Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Affinity for What?

A forum yesterday put on by the SAD Diversity and Community Affairs Committee and the Intercommunity Council tried to address questions about the gender inequality of Dartmouth's social scene.
Some speakers in the forum favored expanding affinity housing and making it more available to other students. Sindhura Kodali ‘08 pointed out that Dartmouth does not have a social space designated for its Asian students, the school’s largest minority population.

In addition, many attendees at the forum wanted the affinity houses to be more welcoming to non-minority students.

“I do spend all my time at [Latino American, Latino and Caribbean Studies house]. I do have to say its not always opening,” one student said. “Cutter Shabazz is wonderful because you can just swipe your card and go in. That’s not true for any other affinity house, you need a code to go in, and they are really hard to find.”

This suggestion might inadvertently solve the problem of finding houses for the scattered sororities: there are affinity houses aplenty in the vicinity of Webster Ave.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rhetoric, Here to Stay?

The College announced today that it would once again be offering classes in speech—after closing down the department in 2005. Curiously, today's notice claims that "President James Wright and Provost Barry Scherr have strongly supported the development of excellence in writing and rhetoric." Also noting:

The ability to communicate ideas clearly and persuasively is an essential feature of a liberal arts education, and the Institute enriches the long-term commitment of Dartmouth's faculty to teaching these skills.

The Dartmouth Review couldn't agree more
, and we're happy the administration has come to this conclusion. Other changes in coming years include:

  • eliminate all exemptions from the Writing Requirement so that all students will now take two writing courses;
  • add two positions to teach courses in public speaking;
  • introduce upper-level writing instruction in non-writing intensive disciplines;
  • offer a wider array of writing courses for students who desire to develop greater sophistication in their ability in written communication;
  • expand student support services, including writing assistance for students taking foreign language courses;
  • develop and implement assessment tools to determine the effectiveness of the teaching of writing and speech.

Analyzing Rhetoric

A Dartmouth student and professor duo have studied the texts of hundreds of speeches by presidential hopefuls. Based on their conclusions they were able to compare each candidate to past presidents as well as determine who is the most negative. Some of the conclusions strike me as a bit iffy, but an interesting study nonetheless.

Zidar and Sacerdote also counted the number of times a candidate refers to another candidate by name to learn who was the most negative. Obama and Clinton are the least negative. Edwards is nearly four times more negative than Obama, and Romney is nearly five times more negative than Obama. (The authors admit that not all mentions of an opponent are necessarily negative, but after some spot checking, they discovered that most are.)

"Our analysis only provides a little bit of insight into the candidates," says Sacerdote. "But I think it's an interesting examination of the rhetoric."


Download their paper here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RIGs

The tireless promoter of the Dartmoose presents: RIGs.

Also, this:




Anderson, Coen, Reitman, Gilroy, Schnabel. . .Bruschi

Monday, January 28, 2008

President Wright Honored by Marine Corps

The College announced today that President Wright will be awarded the Semper Fidelis Award by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in April.

The Semper Fidelis Award is presented each year to an outstanding American for their patriotic service. Although the award is not necessarily given to a member of the Marine Corps, Wright served three years as a U.S. Marine when he finished high school. The MCSF plans to recognize Wright for his work with the American Council on Education (ACE) to help injured veterans pursue higher education through the "Severely Injured Military Veterans: Fulfilling their Dreams" program. This program provides veterans with the resources necessary to develop a plan for education and includes academic advising to the injured veterans and their families as they begin to think about their educational and career goals. The program has hired three full-time college counselors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Md., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, to help veterans meet their educational aspirations.

"I'm deeply honored to have been chosen for this recognition by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation," said Wright. "I very much support the work that they do, and I share their conviction that access to education is one of the best ways that we can pay tribute to the men and women who serve and defend their country."


Full press release here.

Rocky Director in Today's Post

Andrew Samwick, economics professor and director of the Rockefeller Center here at Dartmouth, has a worthwhile Op-Ed in today's Post about the bipartisan stimulus package:

Shortly after House leaders and the White House reached a tentative deal Thursday to stimulate the economy, President Bush hailed the agreement as the result of "patience, determination and good will on all sides." While politically expedient, the stimulus package is unjustified in the short run and harmful in the longer term. We would be better off if "forethought" had figured into Bush's description.

The $150 billion agreement calls for tax rebates to low- and middle-income households as well as business incentives. Doubtless, this will boost economic activity. If you pull levers, you get movement. Personal consumption and business investment will increase relative to what they might otherwise have been. But there is no discussion of repaying the money through higher taxes in the near term. Let's drop the euphemism of "stimulus package" and call this agreement by its proper name: "deficit spending."

Read the whole thing here.

Also, Samwick blogs at Vox Baby.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mr. and Miss Big Green

>Date: 27 Jan 2008 23:28:56 -0500
>From: Brandon T. Aiono
>Reply-To: holleratyourscholar
>Subject: dear secret crush, you have what it takes to win my heart
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
****~!~*~!~****~!~*~!~****
...But Do You Have What It Takes To Win The Title?

MR. AND MS. BIG GREEN
****~!~*~!~****~!~*~!~****

1st Annual "Mr. and Ms. Big Green" School Spirit Competiton
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
5 Women
5 Men FREE:
2 Winners FOOD &
1 School ENTRY
A TON OF DARTMOUTH SPIRIT
****************************************************

When: 02/08/08
Where: Dartmouth Hall 105
Time: 9:00pm – 11:00pm

Contestant Applications Will Be Accepted Until 01/30/08
Nominate A Friend or Send In Your Own Application

****~!~*~!~****~!~*~!~****
****~!~*~!~****~!~*~!~****


Brought to you by SA
Co-sponsored by KDE, AD, AZD, Class Council 09, Canoe Club, and the Dartmouth Moose
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Why not Mr. and Miss Moose?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Dartmouth Review of Books

In this issue:

Read on.

Valley News Pines for the Good 'Ol Days of the Student Life Initiative

In an editorial ostensibly about the return of Beta, the editors take a stroll down memory lane:

Tyler Frisbee, a senior who organized a campus rally last week at which the petition was presented to college administrators, made the point a little more directly in an interview with Valley News staff writer Peter Jamison. “Dartmouth has a long, and I would say unfortunate, history when it comes to gender relations at the college. The majority of our social spaces are fraternity basements, which are male-dominated. It can be a hard place for women to feel safe,” she said.

Indeed, there was something about this quotation that drove us back into the dusty archives from 1999, when the Student Life Initiative was first announced. President James Wright famously said then that the fraternity and sorority system “as we know it will not survive these changes,” adding that, “I don't want to suggest that somehow the door is open to existing organizations to continue.” In this ringing declaration, “as we know it” was perhaps meant to be understood in the same way as “permanently” in “permanently derecognized.” In any case, Wright has long ago publicly regretted these comments, which generated an alumni backlash that reverberates to this day.

But what really struck us during this trip down memory lane was a quotation from Stephen Bosworth, then the chairman of the college's board of trustees: “It's not in the best interest of the students or the institution to allow a situation to exist in which there are social organizations of exclusion.” We couldn't agree more, but we wonder if Dartmouth’s leaders still do.

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Open Thread: Financial Aid

Last Tuesday an op-ed in the NYTimes argued:

Next year, each of these institutions will add more than $20 million to what they now spend on financial aid, reducing the cost of a college year for families earning $180,000 to $18,000, from $30,000. That’s good news for students at Harvard or Yale. But it’s bad news for many hoping to attend other private four-year colleges — and for the nation in general.

The problem is that most colleges will feel compelled to follow Harvard and Yale’s lead in price-discounting. Yet few have enough money to give more aid to relatively wealthy students without taking it away from relatively poor ones.

And today, the Wall Street Journal reported:

And on Tuesday, Dartmouth College announced that it would eliminate tuition for students from families with incomes less than $75,000.

Other colleges and universities say they are also pondering spending-rate increases. "I think all the major schools, including us, are thinking about it," said Scott Malpass, vice president and chief investment officer at the University of Notre Dame, whose endowment posted one of the biggest jumps in value last year, growing 35% to about $6 billion.

Some public universities say they will find it hard to match the latest aid offers from the elite schools. Scott Sudduth, assistant vice president and director of federal relations for the 200,000-student University of California system, noted that 75% of its $6.4 billion endowment is restricted for uses other than student aid. "For the vast majority of institutions -- particularly public institutions -- that's an ambitious goal that is out of reach," he said.

It's clear the new financial aid plan is a boon to Dartmouth students and the students of other elite schools with massive endowments, but will the changes harm higher education in general? Post your thoughts below.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Financial Aid in the News

The Times' roundup of the financial aid story can be found here.

Inside Higher Ed here.

The Daily D here.

Bloomberg here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

FAQ for Current Students on the New Financial Aid Policy

This was just blitzed out by the financial aid office in their announcement of the policy changes:

CURRENT STUDENTS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT NEW FINANCIAL AID INITIATIVES

Q: Which of the new financial aid initiatives will impact the financial aid packages of current students?
A: The following initiatives will take effect for all returning students for the 2008-09 academic year: All students whose families have a total income of under $75,000 will be guaranteed to receive scholarship at least equivalent to tuition. Loans included in your financial aid award will be reduced to 50% of what they would have been under the prior policy. Finally, one leave-term earnings obligation will be eliminated effective with the Class of 2009.

Q: Does "no tuition" mean that I will not be billed for tuition at all?
A: No. Tuition will still appear on your bill. However, if your family’s total income is under $75,000 and they have typical assets, you are guaranteed to receive scholarship funds to cover at least the full cost of tuition.

Q: It is great that my family won’t have to pay tuition, but what about all the other costs of attendance? How are they covered if I’m receiving financial aid?
A: After you have met your family contribution and the self-help component of your award (employment eligibility and loans), the remainder of your demonstrated need will be provided in scholarship funds to cover your total cost of attendance.

Q: Will I still have to get a loan to cover LSA/FSP programs and health insurance?
A: Dartmouth currently provides half the additional cost of foreign study programs as well as half the cost of the student health insurance plan in the form of scholarship for students who otherwise qualify for scholarship assistance. The remaining costs can be covered by you and your family, or with loan funds.

Q: Why do students have to work and what does a work study job entail?
A: First of all, no student is required to work. However, we do believe strongly that students should contribute to the cost of their education both through their leave-term earnings as well as through campus employment. We build campus employment into financial aid awards in an amount that can be reasonably earned by working 10-12 hours per week. You can work less or not at all, but the self-help component will remain in your package. The Student Employment Office has a wealth of opportunities available all over campus as well as in the community. You may find that the experience profits you not only financially, but by helping you build valuable skills and experience that will impress future employers. Studies show that students who are employed while enrolled actually perform better academically!

Q: With the 50% decrease in loan, does that mean I will have an increase in my work expectation?
A: No. We are not increasing the employment earnings expectation. The decrease in the loan component of your package is being replaced by additional scholarship funds. You can choose to work more hours if you like, and the extra earnings are yours.

Q: Will the elimination of one term of leave-term earnings go into effect only beginning with the class of 2012 or for all current students?
A: This becomes effective with the Class of 2009, and will be reflected in the financial aid award for your senior year. Therefore, all financial aid awards for the Class of 2009 will be calculated for the 2008-09 year without the standard leave-term earnings expectation.

Q: Which is the “free” leave term and how do I arrange for my aid to be adjusted?
A: Although it is expected that most students will take advantage of this opportunity during the summer between the junior and senior years, the “free” leave term can be taken at any time during your Dartmouth career. This is an opportunity to do community service, an unpaid internship, independent research, travel, or anything you like. There are no special arrangements to be made – the benefit will automatically be reflected in the financial aid award for your senior year. If you choose to work during that term, you are free to do so; there will still be no leave term earnings contribution expected in your senior year award.

Q: Can I use my “free” leave term during any other year?
A: You may use this term at any time, but leave-term earnings will be part of your student contribution for your first three years at Dartmouth. The “free” term will be credited in your senior year award.

Q: Will my Dartmouth scholarship be reduced if I receive outside scholarships?
A: Our policy on the treatment of outside scholarships has not changed. Our goal is to allow students to retain the full benefit of these scholarships unless it would put them in a situation where their total financial aid would exceed costs less the federally-mandated family contribution. We, therefore, first reduce your self-help (employment and loan). Once your self-help has been eliminated, we then reduce your family contribution to the minimum federal level. Outside scholarships can also be used towards the health insurance and LSA/FSP costs. If there is still excess outside scholarship beyond these reductions, your Dartmouth scholarship is reduced.

Dartmouth Updates Financial Aid Package

In an attempt to keep up with the other Ivy League schools, Dartmouth announced significant changes to its financial aid package. Details from the College's press release:

No Tuition for Families Who Earn less than $75,000
Beginning with the 2008-09 academic year, all students from families with incomes of $75,000 or less will receive free tuition. In addition, many will also receive scholarships for associated costs of attendance, i.e. room, board, books and miscellaneous expenses.

Loans Replaced with Scholarships
The College will eliminate loans for incoming scholarship recipients beginning with next year's Class of 2012. Over the course of four years of enrollment, students will see loans that totaled as much as $17,500 replaced with scholarships. Currently enrolled students will see their loan expectation cut by 50 percent beginning next fall for each of their remaining years at the College. The elimination of loans will significantly reduce the debt burden of Dartmouth graduates.

Need-blind admissions for International Students
Starting immediately with the Class of 2012, the College will extend its need-blind admissions policy to all international students. Previously the College was need-blind for students from the U.S. as well as those from Canada and Mexico and provided financial aid to other international students up to a preset budget maximum. This cap will now be lifted and Dartmouth will join a very small group of schools that have a fully need-blind admissions process for international students.

Leave Term Earnings Expectation
Starting immediately, Dartmouth will provide an additional scholarship of $2,950 to allow financial aid recipients to take advantage of research or internship opportunities in their junior year. Currently, these students are expected to contribute earnings from their summer employment towards the cost of their education and thus have less flexibility than non-financial aid students in participating in important components of the Dartmouth experience. Students will be able to participate in community service, other forms of volunteer activities, or spend the time on their own research or studying for graduate school entrance exams. This aspect of the new plan builds on Dartmouth's year-round calendar and strong tradition of service and experiential learning opportunities.

William and Mary's Boards of Visitors

The College of William and Mary might have its governing board reorganized along the lines of Dartmouth's. The board has seventeen members, twelve of whom are alumni. Currently, the governor appoints all seventeen members. The proposed legislation would allow alumni to elect a majority of the Board. The legislator who drafted the bill said it was based on Dartmouth's Board of Trustees. Read the article here.

UPDATE: Malchow opines:

What more prudent body is there, really, than the alumni? They are educated, world-wise, and properly interested: their dollars and their children both go to the institution, yet their own prosperity is not predicated upon college policy. This makes the alumni interested but, unlike faculty and administrators, purely interested.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vet. Hart Tries to Get More Vets into College

In today's Nashua Telegraph:

Only about 10 percent of veterans go back to school, Hart said. As of last month, the American Council on Education had helped nearly 200 military personnel seriously injured in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families get into institutions of higher education.

The ACE program got off the ground with help from Dartmouth President James Wright, who began visiting hospitalized veterans in 2005. Wright, an ex-Marine himself, has raised $350,000 for the program, which is running at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, Brooke Army Hospital in Texas and Balboa Naval Hospital in California.

Although Hart, 25, wasn't wounded in combat, health problems he contracted in the military have stayed with him. A tainted smallpox vaccine he and roughly 50 other Marines were given in Virginia induced anaphylactic shock.

[. . .]

"The current GI Bill is not as generous as the World War II GI Bill was," Wright said. Servicemen have to enroll early in their enlistment and have to sink $100 a month into a fund, not an easy decision on a military salary, he said.

Most of those who enlist don't plan to go to college, so they don't sign up for GI Bill benefits, Wright said. Even those who apply get only $1,000 a month, far less than it costs to attend even most state universities.

"I think we need to find better ways to make this investment," Wright said. The country could significantly bolster education benefits for veterans with an annual infusion of the amount of money currently spent in a week on the war in Iraq, he said.

Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., have sponsored legislation that would furnish today's veterans with GI Bill benefits similar to those the World War II generation enjoyed – full tuition and fees and a monthly stipend

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dartmouth and Sexism

Nathan Empsall '09 writes the Wayward Episcopalian blog. For quite some time it mostly focused on Katrina relief efforts, a subject close to the author's heart as he has spent considerable time in Louisiana. Recently its scope has enlarged to Democratic politics (he was Biden's chief person at the College) and to Dartmouth. I encourage everyone to read his blog regularly.

Why mention Empsall now? His post from yesterday is a perfect example of the overreactions characterizing the campus this past week.

The problem is that if Beta is rerecognized, which appears likely, Dartmouth will have 16 fraternities to only 7 sororities. This discrepancy is exacerbated by the fact that the locations of the fraternities is infinitely more desirable to those of the sororities. If AZD leaves its central location, only one sorority will be left with a convenient spot on Webster Avenue, aka “Frat Row” (case in point, it’s not even called “Greek Row”). Worst of all, the College has a blatantly discriminatory policy that only men can establish local Greek organizations; all sororities must be national. This all means that it is much easier for men to host open parties or serve alcohol. Given that 2/3 of eligible Dartmouth students are members of a Greek organization, the Dartmouth social scene largely revolves around Greek life. (I am part of the leftover 1/3.) This means that, in essence, the official policy of Dartmouth College is that if women want to have evening fun, it must be on men’s terms, in places where men control entrance and alcohol access. This, of course, increases the risk of sexual harassment and even assault, and the College does nothing.

My ideas about this whole debacle are still somewhat inchoate, but I feel like a few rather egregiously false points are being regularly made. Empsall mentions most of them, so I'll address a few. He stops short of claiming that Beta has no right to the house they own—a position a few campus extremists have intimated. The argument that this College is sexist because it has 16 fraternities and only 7 sororities might seem logical. The problem, they claim, is that females don't control enough social space of their own. Fair enough. Yet it seems to me that the real issue is the College's insistence that new Greek organizations be nationally (i.e., dry) affiliated. Because many of the fraternities are local, and those that aren't were grandfathered in and allowed to remain wet, this means that all of them can hold open parties. Empsall seems to be confused when he claims that all the sororities must be national because as of right now there are three local sororities. The actual policy seems to be that new Greek houses cannot be local. Earlier in the week it had appeared as if the College had given Beta a free pass on this requirement, but Dean Redman clarified late Wednesday that Beta will not be rerecognized until they are nationally affiliated. New Fraternities don't seem to be getting any more slack from the College than new sororities. After Redman made the administration's position clear, the claims of differing standards between men and women no longer hold any water.

If anywhere, the problem seems to reside in the policies of the national Greek organizations—especially the national sororities. Because they require their chapters to remain dry, this forces their sisters out of their presumably 'safe' houses and into the basements of fraternities. Admittedly, there is an extremely easy way out of this predicament: Dartmouth should drop its requirement that new Greek organizations be nationally affiliated. Indeed, they don't require coed houses to be nationally affiliated. If discrimination is anywhere, it is not against just women but single sex institutions in general.

The inherent sexism found in Dartmouth’s social scene has led many students to say they would not send their daughters to Dartmouth. I do not blame them; this pattern of disrespect and sexism must be stopped.

Lastly, this just strikes me as ridiculously melodramatic. See below (courtesy of The Dartmouth Online).
The Still North for Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Should the State Fix This?

William Schpero continued his peerless coverage of Trustee issues in Friday's Daily D. There is also considerable discussion about this on the post directly below.

Also, remind me again why these people want the state to intervene in what is, for all intents and purposes, a private matter between the College and its alumni. Conservatives (both of the Mooney's are Republicans and Malchow is decidedly right of center) have experimented with embracing big government before; exhibit A is the second Bush presidency. The results speak for themselves.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bloomberg Pregames Today's Legislative Meeting

Article here on Mooney's bill coming before its committee today.

Capital Campaign Surpasses $1 Billion

The College's press release here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SAD, so sad.

Buried towards the end of an article in today's Daily D about reviewing the SEMP guidelines is a terrifying harbinger of things to come:

The Assembly also said it plans to allocate funding for a first-annual “Mr. and Ms. Big Green,” a spin-off of the annual Mr. and Ms. Yale pageant that takes place at Yale University. The Student Life committee has tentatively scheduled the pageant for the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 8. Possible events include a contestant dance routine, flare and formal wear competitions, a runway walk, a talent show and a question-and-answer session with the contestants.


No word on whether or not SAD President Travis Green was the one that chose what the winning contestants will be called.

Beta Trustees Release Letter to Dartmouth

Over on the Dartmouth Beta website, a letter from the Beta Board of Trustees has been posted with the title "To the Dartmouth Community." Here it is. (I think the D will publish the letter tomorrow).

Some interesting quotes....

On derecognition:
During the mid-90’s, a sustained period of misbehavior by members of the fraternity led to the “permanent derecognition” of the organization. While this behavior was caused by a minority of the membership, the fraternity was ultimately at fault for not policing itself properly. The Beta Trustees supported the shut down of the fraternity. The term “permanently derecognized” meant that neither the existing classes of Beta undergraduates at that time nor their organizational structure would be allowed to return to campus. However, it was understood that after a suitable period of time had elapsed, 3 or 4 years, a new interest group might be formed to apply as a new fraternity to use that space. In other words, a completely new fraternity would be allowed, but reconstitution of the previous Beta chapter was permanently barred. The offenses committed by those undergraduates were an affront to all Beta alumni, one which we will not soon forget. It should be further noted for the record that “Betavision” is patently untrue.

On reinstatement:
It was our expressed goal to achieve reinstatement from the beginning. At the outset, we expected our “dark period,” similar to Zeta Psi’s, to last 3-4 years to allow the unwanted elements of the organization to cycle out of the College. This was communicated verbally by the College and was the basis for the terms of our lease with Alpha Xi. Fate intervened as the Student Life Initiative came to campus in 1999, prior to the end of our “dark period.” This placed a moratorium on new, single-sex Greek organizations.

Despite this obstacle, discussions with the College continued through this period and were increased upon the lifting of the moratorium in June, 2005. Importantly, it was an expressed interest of ours and the College to ensure alternative space would be available for Alpha Xi as part of our reinstatement. We have committed to and they have accepted our offer to work with them through this transitional period.

On national affiliation:
Our agreement with the College stipulates that we prefer a nationally-affiliated organization. We are not currently affiliated with our national organization; however, we have had extensive discussions with the Beta Theta Pi General (national) Fraternity for the past three years. Those discussions are ongoing to this day. The College has also suggested other national organizations that allow for open affiliation.

A general statement on their future:
We intend to build a model Greek organization, one that respects the dignity of its members and the community at large. Any inappropriate legacies of the past will stay there. While we will provide support and guidance for the organization, the true character of the new organization will be built on the strength of the outstanding undergraduates we seek to attract from a broad spectrum of the campus. This is our legacy and we wish to build upon it.


My favorite part? "It should be further noted for the record that “Betavision” is patently untrue." Thanks for the heads up, Beta.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The College Tracks Student Movement

An article in today's Daily D reports that Safety & Security tracks and logs student movement in and out of buildings by their student ID card. The article notes that these logs have helped to catch a person who rushed the field as well as someone charged with sexual assault. The head of S&S, realizing that this will probably turn out to be a PR disaster for him, noted,

“We don’t track students by any means,” he said. “That would take a lot of time and effort, and it just isn’t something we’re interested in doing.”

Kinne [S&S Chief] said the database is cumbersome, and his officers use it only for important investigations.

“It would have to be something serious,” he said. “We don’t go in to the database for just anything.”

The article doesn't give much information beyond that. Either the reporter was stonewalled by Kinne, or he was clueless. We'll try to find out more. Regardless, however, this coupled with the professors unannounced ability to track students on Blackboard paints a bleak picture of the Dartmouth administration's commitment to openness. What else can they do but haven't told us?

Also, who would honestly support national ID cards?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Surprise, Surprise - More Beta Fun

Andy already linked to the barrage of Beta-centric articles in the D; both of the comic strips in today's issue also mine the situation for laughs (I'm using "laughs" in the loosest sense possible here; the cartoons in The Daily Dartmouth hardly represent the pinnacle of visual humor.)

I thought Victoria Fener 08's editorial in the D today was great. She touched on all the main grievances that AZD sisters (together with, it seems, much of campus) have with the College's unsatisfactory management of the Beta situation without coming off as shrill:

- First, the obvious: Beta does have "every right" to return. They own the house, and they could have come back at any time to operate as an unofficial frat; at least they have been aiming for official re-recognition by working through the administration. The outcry against the manner of their return faults the administration (for bending the rules of re-recognition, not finding appropriate housing alternatives for AZD, etc.), not Beta alums who (obviously) want to see their old house back.
- However, a house twenty-five minutes away from campus in which, at most, seven girls can reside is not an appropriate physical plant for a sorority that has, in the past, actively contributed to campus social life.
- Alpha Xi Delta should have been given more notice regarding the re-recognition of Beta.
- Money may have played a significant role in the reinstatement.
This point I'm iffy about; much of the outcry about the influence of wealthy Beta alums (at this point) seems to be mere conjecture. Plus, it's a bit naive to think that the College simply shouldn't ever take finances into consideration when making decisions. However, this would be something worth looking into.
- The College is breaking its own rules banning any new (or restored) local single-sex Greek organizations.
I think most people at Dartmouth, Victoria included, don't support the ban on local sororities or fraternities - after all, local sororities are a great example of "female-controlled social spaces" that are open to campus. Beta returning as a local would not be a problem, except for the fact that the rules seem to have been bent especially for them.

Anyway, we'll see how this all pans out. It's unrealistic at this point to expect Beta to "back down" and not return after their negotiations with the College, but hopefully a better alternative can be found for the new AZD house.

[I should mention that I'm an active member of Alpha Xi Delta (as is Lauren, our graphics editor); I feel that I speak for a lot of women on campus in not faulting Beta wanting to return to their physical plant -- 6 Webster Avenue is their property, after all -- but in objecting to the way in which the College has handled the situation.]

Edited to add: Dave Nachman gives his two cents on the issue over at SuperDartmouth. He makes several good points, especially when noting that Alpha Phi, the new sorority, was not granted the same exception that Beta has been given. Some of the comments on the post are pretty apt, too.

Beta Statement

On their website Beta has released a statement. An excerpt:

The Trustees of the Alpha Omega Chapter of Beta Theta Pi at Dartmouth have reached an agreement with the Office of Residential Life enabling Beta to participate in fall 2008 Greek member recruitment activities.

"On behalf of our 1,200 alumni, our board is very pleased to bring one of the great fraternal institutions back to the Dartmouth campus. We'd like to thank Dean Marty Redman and Assistant Dean Deb Carney for their considerable effort in assisting us through this process. We also wish to thank the women of Alpha Xi Delta for their partnership during the past 10 years and for the great care they have taken of our house," said Scott Sipple '84, Co-Chairman of the Beta Board of Trustees.

Beta Backlash

I think Christine will have more on this subject in a bit, but in the meantime here are some follow-up articles in the Daily D.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Beta to Return Next Fall

After being derecognized in 1996, Beta has finally reached an agreement with the College that will return the fraternity to campus by next fall. In related news, AZD (a sorority) will be without a home this summer and perhaps next fall as the College scrambles to prepare a physical plant for them. AZD had been renting Beta's house since its derecognition.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lifting the "curse on our land."

Prof. Hart has an op-ed in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the transcendent qualities that define Barack Obama's campaign for president.

I haven't seen anything like this in politics before -- and I've written speeches for Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and spent 20-plus years covering politics as a syndicated columnist.

Mr. Obama talks about providing medical care for everybody and so forth, but first, he says, "we" must lift the curse from "our" land.

Here, his politics touches a mythic dimension, familiar in the Grail legends. The land suffers. Nothing will grow. After undergoing many trials the knight recovers the Holy Grail and lifts the curse from the land and the crops grow again.

The curse on our land in Mr. Obama's narrative is, of course, the Bush administration: the fear, the endless war (in Afghanistan, in Iraq, maybe in Iran), the lies, the torture, Guantanamo, the trashing of the Constitution, the cancer of incompetence.

All of this has made Americans strangers in their own land. They want their decent America back again. Mr. Obama reaches out to them, promising redemption.

DARTmouth


In yesterday's Union Leader.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Judge Declines to Make a Ruling Today

Joe Malchow reports on the goings on in Haverhill, where earlier today the first hearing of The Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College versus the Trustees of Dartmouth College was held:


Grafton County Superior Court Judge Timothy Vaughan, sitting at the Haverhill Court, has just concluded the first public hearing in the matter of the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College versus the Trustees of Dartmouth College. (The alumni are not, as you have perhaps been given to understand, suing the “College” but rather the Trustees, as it was the latter that enacted the infamous Board-packing plan after pro-oversight candidates began winning elections via petition.)

The Association’s attorney and the Trustees’ three attorneys were present, as were College President Jim Wright, his outgoing publicity chief and speechwriter Sheila Culbert, and Vice President for Alumni Relations David Spalding.

Judge Vaughan did not issue a ruling on the Trustees’ motion to dismiss the case but promised to rule just as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Here is the D's article.


Grafton County Superior Court Hears Suit Today

Today Superior Court Judge Timothy Vaughn will preside over a hearing to decide whether or not the Association of Alumni's suit should be dismissed. Vaughn can either rule on the College request for dismissal today, or take the request under advisement and issue a written opinion sometime in the future.

The Daily D's article here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

NH Primary and Dartmouth Podcast

The New Hampshire primary today saw hundreds of Dartmouth students walking or driving over to Hanover High School to cast their ballots; major props to the volunteers of Vote Clamantis, who bussed students from campus to the high school.

The Dartmouth website hosted a special podcast today featuring TDR Senior Editor Gregory Boguslavsky '09 discussing a students'-eye view of the primary with Michael Heslin '08; you can listen to it here.

Obama Rally

Obama held his only rally for today here at Dartmouth. Nachman was in attendance and has photos. Part way through his speech a Dartmouth student fainted, Obama's and his supporter's response has caused some stir.

As observed this morning by our colleague Maria La Ganga, who has spent so much time on the Obama campaign bus they're thinking about engraving her name on a seat:

Barack Obama's first and only rally on election day came to a sudden and lengthy stop when a young woman in the Dartmouth College gym fainted, and was eventually rolled off on a gurney by emergency medical technicians.

At first Obama half-narrated the episode, saying soothing things like, "She's OK," "She's talking." But the longer she lay on the floor, the quieter Obama got, standing on the podium, arms folded, looking worried as the medical crew worked.

A gum-chomping Larry David, in town to help with Obama's get-out-the-vote campaign, paced the edge of the student-filled gym, muttering. "How can I restrain myself?" he said to anyone who would listen. "I have such a great line.... Should I yell something out?"

Finally, he did: "Sinatra had the same effect on people!" "I was trying to break the tension," he said later. "I don't think they knew who Sinatra was."

La Ganga reports that the audience didn't laugh, while Obama seemed to snicker -- and looked even more uncomfortable.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quiet Christmas

It was a quiet Christmas break here at Dartlog, here are some notable posts from other Dartmouth related blogs:

  1. The four petition trustees filed an amicus brief in favor of the Association of Alumni's lawsuit. Joe Malchow has a link to the brief here.
  2. Dave Nachman keeps us updated on the goings on of SAD,
  3. and also investigates the College's Principle of Community:
    [T]he current 89-page CFS handbook does state that Greek organizations must, as a requirement for recognition, "ensure that its conduct, purpose, and activities are consistent with the mission of Dartmouth College and the Dartmouth College Principle of Community," which does seem to contradict the statement that the Principle are not adjudicable.

    The entire concept of the Principle of Community is very questionable. Without a doubt, the presence of any racism, sexism, or homophobia at Dartmouth is a serious problem. But these problems cannot be solved by a three sentence edict from the Board of Trustees. Unlike its peers - the Standards of Conduct, the Academic Honor Principle, and the statement on Freedom of Expression and Dissent - the Principle are overwhelmingly vague, leaving it a danger to Greek organizations when its adherence becomes a condition for recognition. Around Dartmouth, it gets placed on the walls of offices and reception rooms. It becomes the justification for every social life recommendation, every decision, every program. It represents the epitome of 21st century quasi-corporate politically-correct head-in-the-sand thinking - the belief that mission statements and the like actually matter, and that decisions should be based around them. Any belief that the Principle of Community have made Dartmouth a more inclusive place is absurd. Dartmouth has become more inclusive because the world is becoming more inclusive and because students are actively seeking to make Dartmouth more inclusive. Certainly, administrators have been making a difference in improving diversity (the fine folks of the Student Life Department, for example), but the belief that Dartmouth can be socially re-engineered from up high with disregard for the things that students care about (i.e. the Greek system) is flat-out misguided. Dartmouth's improving inclusiveness has not occurred because the trustees published a statement twenty-eight years ago or because they aimed a wrecking ball at the Greek system nine years ago.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Please Don't Stab that Portrait in My Attic

W. Richard West, Jr., the recently retired director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, has aroused Congressional suspicion by spending $48,500 of museum funds to commission a portrait of himself, painted by a non-Native American artist. Here is the full story from the AP.

Why does that name sound familiar, you ask? The same Dr. West received an honoary degree at Dartmouth's Commencement ceremonies this past June.