Saturday, December 08, 2007

TDR: The Christmas Issue

The Dartmouth Review's last issue of 2007 has been uploaded. Some highlights:

Have a Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Zywicki's Clarification

Joe Malchow just received a letter from Trustee Todd Zywicki '88 detailing his regrets over the speech he made at the John William Pope Center in October.

UPDATE: I was just informed by Malchow that he was only one of many who received the letter and that he was not intended as the sole platform of release.

To The Dartmouth Community:

Last month I addressed a conference sponsored by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy on the topic of “Building Excellence into American Higher Education.” In reviewing the oral transcript I recognize that my extemporaneous remarks were in some instances more controversial than I intended, especially when taken out of context, and I want to review them in this letter.

[. . .]

Presented with an opportunity to edit or clarify my remarks prior to general publication there are three specific passages that I would have changed or would have explained myself more carefully.

First, I adopted by implicit reference Dartmouth Emeritus Professor Jeffrey Hart’s prior characterization of former Dartmouth President James Freedman as an “evil man.” Professor Hart’s appellation was based on several troubling events that occurred during President Freedman’s tenure. Most notably, President Freedman used baseless and inflammatory charges of anti-Semitism and racism to try to discredit a student newspaper that had lampooned him and to stir up hatred against his critics for political gain. The paper was cleared of any such taint by Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith after extensive investigation, and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission found no evidence of categorical discrimination.

[. . .]

Second, in identifying the difficulties facing any efforts to reform the university (and here I was not referring to Dartmouth but to higher education in general), I stated that those who control universities today do not believe in God or country but in the institution of the university itself and the values found therein. That anti-American sentiment and hostility toward people of faith is present in some corners of the modern academy is evident. My intent here, however, was not to enter into a debate about patriotism or religion but to analogize the overzealousness of the beliefs of some members of the academy today with the intensity of feelings sometimes brought by others to their faith or to their love of country, and the unhealthy intolerance such sentiments imbue in “true believers” of any stripe. Thus, I did not mean for that passage to be taken literally, but I realize that they could be misunderstood when read out of context.

Third, I described the current climate on university campuses (again, I plainly was not referring to Dartmouth but higher education in general) as resembling the Spanish Inquisition in its imposition and enforcement of a rigid new intellectual orthodoxy. This comparison was an obvious exaggeration. But intellectual orthodoxies, whether ancient or modern, are inimical to the educational process. This orthodoxy is both real, as former Harvard President Lawrence Summers learned, and dangerous, as the Duke lacrosse team learned.


Read the whole letter.

Zywicki Transcript

Below is the full transcript of Trustee Todd Zywicki's '88 controversial speech. The transcript is courtesy of Dartblog:

Speech given at the John William Pope Center in Raleigh, NC on October 27, 2007 on the topic “Trustees in the 21st Century. I’m going to talk about two things today which is basically my experience at Dartmouth and secondly what lessons that leads me to think about reforming higher education. And I’m certainly in a funny position to some extent like some other members of the panel my vocation is as a professor but my avocation is as a trustee which I think of as meaning I know all the tricks of the professors when I sit on the board, but I kind of switch hats. I’m going to spend a couple of minutes on the background of the Dartmouth situation and an update on it and then talk about sort of the more general questions.

How did I end up on the board of trustees? On of my colleagues in the economics department when he heard I’d gotten elected to the board of trustees said, “I didn’t realize you were independently wealthy. Then I had to explain to him the off way in which I got elected. That basically what happened was Dartmouth over the past 25 years, In the 1980s we had a fellow named David McLaughlin was president of the College. He had come from the private sector as a corporate officer. He got fired by the faculty because he brought back ROTC, primarily. They then brought in this fellow, truly evil man, James Freedman, who basically, simply put, his agenda was to turn Dartmouth into Harvard. Freedmanism basically had four planks:

1. That Dartmouth should be a university rather than a college.

2. Political correctness in all forms — speech codes, censorship, and the whole multicultural apparatus.

3. Comprehensive social engineering of student life and replacement of the Greek system for instance.

4. And a de-emphasis on Dartmouth’s traditional values of educating well rounded leaders in favor of creative loners.

He basically spent ten years trying to bring that about and that has been sort of the guiding light for Dartmouth since that time.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Dartmouth board.

In 1891 a historic compact was reached where the alumni at the time, the college needed money, the alumni refused to give more money unless they had greater accountability and greater control over how the college was spending the money. So a deal was reached. There were at the time 12 members of the board, the governor and the president of the College were ex officio so there were 10 appointed members. They reached a deal and the alumni were given the right to elect half, five members of the board of trustees, five of them would be appointed and in exchange, basically the alumni would go out and solicit funds and give support to the College. The board has been expanded twice since then and each time they preserved the principle of parity. That interacts with a second factor which, so half the board traditionally has been elected by the alumni in contested elections. That intersected with another practice at Dartmouth which is the practice of petition trustees. Basically what happens is the Alumni Council would nominate some people and you could vote for, they would nominate three and you could vote for one of them, or if you didn’t like them you could try to get on the ballot as a petition candidate. In order to get on the ballot as a petition candidate you have to get 500 signatures from alumni. In the past that was, by and large, an insuperable hurdle basically because the College wouldn’t give you a mailing list or anything like that. In 1980 a fellow was elected as a petition trustee; quickly thereafter they changed the rules and basically kept the door shut for the next 25 years until T. J. Rodgers, an unusually determined and brilliant man, got on the ballot as a petition trustee and won in 2004.

The next year there were two seats open and me and Peter Robinson, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, both put our names forward as petition trustees. What they didn’t realize when they created the 500 signature rule was that eventually something would be invented which we would call “the Internet.” And so I announced my candidacy for the Dartmouth board on my blog, The Volokh Conspiracy. I needed 500 signatures; I got that in about a week and a half. When it was all said and done I got about 5,000 alumni to download a petition, sign it, stamp it and send it back to me and then went on to win.

Peter and I both got elected that time around. So that didn’t sit very well. Basically we all ran on the same thing which was we ran on strengthening Dartmouth’s undergraduate education, repealing Dartmouth’s speech code, greater transparency and openness in College governance, and that sort of thing. All of this didn’t sit very well with the powers that be, so the next thing they decided to do was to try to ram through a new alumni constitution, which would change the way in which trustees were elected. They needed a two-thirds majority in order to get that. 38 percent of Dartmouth alumni voted and not only did they fail to get two-thirds, they failed to get a simple majority. So that was fall 2006. Fall 2007, or Spring 2007, another alumni trustee seat was open, alumni trustee being the elected, the other half charter being appointed. So in the spring of 2007, the fellow who ran in spring 2007 was a fellow named Stephen Smith. And they brought out the long knives against Stephen. He’s a friend of mine and classmate from Dartmouth. They said he was opposed to diversity and opposed to research, which was somewhat ironic considering that Stephen is a black man raised in a single parent family in Anacostia in Washington DC. They added the fact that it wouldn’t add diversity to the board notwithstanding that, because that would mean we would have two law professors from Virginia on the board. Secondly, Stephen is a tenured law professor from the University of Virginia. So they decided that he was opposed to diversity and opposed to research. And the response was that he got 55 percent of the vote from the alumni, the largest total that anyone had gotten at that point.

So Democracy having not worked properly, this fall they decided to follow the Hugo Chavez form of democracy and simply impose [a new scheme]. This fall the Board of Trustees adopted a new governance plan to add 8 new seats to the board, breaching the principle of parity that they had promised in 1891, such that now if it goes through they would have 16 appointed trustees and 8 elected. And they said that the alumni should be pleased with that because they had decided not to get rid of all the elected seats. So they reaffirmed the principle of this and then gave instructions on how to run elections going forward. The executive committee of the Association of the Alumni who were elected last Spring in the first time that all alumni could vote by Internet and mail and that sort of thing is also the majority of the executive committee of the alumni association has 7 petition candidates and 5 non petition candidates. They voted to sue the college to enforce the 1891 agreement and asked for a temporary injunction and on Friday the College filed a document that said that they would refrain from adding any new seats, they were originally going to do it at the November meeting, and they said they were going to postpone it until February so the court need not rule on the motion for a preliminary injunction. And I will let you think about whether or not they would be opposed to litigation depending on how confident they were whether they were going to win or not.

But that’s basically where things stand. Now what has happened since we’ve been there? We’ve definitely made some progress. We’ve gotten the speech code repealed, which was very important. We’ve, I think, really focused on a reemphasis and reinvestment in undergraduate education. We’ve gotten the college to loosen the screws on its social engineering program, which was called the student life initiative at Dartmouth, and allow and respect principles of freedom of association and that sort of thing. A renewed commitment to the athletic program, which is an important part of the Dartmouth experience. And so I think we’ve done a lot, but there is still a lot to be done and obviously it’s going to be more difficult at this point.

So what are the lessons? The lessons are that progress is slow and difficult. My wife has basically told me that if I take another Dartmouth conference call she’s going to leave me. It takes a huge amount of time, a huge amount of energy. If you read the interview with TJ Rodgers in the Wall Street Journal this fall you will see the kind of abuse that one has to deal with in a situation like this. And what we saw in September was that the Empire struck back. They rolled the tanks into Tiananmen Square. And basically they couldn’t win at the ballot box and so they got rid of the ballot box. The entrenched powers are well, well entrenched and very powerful and they are formidable.

And I think that the largest lesson I have drawn from this is that academic reformers have to decide whether or not they are serious or not about the project of reforming higher education. It’s going to be a multigenerational battle; it’s going to take a lot of resources, and a lot of struggle. And I think what you have to understand is that those who control the university today they don’t believe in God and they don’t believe in country. [The] university is their cathedral[ ]. Their entire being, both those who fund it and those who teach within it, are tied up in the universities. It is basically their religion and its supported by those who, the Medicis of the earlier age built academic buildings rather than cathedrals today and they call the shots.

So what does this mean? I draw four lessons that I think are important for people in this room to think about. I try to remain hopeful, but I’m often skeptical about the prospect for reforming higher education, the way things stand today.

The first point that I cannot emphasize enough, we have to reach a point where we have to reach a point where we decide if we are serious about this or not. By which I mean that, we’ve heard of a lot of good things that are going on but they are basically guerilla warfare, they’re basically defensive, they’re basically to try to create a remnant on the campus where there is some light for students. But that in and of itself isn’t going to transform the culture. It’s a defensive culture, its guerilla warfare and so a couple of hundred thousand here or there or a million dollars here or there is certainly going to make a difference to some students, but when you are up against people who are writing 8 or 9 figure checks, they’re the ones who are calling the shots and they’re not asking questions. And we have to decide whether we are going to be all in or not because a little bit of nibbling here or there isn’t going to roll back the tide. It might stop the tide a little bit but it isn’t going to roll it back.

Secondly, it’s sort of left-liberal religion in a second way. Which is, my perception is, that those who bankroll these institutions basically use this to buy indulgences for being rich which is that they are fully embracing and happy to embrace all the multiculturalism and all the other stuff because this is their way of getting forgiveness. Of showing how virtuous they are despite the fact that they make a lot of money. So they have no quibble with the apparatus. Either they don’t care about it because all they care about is the reputation of the institution or they’re kind of happy with it because it allows them to deal with their conscience.

The third way in which it’s a religion and I’ll take a small disagreement, virtually everything our speaker [Dean Harry R. Lewis] said at lunch there is one place I’ll slightly disagree with Dean Lewis is that the establishment within these academies is vicious, they are vicious people, they have their own dogma. If it were the case that there was no morality and there were no values being taught in the academy that would be better than what we have, which is that there is a new dogma. The new dogma is environmentalism and feminism and that is the dogma and they will enforce it viciously. We have the Spanish inquisition and you could ask Larry Summers whether or not the Spanish inquisition lives on academic campuses today. So that’s why the first point is that we are either all in or we’re not. It’s going to be a long and vicious trench warfare, I think, if we are serious about taking the academy back.

Secondly we need to think about investing in alternative institutions or simultaneously or alternatively. Which is, that is we need to start thinking about creating and supporting alternative institutions. Elite institutions matter, absolutely, that’s where the leaders of society are disproportionately going to be found. But we need to find the shining lights elsewhere and start nurturing these. I will just tell you about George Mason Law School, at George Mason Law School we are a top twenty-five faculty. We have done, you know, there was a profile of us in the National Review a while ago that was very good; but, we are leaders in law and economics. We now have a new compulsory class that first years have to take on the founders Constitution where they have to read Madison and Hamilton before they are allowed to read Brennan and Ginsberg. And we take seriously the principles of a free society in a way in which the rule of law intersects with that. Our faculty are willing to engage on leading issues of the day, the second amendment, affirmative action, those sorts of things. We were the ones who sponsored the brief supporting the military, we wrote the brief supporting the military in the Fair v. Rumsfeld case, which we were then vindicated in eight to nothing in the Supreme Court. All the other law schools were on the other side of that issue. What we lack, though, is resources. You know $10 million or a million dollars is chump change at Dartmouth; that’s a transformative gift to a place like Dartmouth, I’m sorry a place like George Mason Law School or the George Mason Economics department or these other pearls, these other places around the country, these alternative institutions that I think need to be supported. Why? Because if reform is going to come I think it’s going to come from these new institutions, not from those that are already within the elite institutions. People like Michael Munger and Robbie George, these people are sui generis right, you can’t replicate them. If they come along, grab the opportunity and ride it. You have to invest in people and not just programs.

Having said that, the third point is that institutions do matter. Institutions matter a lot, which is what we’ve done is build institutions around the periphery like these centers, which again I think are very, very important and very, very useful. But fundamentally institutions matter. Jesus was great but Peter was just as important. Right? It’s great to have people out doing these things but institutions are where the actions are, institutions is where you draw kids in and educate them with a fundamental curriculum and that sort of thing. People don’t want to invest in overhead, for instance. But you’ve got to start thinking about getting institutions like George Mason Law School or wherever and building those programs and investing in them if it is going to be a multigenerational project of bringing them up to prominence so that they can compete.

The final thing, and I can be brief on this because Candace made the point is that trustees have to take a leadership role in this. When Trustees don’t act, the void gets filled by the permanent constituencies on campus, which are the faculty and the administrators. The trustees are the only ones that can look out for the institutional mission. And I am proud that I can say that in my time that I’ve done at Dartmouth on the board is that we trustees through the alumni who voted for us, have made student education our primary focus. That I see my view as being the voice of students today and in the future and the best representatives of the students are the Dartmouth students of the past who are the alumni. And so I think that trustees perform the key role in preserving that and that’s one of the reasons why I think Dartmouth today despite my qualms still has the premier undergraduate experience of any school in the country. And I believe that is because of this institution of alumni being able to elect half the board and I fear that’s what is going to be the primary casualty of this new governance regime. A final word on that is that I met a president from a prominent university once and he said to me, “Look Todd, you need to understand. When I was president, the way I saw trustees was that they were a constituency to be managed. They’re a constituency to be managed just like the faculty, the alumni, the employees. They didn’t run the school. I ran the school and they were a constituency to be managed.” So long as that is the view of presidents of universities and that sort of thing then I think reform is going to be fleeting.

Thanks.

Question and Answer Session.

Question: I’d just like to ask a question, Todd, could you explain what the speech code was at Dartmouth and why you objected to it?

Answer: Well, it was a pretty standard speech code which was that basically what it is that the incident rose from something involving a fraternity and the president and dean of the College said, infamously, the president said, I can’t believe in this day and age we still live in a world where people think that their “right” to free speech outweighs feelings of others on campus and so they punished this fraternity and basically instituted the new rule which was that your speech will be limited if it hurts, if it might be perceived as hurting the feelings of others on campus. FIRE downgraded the College to ‘red’ speech code rating at that point. Right when Peter and I were going to get elected, when it was clear that we were going to be elected, we found out later the College was able to find out what was going on with the voting during the whole period, they repealed the speech code and now Dartmouth has a ‘green’ rating. We still have a lot of problems with free speech at Dartmouth; now it just is a culture of bullying and intimidation, but it’s not one where you can be kicked out or disciplined formally for offensive speech.

Question: I have a question for Todd. You made a comment about guilt ridden entrepreneurs and I’m reminded of a wonderful scene from Tom Wolfe’s Man in Full in which the scene at the High Museum in Atlanta in which this limited director gave a post-modern lecture about art and post-modernism and the wives nodded their heads and the poor entrepreneurs sat there staring blankly at this ludicrous lecture and, of course, there was a lot of other hidden motives going on in the way Wolfe could portray it so brilliantly. What can be done about the question of guilt and the question of the idea that an entrepreneur isn’t convinced of the moral goodness of what he or she does to the creation of value isn’t something to be lauded? The entrepreneur is a hero and why they internalize this negative self-perception?

Answer: Yeah, I mean I can’t really say much about that where people get their values and that sort of thing. The only thing I meant to stress was, perhaps I was being unduly hard on those folks, which is that certainly people who accomplish things want to give back, starkly a lot of people have given back through the arts or, you know, through their churches to their religions building churches and that sort of thing. What motivates that are a variety of motives and often is guilt regardless of which side it is. All I’m suggesting is that for these folks these are their churches, number one and, number two, that they’ve bought into a world view where they’re not hostile to the kind of things, the assault on capitalism and that sort of thing that go on in there. So where those values come from obviously are partly from their education they received. It’s just extraordinary, environmentalism is the one that’s just mind boggling on campuses today. I mean it really is a religion. I teach kids and when they come out the other end when they get into law school and they’re simply unable to think in any critical or analytical way about that question. It’s just an example and obviously that gets rolled up with antipathy toward capitalism on that particular issue.

Question: Candace, you point out that trustees are afflicted by the common decadence as such and, Todd, you followed up with something that came very close in my mind to a rejection of the notion that ideas have consequences. I know you don’t believe that, but it seems to me that one of the key things that does need to be done is to focus on the education of trustees. We’ve talked about the fact that there have been so many decent books that have been written over the past forty years criticizing the kinds of things that have happened in higher education, and, yet, those books seem to have been thrown over the transom and then directly into the waste basket of ideas rather than having the kind of consequences that many of us had hoped that they would have. I wonder if you might comment, in effect, the strategy of how we can, in fact, make a difference with what is naturally limited funding.

Candace answers the question first.

Answer: I’ll just add two quick thoughts, just to elaborate on what Candace said. Trustees have neither the expertise nor the incentive to really seriously think they can govern the institution today, which is to say they don’t have the expertise and they have no interest in gaining the expertise. You become a trustee because you get good seats at the football game and you get wined and dined and everybody pretends like you’re a genius and all that sort of thing. Read David Brooks chapter on the status income gap in Bobos in Paradise and you get a flavor of this. They also don’t have the incentive to actually govern institutions, which is to say that to actually govern the institution will require them to be will to deal with controversy. People don’t work 90 hours a week on Wall Street to go back to their alma mater and argue. They don’t want to figure out what’s going on inside the classroom and they actually try to bring about reform that would open them up to a lot of controversy that has nothing but downside as far as they’re concerned and especially once the faculty gets their long knives out. Then they can control what goes on; it’s just not worth it to them. That underscores what Candace said is that they really don’t care what goes on inside the classroom, by and large.

The second thing is that the education of trustees is an abomination. I’ve just been stunned, there’s this one group, the Association of Governing Boards, is that who these clowns are? Ah jeez, I mean, they’ve got this group that you automatically become a member of when you’re a trustee and they just send you this garbage, it’s unbelievable. They actually issued a press release that Dartmouth basically adopt a board reform that every sector of American society is becoming more transparent especially when it comes to governing boards. More independent directors, that’s the lesson of Sarbanes-Oxley and everything else. Dartmouth adopts the exact opposite, right, and shuts down transparency, makes boards less independent. The Association of Governing Boards, “Boom!” out the door comes a press release endorsing Dartmouth for its actions, right. I mean these are the kind of characters who send out this propaganda that’s just the most brain dead stuff you’ve ever read that says the job of the trustees is to shut up and write checks; that’s basically what it comes down to, and you wring your hands a little bit and that sort of thing, so (Candace interrupts)

(Candace) And keep in mind, who pays the dues of the AGB? Presidents!

Answer: Right, so basically, your job is to support the president; that’s what the AGB says your job is. Yeah, so the whole thing is a fiasco.

Panelist Velma Montoya answers further…

Answer: Let me just add one footnote to that, which is, when I got elected to the board, I got a lot of friends on the faculty and I was informed very quickly by the members of the board that I shouldn’t be going around meeting outside the proper channels with people on the faculty and meeting with students; that I was too high profile around town because I was seen out meeting with students and faculty and that sort of thing. That my job was to receive what was given to me as the official line and that I was acting inappropriately as a trustee by going out and soliciting information on my own. I, ah, listened to their, ah, to their advice carefully….. and then rejected it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Reese '73 Dies, Widely Considered Best Poker Player in the World

David E. "Chip" Reese '73 recently died. Many considered him the best poker player in the world. Perhaps someone who knows something about poker can elaborate in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Junior Faculty Rate Dartmouth Highly

Dartmouth is one of the top schools, as ranked by junior faculty (however, the study only looked at 78 schools):

Brown, Stanford, and Duke Universities, and Dartmouth College are among the institutions of higher education that junior faculty members say treat new scholars especially well, says a report released today by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education.

The report, "Top Academic Workplaces 2005-2007," is based on a survey in which almost 7,000 tenure-track faculty members from 78 colleges and universities used a five-point scale to rate how satisfied they were in categories that included the tenure process, work and family balance, and collegiality.

The organization, which is based at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, places universities and colleges into separate categories for its assessment. Thirty-eight institutions were highly rated in at least one of a dozen work-life categories.

The authors of the report said their purpose is not to label one institution as the "greatest place to work," but instead to highlight how well institutions are doing in key areas that early-career faculty members are likely to be concerned about, said Kiernan Mathews, assistant director of the collaborative, which is also known as Coache.

The collaborative found that Brown and Stanford Universities were each rated as "exemplary" in eight of the 12 categories evaluated. Duke University was outstanding in seven categories, and Dartmouth College received high scores in six categories.

Go here for a table of the results.

UPDATE: College news release.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Valley News Condemns Zywicki Speech

Apparently the Valley News' stance is better late then never:

It is the nature of insurgencies to seek to offend orthodox opinion, and perhaps that is the spirit in which Todd Zywicki, Dartmouth trustee and professed higher-education reformer, delivered recent remarks during a conference in North Carolina. If giving offense was the goal, he certainly succeeded in at least one respect with us -- by referring to the late Dartmouth president James Freedman as a “truly evil man.”

[. . .]

Zywicki asserted in a subsequent interview with Valley News political editor John Gregg that Freedman “bullied and intimidated” some students during campus controversies. We know of no evidence supporting that allegation. (And, conveniently for Zywicki, Freedman is not around to defend himself.) But even if what Zywicki says were somehow true, that would not make Freedman a “truly evil man.”

Using such a phrase in these circumstances demeans the speaker, to be sure; but it also devalues the language itself and the very idea of evil that the last century did so much to shape. Certainly evil is still abroad in the world, but we lose our ability to articulate it when such a term is casually applied to people with whom we have some ideological differences. That is not moral clarity but rather a Manichaean view of the world that is at odds with experience and reality. Most of us are guilty of rhetorical overreach now and again; it's good to be reminded of just how offensive it can be.

If the Valley News can't think of any instances where Freedman intimidated (or attempted to) students then they were living under a rock.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas, in all its Glory

In a letter to the editor (the title of which puts Christmas in scare quotes), College Chaplain Richard Crocker explains his tepid support for the Christmas Tree in the middle of the green.

Let us be direct and truthful. It is a Christmas tree. It is placed on the Green in keeping with a tradition (I know not how long-standing) at the College. For many people, it carries no religious meaning at all. For others, it does. Probably more people like having the tree there than dislike it. If there are requests from other traditions to display their festival symbols (e.g., lights on Diwali or a menorah for Hannukah), the display will most likely be welcomed; certainly I believe that it will be allowed.

For me personally, however, this is a difficult issue. Being a Puritan, I believe that such religious symbols belong only in places where their spiritual meaning is acknowledged (that is, churches and homes). But in this, and in so many other ways, my opinion is certainly a minority one.


For those interested in reading more about this topic, see today's NYSun. Mark Steyn writes about religious language and symbols under attack, including an example of a suit brought by Hanover parents over the pledge of allegiance.

Retreading the Same Water

The Alumni Council and the Association of Alumni came to blows this weekend over Zywicki, the lawsuit, and their roles as representatives of alumni opinion. Nothing new.

War on Drugs in Rolling Stone

TDR Editor Emeritus Ben Wallace-Wells '00 has an excellent article in the most recent Rolling Stone about America's 'War on Drugs.'

At the headquarters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, staffers tacked up a poster with photographs of sixteen of its most wanted men, cartel leaders from across the Andes. Solemnly, ceremoniously, a staffer took a red magic marker and drew an X over Escobar's portrait. "We felt like it was one down, fifteen to go," recalls John Carnevale, the longtime budget director of the drug-control ­office. "There was this feeling that if we got all sixteen, it's not like the whole thing would be over, but that was a big part of how we would go about winning the War on Drugs."

Man by man, sixteen red X's eventually went up over the faces of the cartel leaders: KILLED. EXTRADITED. KILLED. José Santacruz Londoño, a leading drug trafficker, was gunned down by Colombian police in a shootout. The Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, the heads of the Cali cartel, were extradited after they got greedy and tried to keep running their organization from prison. Some U.S. drug warriors believed that the busts were largely public-relations events, a showy way for the Colombian government to look tough on the drug trade, but most were less cynical. The crack epidemic was over. Drug-related murders were in decline. Winning the War on Drugs didn't seem such a quixotic and open-ended mission, like the War on Poverty, but rather something tangible, a fat guy with a big organization and binders full of internal DEA reports, sixteen faces on a poster, a piñata you could reach out and smack. Richard Cañas, a veteran DEA official who headed counternarcotics efforts on the National Security Council under both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, can still recall the euphoria of those days. "We were moving," he says, "from success to success."

This is the story of how that momentary success turned into one of the most sustained and costly defeats the United States has ever suffered. It is the story of how the most powerful country on Earth, sensing a piñata, swung to hit it and missed.


Read it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Are the Ivies Exploitive?

Business Week published an interesting article today about the effect of 'Ivy plus' schools on public universities and on higher education in general.

The Ivies cannot fairly be blamed for public education's financial predicament, but they certainly are exploiting it. Even the most prestigious of public universities are increasingly hard-pressed to repulse richly financed Ivy Plus raiding sorties seeking to steal distinguished faculty members and their research grants. Public schools are being drained for the benefit of the ultra-elite, says Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley. "The further you project into the future, the more frightening it becomes."

Boguslavsky Polls College Republicans

The Union Leader reports that TDR senior editor Greg Boguslavsky polled students in New Hampshire on their primary preferences:

--The chairman of the New Hampshire College Republicans, Dartmouth College junior Gregory Boguslavsky, recently polled the candidate preference of 300 GOP students and found that McCain edged Rudy Giuliani, 25.6 to 22.2 percent, with Ron Paul a close third at 21.1 percent. Mitt Romney placed fourth at 12.2 percent.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Super Dartmouth Opines

David Nachman '09 has some further thoughts concerning Zywicki and the issue of petition trustees as a whole:

1. I believe that the presence of the petition trustees is ultimately beneficial to Dartmouth. I like Dartmouth's administration and I think they do a very good job. I've worked with some of the top administrators and they always seem on top of their game and the sort of people we want leading Dartmouth. But even the best administrators need good oversight, because people are human and they make decisions that are not always the best. And the stakes here are very high - one of the most prestigious academic institutions. I don't have great confidence in the oversight capabilities of the Board of Trustees because I believe they are overly willing to follow the administration's lead. By comparison, the election of the petition trustees put increased pressure on the administration, and their presence on the Board has led and will continue to lead to increased oversight. I think this is a good thing and will benefit Dartmouth in the long run.

The whole post.

UPDATE: Valley News roundup.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Update on Sexual Assault at the Top of the Hop

This was just blitzed out to the campus in response to this earlier blitz.

>Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2007 15:41:45 -0500 (EST)
>From: Harry.C.Kinne@Dartmouth.EDU
>To: dartmouth-announce@locum.dartmouth.edu
>Subject: Safety and Security Update
>Sender: massmail-sender@locum.dartmouth.edu
>Precedence: bulk

On November 14, 2007, I informed you that Safety and Security and Hanover Police had responded the night before to a report of a sexual assault in a bathroom near the Top of the Hop. The Police have informed us that an incident did not occur at the Hop or on campus and did not involve anyone from the College community. The police continue to investigate.

Harry Kinne
Dartmouth College
Director of Safety and Security


Question: How does it take two weeks for the police to realize that they were not, in fact, where they said they were?

First-Year Seminars: Professorial Dumping Ground

Here at Dartmouth freshman undergo the first year writing program to 'bring their writing up to par.' This includes Writing 5 for some and a First-Year Seminar for all. So what is the administration's attitude toward this latter program? Here's the official version:

The First-Year Seminar Program serves four purposes. First, by means of a uniform writing requirement, the seminar stresses the importance of written expression in all disciplines. Second, it provides an attractive and exciting supplement to the usual introductory survey. Third, it guarantees each first-year student at least one small course. Fourth, the program engages each first-year student in the research process, offering an early experience of the scholarhip that fuels Dartmouth's upper-level courses.

Why then, if this program is so important, would the administration recommend dumping problem professors into these classes? From today's Daily D:

She was then informed that she did not fit in with the “culture” of the department and that if she stayed on, she faced assignment to first-year seminar theater classes.

I should note that some really excellent professors teach First-Year Seminars; nonetheless, the majority seem to be on par with Sabinson—especially those who teach the Writing 5 classes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blitz on the way out?

Inside Higher Ed reports that the College is looking into outsourcing campus e-mail to either Google or Microsoft.

Dartmouth students still rely on BlitzMail today, downloading their messages with a traditional Windows- or Mac-based client. But nearly 10 years later, even David L. Bucciero, the director of technical services, calls the service “archaic.” It lacks some of the “bells and whistles,” he said, that most students take for granted with the personal Web-based e-mail accounts they take with them to college. Such features might include the ability to view and compose messages in HTML, which allows the customization of fonts and colors, or virtually unlimited storage space.

Those inadequacies — combined with occasional downtime — explain why Dartmouth might go back to the drawing board. And in rethinking its e-mail strategy, officials there will confront similar issues as many other colleges and universities in a time of rapid shifts in messaging habits and in the economics of Internet applications. Bucciero and a planned study group will soon consider whether it’s worthwhile to continue maintaining BlitzMail, or whether Dartmouth should consider for e-mail what colleges routinely do for many other basic operational functions: outsource it.

In the world of e-mail, outsourcing means two things: Google or Microsoft. Both have been marketing Web-based messaging services to small businesses, nonprofits and other groups, and they’ve focused more intensely on the higher education market over the past year.

[. . .]

The availability of viable options outside of the university IT department has forced administrators to consider the consequences of abandoning their in-house e-mail systems. Does it make financial sense to keep spending resources on aging proprietary software when it’s available on the Web? Do colleges’ services still offer advantages over those reflexively preferred by students? And in offloading a primary function of the campus information technology infrastructure, what role would remain for administrators who previously oversaw e-mail services?


When NetBlitz went off-line wasn't the College's argument that they didn't want non-Dartmouth personnel servicing Dartmouth's e-mail system. "Improving security has been a focus," said Bucciero at that time.

Andrew Sullivan on Obama

There is a fairly intelligent piece by Andrew Sullivan in the current issue of the Atlantic about Barack Obama. A thought-provoking excerpt:

Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fallout from Zywicki's Speech

The Daily Dartmouth reports on possible fallout from Trustee Todd Zywicki's '88 Oct. 27th remarks before the John Locke Foundation. Zywicki defended his criticism of President Freedman, noting that it was in line with the views of both William F. Buckley Jr. and Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Hart. He did, however, rescind his assertion that the rest of the board believed in neither God nor country, saying he did not mean for that remark to be taken literally.

Chairman of the Board Ed Haldeman '70 has said only that Zywicki's 'behavior' may be an item for the whole board's consideration. The underlying issue at stake seems to be disagreement over the desirability of the direction in which Freedman led the College.

UPDATE: David Nachman has more over at Super Dartmouth.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

'Islamofascism.'

One of my favorite writers on politics, Daniel Larison, has given the term 'Islamofascism' the pummeling it deserves in the latest American Conservative, one of the few anti-war organs of the American Right.
As Marxists once used the term “fascist” to vilify everyone to their right as a means of wielding influence, Horowitz and his allies use “Islamofascist” to group together the many regimes and groups they wish to cast as a cohesive, united enemy, conflating mutually hostile forces into a single, undifferentiated mass.

[snip]

The proper use of names and words is essential to rational argument, and the proliferation of nonsense terms and thought-policing labels is fatal. Use of propagandistic terms like “Islamofascism” and “Islamophobia” is an attempt to wield power through confusion and intimidation: they aim to mislead about the nature of our actual enemies on the one hand and invent new heresies against “tolerance” on the other. The debasement and cheapening of language are assaults on the quality of thought and discourse, and they are intended to prevent the proper, sober understanding of the realities of the Islamic world and our policies overseas.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kathy Slattery Phillips, 1952-2007

Dartmouth's athletic dept. suffered a terrible loss yesterday when Kathy Slattery Phillips, my former boss and the head SID at Dartmouth for the past 24 years, passed away due to massive brain aneurysm that ruptured.

She was also an avid golfer, winning 22 Hanover Country Club women's championships and 1988 New Hampshire state women's championship.

A memorial service will be held in Rollins Chapel at Dartmouth College on Friday, November 30, at 11 a.m. A reception will follow at Hopkins Center on the Dartmouth campus. Donations may be made to the Kathy and Corey Phillips Family Fund, to benefit Kathy's young stepchildren, care of Mascoma Savings Bank, 67 North Park St., Lebanon, N.H. 03766.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Difficulties in Hiring Professors

The D published a pretty interesting and worthwhile article today about the long, arduous process of hiring tenure-track professors in the two most popular and notoriously oversubscribed departments, government and economics. It also features an amusing quote from government professor John Carey:
Some academics are reluctant to live far from a major city, while others may be concerned by the lack of a viable job market for their spouses, said government professor John Carey, whose wife, Lisa Baldez, is also a professor in the department.

“The spouse-partner thing is the real challenge,” Carey said. “If you find someone who’s sort of a lumberjack that works, but there just aren’t that many professors who are married to lumberjacks.”

Computer Services: Competition? No Thanks.


This story keeps getting more interesting. About a week ago, the College was updating their servers, and in the process of doing that NetBlitz experienced an outage. NetBlitz was created by David Marmaros ‘01, who now works for Google while working on a masters in computer science at Stanford. Previously, whenever their had been outages the College had let Marmaros log into the server and get NetBlitz up and running again.

Here's the catch. This time they didn't. Apparently, Marmaros' ability to log in had been suspended by Computer Services.

Marmaros said that he asked Computer Services to restore his access, but that the request was denied. Instead, he has installed NetBlitz on additional servers.

“I wanted to set up something for people to use in the interim,” he said.

One copy of NetBlitz, Marmaros said, is currently active on a Stanford server that he has access to as a part-time student in the university’s computer science master’s degree program. Another copy was installed by a system administrator on a server owned by the Dartmouth Institute for Security Technology Studies, according to Marmaros. The version of NetBlitz running on ISTS servers has since been removed.


David Bucciero, director of Technical Services, is stonewalling attempts to get NetBlitz running on a Dartmouth server again. On top of that, John Gaythorpe, director of Systems Services, has said, "We’d rather see it go away because there’s already Webmail and WebBlitz."

So what's going on? Blitz them and ask.

N.B. Here is the address of the Stanford server: http://www.stanford.edu/~marmaros/cgi-bin/Bl.cgi

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's a Feast: New TDR Issue

The Menu:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Exclusive TDR Interview with State Representative Mooney

The most recent edition of The Dartmouth Review is done being put together and will appear online soon. Inside the new issue I interview NH state representative Maureen Mooney who is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the 2003 law that gave the College complete control of its charter (save for the governor serving in an ex officio capacity).

During the interview Rep. Mooney made the surprising claim that, if passed, her bill would not affect the College in the least. Below is a key excerpt from that interview.

TDR: Okay. As of right now, are you hopeful or optimistic about the chances of your bill?

Mooney: Yeah, I think it has a pretty good shot. Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be taken up, and it’s caused a tremendous stir, it’s gotten a tremendous amount of press, which surprises me, really. This is my third term in the House; I’ve put in probably close to a hundred bills maybe at this point or cosponsored them, and for a one-liner—that’s really all my bill is is a one-liner—it’s caused a tremendous amount of stir. Hearing Dave Hess’s take on it, I think that gives the bill tremendous promise, but we’ll see, you know? It’s like that with any bill, you just really don’t know, you don’t know what committee it’s going to go to, you don’t know what the committee is going to think about it. The issue is complex, there’s no question about it. It takes time to understand it, and its history, you know, goes pretty far back, so we’ll see. It’s hard to see in the House what happens.

TDR: Along those lines, along history, many believe that the 2003 law—the law that your law would repeal—

Mooney: Correct.

TDR: —simply codified the Dartmouth College v. Woodward Supreme Court case. Is that your understanding?

Mooney: Well it’s a good question. It could be, yes it could be, and from the conversations I’ve had, and as you can imagine, there’s been quite a few conversations, I didn’t just come up with this idea on my own, the timing of it seems odd. Let’s face it. I mean, the Dartmouth v. Woodward case came down in 1819, and now we have it being possibly codified in 2003—the timing seems a little funny.

TDR: If your bill does in fact become law and it’s challenged, as it most likely will be, do you have concerns about the constitutionality of it?

Mooney: I don’t, and that goes back to you know the research I’ve done on this and so forth, and the conversations that I’ve had. Dartmouth and New Hampshire have had a very interesting and a very unique relationship. Yes—in 1819, a Supreme Court decision said they could amend their own charter. Fine and dandy. But you saw, and I emailed you, some session laws—

TDR: Right.

Mooney: One passed in 1893, one passed in 1921, 1961, and 1967. All four were bills brought by legislators that became law that some form or another amended the Dartmouth charter. Now my question is, why? Why did that happen four times? Nobody can give me an answer. People have asked me, I say I don’t know, I’m looking for the same answer. The closest answer I’ve been given by somebody fairly close to Dartmouth is that it’s a “belt and suspenders” approach, whereby Dartmouth doesn’t have to ask the state for permission, but that’s just tradition, it’s just historic value, sort of like a courtesy thing for the long and expansive history that Dartmouth and New Hampshire have had together. So, that brings us to 2003. And then it further brings us to my bill. People—I’ve been reading editorials and so forth—are accusing my bill of bringing the relationship of Dartmouth and New Hampshire back to the year 1818, and that’s false. My bill would bring the Dartmouth/New Hampshire relationship back to the year 2002, just as it was before. If Dartmouth wants to come and ask permission, by all means. If they don’t, I don’t see anything that would prevent them from having to come forward asking the state’s permission to do anything. That’s all my bill does.

TDR: So along those lines, if the College doesn’t come and ask for permission, would you or any other legislators take any action?

Mooney: No, absolutely not.

TDR: So I guess the question is, what is the purpose of your bill?

Mooney: It’s to preserve the historic and traditional relationship that Dartmouth has had with the State of New Hampshire up until 2003, and some alums find that relationship—they cherish that relationship and want it to go back to that—and whether it has anything to do with the recent governance committee’s actions, I just don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe it is just a coincidence, I don’t know, it seems awfully funny—but bottom line is, there’s a significant group of alums out there who felt a lot more comfortable with the traditional Dartmouth.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Studying Abroad, Dartmouth Tops the Ivy League

A news release from the College announced that "Dartmouth ranks third in the nation among doctoral degree granting institutions in undergraduate study abroad participation." The study noted that 60.9% of Dartmouth students studied abroad, behind only Yeshiva University at 75.1% and the University of Denver at 62.8%. Only two other Ivy League schools made the top forty: Princeton (34th) and Harvard (40th)

The information comes from the Institute of International Education's annual "Open Doors" study. When compared with liberal arts colleges, however, Dartmouth's place is decidedly sub-par, being tied for 40th place.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Who's Like Hugo Chavez? Answer: The Majority of the Board

Talk has been circulating about a presentation Todd Zywicki '88 gave earlier this fall at an event sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. The video can be downloaded here; Zywicki starts speaking about sixteen and a half minutes into it. Within he compares the majority of the Board to Hugo Chavez and the Empire (à la Star Wars). He also claims they are people "who don't believe in God, who don't believe in country." More quips upon viewing.

Hanover High Student Convicted

...and the judge tells him to look up 'lemming' in the dictionary.

Remembering Ben Lolies '09

His trip leader remembers a gifted young athlete who was cursed with Crohn's disease.

"Guantanamo-like or quasi-gulag situations"

Lots of jail news in today's D, and also one of the most absurd statements from a professor I've heard in a while:

When discussing the immigration violation that resulted in a Dartmouth coach's fiance being jailed for 28 days, former Dartmouth prof Weyman Lundquist said, "If Homeland Security keeps putting these immigrants into those almost Guantanamo-like or quasi-gulag situations, they will send back home millions of immigrants who will from then on absolutely hate America."

Jesus Christ. Honestly, the immigration mix-up and subsequent jailtime must have been absolutely horrible for Ms. Vinnikova. But comparing time in a state correctional facility for violating terms of a visa to labor camps in which 3 million people died is shocking, ridiculous, and in very poor taste.

Headline of the Day

"New course features prison trips"

I kid you not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NetBlitz Lives

Spread the word to your friends off campus. Despite the College's subtle hostility towards NetBlitz, the service continues to be available. Reset your bookmarks to the following:

http://www.stanford.edu/~marmaros/cgi-bin/Bl.cgi

Yet Another Public Service Announcement

>Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 16:12:53 -0500 (EST)
>From: Daniel.M.Nelson@Dartmouth.EDU
>To: all-students-announce@locum.dartmouth.edu
>Subject: Dick's House/Safety & Security Alert
>Cc: Mark.H.Reed@Dartmouth.EDU, Katherine.P.Burke@Dartmouth.EDU, John.H.Turco@Dartmouth.EDU, Mark.H.Reed@Dartmouth.EDU, Daniel.M.Nelson@Dartmouth.EDU
>Reply-To: Safety.and.Security@Dartmouth.EDU
>Sender: massmail-sender@locum.dartmouth.edu
>Precedence: bulk


Dick's House/Safety & Security Alert

We write to alert the student community that several undergraduates have described recent experiences of unexplained memory loss while attending parties across campus. Although there is no substantiated evidence linking these individuals or their experiences, the fact that several people believe they may have experienced similar situations involving drinking, social parties and significant loss of memory is of great concern. Like any other college, Dartmouth is not immune to the possibility that rohypnol, ketamine, GHB and related drugs could be present on campus.

These drugs, sometimes referred to as "date rape" or "predatory" drugs, can be easily slipped into drinks and are colorless and tasteless. The use of these drugs is very difficult to document as they are only detectable in the body for 4-12 hours after they are ingested and the victim is generally heavily sedated or asleep during that time. By the time a person seeks medical help and has testing done the drug is usually out of their system and undetectable.

While we don't have a currently documented positive lab test for GHB or rohypnol, we do have reports of a few students who were suspiciously incapacitated. Since it is possible that these substances are currently being surreptitiously used on campus we feel it is very important to review steps that students can take to protect themselves and their friends:

* only drink from containers you open yourself
* don't leave your drinks unattended
* avoid drinking from "punches" or common sources where you can't be sure what is in them
* be very careful with mixed drinks
* do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach or when taking prescription or over the counter medications
* if you suddenly feel very intoxicated (or more intoxicated than you would expect), tell someone and get help (call Safety and Security at 646-4000, or come to Dick's House). Let the medical staff know of your concerns so you can be tested for the presence of a "date rape" drug
* look out for your friends
* watch their drinks
* make plans to go out together and go home together (don't leave your friends behind at a party)
* if you are worried about a friend (they seem very drunk or more impaired than you would expect) get them help -call Safety and Security at 646-4000
* if you witness suspicious behavior (ie. witness something being put in a drink, the drink has an odd taste, see powder remnants in a drink, hear conversation about "spiking a drink") let someone know (call Safety and Security)

Other important resources on campus include Community Directors in the residence halls, peer health educators, and Xenia Markowitt and Megan Fallon of the Center for Women and Gender. Xenia and/or Megan are available to meet with students who have questions about sexual assault related issues. You can reach them at 646-3456. Sexual Assault Peer Advisors (SAPAs) are also great resources for any student who has a question or concern related to sexual assault. You can reach a SAPA by blitzing SAPA. Additional information about these drugs and prevention ideas can be found at http://www.4women.gov/faq/rohypnol.htm#6.

Please contact Dick's House, Safety and Security or any of these campus resources if you have questions or concerns.

Harry Kinne, Director of Safety & Security
Jack Turco, Director, College Health Service
Mark Reed, Director, Counseling & Health Resources

Columbia President Criticized for his Criticisms

This doesn't deal directly with Dartmouth, but it does illustrate the ridiculousness of the world of higher education: Over 100 faculty members at Columbia University have signed a document criticizing President Lee Bollinger for, among other things, his negative remarks about Mahmoud Ahmedinejad when introducing him as a speaker at Columbia. Apparently, saying anything even remotely disparaging about a man who's expressed the desire to see Israel "wiped off the map" is simply offensive pandering to evil conservatives.

Trustee Q&A Video

Courtesy of Joe Malchow:



Part two:

Public Service Announcement

>Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 10:21:15 -0500 (EST)
>From: Harry.C.Kinne@Dartmouth.EDU
>To: dartmouth-announce@locum.dartmouth.edu
>Subject: Safety and Security Alert
>Sender: massmail-sender@locum.dartmouth.edu
>Precedence: bulk

Safety and Security Alert
In an effort to keep the Dartmouth community updated, and consistent with federal law requiring educational institutions to make timely reports of certain crimes, we are writing to notify the community that at approximately 9:30 pm on November 13, 2007, a woman who is not affiliated with the College reported to Hanover Police that she had been sexually assaulted by an unknown male in a bathroom near the Top of the Hop. Hanover Police and Dartmouth College Safety and Security responded to the scene.

We emphasize that at this time the information available to the College concerning the incident is incomplete and Hanover Police are continuing to investigate. In the interest of safety, however, we are writing to notify the community.

Anyone who may have information about this incident should contact the Hanover Police at 643-2222 or Dartmouth College Safety and Security at 646-4000.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Purple Hart at Dartmouth

ABC news profiles Brendan Hart '10, a retired marine.

Wright Lowest Paid Pres. in the Ivy League

President Wright has smallest salary in the Ivy League. Story here.

Hunger Banquet

Dartmouth is having a field day today with progressive-themed dining options. I just got this blitz from Dartmouth Ends Hunger:
Low on DBA? Interested in world poverty? Come to a FREE, interactive dinner like no other....

*******************
HUNGER BANQUET
6PM Tonight
Brace Commons (in East Wheelock)
*******************
featuring keynote speaker Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs

WHAT IS A HUNGER BANQUET??
Those dining will be seated and served according to a wealth class representative of the world's wealth and food distribution. The event will be emceed by Professor John Rassias and will feature Keith MeHenry of Food Not Bombs.

FREE AND OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS

*Canned food donations welcome to benefit the Upper Valley Haven.

While awareness of world hunger, an appearance by star professor John Rassias, and food donations to a local family shelter are all very well and good, the blitz raises a few interesting questions:

1) Can we change the name of Dartmouth Ends Hunger to something like Dartmouth Mitigates Hunger? I know it's not as catchy, but it's pretty presumptuous to think 4,000 students in Hanover, NH can end world hunger.

2) What on earth is served at a hunger banquet? Last year, attendees were randomly assigned to eat a regular dinner, no dinner, or a rice-and-beans dinner, presumably to raise awareness of inequality in food distribution, but I don't know if they're doing that this year again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

In Defense of Poor Taste, Part Two

Dartmouth Professor Mary Coffey has joined Provost Scherr in defending Wenda Gu's late installation in Baker Library:

What does it mean that the critique of Wenda Gu’s work rests upon a series of Romantic myths about art and the artist: that art transcends the market, that the artist is a moral visionary who eschews materialist concerns, and that the artist determines the meaning of his or her work? This Romantic appeal, while noble in its idealism, also suggests an unreflexive innocence that not only obfuscates ethical political action, but also sustains the very forms of exploitation it seeks to unmask. In what follows I interrogate our Romantic attachment to art’s transcendence and ask what interests does it serve?

Read on.

Hollander Finishes his Commedia

Robert Hollander, a Princeton professor who has intermittently taught courses at Dartmouth, has just published his translation of Paradiso, bringing to an end his translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy. The NYTimes' review is here.

Hollander is also notable as the founder and director of the the Dartmouth Dante Project, a searchable database of over 70 commentaries on Dante. Check it out.

Senior Petition Trustees Left Out of Leadership Positions

From the Daily D:

“It is our expectation that the new committees of academic affairs, alumni relations and student affairs will allow the board to get closer and have more touch points with three of our most important constituencies,” Haldeman said. “We felt these committees would allow more frequent and better interaction and communication between the board and those specific constituencies.”

It is notable, however, that none of the three announced committees is chaired by a trustee who was elected to the board as a petition candidate.

In addition, none of the former petition candidates chair any committee or serve on the governance committee, the sub-group which was responsible for recommending the recent controversial changes to the board’s structure.

“We have been assured that there is an open process of making committee assignments, and alumni have expressed the opinion to me that they find that hard to believe if none of us, even senior petition trustees, are put in positions of authority,” Stephen Smith ‘88, who was nominated by petition, said. “I take Chairman Haldeman at his word: I am junior, I am just learning the ropes, but eventually, I would hope that if I work hard and earn the confidence of my colleagues, that as a trustee elected by petition I will have the opportunity to head up a committee or serve on the governance committee.”

While Haldeman was not available to comment on the committee assignment process following The Dartmouth’s interview with Smith, Roland Adams, a spokesperson for the College, said in an e-mail that “the Board’s committee assignments are made at the September retreat and are generally based on expertise and seniority.”

According to the board’s website, two trustees elected to the board in the same year or after the former petition candidates have leadership positions on the board.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veg Pledge Day

Dartmouth College is joining a host of other schools across the country for "College Vegetarian Pledge Day." Thankfully only one dining hall is subjecting students to this nonsense. Two questions, (1) why is it that a lot of vegetarians still eat fish? and (2) what is a beet cake? Full menu below:

Dinner

Today is College Vegetarian Pledge Day and we, along with 33 other colleges across the country, will offer a special Vegetarian Dinner. Our Menu Includes:

Brown Sugar Chipotle Salmon with a Honey Berry Glaze;

Quinoa with Corn and Scallions

Portobello Winter Stew with Soft Polenta;

Sweet Onion Tart;

Spinach and Arugula Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

At the Grill you will fine: Tuna Steaks and Tempeh Satay - both with Citrus Slaw

Vegan Burgers

Portobello Sandwich

LoMein Stir-Fry

Dessert: Peanut Butter Pie and Beet Cake

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Haldeman Takes the Mike and Doesn't Let Go

The trustee Q&A held late yesterday afternoon was interesting in that students were able to see and interact with the trustees, but they received few straight answers to their questions. This was probably inevitable and in many cases necessary What was disturbing was how few questions were asked. As soon as the initial student introduction was over Haldeman jumped to the podium, clearly intent on sidetracking the event as much as was possible—and he was largely successful as only approximately ten questions were answered in 90 minutes. The one thing that was most (surely unintentionally) noticeable about Haldeman was his autocratic style of interaction.

Once at the podium he underhandedly criticized the events organizers, rambled on about how busy the trustees were, and tried to coopt the process of asking questions. Instead of having students line up in an orderly fashion behind the microphones in the aisles of the auditorium, Haldeman wanted to have students simply raise their hands, and someone (presumably him) would pick who was worthy of asking questions and who wasn't. Fortunately this effort was squashed by one of the event's organizers, Joe Malchow—who stood up and contradicted Haldeman, telling students to go ahead and line up behind the microphones.

Failing in his endeavor to cherry-pick the questions, Haldeman visibly decided that a filibuster would be his best tactic. He asked all of the 13 trustees in attendance to introduce themselves before any questions were asked. The net result of all of Haldeman's stalling was that we were 25 minutes into the Q&A and exactly zero questions had been asked. This was especially vexing as he put a time limit on the event saying they had to be somewhere at 6:15—though, curiously, at the end of the program he had changed that time to 6:00.

Haldeman funneled all of the questions to the "appropriate" people on the Board, which basically ended up meaning each question was answered by anywhere from 2-6 people, severely limiting the number of questions asked. The Board members' stock answer to most questions was that the issues were "complex" and "complicated." The issues no doubt are, but pointing out the obvious is helpful only to a point.

Haldeman's most noticable gaffe was thankfully pointed out by one of the questioner's. On the school's bureaucracy he had directed everyone to a recent Forbes article which showed clearly that every school's bureaucracy was growing. Is it really any defense that Dartmouth is performing just as poorly as other schools?

UPDATE: Also, here is the College's press release concerning the trustees' weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Indians Win Home Opener

The Dartmouth Men's Hockey team won their home opener tonight against Union College. The score was 4-0. The men in green scored three goals in the first period, and after a lackluster second period they scored their fourth in the third.

The Ed Haldeman Show


The first ever student-trustee Q&A wrapped up a little less than half an hour ago. The event was succesful to a point. The trustees were candid when asked questions, though they refused to talk at all about the ongoing lawsuit. Perhaps the single most annoying part of the event, however, was how Chairman of the Board Ed Haldeman '70 coopted the microphone right from the get go, delegating who got to answer what. More on this later.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dartmouth Administrator Hangs Out

From the police blotter:

November 3, 1:34 a.m.,

Crosby Street

Hanover Police were called in to assist Safety and Security personnel after a man and a woman were observed helping a clearly intoxicated friend walk down Crosby Street, near Dartmouth’s heating plant. Upon arrival, officers found that all three were older than 21, but did not feel comfortable leaving one of the individuals, a 25-year-old-woman and a Dartmouth administrator, in the custody of the other two. The woman, who blew a BAC of 0.24, was taken to Grafton County Jail and placed into protective custody.

Q&A UPDATE

The Dartmouth Review has it from a reliable source that the two trustees that have, at this point, confirmed their attendance are Stephen Smith '88 and Todd Zywicki '88. Regular readers of Dartlog will note that both were petition candidates. If Haldeman '70 really is committed to better lines of communication, one would think that this would be an excellent opportunity for him to prove it.

Trustee Q&A This Friday at Filene

>Date: 08 Nov 2007 01:28:48 -0500
>From: AGORA
>Subject: ASK THE TRUSTEES ANYTHING
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)

************************************************************

"ASK THE TRUSTEES ANYTHING"

FILENE AUDITORIUM in MOORE, 4:30 FRIDAY

with FREE RAMUNTO'S

For the first time ever, all Dartmouth students can pose questions directly
to members of the Board of Trustees.
Meet Jim Wright's bosses. Only students and trustees - face to face.

Questions will not be screened - no topic is off limits.

All trustees have been invited. At least two have confirmed attendance.

Possible questions include:
"What's the deal with the lawsuit?"
"Is Dartmouth in good financial shape?"
"What's going on with COS reform?"
"What do the Trustees think of the Greek system?"
"How should free speech be addressed at Dartmouth?"
and anything else you want to know....

Sponsored by: Inter-Fraternity Council, Panhellenic Council,
Inter-Community Council, College Democrats,
College Republicans, Phi Tau, Tri-Kap, Chi Gam,
and AGORA.

************************************************************

AGORA strongly encourages attendance at this event.
Please spread the word around to your friends.

ASK THE TRUSTEES ANYTHING you want!!!

Let's Be Reasonable

TDR alumnus Stefan Beck '04 has a meandering post over at the Cabal about hate crimes—and especially the sticky situation created when minorities commit hate crimes against themselves. Of interest perhaps because some of these events have happened at our sister institution in New York, Columbia University. Also of interest because Beck highlights an instructive episode in this College's history.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Auden and Dartmouth

Michael Weiss '02 reminisces.

Provost Scherr Defends His Poor Taste

Provost Scherr wrote in to the Daily D defending the College's recent choices in commissioned artwork.

I continue to believe that the Dartmouth community can embrace art at the Hood Museum as well as in unexpected places on campus, be it in Baker Library, in front of McNutt, or near Sherman House. While I certainly don't expect everyone to like every piece, I do have confidence that the discourse around art will be informed and respectful. And I have no tolerance for the destruction of any art on the campus, whether inside or outside of the museum walls.


That last sentence is in reference to the Inuksuk pile of rocks in front of McNutt, which has apparently been knocked over nine times. Also, someone managed to cut the Gu exhibition with scissors. Scherr also revealed in the piece that Director of the Hood Museum Brian Kennedy will answer charges laid against both him and Gu by the Dartmouth Independent.

While I agree that aiming for everyone to like every piece is too lofty a goal, is it too much to ask that some people like some of the pieces?

N.B. For whatever reason, today's Daily D has not been put online yet. I will link to this letter once it's online.

UPDATE: Link here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More News on the Lawsuit Front

The following announcement was released by the College's public affairs office:
  • The parties have agreed on a briefing schedule for the College's motion to dismiss the Association's petition, which the College filed Oct. 26. The Association will file its memorandum in opposition to motion on Nov. 16. The College will file its reply to the Association's opposition on Dec. 7. The parties will ask the court to set the hearing on the motion to dismiss for as soon after Dec. 7 as the court's calendar allows.
  • The Association of Alumni is withdrawing its motion for a preliminary injunction in light of the College's representation to the court, also in papers filed Oct. 26, that no new Trustees will be elected at the Nov. 9-10 Board of Trustees meeting. The court hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction, previously scheduled for Nov. 9, will be cancelled.

Valley News on Wenda Gu

From today's editorial page in the Valley News:

The shock of the new may be what much contemporary and conceptual art is all about, but shock isn't necessarily accompanied by awe. It's often accompanied by revulsion. The Dartmouth community, filled with young people whose cultural tastes and aesthetic judgments are evolving, resorted to low-brow criticism, calling Gu's hair pieces “disgusting” and “creepy,” and some Dartmouth students formed an Internet chat group called “Students for a Bald Baker.”

Not everyone was turned off. One student commented, “I mean this guy is like the Monet of hair.” But the generally unfavorable critical response to the installations seems to have disappointed the Hood's director, Brian Kennedy, who apparently had hoped the works would inspire more erudite public dialogue. Speaking to Valley News columnist Jim Kenyon the other day, Kennedy said, “I think acceptance of new is less accepted than it has been in previous times. This (type of contemporary art) is not new in the art world, but it's incredibly new to Dartmouth students.”

Maybe. Or perhaps the students weren't so much narrow-minded as they were discriminating. That is, maybe they just didn't take to Gu’s creations, just as many people are repelled when first confronted with Damien Hirst's animals preserved in formaldehyde or Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a photograph of a crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine that caused much outcry when it was exhibited in 1989. The fact that Gu's installations irritated some and unsettled others could be seen as evidence that both the artist and the Hood succeeded in getting students to raise questions about contemporary art even if the works themselves didn’t inspire rapturous commentary or dissertations on the growth of nationalism. Whatever the case, we hope the dismissive reaction doesn’t deter the Hood from commissioning other works for a campus that would benefit from more public art, as Kennedy has pointed out.


The full editorial is here.

State Representative Moves Forward

A state representative in New Hampshire is moving forward with legislation that would repeal a 2003 law. That law gave permission to the College to amend its charter without any interference from the State—so long as the Governor continued to serve as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees. There will be a public hearing on the bill early this upcoming winter.

The Daily D's article: here.

Investment Strategies for Collegiate Endowments

The Boston Globe had an interesting article last Friday. In the last few years elite universities and colleges have reaped huge rewards by investing their endowments in "alternative" assets. Their performance has significantly out-stripped that of their peer institutions, leading to further stratification.

When it comes to investing, risk has paid off for the nation's elite colleges and universities

Endowments at a dozen top-tier schools grew much faster than those at higher education institutions as a whole since the early '90s, mostly because larger portions of the elite schools' endowments were allocated to "alternative" assets such as buyout, venture capital, and hedge funds, according to a new research study.

The study, by Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner and two coauthors, shows substantial increases in average university endowments across the board during that period, but dramatically greater expansion of the top-tier endowments.

UPDATE: More on this in yesterday's NYTimes.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Forced Conformity to Expectations

As noted in a comment to a post below, Google removed the Spencer video the same day the Daily D published a letter by Spencer, in which he responded to Muslim students at Dartmouth's characterization of his speech.

In that article, the student "was impressed by Spencer’s knowledge of Islamic theology, [but] she questioned the accuracy of his comments concerning the Koran in regards to women. '[Spencer’s assertion] that the Koran says it is okay to beat women is incorrect and offensive,' she said." Spencer said no such thing, he acknowledged full well that many Muslims believe the Koran does not endorse spousal battery. Spencer effectively said that some translate the Koran as justifying beating your wife, while others do not. Each individual has to choose which one he believes is true: it is clear what the jihadists think, and although Spencer hinted that he thinks their's is probably a more accurate translation, he never made his opinion explicit.

Bret Vallacher '10, over at the Dartmouth Independent, has another write up of the event in question. He makes several valid points about Spencer's speech, as well as some which seem to me a stretch.

In the end, I think this is a case a misguided expectations. People expected it to be controversial. When it turned out not to be they needed to twist it to fit into their pre-formed conception of what it was supposed to be. My advice is this; take it for what it was, and please, no more awareness weeks.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Power Line, here is the video:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Overheard at Dartmouth, Dartlog Style

Said to me this evening in complete seriousness, causing considerable amusement: "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be offensive. I'm just saying, if you write for the Review, I think you're pretty much incapable of human emotion."

Google Deems Robert Spencer Hateful

Courtesy of the blog "Little Green Footballs" comes the news that Google has removed the video of Robert Spencer's speech from last Friday's Islamo-Fascism Awareness event. As I noted in a post below the event was notable for its lack of controversy. Here is what Google has to say:
As set forth in the Terms & Conditions, Google Video is not required to host or display uploaded content. Google Video may refuse to host content that violates its policies, including:
illegal content
invasions of personal privacy
pornography or obscenity
hate or incitement of violence
graphic violence or other acts resulting in serious injury or death
violations of copyright. Please see our DMCA policy for more information.
Please note that we also reserve the right to not show mature content to users with their safesearch activated. This includes content that would typically not be shown to users under 18 years of age.

We may change these policies at any time without notice.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baker Slowly Balding

Even though Wenda Gu's vanity project was supposed to come down on Sunday, apparently deconstructing a $50,000 piece of "art" requires some time. Although students no longer have to put up with the giant sheets of hair and Elmer's glue originally hung in the Baker main hall, the multicolored braids in the corridor of Berry are still slowly being taken down and wound on giant rollers. Regardless, in honor of the now nearly-bald Baker-Berry, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern has published a funny piece on possible future installations by the HairMaster.

Monday, October 29, 2007

In Violation of the College's Privacy Policy

Nachman has raised another important issue over at his blog. Is this in violation of the College's Privacy Policy?

Information stored on an individual's account is presumed to be private unless the account holder has made the information available to others. If, for example, the account holder allows public access to files via file sharing, it is presumed that the account holder has waived his or her privacy rights to those files.

Systems operators, supervisors, and other College officials may access information resources to locate business information, maintain the system and network, comply with legal requirements, or administer this or other Dartmouth policies.

[. . .]

Some programs and networked services gather information about the people who use them. If such information could directly or indirectly identify a person using the program, then each user should be warned and given a chance to leave the program or service before data collection begins, a procedure referred to as a "privacy warning." To avoid issuing excessive numbers of warning messages, an exception is made for host operating systems and some networked utilities used by Computing Services that collect identifying information as part of their normal operation. A list of these exempted programs and services and the data that they collect is available from Computing Services and is provided in the Appendix.

The Appendix has this to say:

On occasion, Blackboard system administrators need to simulate users’ login to Blackboard for troubleshooting purposes. By contacting Blackboard Support, users agree to allow Blackboard system administrators to simulate users' access to Blackboard in order to provide adequate support. This process involves utilizing a user’s Dartmouth ID number (DID).

Other than when contacted for support by Blackboard users, and in accordance with Dartmouth’s Information Technology Policy, Blackboard system administrators will not use a person's DID without explicit permission of the person.

Blackboard system administrators do not use, or have access to, users’ Dartmouth Name Directory (DND) passwords. Furthermore, Blackboard system administrators never request a user's DND password. It is advised that users should be extremely diligent in the protection of their DND password.

This information and access privileges are not shared with anyone other than the Blackboard system administrators group.

The question, then, is whether professors would be included under the title "system administrators group."

What Constitutes a Private Environment?

Here is what Barbara Knauff, Dartmouth's Blackboard guru, has to say about the situation:

Instructors can monitor student activity on their sites, yes. You shouldn't look at Blackboard as "private" environment.
Barbara
----------------------------------------
Barbara Knauff, Ph.D.
Academic Computing
Dartmouth College

Student Privacy?

I can't verify if this is true, but Dave Nachman writes that:

Nearly every course at Dartmouth uses Blackboard, an online software service that lets professors post materials and give online exams for their courses, along with an array of other features. Well, it turns out that professors can track student usage - when each individual students logs in or out of the course website, and when they looked at specific course readings.
One reason I'm rather skeptical is that none of my professors have ever mentioned the fact. I would assume that if they wanted their students to do their work, professors would hint (none too subtly) that they could find out whether each individual student did indeed do the work assigned. If this is true, it's a bit creepy—like taking facebook stalking to a whole new level.

UPDATE: Professor Heckman, of the Comp Sci department, has confirmed that professors can track student usage.