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Mastanduno1.jpgHe’s a nice guy. He’s the wrong guy. Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno was appointed by Jim Kim and Carol Folt on July 15, 2010 for a five-year term that began on August 1 of that year and will end in the summer of 2015. That’s too late.

Mastanduno’s term in office to date has been undistinguished. Of course, we can start with the presumption that anyone chosen by Kim/Folt is the fruit of the poisonous tree, though that might be overstating things somewhat. Mike is genial, friendly, but sadly enough, ineffective. The recent collapse of the student/faculty initiative to open course evaluations to scrutiny by undergrads is evidence enough of that proposition.

Phil should wish Mike well on the fourth anniversary of his term, and perhaps he can choose Mastanduno to head some lesser part of the College (Mastanduno was previously the head of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding). Then a new Dean can be chosen, a forceful innovator who can begin by arranging to allow voting on faculty issues to take place on-line rather than just by people in attendance at meetings. That move would be the first step in breaking the various logjams to change at Dartmouth.

Andrew Lohse 12’s book won’t be out until August 26, but if you head over to the Amazon page devoted to Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir, you can read the first few chapters using the site’s Look Inside function. Here are pages 1 and 2:

Lohse Book Comp.jpg

It will be interesting to see how big, uh, a splash Lohse’s book makes.

Addendum: Isaiah Berg has referred to “doming” in these pages — the practice of vomiting on the head of another person. This definition seems unique to Dartmouth. The Urban Dictionary defines the term in several different and equivalently vulgar ways, but it does not reference the term as it is used at the College.

Addendum: A correspondent wiser in such matters than your humble servant writes in to correct my definition of doming:

Doming isn’t when you boot on someone’s head. It’s when two people drink beer over a trash can until one of them throws up. Whoever doesn’t throw up wins the dome.

Addendum: Another alumnus, writing anonymously, offers further background on doming:

“Doming” is a derivative of the word “Thunderdome” taken from the Mad Max movies. It is a contest, typically between two people to see who can drink more without vomiting (hence the trash can between the two). It does not necessarily involve one person vomiting on the other. The germane quote from the movie is “two men enter, one man leaves.”

Sexfest 2014.jpg

Hillary Texting.jpgWhen I was a student, Jimmy Carter stole a march on fellow Democrats by beginning his New Hampshire primary campaign an unprecedented year before the February 24, 1976 vote. I assisted when he was interviewed on WDCR in September, 1975, and I called home to proudly tell everyone that Carter would be the next President. Of course, at that point nobody had ever heard of him. They would.

Now here we are in July 2014 — about a year and half before New Hampshire’s next first-in-the-nation primary — and look at what pulled up last night at the end of Frat Row (or in front of the Rockefeller Center, as you prefer). The doors opened and you could hear Tom Petty’s American Girl being played on the sound system (♬Take it easy, babyMake it last all night♬). There was swag to be had, and pizza; the names of volunteers were eagerly recorded.

Of course, the use of “Movement” on the bus’ side could not help but bring a smile to this observer’s face. How Mme. Secretary, the former First Lady and the ultimate inside-the-Beltway candidate, can appropriate a symbol of the 1960’s counterculture for her own use defies logic. But, then, the Clintons never did know the meaning of shame.

Hillary Bus.jpg

For those of you new to the Upper Valley, primary season is great fun. An old joke goes as follows: A New Hampshire farmer was asked his opinion of a candidate, and he responded, “I haven’t made up my mind on him yet. He ain’t been in my kitchen but twice.” Have no fear: they’ll all be in Hanover over and over, starting very soon from the looks of things.

                        

Money Magazine has ranked America’s colleges and universities using a different methodology from U.S. News. The New York Times describes the strengths and weaknesses of the new approach. Here’s the overall list. The Ivies rank as follows:

#4: Princeton
#6: Harvard
#11: Penn
#15: Yale
#19: Brown
#22: Columbia
#24: Dartmouth (tied)
#24: Cornell (tied)

In a column entitled Financial Aid for Dartmouth, the Valley News’ columnist Jim Kenyon made the following observation:

The compensation packages lavished on [Dartmouth] executives wouldn’t seem so egregious if the college didn’t nickel-and-dime its union employees in contract negotiations. In April, a month before the executives’ salary figures were disclosed, Dartmouth also announced that due to “present financial constraints, and the economy as a whole,” most rank-and-file non-union employees would be limited to 1.5 percent pay raises this year. These are often workers — office administrators, science lab technicians and library assistants — who perform essential duties but don’t have much clout.

That comment makes as much sense as the Freedom Budgeters’ complaint that the College doesn’t do enough for people of color. Look at the current SEIU union wage scale for Dartmouth employees. This isn’t “nickel and diming,” particularly when you add to these wages benefits that include five weeks of vacation for starting employees, pension payments that can go as high as 9% for older workers, and a Cadillac medical plan:

SEIU Wages 2014.jpg

But then Jim Kenyon never does take the time to get his facts straight. For example, while Kenyon criticizes the College for tight-fistedness, he glides over wages at the Hanover Consumer Food Co-op without comment. A recent Kenyon-generated Upper Valley controversy concerns the dismissal from the Co-op of wine section manager Dan King and cheese department clerk Dan Boutin, the latter a ten-year veteran of the Co-op. After a decade in a job requiring both extensive knowledge of cheese and good customer service skills, Boutin was making $15.66 an hour, according to an article in the Valley News — less than the Dartmouth union’s lowest-paid employee (a cook helper/dishwasher of whom no experience or education is required). Kenyon makes no comment on Boutin’s wage, just as he failed to do any research on the Dartmouth wage scale for his earlier column.

However, Dartblog readers might wonder why a ten-year customer service worker at the employee-friendly Co-op would make a wage almost 10% less ($15.66/hour vs. $17.12/hour) than a newly hired College dishwasher, who doesn’t even need a high school education to be employed by Dartmouth.

Addendum: Jim Kenyon should win regular awards for sour-spiritedness and lack of accuracy. His column the other day on the ongoing controversy at the Co-op could not be more vindictive and filled with prejudice. In it he can’t seem to decide whether to attack the Co-op’s management for two-facedness or the store’s members for being privileged and selfish. To my mind, he proves only the case — especially given that he puts forward no evidence for either of these propositions — that he enjoys wielding a blunderbuss.

Addendum: A reader wonders about Kenyon’s numbers, too:

To say nothing about how he claims that union employees are being nickel and dimed, and then cites NON-union employees getting 1.5%. What are the union employees getting? That’s the relevant information!

Hanover’s second mugging in a month:

July 27 AssaultA.jpg

Thirteen years and a six months after the horrific event, the NY Daily News has run an extended retrospective on the Janaury 27, 2001 murder of Dartmouth Professors Susanne and Half Zantop.

‘Tis nice to be loved:

NH Mag Comp.jpg

That the Allies faked the existence of an American army in the UK prior to D-Day is well known to historians and the public — the effort was even a core element in the popular 1981 movie The Eye of the Needle — but the clever subterfuge of spoofing the location of combat units during the fighting on the European continent was kept quiet for forty years, in the thought that we might use the same techniques in a war against the Russkies.

Rick Beyer ‘78’s film The Ghost Army tells the story of a group of artists, set designers, theater people (and some students, a cop, and a shoe saleman) who started off their war by learning the art of camouflage; then they changed gears with the goal of calling enemy attention to divisions that did not exist or were, in fact, elsewhere. There was no existing procedure for this unprecedented skill.

The group had mock tanks and vehicles that they could blow up like a kid’s inflatable swimming pool. They used “sonic deception”: recordings of tank engines and trucks and bridge construction; and they filled the air with the chatter of recorded radio communications — all to fool the Germans into thinking that there were units ready to jump off into attack at places where they were not actually present.

The 1:07-long film is narrated by Peter Coyote, and it is available on Netflix and on Amazon Streaming Video. Take a look at its website.

Addendum: The movie’s press kit describes Rick’s background as follows:

Writer/Producer/Director Rick Beyer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a bestselling author, and a long-time history enthusiast. His credits include Expedition Apocalypse, filmed in Siberia for National Geographic Channel; The Wright Challenge (winner of a Parents’ Choice Award), Secrets of Jamestown, Revolution in Boston and The Patent Files for The History Channel; and The Emancipation Proclamation (featuring President Bill Clinton) for the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life.” He is also the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books published by Harper Collins, which have been described by the Chicago Tribune as “an old fashioned sweetshop full of tasty morsels.” He began his career as a radio and TV journalist in Chicago and Boston.

Sure, I understand that correlation is not causality, but still, the below figures do make one pause. Why do students not needing financial aid stand a much higher chance of getting into the College than people who can’t pay full freight? Are they smarter? Does the supposedly need-blind Admissions Office peek at the financials just a teensy bit when deciding between two similar candidates whom to admit?

A loyal reader asked these questions when he noted that the College had boasted this year that 70% of all applicants had requested financial aid; then, a few weeks later, Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris ‘84 revealed that only 45% of admitted students were to receive aid (actually the link says 46%, but Dean Laskaris kindly updated the figure for me). Using the College’s numbers, let’s do the math on this past admissions season’s figures:

Applicants for admission: 19,235
Applicants asking for aid (70%): 13,465
Applicants not asking for aid (30%): 5,770
Admitted students receiving aid (45%): 999
Admitted students not receiving aid (55%): 1,221

Chances a student requesting aid will be accepted (999/13,465): 7.4%
Chances a student not requesting aid will be accepted (1,221/5,770): 21.2%

Hmmm. If you don’t need financial aid, you have almost three times the chance of being admitted to the College as compared to a student requesting aid.

Addendum: An alumnus has a question:

I’m not good with math, but aren’t you missing something in your stats in today’s entry? Surely you need to discover which of the students requesting aid were admitted and which weren’t, and which of the students not requesting aid were admitted and which weren’t. Plenty of people apply and request aid, then get admitted but don’t get aid.

Addendum: An a longtime reader comments:

This is not specific to Dartmouth - but I have heard that admissions offices do not always need to violate their own stated policies by peeking at actual financial disclosures in advance of making their decisions. Seems that one can infer an astonishing amount of information simply by using an applicant’s zip code - particularly in urban areas.

Addendum: As does another active Hanover resident:

… A related question to your illuminating post about “Need-Blind Admissions” statistics would be to separate out the recruited athletes from Dartmouth’s financial aid data and then look at the need-blind numbers again.

My guess is that it would echo what happens with the College’s Early Decision application pool. The bulk of Early Decision admits are actually recruited athletes who received admissions “tips” allocated to their coaches. So the likelihood of getting in Early Decision if you are not among the recruited athletes is much worse than the ED statistics would superficially indicate.

Anyway, I think that if you take the recruited athletes out of Dartmouth’s financial aid allocations, the “Need-Blind” admission statistics will look even less promising than Dartblog’s assessment this morning.

Addendum: Yet another perspective:

Dartmouth is a member of the 568 Presidents’ Group (you can Google it). As such, the College has formally certified that it is “need blind” as it must be under federal law to engage in protected discussions within that Group about financial aid policy as allowed under an antitrust exemption granted by Congress. If Dartmouth were, as you suggest, “peek[ing] at the financials just a teensy bit” the College would be exposing itself to a suit for violation of antitrust law. Are you suggesting that Maria Laskaris or Bob Donan would put the College in that position? Or that she is performing her duties as Dean of Admission in contravention of stated College policy?

More to the point, the no-aid-application pool, by definition, consists of students from wealthier families where education is a priority, where they often have access to the best public and private schools, not to mention that most all legacies are no doubt need blind.

By the way, “Need blind,” for purposes of the antitrust exemption, is defined in federal statute, leaving no ambiguity about what that standard is.

Addendum: All views elicit contrary views!

Time for me to do one of my favorite things - playing the devil’s advocate. One of my nephew’s closest friends during his time at the College was accepted ED. This boy was not a recruited athlete, not a legacy, did not hail from an under-represented state and is a Caucasian Episcopalian to boot — haha. He also comes from an economically challenged background, so needed almost full financial aid. The admissions process may be more mysterious than we know.

The other day we noted that the number of students receiving financial aid from the College had dropped in recent years from 51% to 45% of the student body — part of the Kim adminstration’s “soak the students to feed the staff” balanced budget initiative. Several readers wrote in to ask how we are doing versus the other Ivies. Here are the figures for Dartmouth, Penn, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard:

Ivy Financial Aid 2014.jpg

Not only are we again worst-in-show in the financial aid sweepstakes, but we have fallen off the previous trendline that related financial aid to endowment/student: by that latter measure we are still in fourth position in the Ivies behind HYP, and we used to be #4 in giving financial aid, too. Not any more.

A thoughtful observer of the College scene has read this space’s reporting on sexual assault. His reaction has been voiced by other correspondents in the past:

Joe, You noted in the first paragraph: “Yes, alcohol is always part of the equation …” [of sexual assault]

It is illegal in the U.S. (and in New Hampshire specifically) to consume alcohol prior to age 21. If Dartmouth College and its students honor this very simple, concrete law of the land, what effect would that have in reducing the incidence of sexual assault and rape on campus?

This illustrates why “the age of majority” makes sense, and deserves to be respected and enforced: Until you are 21, don’t drink at Dartmouth. If consuming alcohol as a minor in our campus community and under our institutional responsibility is more important to you than following that one simple law, then please go to school elsewhere. As an Ivy League student, plenty of other places will take you.

What to say about this position, an eminently logical one? Alcohol does have myriad negative effects on life at Dartmouth, and if the penalty for consuming it were expulsion, drinking would probably end at the College. Shall we bring back Prohibition?

To start, we should note that only a severe penalty like the expulsion of students could work to rein in student drinking. In the past decade, Jim Wright’s administration rang up hundreds of students on College discipline for underage consumption, and now-retired Hanover Chief of Police Nick Giaccone’s force arrested many hundreds more. Keystone Cop scenes of officers chasing Keystone-consuming students through the bushes played out over and over again on campus. To no effect at all, of course, except to give students disciplinary or criminal records that impeded their efforts to be accepted at grad schools.

We should also be cognizant of the fact that excessive student drinking has been decried in virtually every society from Ancient Greece (Plato’s Symposium means “Drinking Party”) to the present day, and certainly so at Dartmouth ever since Eleazar Wheelock supposedly arrived in Hanover with a barrel of five hundred gallons of New England rum. In 1772, student drinking was such that Wheelock wrote to John Sargent, who ran the Norwich-Hanover ferry (and a tavern, too),

I charitably hope …yt yo will henceforth Sell no Rum nor any Spirits to any Studt … belonging to ys College or School or to any Cook, Servt or Laborer … without a Written order undr my hand or one of ye Tutors-& pray sir, be so good as to signify to me by a Line …your complyce with my Desire …

Wheelock Rum.jpg

The imprecation didn’t work then, and it has not done so since. And frankly, as a society, I don’t think we much care. In some unspoken way, we accept that students on campus drink, though via our weak laws we tut-tut about the practice. Perhaps alcoholic excesses are our own form of Rumspringa, the period of time when Amish youth are allowed to depart from the strict norms of their faith, prior to taking vows to lead a restrained and observant life. In addition to working hard in Hanover, students have a chance to purge themselves of wild feelings, doing so in the knowledge that after Commencement the hard work of a responsible life begins.

I can’t come up with a better explanation than that one for an unstated tolerance that goes back centuries. Perhaps my correspondent is inspired by Utopian sentiments, and he is willing to harshly enforce them? Not me. A conservative approach would be to accept the world as it is, and have the serenity to accept what cannot be changed — while scolding the students for their naughty, naughty behavior.

Addendum: The element left out of the above argument is the new-found abuse of alcohol by women students, with obviously pernicious effects. Responding to that development might change the debate.

Addendum: A reader writes in:

There is one important consideration you omit. By turning a blind eye to underage drinking, we send the message that attendance at an elite institution allows you to selectively obey the law. It is at least worth asking to what extent the proliferation of insider trading and other lawbreaking in the financial world has been nourished by the attitude that the privileged are somehow above the law.

Addendum: As does a wit:

The problem is that the culture of drinking got established when there were different sociological facts than exist today, i.e., there are now women at Dartmouth. The solution is that all women should be required to take a daily dose of Antabuse. The assault problem is thereby mostly solved.

Addendum: And a veteran of the social wars:

Here is a question that I think begs an answer at Dartmouth and everywhere else: What is the driving force behind large numbers of today’s college students routinely drinking themselves into oblivion? What are they running from? What cultural forces are in play? I speak as someone who has certainly imbibed my fair share of cocktails through the years — but I simply do not understand what is fun about throwing up, passing out, making a fool of yourself and awakening with no memory of the night before. Have even heard that it is not unusual for some of these kids to wet their beds after passing out. Whaaaat? To me, the larger question is not about the relevant legalities or choosing to drink vs. choosing to abstain — my question is: Why the increase in continuous excessive drinking? In my day, this was a one or two time event — i.e. a learning experience — something that you never wanted to repeat.

Crowd-sourcing might not be the right term for what journalists do, but if you care about the College and see her weaknesses through the same lens as the writers in this space, you might want to help us out. Do you know areas of waste and incompetence at Dartmouth that need sunlight shone on them? By sharing documents, pictures and details with Dartblog, we can bring information to the attention of the public, the administration and the Trustees — the latter all read us almost every day — that they might never see.

All the P's MenA.jpgAnd you can do so risk free. Unlike Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (or Bob Woodward in real life), sources no longer have to meet reporters in underground parking garages.

Just create a new Gmail e-mail address for yourself, give it a playful name — how about DartblogSource@Gmail.com — and send us news, tips, observations, documents, and your special thoughts about how to make the College a better place for students, faculty and staff. We can chat, and together we can expose secrets that should not be hidden. Needless to say, your confidentiality is guaranteed. Though we are eminently trustworthy, you really don’t need to trust us; equipped with an anonymous e-mail address, we have no way of finding out who you are. In fact, we don’t even try. Our concern is only that you care enough about the College to reveal what so many people don’t want revealed.

Write to us at mail@dartblog.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

At least we’re not in last place in the Ivies: Brown is ranked the 81st university in the world; we come in at 44th. The other six of the Ancient Eight are 14th or better:

CWUR Comp.jpg

The summary of the survey’s methodology is above. Clearly our small size is a hindrance to performance according to the scales the Center for World University Rankings has chosen to use. For a full description of the ranking methodology used by the CWUR — located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — click here.

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