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A thoughtful reader writes in:

I’m curious. If a resident of Hanover was killed by a bear, would your position change? If not, how many people in Hanover would bears have to kill in order for your position to change?

As a long time resident of Florida I can assure you this is faulty logic: “… we should treat the bear that people are now calling “Mink” in the same way Floridians treat their alligators. With tolerance and caution.” For example, gators that turn up in golf course lakes/communities always go the other way when a human approaches them. Once this stops happening (the gator is no longer afraid of humans, and local dogs start disappearing) those gators are always relocated (or killed if they attack a human).

Bears are wild animals and allowing them to mix with people is a recipe for disaster.

What is it about the phrase “wild animals” that seems to be a conversation-stopper for so many people. Sure, bears are wild, but as we saw the other day, dogs are considered “tame,” but “in the 13-year period of January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2017, canines killed at least 433 Americans.”

In fact, bears are quite intentional in their behavior: they rationally signal to people when humans step over a line. They might mount a false charge:

Or even give a quick warning nip:

Black bears only rarely kill, and when they do, they do so far less often than other species.

So, again, what to do about Mink and the Upper Valley’s other bears? Look at our local map. Hanover and environs are just human outposts in an ocean of bear forest habitat (the arrow points at my house, where the bears come by fairly frequently). A sea of green:

Dartmouth Forest.jpg

And bears are not the only predator in the area: we have bobcats, too, and quite large ones, as we showed in a video of two large cats up near the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Centerra.

The choice is clear. Should we kill all “wild animals” that stray into a human space – without honestly evaluating how risky they are? Or how about a wait-and-see attitude?

All I am saying is give bears a chance. The odds of a fatality are minuscule; if there is a human-ursine clash, it will in all likelihood end with a bite or a scratch. At that point, we’ll know if there is a serious threat. Waiting and seeing seems a far more, um, humane approach to a somewhat novel problem than unleashing a slaughter.

Addendum: The subject of risk is open to real debate. If we are worried about wild animals, should we also fear bodies of water like the Connecticut River? If we want to avoid the possibility of human fatalities, should we ban swimming? Here’s one argument in support of that idea, according to the Centers for Disease Control:

From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

Of course, we could go on from there, but at least banning swimming (and kayaking and football and rock climbing, etc) does not involve the killing of a living thing.

The Alumni Council has never ranked among my favorite entities at the College: though the group always numbers a few good people, too often the AC does no more than shill for the administration, rather than representing alumni and trying to make Dartmouth a better school.

Look at the below report on the AC’s May meeting from my classmate Jennifer Hughes ‘79. She tries her best (undoubtedly with a lot of editorial help from the Office of Communications) to put a happy gloss on the College. But despite the puffery about Dartmouth being “a fantastically forward-thinking institution,” how “the cross-pollination of disciplines and ideas happening at today’s Dartmouth is truly mind-boggling,” and how this is “a ridiculously exciting time to be a Dartmouth undergraduate,” there really is no verifiable detail to back up the hyperbole. Isn’t there one specific program to mention? One new initiative about which students are talking?

I dare say a reader could go back decade after decade and find the same breastbeating about teacher/scholar models and cross-pollination.

However, Jennifer deserves at least some credit for honesty. She slips a few observations into her report about how all is not well in Hanover. For example, she notes that, “Dartmouth recognizes the tuition nightmare faced by many middle-income families, and aims to offer aid more in line with our sister Ivies [emphasis added].”

Come again? More in line? In other words, despite having an endowment that is about twice as large per student as Columbia, Brown, Cornell and Penn, we lag behind “our sister Ivies” in providing financial aid to the students that need it. For shame.

And when Jennifer follows on with the below linguistic sleight of hand, you know that you are in the hands of marketing folks and not truth tellers:

I think it’s going to take a few more years until students fully embrace the House system, but that ultimately the Houses will serve as the heart of campus life for many.

Translation: students have categorically rejected the House system — today there are more Greek members than ever in the history of the College. Not to mention the senior survey in which only 30% of students had a positive view of the house system and 47% looked at it unfavorably. Of course, hope springs eternal that today’s failed model might catch on. Don’t hold your breath.

Alumni Council Report Jennifer Hughes 2018.jpg

Sad stuff, really. No Jennifer, it is not a ridiculously exciting time to be an undergraduate at Dartmouth.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I think your classmate attended the Trump School for Outstanding Journalism. Fantastically?, Mind-Boggling?, Ridiculously? In any event, your opening paragraph neatly said all that needs to be said about the Alumni Council.

Addendum: And another:

The Alumni Council serves a communications function, but you are right that it is not an agent for change. During my three years on the Council, I talked about the College’s administrative bloat, and a reference to my comments even made it into the final report to the trustees. But of course nothing changed.

Even in a Berlin filled with post-modern architecture and carefully restored older structures, the former Wall is never far away, and the city’s planners have made sure that it is rarely out of mind:

Berlin Wall tiles.jpg

These parallel tiles illustrate where East met West for almost thirty years, with unhappy consequences for everyone.

Addendum: Peter Robinson ‘79 penned the speech in which Ronald Reagan implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

And less than two and a half years later, the Wall was part of history past.

Addendum: The Brandenberg Gate does double duty as Berlin’s civic center: here as a viewing area for the ongoing World Cup:

Brandenberg Soccer Screen.jpg

On Sunday when Mexico scored its game-winning goal against Germany in a 1-0 upset victory, the crowd’s roar of surprise and disappointment could be heard all over the city.

A member of the faculty writes in:

As an early supporter, I regularly receive the DGALA [Dartmouth Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Alumni/ae Association] newsletter. Here is a page from the recent issue.

How reflective of the current state of College priorities that a student space is being requisitioned for an administrative office.

The OPAL bureaucrats are invading Robinson Hall — once a precinct reserved exclusively for use by student groups:

Rainbow Room.jpg

Of course, um, students will be allowed to use the Rainbow room between 10pm and 8am, and by prior reservation during the day. But, more importantly, OPAL needs more space for its staff, which currently numbers ten people. Who knows how that number will change in the coming year? (I do. It will not go down.)

OPAL People 2018 Comp.jpg

Oh, how the College’s staff grows. Mark Perry, a Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan-Flint, recently published a piece for the American Enterprise Institute that has incited some controversy: he details that the University of Michigan employs over 100 bureaucrats devoted to diversity. Michigan has 44,718 students.

That’s one diversicrat for every 447 students.

At the College — 6,509 students — the situation is worse. In addition to the ten folks in OPAL above, the Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity has five staff members, and Geisel’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (DICE) also has five. Interesting, it seems that in the two best run areas of the College — Tuck and Thayer — no staffer has a position focusing exclusively on diversity.

If we conservatively say that the College has twenty employees devoted to diversity, our ratio beats Michigan hands down: one diversicrat for every 325 students.

The bear saga in Hanover is inciting more press. On Friday in the Valley News, writer Matt Hongoltz-Hetling provides color for the story: Area Bears Are Becoming Bolder; Trackers Say Some Residents Still Aren’t Eliminating Food Sources.

And my Browser service highlighted the bear-related section of a piece, A Walk in the Woods, by former Hanover resident Bill Bryson.

Bryson cites a book about bear attacks: Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, by Stephen Herrero:

Herrero is at pains to stress that black bear attacks are infrequent, relative to their numbers. For 1900 to 1980, he found just twenty-three confirmed black bear killings of humans (about half the number of killings by grizzlies), and most of these were out West or in Canada. In New Hampshire there has not been an unprovoked fatal attack on a human by a bear since 1784. In Vermont, there has never been one…

After noting that just 500 people were attacked and hurt by black bears between 1960 and 1980-twenty-five attacks a year from a resident population of at least half a million bears—Herrero adds that most of these injuries were not severe. “The typical black bear-inflicted injury,” he writes blandly, “is minor and usually involves only a few scratches or light bites.”…

Herrero’s book was written in 1985. Since that time, according to an article in the New York Times, bear attacks in North America have increased by 25 percent. The Times article also noted that bears are far more likely to attack humans in the spring following a bad berry year.

Bear Attacks Their Causes and Avoidance.jpg

Bryson’s piece illustrates people’s unfounded fear of black bears, though he cites with his usual wit a variety of conflicting facts.

Addendum: As I said in a recent post, in Hanover we should treat the bear that people are now calling “Mink” in the same way Floridians treat their alligators. With tolerance and caution. Who knows? Maybe in a decade or two bears will wander around town in the same way that sacred cows meander in Indian cities. The animals might even become the symbol of the College: Go Dartmouth Black Bears!

What can an observer say? Five years into his Presidency, Phil Hanlon still hasn’t put together a cohesive, competent management team. Here’s the new kid on the block:

Kathryn Lively, a professor of sociology and the inaugural house professor of the South House residential community, will serve a one-year appointment as interim dean of the College starting July 1, Interim Provost David Kotz announced today.

Lively Appointment Comp.jpg

Addendum: When Carol Folt made the decision to shut down the College for a weekday several years ago, she did so with the support of a group of carefully selected faculty members:

Let’s detail the core group of people at these meetings, the ones who made the decision to shut down the College for the day: Interim President Carol Folt, Dean of the Faculty Michael Mastanduno, Sociology Chair Kathryn Lively, Associate Dean of Student Academic Support Services Inge-Lise Ameer, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, Women’s and Gender Studies Professor Michael Bronski, Women’s and Gender Studies Chair Ivy Schweitzer, the members of the RealTalk group, and a number of other faculty and staff members of a like-minded political bent. [Emphasis added]

Do we need to know more?

PBS Professor Todd Heatherton sent me the below statement yesterday following Phil Hanlon’s announcement:

Today Dartmouth’s President Phil Hanlon announced my retirement. I retired because I thought it best for my family, the institution, and the graduate students involved. I acknowledge that I acted unprofessionally in public at conferences while intoxicated. I offer a humble and sincere apology to anyone affected by my actions.

Heatherton was featured two years ago on Dartblog’s Guide to the Stars. His CV is more than impressive.

At 4:00am yesterday, I posted a lament at how slowly the Hanlon administration was making good on an announcement about the fate of the three PBS professors? I had created the piece on June 6. Lo and behold, look what hit my mailbox at 11:06am:

PBS Announcement June 14 2018 Comp.jpg

Note: Some members of the Dartmouth community received the same communication as early as 8:00am.

From a public policy perspective, the process that has led to the ending of Todd Heatherton’s career is more than troubling. Just what were the accusations against him? There was talk of a criminal investigation, yet the College community is no wiser as to suppoosed actions that led to his suspension and retirement.

Phil ginned up fair bit of suspense on February 19 (almost four months ago) when he announced that the investigation into the conduct of three Psychology and Brain Science professors would shortly be concluded:

2018-06-06 13_16_47-Biron on Hanlon re investigation highlight.jpg

And where do things stand now? Who the heck knows? We’re still waiting.

But I reiterate the question that I posed at the time the above communication issued forth from Parkhurst: just why did the gang that can’t shoot straight make this announcement? Most people do things for reasons. If we generously attribute that capacity to the administration, what was going on in the heads of our senior administrators in February. Anything beyond virtue signalling?

Addendum: Shall we have an office pool as to when the investigation will actually end? The winner will get a free lifetime subscription to Dartblog.

Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Brain Sciences Rogers Elliott took to the pages of the Valley News on Sunday to respond to the VN’s reprinting of an editorial from the Los Angeles times supporting the free speech right of players to kneel during the national anthem. He asked a pertinent question: how come a player has the right to kneel under the protection of free expression, and yet an academic like Ned Lebow can be sanctioned for referring to women’s underclothing in a public place?

Ned Lebow VN Forum Roger Eliot Comp.jpg

Elliot has a point, don’t you think?

Actually the good professor is too gentle to make his real argument: in many contexts our society has replaced moral reasoning with an attenuated version of liberal guilt — the kind that John Rawls would recognize as his own handiwork. Today we look at any conflict and decide which side can claim oppressed status and which is part of a historical oppressor class. NFL owners and Ned Lebow are privileged white men — very bad. Colin Kaepernick and Simona Sharoni, as an African-American and woman respectively, deserve our support, no matter how disruptive or silly their claim of grievance. As a matter of post-truth, Washington has nothing on the academy. The application of fair-minded moral principles is no longer much of a priority.

Addendum: Rogers Elliott, who was one of the professors teaching Education 1 when I took the course lo so many years ago, has a distinguished scholarly record. He stands out in my mind for his paper, Choosing and leaving science in highly selective institutions, the first research work to focus on the mismatched preparation of certain favored groups of undergraduates to the academic workload set before them by élite institutions.

Addendum: A loyal reader writes in:

Simona Sharoni “is a feminist scholar and activist” who supports the BDS movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simona_Sharoni

I choose Ned Lebow, humor and sanity, thank you very much.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Lebow’s elevator remarks and the NFL players’ protest are entirely different. In an elevator, one’s comments are one’s own. All passengers are on equal and individual footing, free to respond, or to ignore, or to take offense as they may choose. (And any perceived indignity will be over very shortly in any event.)

But an NFL game is commercial property. It is organized, staged and paid for by the owners. For players to unilaterally co-opt the owners’ property for their own political ends is staggeringly brazen, and wrong. The League has every right to reclaim their property.

By the way, does anyone here remember the word “unmentionables”? This whole mess could have been avoided–or at least, achieved a deeper level of irony–if Professor Lebow had offered a version such as “3rd floor, ladies unmentionables.”

Government Professor Emeritus Ned Lebow wrote into the Valley News on June 8 to summarize his view of the “ladies lingerie” affair:

Ned Lebow VN Forum Comp.jpg

For my part, I am re-reading Kafka’s The Trial in preparation for any future ISA adjudication of the matter.

A few days before Commencement, I received an anonymous e-mail from a faculty member telling me that a good number of professors would be boycotting the ceremony. I enlisted several members of the Baker Tower Irregulars to take a count; they reported that only 80-110 profs were in attendance this year. Not a large number, given that the College has a total of 952 members of the faculty, 632 of whom are in the Arts and Sciences. There are no comparative numbers from past years, but the processional was certainly on the thin side.

The faculty is much loved by students, and once again the senior survey illustrates that the College’s professors are the basis for Dartmouth’s fine reputation. Though only 15% of the senior class cared to respond to The D’s survey, their views about both professors and administrators were categorical:

Senior Survey Favorability.jpg

These are the selfsame faculty members who are underpaid by the administration as compared to their Ivy peers, and who receive no preferential parking compared to custodians and cook helpers — and as a result, find themselves turning in circles looking for a parking spot, or worse, just staying home in order to avoid wasting time.

The administration needs to comprehend that students come to the College to interact with the faculty — and therefore the denizens of Parkhurst should do whatever possible to favor that interaction. Nobody ever enrolled at the College to deal with bureaucrats, who used to be called the support staff because their sole role is to facilitate interaction between professors and students. When did we all forget that fact?

Addendum: Faculty meetings are marked by sullen faces when Phil speaks — and no applause. In contrast, professors who offer reports elicit extended clapping.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Maybe more faculty wanted to attend Commencement but they couldn’t find a parking spot ….

Commencement 2018.jpg

To the members of the Class of 2018, and especially those graduates who helped Dartblog with photos, recordings and tips of many different sorts, all the best for a harmonious and happy future:

Hanover Overveiw.jpg

Dartmouth’s best days are still before her. Keep in touch!

Rene Revel Plaque.jpgIn Paris, eras of significant history can fall over themselves. This small plaque commemorates a death during the August 1944 rebellion against the German invader. At multiple points in the city, people, led by the municipal police, rose up and expelled the enemy from entire districts. In this way, and after the tip-of-the-spear entry into the city by General Philippe Leclerc’s 2nd French Armored Division, the French claim to have liberated Paris from the Nazis.

The plaque reads:

Here, René Revel, a keeper of the peace from the 15th arrondissement, winner of the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, was killed by the Germans, August 19th, 1944.

Revel, a police officer, was guarding the Pont Neuf, an approach to the Île de la Cité, the site of the Paris Police prefecture and the center of the revolt. In a skirmish with German soldiers, he was hit in the neck by two bullets. He died shortly thereafter.

Rene Revel Pont Neuf.jpg

The Pont Neuf, despite its name, is the oldest bridge in Paris (built between 1578 and 1607). It links the Île de la Cité to both the Left and Right Banks of the Seine. It also leads to the Square du Vert-Galant (1884), one of Paris’ loveliest parks. In the distance one sees the Louvre, whose construction as a fortress began in the 12th century; it is ongoing.

Addendum: The reference to the people who killed officer Revel ranks high on the anger scale among French monuments. Plaques commemorating wartime events exist throughout the Hexagone (as the mainland is often called) with varying words referring to “l’ennemi” (the enemy), “l’envahisseur” (the invader), “les Nazis,” and “les Allemands” (the Germans). My experience is that ever more bitterness is displayed as the categorization rises from a description of activity, to ideology, to national origin.

Addendum: The conquest of Paris took place without significant destruction primarily due to the courageous independence of mind of German General Dietrich von Choltitz, who surrendered the city despite orders given him directly by Adolf Hitler to turn the city into “another Stalingrad.” Von Choltitz believed that the destruction of Paris would end all possibility of Franco-German reconciliation for generations.

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