Monday, September 1, 2014

A Frat Boy Confesses

Andrew Lohse ‘12 came over for dinner right at the end of 2011. He had e-mailed me a few months before, after I had taken apart a column that he had written in The D about the Ivies being little more than a farm system for Wall Street. He had written a fuller version of this piece for the Daily News, just as one of his previous D efforts had been the basis for a column he wrote for the Crimson. He seemed a cut above the usual D writer.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lohse Book.jpgI had taken issue with his Wall Street assertions: he had put forward no evidence for his charge, whereas I had College data from Career Services and the Dartmouth Factbook showing that fewer Dartmouth students in his time and in the entire alumni body were in finance/consulting than in education and medicine. When I got his note, I told him that we’d be in Hanover at Christmas, and we should get together to talk. Given that I had been tough on him in my post — even obliquely noting his drug bust from a previous term — I was impressed by his confidence and curiosity in contacting me.

Elizabeth and I enjoyed a nice meal with him. He asked as many questions as he answered, and he was funny and friendly. Then he started to talk about hazing: all the gross, unsanitary, excessive acts that later came out in print. I had heard snippets of the same stories for years; these practices have long been an open secret on campus. Given Andrew’s successful past newspaper columns, we suggested that he write about his experiences. We did not know at the time, and he did not tell us, that he had already been thinking of doing so at the urging of other people, as he describes in the book.

A few weeks later, he showed me a draft of what came to be his famous whistleblowing column. The D was looking at it, he said, but was insisting on “proof.” That request was ironic for two reasons: Lohse was an eyewitness, and a good many D editors were Greeks, some in SAE itself. Lohse and the editors, as he recounted it at the time, went back and forth on the details of what he could and could not include in his description of hazing at SAE. Then the piece started to get passed around campus. When it seemed like The D was stonewalling, I suggested to Lohse that he run his account on Dartblog, and after some thought, that’s what we did on January 24. The site got over 20,000 hits in 24 hours, and The D relented and ran an edited version of the post the next day.

Rolling Stone came calling soon thereafter, and Lohse had a publishing contract a few months subsequent to the appearance of the RS article.

Ultimately Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir is straightforward: Lohse describes the things that he did and those that were done to him. There’s no jargon, no pop sociology, no facile ideology of the type that marked some of his earlier writing. Methinks that a good editor scrubbed out that kind of fuzzy thinking. What’s left is a 303-page, fleshed-out version of his original whistleblower Dartblog/D column. It’s all there: the drugs, beer, liquor, girls, and the endless hazing. In addition, while the press loves to talk about how Lohse was hazed with vomelettes, dirty kiddie pools and endless regurgitation, for some reason SAE’s unsavory “ass beer” has not made it into national reporting (you’ll have to look it up for yourself; see pp. 146-147).

What is not present in the book is much introspection. While one binge lurches into the next, it’s hard to see at what points Lohse decided that enough is too much. He evolves not so much on purpose as because he hits bottom or is thrown out of the College due to his excesses. But I guess that’s not the point of the book; rather, it exists to give the world an aperçu of a side of the Ivies that doesn’t make the papers every day.

But is it true? Did the hazing really happen as Lohse depicted it? Everyone from Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Mandel to the WSJ’s Joe Rago ‘05 has asserted in some slippery fashion that Lohse made it all up. They all point to the fact that the Dean investigated Lohse’s charges and could not corroborate them.

Andrew Lohse4.jpgThe Dean in question is April Thompson, known in the book as The Administrator (a male). She is no longer at Dartmouth, and for good reason: she botched the investigation quite utterly. Of course, the 27 SAE brothers, lying through their teeth, denied everything (“what happens in the house stays in the house”), but what of Lohse’s eyewitness testimony?

When he first described SAE’s hazing to Thompson, she and members of her staff did no more than write notes of his comments: no film, no recording, nothing permanent. Then, after investigating the house as best she could, Thompson filed charges against 27 SAE brothers, the SAE corporation, and in an incomprehensible move, against Lohse himself — her only witness. As she might have expected (maybe she did?), Lohse turned around and told her that her hand-written notes were inaccurate, and he would no longer support a prosecution that had him in its sights as much as the house and its brothers. Case dismissed.

But beyond that ineptitude (typical of the entire Dean of the College office under Thompson’s boss Charlotte Johnson — now mercifully gone from Hanover, too), how can one judge Lohse’s veracity? Easy. He’s far from the only student to make similar charges. Over two years ago we published the account of another SAE brother, someone who is no friend of Andrew Lohse, that backs up Lohse’s description of events. Or look to Crispus Knight ‘03’s book, Three For Ship, which covers much the same territory. Or Snowden Wright ‘04’s 3,970-word-long post, Dirty Rush, published in The Good Men Project blog. Even Dartblog’s Isaiah Berg ‘11 has written in this space about the weekly ritual of doming at his fraternity. And columnists in The D have commented on hazing rites for years, as has the press. Of course, hazing is not limited to frats; sororities get down and dirty, too.

To my mind, anyone denying Lohse’s description of events is following the kind of cynical PR strategies that marked the College for too long (but do not seem to be continuing under Phil Hanlon). Folks, it all happened.

As for Lohse now, he’s moved on to new passions, as Mashable reports:

Lohse is a frat boy turned feminist, though he shies away from being defined by any particular political movement. He is sensitive when talking about Greek life and the problem of campus sexual assault.

“If being a feminist means speaking up about these issues and equality,” he says, “then you could call me that.”

He explains why he eventually couldn’t defend belonging to a frat, which he calls “an emotional, psychological pyramid scheme.” He cites theorists Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, who famously wrote about how institutions wield power against the powerless.

How to explain this evolution? Well, as I see him, Andrew Lohse is a joiner, and then he is not. He jumps into an activity feet first, and then asks questions only later. As but one example, during his time in Hanover he wrote for all three of the College’s student papers: the decidedly middle-of-the-road Dartmouth, the right-wing Review and the left-wing Free Press (now defunct). Those episodes of his Dartmouth career didn’t make the book, but his experiences as a journalist are part and parcel of a character that led him to embrace the very worst aspects of SAE’s debauched fraternity behavior, and then decide for various reasons (some good, most bad) that the fratstar life was not for him after all.

As a very public opponent of gender-segregated Greek life and a participant in the fight against sexual assault, Lohse will doubtlessly throw himself quite completely into these campaigns — probably until he finds his comrades in arms wanting, perhaps until he finds himself bored, certainly until he moves on to another battle that is more attractive than the last disillusioning one that he left.

Is that a good thing? I’ll leave that question up to you to decide, but from my perspective any college student who commits himself fully to a project, and then looks around and asks himself why, makes a pretty good dinner table guest and is a courageous person. Whatever his motives, Andrew Lohse has done a service for Dartmouth in exposing a type of behavior that should not take place in Hanover. He is no excellent sheep.

Addendum: Beyond his ephemeral passions, Andrew is a serious musician. In the below video (apologies for the poor miking) he accompanies Masha Kurikova on the double bass in a version of My Funny Valentine at the Interplay Jazz and Arts summer workshop in Woodstock, Vermont:

Posted on September 1, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Maiori Diary: Coda d’Aragosta

The strength of a culture can be measured by its depth: in café societies like Italy and the German-speaking lands, even modest towns have several elegant pastry and coffee shops. The best little place here in the seaside town of Maiori on the Amalfi coast is the Pasticceria Napoli, whose vaulted space is located in a palazzo that a wall plaque dates to the 1400’s. The Pasticceria’s signature product, among a great range of goods prepared in the back room laboratorio, is the Coda d’Aragosto — the lobster tail. Its crackly pastry is filled with a rich, yellow custard. Of course, beyond the sweets and the architecture, the establishment is only complete when the stooped proprietress, Pina, is there to greet everyone, and call us all “amore.”

Coda d'Aragosta.JPG

Posted on August 31, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Full Dartmouth Life

The obituaries of Dartmouth alumni can cause one to pause with wonder. Could a life have been any more complete? George Munroe ‘43 passed away last week at the age of 92. Below is his NYT obituary as I have reordered it for clarity:

George Monroe.jpgAs a young man, Munroe was an outstanding basketball player on three Ivy League championship teams at Dartmouth and led Dartmouth to the national championship game of the N.C.A.A. tournament in 1942. That year, he led the Eastern Intercollegiate League in scoring and was named to several All-America Teams.

His service in the Navy during World War II included duty as a combat information center officer on the battleship Maryland in the Pacific. The Maryland took part in the invasion of Okinawa in 1945, where it survived damage from Kamikazi plane attacks.

Later, while attending Harvard Law School, he played in the professional league for the St. Louis Bombers and Boston Celtics. Munroe graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School with honors and from Oxford University in England where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Before joining Phelps Dodge, Munroe practiced law in New York as an associate with Cravath, Swain and Moore and Debevoise, Plimpton and McLean and worked in the Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany in the early 1950’s, serving first in Bonn as a lawyer and later in Nuremberg as a justice of the U.S Court of Restitution Appeals of the Allied High Commission.

He led the copper mining and manufacturing company Phelps Dodge Corporation from 1969 to 1987 through a difficult period for the domestic copper mining industry, as it struggled to meet growing competition from abroad and new environmental requirements at home. Munroe continued to increase the company’s production as a new hydro-metallurgical process was developed to reduce the need for smelting in the production process and Phelps Dodge, which had been the third largest United States copper producer, emerged as the domestic industry leader and one of the largest producers in the world.

Munroe was a trustee of Dartmouth College for 14 years and the chairman of its board for three years. He was also a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, serving on several of it’s committees for 25 years, and chairing the Museum’s finance committee for 8 years. Other board memberships included the Henry Street Settlement, the YMCA of Greater New York and the Academy of Political Science, of which he was chairman for 10 years. He was a director of several major corporations, including the New York Life Insurance Company, the Manufacturers Hanover and Chemical banks, the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation, Manville Corporation and New York Times Company and was a Public Governor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Munroe is survived by his wife of more than 45 years, Elinor Bunin Munroe, an artist and award-wining film maker, and by two sons by a previous marriage, Ralph of Orange, Virginia and Taylor of Atenas, Costa Rica and a grandson, Zachary. Mr. Munroe decided not to have a funeral or memorial service. Contributions may be made to the George B. Munroe Scholarship Fund at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755 or to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10021 in lieu of flowers or condolences.

Don’t be too picky. Just because he had to go to Harvard Law, and not Yale, does not mean he wasn’t a helluva guy.

Addendum: While we are looking at great Dartmouth lives, MIT Professor John Waugh ‘49, who revolutionized the use of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, passed away last week, too. The tools that were the results of his breakthroughs are used daily by scientists all over the world.

Waugh received an honorary doctorate from the College In 1989.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

De Mortuis nil nisi Bonum*, they say, but during Munroe’s tenure as Trustee two failed Dartmouth presidencies were launched, those of McLaughlin and Freedman. When Freedman got really out of control in his war against the Dartmouth Review, Munroe did nothing. The infamous, College-organized “Rally Against Hate,” in which Freedman tried to drive the Review out of existence, occurred when Munroe was Chairman of the Trustees.

I wrote Munroe at the time telling him I thought he should be ashamed of failing to sanction Freedman, and he responded with a furious letter of self-justification.

Like many other men who are capable and successful in their lives, Munroe made a poor Trustee. He failed to exercise the managerial oversight that is the responsibility of Trustees, and was an unconditional supporter of Freedman who should have been fired.

In the end Freedman paid the price of his demagoguery. I was told by a friend who was a senior officer of the Harvard Corporation that Freedman had been on the top three list of contenders for the Harvard presidency (to replace Derek Bok in 1991), which was his and his wife’s long-time ambition, but his handling of the Review caused him to be dropped from consideration. I think Freedman had actually believed that his efforts to crush the Review would endear him in Cambridge.

So let us honor the memory of George Munroe for a life well lived in other respects than his role as College Trustee and Board Chairman.

* “Of the dead, nothing unless good.”

Posted on August 30, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, August 29, 2014

Blanchflower Speaks Out

Economics Professor Danny Blanchflower, virtually a household name in the UK for his performance a few years ago on the British equivalent of the Federal Reserve, has published a 1752-word piece in the Times Higher Education supplement that uses the College as a case study:

Blanchflower Times Comp.jpg

He takes a starting point the shift in the number of majors by department at the College over the past decade, emphasizing the growing number of Economics and STEM majors and the concomitant decline in Humanities fields like English and foreign languages:

Blanchflower Major Changes.jpg

Blanchflower emphasizes that the allocation of faculty members by the administration has not followed the students:

But that generates a major resource allocation problem, especially in terms of faculty, who are dominantly found in departments where the students haven’t been for decades (such as Russian) or where students are leaving in droves (English). Some departments now have more academic staff than students taking majors…. The humanities division now has approximately five times as many faculty as the economics department, yet both teach the same number of majors. Something is wrong here.

Academic staff are in exactly the wrong places to fit the new student demands in a world of high tuition fees; previous administrations allocated faculty incorrectly to where there were few students or where student demand was about to fall (the reasons for this are unclear). A random allocation based on the drawing of lots or throwing darts at a dartboard would have been a better way to allocate faculty.

He ends the piece with a series of suggestions on how the administration can better balance supply and demand. Give it a read.

Addendum: Blanchflower makes the observation that students are crowding into disciplines with the potential for high post-graduation earnings in an effort to justify/recoup the quarter-million dollar investment that they are now making in their education. This is an important point. The College’s failure to control costs has directly contributed to the corruption of its core educational mission.

Addendum: As we noted a month ago, in light of financial pressures, some commentators are re-thinking the way that colleges are ranked. Money Magazine, as one might expect, focused on, um, money (“the most bang for your tuition buck” was their delicate phrase). By its lights, the school with the best overall ROI is Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The Ivies rank as follows: #4: Princeton; #6: Harvard; #11: Penn; #15: Yale; #19: Brown; #22: Columbia; #24: Dartmouth (tied); #24: Cornell (tied).

Posted on August 29, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Reece Up and Kelly Out

There is more churning at OPAL, the College’s equivalent of musical chairs. The administration seems to hire just about anyone for these jobs, as long as they meet some kind of diversity quota. The folks there come and go, come and go.

The newest change is that Reese Kelly (left below), Director of the Center for Gender and Student Engagement and former LGBTQIA Advisor, has been named Interim Director. He’ll have a budget well in excess of a million dollars and a staff of eight people, even though he does not have much of any management experience. He’s only been at the College since the start of 2013, having finished his postdoc at Middlebury at the end of 2012.

In addition, Karlos Santos-Coy, Assistant Dean and Advisor to First Generation Students, has resigned. He has been at the College for less than two years, and word is that he is leaving the College along with his patron, former OPAL Director Alysson Satterlund of “Phiesta” fame.

Reece and Kelly.jpg

Whoever the administration picks as the next Dean of the College will have a lot of work to do in this area. Translation: an ongoing trainwreck.

Addendum: A longtime reader writes in with an interesting perspective:

Thanks for writing about the OPAL changes. As a former Dartmouth employee, I can tell you I always dreaded having to interact with that office. They were generally unresponsive, and when they did respond they carried a self-righteous attitude that was off-putting.

As part of my duties, I occasionally wrote news updates on happenings in the OPAL office. I can’t tell you how many times Reese Kelly demanded that I include “Dr.” and “PhD” in his title whenever he was mentioned — even though I was never asked to do that by the College’s many distinguished (and approachable) professors.

It’s ironic that a staffer would never let me forget that he had a PhD, and yet the vast majority of professors I dealt with asked me to call them by their first name.

Posted on August 29, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Administrative Gold and Lead

Comparing the materials coming out of the Athletics department and out of Admissions is an education in marketing. To understand that point, first savor this affecting, one-minute video about being a student/athlete at the College:

Lovely, don’t you think? We’re not going to admit to a tear in the eye, but in sixty seconds the film establishes a real connection with the viewer. Now read the leaden, cliché-ridden prose of Dean Maria Laskaris ‘84’s main Admissions webpage:

D1-5 Comp.jpg

Are there any phrases in there that don’t land with a thud? “Learning knows no boundaries.” “This is your opportunity.” “The Dartmouth Difference.” “Define success your way.” Ugh.

But the topper is certainly, “The return on investment will be enormous.” Eleazer Wheelock must be turning in his grave. Is that the kind of thing that Admissions thinks will influence prospective students? Or will total applications fall by 14% again this year?

My father always says, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” The folks in Athletics understand that high school students fall in love with a school; Admissions thinks that a 17-year-old makes a rationale calculation. The latter observation is wrong in any circumstance: it is triply in error about the small College.

When Phil asks Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno to assume other responsibilities, he might ask the same of Dean Laskaris. After her 27 years of plodding service in Hanover, it’s time for a change. We need fresh blood in Admissions, too.

Addendum: Neither Athletics nor Admissions use the phrase “Dartmouth College,” anywhere in these materials, though it does appear in tiny type in the copyright footer at the bottom of the Admissions page. Memo to everyone: Carol is gone.

Addendum: We’ve commented before about Admissions’ inaccurate and sloppy writing.

Posted on August 28, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

McGill As a Model

Although it makes no similar promise to residents of Canada — who pay markedly lower tuition and fees — McGill University in Montreal has found another way, beyond reasonable prices, to court students from south of the border: fixed tuition for all four undergraduate years.

McGill Tuition Comp.jpg

Savor those words: “Tuition rate is guaranteed for the duration of the program as long as there is no break in enrollment or transfer of the degree program.” With costs at the College rising on the order of 4.8%/year for the last five years, except for this year’s 2.9% increase (still twice the CPI), a senior enjoying a program at Dartmouth that emulated McGill’s restraint would pay 15.10% less tuition than freshmen. Real money.

Let’s interpret McGill’s policy as yet another crack in the dike against lower prices for higher education. More cracks will appear, until at some point the dam bursts open. The school that can radically cut its bloated cost structure, and thereby be able to slash tuition, will be admired far and wide, and will have resources to spare to create an extraordinary educational program. Is anyone listening?

Addendum: As we have noted in the past, today if you want frozen tuition at the College, all you have to do is pay the full whack in advance. With tuition alone costing $46,763 in the coming year, that step would mean writing a check to cover the non-room and board part of your child’s undergraduate education in the amount of $187,052.

Posted on August 27, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuck Loses an Opportunity

As we have noted before, Tuck is doing pretty much everything right (here and here), but the school has not escaped the gouging of its students that was Jim Kim’s real legacy at the College. Under Kim, real cash income from grad students rose 46.6% between 2010-2013 (from $41,869,000 in 2010 to $61,399,000 in 2013 — a jump of $19,470,000); over the preceding nine years, income had increased by only 36.2% ($11,132,000). As a result, Tuck’s tuition and fee structure now put it at the top end of B-Schools according to U.S. News:

B-School Costs.jpg

Observe Stanford’s clear effort to differentiate itself despite sharing a #1 ranking with HBS and Wharton. By attending Stanford you save yourself $8,000-$14,000 over two years as compared to Harvard, Wharton and Tuck. I bet that top students can make that calculation even before taking managerial accounting.

Addendum: As dedicated readers know, the College suffers from the same longterm shortsightedness as Tuck regarding the cost of attendance. While we like to think that we compete for the same students as Harvard, Yale and Princeton, we offer fewer students financial aid than any of our Ivy sisters, and the total cost of 2014-2015 tuition, room and board, and fees at Dartmouth ($61,947) is higher than HYP (in fact, higher than all of the Ivies except Columbia): 11.7% higher than Princeton ($55,440); 5.7% higher than Harvard ($58,607); and 3.6% higher than Yale ($59,800). Ask your parents (or yourself) if they would have preferred that you go to Princeton and save them $24,228 over four years as compared to attending Dartmouth.

Posted on August 26, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sour Rago ‘05 Reviews Lohse ‘12

Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Rago ‘05, formerly Editor-in-Cheif of the Review and normally a fine thinker, had a piece (pdf) in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday on Andrew Lohse’s book. Let’s just say that Rago has done better work in the past.

Rago WSJ Comp.jpg

He repeatedly calls Lohse a liar, but declines to say if Lohse’s entire account of hazing is a lie, or just some parts of it. The ad hominen line of argument is without end:

“this putative whistleblower’s harrowing portrait”

“the hazing he claims to have suffered”

“These may be the worst, and least trustworthy, confessions in the 16 centuries since St. Augustine’s.”

“I found his story far-fetched, and anyone ought to question the testimony of an aspiring Bret Easton Ellis.”

“Mr. Lohse’s book is the result of two catastrophes of quality control — the college admissions office’s invitation to Hanover and then Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s decision to give him a bid.”

“Are his confessions honest — or ex post facto baloney meant to serve his political agenda and, by the way, help land a book deal and (fingers crossed) movie treatment? I wonder.”

“Maybe Mr. Lohse is the first person in history to expose the college’s human-rights violations. Or it could be that his gonzo literary flights run contrary to the lived experience of tens of thousands of people.”

The worst hazing rite I can imagine is spending time inside the mind of Mr. Lohse.

Geez. Saying that Lohse should not have been accepted to the College is the twentysomething equivalent of a playground nahnahnahNAHna. Rago’s counterargument is that he knew guys from SAE, and they, Sir, were not the kind of people Lohse describes:

“Nor does violent physical and psychological abuse square with his fraternity’s reputation. I knew the brothers of SAE as student-body-president types with a taste for champagne and pastel critter pants, not sadism.”

Anyone familiar with the members of SAE of the Class of 2012 versus Rago’s Class of 2005 knows that Lohse was in a house under the newfound influence of several brothers from the southern states of the good ol’ USA, a place where the depth of hazing practices makes Dartmouth look like, well, a kiddie pool. These new additions to the house ramped up hazing to levels that Rago would not recognize — as an SAE brother who was present at the festivities confirmed in a lengthy submission to Dartblog more than two years ago. But then Rago knows that. He is way too smart to believe that just because he knew a few SAE brothers way back when, then the house could only behave one way, a nice way, forevermore.

More tellingly, while Rago sings the College’s praises (Has anyone in Admissions taken note? Joe hopes so), at least he doesn’t go so far as to say that he himself was simon-pure as an undergrad. Was there no hazing in his own house, no cocaine, no binge drinking, and no chest-pounding about sexual conquests? If Rago is going to set the record straight, he should clarify things from his own perspective, too. No hazing or binge drinking at Phi Delt, Joe?

Addendum: The D has still not had a word to say about Lohse’s book. (However, if you are interested, last week there was a full-length article announcing that the Coed Council members endorse new constitution.) Too bad. There are a good many members of past D directorates who know first hand what went on in SAE’s basement when Andrew Lohse was present. I imagine that freedom of the press includes the freedom to take the 5th.

Posted on August 25, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, August 24, 2014

And Then There’s Zucca Nostrana

Many Italians like their version of a rotund pumpkin — zucca — but the real deal in southern Italy is zucca nostrana, “our zucca,” an orange-fleshed vegetable that can grow a yard long. There’s a field up the street from our place where every year some of the monsters grow between the bars of a wrought iron fence. Nobody seems to know how the proprietor extracts his harvest. Zucca can occasionally make its way north; I would occasionally spot it at a Milanese market when shopping my senior year with my host mamma — with whom we are vacationing again this year for a week on the Amalfi Coast.

Zucca Comp.jpg

Zucca is usually served as a sauce with pasta of mixed sizes and types — you can buy it like that. It is prepared with a typical base of olive oil, garlic and hot pepper. The flavor is, well, the flavor of zucca. Great food does not taste like anything else. Whatever is not consumed a tavola in the evening can be happily enjoyed the next day. In fact, some people believe that pasta a zucca is a dish best served cold.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hanover Diary: A Working Green

Back when men were men, women were women, and insurance companies (or perhaps just timorous bureaucrats?) didn’t actively seek to leach all the fun out of life, the Green was a center for the dormitory-based and fraternity intramural leagues. We played softball and touch football there in the fall and the spring. Strolling passersby would stop to chat with friends, loll along the sidelines, and cheer on their favorite dorm or frat. If pressed for time, they would cut across the outfield or the endzone, and live to tell the tale.

Dartmouth Baseball on the Green.jpg

Three years ago President Kim organized a single softball game on the Green. A great deal of care was taken to ensure that no bystander could possibly be near a flying ball. There hasn’t been a game since then.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

What good is it having Phil Hanlon ‘77 as President if he can’t combine his power and memories to restore traditions that have been mistakenly eliminated from Dartmouth. Does he expect his multi-building clusters to have the social cohesiveness to restore intramural sports?

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Excellent Sheep?

Emily Esfahani Smith ‘09 had a review (pdf) yesterday in the Wall Street Journal of William Deresiewicz’ book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite. A fuller treatment of the book’s themes can by found in a dialogue between Harvard’s Harry Lewis (author of Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?) and Deresiewicz in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Excellent Sheep.jpg

The book recalls for me a work by one of my professors at Yale Law, Tony Kronman, entitled Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life.

I hope to review the book anon.

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

“I Date Older Women”

Jim Aronson3.jpgThe Scarlett Johansson movie Lucy is in theaters at the moment, and the film refers several times to the female Australopithecus afarensis, the putative first human, discovered several decades ago in Ethiopia, whose age was determined to be over three million years. A little reading was in order.

It turns out that Lucy’s age was estimated using samples recovered and methods refined by recently retired Professor of Earth Sciences Jim Aronson. No less an authority than Wikipedia reports:

Lucy Skeleton.jpgThe Lucy fossil was dated reliably in 1990-1992 by applying the argon-argon radiometric dating method to the volcanic ash surrounding it. Initial attempts were made in 1974 to estimate the age of the fossil using the potassium-argon radiometric dating method in James Aronson’s laboratory at CWRU, now moved to Dartmouth. These efforts by Maurice Taieb and Aronson were hindered by the scarcity of datable crystals, the fact that the volcanic rocks in the area of concern were chemically altered or reworked, and the complete absence of pumice clasts at Hadar. Lucy’s skeleton occurs in the part of the Hadar sequence that accumulated with the fastest rate of deposition, which partly accounts for her excellent preservation. The older ash was about 18 m below the fossil and the younger ash only 1 m below, closely indicating her age of deposition.

Fieldwork at Hadar was suspended in the winter of 1976-1977. When it resumed thirteen years later in 1990, the more precise argon-argon technology had been improved by Derek York from the University of Toronto. In 1990-1992, two suitable samples of ash found by Aronson and Robert Walter [Aronson’s 1980 PhD student, and long-time research colleague] were argon-argon dated by Walter at 3.22 and 3.18 million years in the geochronology laboratory of the Institute of Human Origins.

Note: the field photo above of the various recovered parts of Lucy’s skeleton was taken by Jim in 1974.

A story goes that back in the day, when Jim was asked his occupation, he would reply, “I date older women.”

Addendum: Curiously enough, when Jim retired two months ago, the praise that he received at the faculty meeting elided his professional achievements:

Aronson came to Dartmouth as a research professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in 1998, and has been a dedicated and active member of the department, as both a teacher and a contributor to departmental business, throughout his relatively short time at the College, said Associate Professor W. Brian Dade, chair of the Department of Earth Sciences.

“Jim is warmly regarded by not only his departmental colleagues, but as well by a generation of Dartmouth earth science majors for his breadth of knowledge of all things geological, as well as his upbeat personality, humility, natural curiosity, and his endearingly nonlinear thought process,” Dade said.

Dade said in Aronson, the idea that a person encompasses all the stages of their life experience is especially evident.

“In a single conversation, he could be an absent-minded professor wondering where he parked his car, a gray-beard sage sharing hard-won wisdom, a mature student of nature with the inquiring mind and vigor of a mid-career scientist at the peak of his powers, or an exuberant child experiencing things for the first time with wonder and amazement,” Dade said.

Someone should have done better homework. Isn’t Dartmouth a research university in all but name?

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Grand Bargain on Alcohol?

No alcohol.gifWord is floating around campus that the administration might try to ban hard liquor (anything other than beer and wine) when the new social life rules are announced in the fall. Such a policy would follow the lead of Maine colleges like Colby, Bates and Bowdoin.

The idea is an interesting one for it seems to understand that the most significant change at the College over the last few decades has been the increasing prevalence of hard liquor on campus. Beer ruled the social world in my day, but as I have written before, when the administration outlawed fraternity taps serving fresh beer from kegs, the move led directly to pre-gaming with strong drink that could be easily smuggled into dorms (a bottle of vodka more easily evades the prying eyes of UGAs and S&S than sixpacks).

Such an idea might work if it were the object of a Grand Bargain between students and the Dean of the College’s office: students would accept and self-enforce a ban on the hard stuff in exchange for the return of taps at Greek houses (with no limits on the amount of beer served at parties — limits that are routinely cheated on today anyways) and permission to bring beer into dorms. S&S would stop interdicting such supply missions, and UGAs would not report beer/wine drinking by students (though UGAs could enforce the hard liquor ban).

Such a solution might not satisfy teatotalling absolutists, but it could lead to a reduction in incidences of blackout drunkenness and the myriad problems that result from severe incapacitation. It’s a lot harder to get loaded on beer (most beers fall between Keystone’s 4.2% and Bud’s 5.0%) and wine (12.5% to 15%) than on vodka/whiskey/rum (usually 40%).

One surprising counter-argument — at least for me — to the above idea is that women seem to prefer hard liquor to beer because vodka and other distilled drinks contain no carbs (a 12oz. can of Keystone Light has 5g); alcohol has a similar number of calories by volume whatever the vehicle used to convey it.

I wonder if the administration has the nerve to propose such a idea. Nitpicking critics will rail against the return of taps, to be sure, but the quid pro quo might be the basis for real progress.

Addendum: Memo to the IFC and Panhell: Go to Dean Ameer and propose this idea to her before she proposes it to you. You take ownership that way.

Addendum: An attentive reader writes in:

Your “Grand Bargain” essay is a good one. Some of the fraternities, like “TDX,” have had policies of not serving hard alcohol for some time. As your correctly point out, pre-gaming is a huge problem. If the College allowed the same social activity to occur in the dorms that it allows in College-owned sororities, then it would make the campus less dependent on the Greek system.

Lastly, President Hanlon should rename his initiative “Moving Dartmouth Backward”, as he is just rehashing the same hackneyed ideas of the Freedman/Wright student life initiatives.

I find it incredible that the College wants to promote experiential learning except when it comes to life skills, in which case it just wants to tell students what it thinks the answers are. Either Hanlon has no confidence that the College can help teach these skills or he believes the College is admitting students incapable of learning them.

Addendum: A rising junior adds a comment:

What prompted me to finally write in after keeping my opinions to myself was your post on banning hard alcohol. I have attended a few events this summer aimed at getting the Greeks’ perspective heard by the Steering Committee. One of my group of friends’ main ideas, one which we have expresses to members of the committee countless times, is to institute an open-door pregame policy in the dorms similar to the policy at Stanford and Vanderbilt. The idea is to only allow beer and wine at pregames, while having a policy in which UGAs can monitor the levels of drinking at the party with no repercussions for the students drinking (which they are going to do, no matter what the College says or does).

This plan cuts out hard alcohol in dorms where most of the reckless drinking is done anyways. Hard alcohol in Greek houses is less of a problem, as it is typically only in private rooms and thus generally out of S&S’s ever-watchful patrols. It seems like a no-brainer to institute this open-door policy, along with making sororities go local. The Greek system has to fix a social system that is entirely dependent on Greek houses to host parties, taking on all the risk, while getting yelled at with charges of exclusivity if steps to minimize risk, such as guest lists, are imposed.

Many of our ideas have been expressed to the committee, and we recognize changes must be made. However, the amount that they take our suggestions into account will surely shape the response by the students. We’ll see what the committee suggests (most likely on the day after The D stops publishing for the fall, before the six-week break with no students around to protest and before the winter term with one third fewer students than a normal term, so they can make these sweeping changes with as little backlash as possible).

Sorry to rant, but I feel like these are commonly held beliefs around the Greek community.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lohse Book Gets Press

Though The D hasn’t written a word about Andrew Lohse ‘12 for many months (at least as far as I can tell; the paper’s website search function is still a mess), his memoir is receiving plenty of attention in the national press. See reviews, extended comments, and excerpts in Rolling Stone, the NY Post, the UK’s Daily Mail, Cosmo, and Newsweek.

Posted on August 20, 2014 10:20 PM. Permalink

The “Rape Culture”?

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.

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Changes in the Wind?

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:

WSJ Frat Comp.jpg

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.

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Damned Lies and Statistics

The Huffington Post put out a breathless headline the other day: Hundreds Call On Dartmouth To Overhaul Its Powerful Greek System. The D was not far behind: Online Suggestions Point to Abolishing Greek Life. Let’s play the same game, but with the opposite goal: Only 0.3% of Dartmouth Community Wants to Abolish Greeks.

Greek Vote.jpgWhere 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.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

More Rankings

While the College was not included in the Princeton Review’s Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges, we did make the Campus Pride Top 50 — with a picture no less in LGBTQNation:

Campus Pride Comp1.jpg

Meanwhile, Forbes ranked the College #10 in the nation in entrepreneurial activity and support:

10 Dartmouth College

Dartmouth’s Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) has provided support for over 500 projects and companies since 2001.

Posted on August 17, 2014 6:00 PM. Permalink

Canaan Diary: Dorkings for Dinner

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.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Round of Golf?

Or already looking for the next big job?

Kim Obama1.jpg

Birds of a feather…

Posted on August 16, 2014 6:00 PM. Permalink

“The Birth of BASIC”

Professor Tom Kurtz introduces a very fine film:

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.

Kurtz concludes:

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.

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

A State of Immigrants

The NYT graphs the evolution of the origins of the people living in all 50 states. As everyone knows, the Granite State is being overrun by refugees from Massachusetts:

New Hampshire Population.jpg

We are living through a revolution in the depiction of data. Never in the field of human endeavor can so few charts show so much information about so many people.

Posted on August 15, 2014 4:43 AM. Permalink

Touch the Face of War

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.

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Parking: Cater to Their Every Need

In the Harvard B-School case study of Google, that company’s ten golden rules are listed. In the Dartmouth context, one stood out:

Google Rules Comp.jpg

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.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Imitation is Flattery; and the Opposite?

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:

WE News.jpg

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.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

PR Disaster, Chapter 323

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.

USA Today Assault.jpg

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.

Posted on August 12, 2014 6:00 PM. Permalink

DHMC Pharma Tech v. DC Custodian

In an article headlined, Long Odds for Hospital Jobs: Hundreds Seek D-H Training Slots, the Valley News described the competition and arduous training required to secure a position as a pharmacy technician or medical assistant at DHMC. The piece also details the wages paid for these jobs:

… 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:

Custodian Duties.jpg

As you can see below (Job Grade C), a Dartmouth custodian will earn more on the first day of employment than an extensively trained pharmacy technician or medical assistant at DHMC will earn after well over a year of training and apprenticeship:

SEIU Custodian 2014.jpg

What is the logic of such a high wage at the College?

Addendum: The housekeepers at my local business are paid above the going wage (at businesses not including the College) for their work; their wages and benefits add up to less than half the total cost of the Dartmouth custodian — even though they work a heck of a lot harder.

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Woolrich Gun Story Viral; She Clams Up

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:

Woolrich RedditB.jpg

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.

Posted on August 11, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

If Woolrich Had a Gun?

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.

Read the full report here.

Posted on August 11, 2014 3:59 AM. Permalink