headcount dramatically. In 1997, the President’s Office numbered 6.5 full-time employees; 10 years later there were 10.
During that time period, the Dean of the Faculty Office went from 14 to 28 full-time employees. The Dean of the College Office went from 16 to 26; the Provost’s Office went from 6.5 to 11.5; and the combined headcount of the First-Year Office, the Office of Student Life and the Office of Residential Life went from 26.5 to 47.
Poor managment is a disease that invades an entire body.
Opining that, “We will never end poverty if we do not tackle climate change,” Jim Kim’s image graced Times Square for a week, along with images from Connect4Climate’s Action4Climate documentary competition.
I am sure that awareness of Jim Kim’s commitment to combating global warming rose dramatically due to this effort.
Addendum: Boston’s WCVB has put together a video puff piece about Hanover, too. It begins as follows: “Hanover, New Hampshire is a very sophisticated place…”
Addendum: An alumnus, who has looked at Hanover from both sides now, writes in with a strong viewpoint:
Having lived in Hanover during my undergraduate years and having returned to the Upper Valley a decade later to settle for 13 years, I couldn’t help but guffaw at your news that a blog has pronounced Hanover the best college town in America. Most of their criteria have no relevance to college students, just as most of the businesses in Hanover have no relevance to college students.
I have really enjoyed living in the retirement community with a college in it that Hanover has evolved into, but its rules and amenities are far more aligned to the needs, pleasures, and judgments of “grown ups” than those of nineteen year olds. Only two days ago I witnessed a seemingly endless stream of elderly pour, to the extent they were able, out of yet another Osher (formerly Ilead) class that filled Spaulding far more robustly than most courses and events aimed at students. It is extremely common to go to Hopkins Center events and see many more community members than undergraduates in attendance.
It wasn’t until I lived in Boulder, Colorado, with its large commercial district organized around appealing to college students, that I truly understood what a joyless desert Hanover presents in comparison.
If the blog had said what they meant, that Hanover is the best college town in America for retirees, then I would agree completely. The advertisement for retirement communities that appears at the top of the blog gives away the game.
When members of the Class of 2016 return to Hanover for their 25th reunion, I have no doubt that concerned sophomores from the Class of 2041 will express sympathy for all that their elders had to endure: the rampant sexual assaults, the omnipresent racism, the oppressive hazing and homophobia. However, like people in my own Class of 1979 who talk to today’s students, the ‘16’s will explain in return that isolated news reports do not history make, and that student life was quite different, and quite a bit better, than a scaremongering media would have one believe. Exhibit A might be a letter written to me last week by a mother of a young alumnus:
Addendum: The alumnus in question informs me that in his co-ed fraternity the members, male and female, all refer to each other as brothers — harkening back to the period from 1972 until the late 1980’s when Dartmouth men and women lustily sang Men of Dartmouth without concern about gender issues. Interestingly enough, when the words of the alma mater were changed, the frequency with which the song was heard dropped precipitously, as I reported about five years ago.
Addendum: The young alumnus responds to my addendum:
While I recognize the comparison you draw to the alma mater, I don’t think this choice of words is an example of simply acting “without concern about gender issues.” Instead, I think it reflects a deliberate decision by the members of a community to select, by consensus, one particular meaning for the existing term that best upholds the community’s egalitarian values. I am less convinced, unfortunately, that members of the general student body during the early years of coeducation felt they were afforded a similar agency to (re)define the language of the alma mater as appropriate (including by changing its words, if necessary) in order to meet their values.
Actually, the decision to stick with the original words of Men of Dartmouth was the result of a well understood series of events, but that is a story for another day.
He’s a nice guy. He’s the wrong guy. Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno was appointed by Jim Kim and Carol Folt on July 15, 2010 for a five-year term that began on August 1 of that year and will end in the summer of 2015. That’s too late.
Mastanduno’s term in office to date has been undistinguished. Of course, we can start with the presumption that anyone chosen by Kim/Folt is the fruit of the poisonous tree, though that might be overstating things somewhat. Mike is genial, friendly, but sadly enough, ineffective. The recent collapse of the student/faculty initiative to open course evaluations to scrutiny by undergrads is evidence enough of that proposition.
Phil should wish Mike well on the fourth anniversary of his term, and perhaps he can choose Mastanduno to head some lesser part of the College (Mastanduno was previously the head of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding). Then a new Dean can be chosen, a forceful innovator who can begin by arranging to allow voting on faculty issues to take place on-line rather than just by people in attendance at meetings. That move would be the first step in breaking the various logjams to change at Dartmouth.