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What’s a spring day without a ballgame, especially when played before a good crowd in the friendly Hanover park donated by Mike Biondi ‘79 (a wonderful class)?:

Red Rolfe Field.jpg

The boys split a doubleheader with Harvard yesterday: they won the first game 2-1; and they lost the second one 7-6, after holding a 6-1 lead. There goes the season. After the game, as is Coach Whalen’s wont, the players put the mound to bed and swept out the dugouts. No spoiled snowflakes these guys:

Baseball Clean-up.jpg

I wrote to Coach Whalen (an adopted member of the Class of, um, ‘79) to ask about the players’ non-playing responsibilities (no jokes about cleanup hitters, please). He replied right away:

They take care of the stands and the trash and do a good job.

I want our players to have some “skin in the game” and take pride in Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park, and appreciate how lucky they are to have this facility. It’s not a privilege to play for me, but it is a privilege to go to Dartmouth College.

We have always taken care of the field after games. In fact, it’s the FIRST thing we do the first day of fall baseball is spend a few hours preparing the dugouts, closets, weed the bushes around the outfield fence, take care of the mounds, etc.

Coach Whalen is too polite to allude to the outrageous cost of having the staff of the College’s Facilities Operations & Management department do this kind of maintenance. As teams, academic departments and student organizations can attest, FO&M’s internal billing rates for simple tasks (delivering a few tables, supplying an AV technician, cleaning an auditorium after an event) are multiples of what one would pay for a private sector company to do the same work. These high prices jack up the cost of activities all around the College, and ultimately inflate tuition for everyone. By having his guys do this work, Coach Whalen frees up funds for team-improving activities. He’s one smart coach — but he’s not alone; a lot of people all over Dartmouth do things for themselves in order to bypass the FO&M ripoff.

Addendum: There will be another doubleheader today with Harvard, but down in Cambridge.

Beyond (literally, too) the stroll around Occom Pond, everyone’s favorite walk at the College is along the Connecticut through Pine Park:

Pine Park.jpg

Pine Park Trail.jpg

Addendum: The College’s Dartmouth Outdoors website provides more information:

PINE PARK: The Park is a ninety acre forest of pine trees that are approximately 125 years old. It begins at the north end of campus, along the edge of the Hanover Country Club golf course, and extends along the Connecticut River from Ledyard Canoe Club northward. The trees were saved from the Diamond Match Company in 1900 by local residents who later turned the land over to the College and to the Town of Hanover. This pristine area is also a site where forest and river ecosystems interface. The Park, therefore, is home to a rich mix of water and forest wildlife. There are many trails that wind through these woods. Some lead directly onto the golf course, where walkers and seekers of solitude must be wary of airborne golf balls. The trails are excellent for walking, cross-country skiing and jogging. Several spots along the banks of the Connecticut and throughout the forest, just off the trails, provide a spectacular sense of isolation from the human world.

I often do a lap around the football field when bicycling back from town. The team is out there regularly now:

Football 2017.jpg

Our first Ivy game is against Penn on September 30 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia; we open at home against Yale on October 7. Here’s the full schedule:

Football 2017 Schedule.jpg

The D has a good editorial today on the abrupt dismissal of Professor Jane Hill as head of Allen House. I particularly appreciated the Editors’ praise for the faculty:

In our daily lives, we see consistent and abundant evidence that faculty members care for us, whether through the office hours they hold or the passion with which they teach their classes.

A great many Dartmouth profs spend time and energy interacting with students because they truly like doing so. Teaching for them is a vocation, and not simply a professional obligation.

I was often surprised, but am no longer, when I would mention a student to a professor — someone in the professor’s class who had commented to me on the prof — and the professor knew exactly about whom I am talking, and showed evidence of knowing the student personally, as well as from classroom interactions. That devotion is one of the finest aspects of the College.

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

Sonu Bedi1.jpgSonu Bedi is an Associate Professor of Government and Director of the Ethics Institute. His training in law and political theory have led him to a career focused on examining some of the most difficult questions that arise in the course of public life and civil society. Bedi’s scholarship, along with his widely admired teaching abilities, indicate that his star is a rising one.

Bedi, who grew up in sunny Florida, made the long trek up to New England for his undergraduate degree at Brown, from which he graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Philosophy in 1997. He continued on to Harvard Law School, where he earned his Juris Doctor in 2001, after which he began working at the New York office of Cahill Gordon & Reindel. Bedi quickly ascertained that the drudgery of firm life was not for him, so he left after a year to start a Ph.D. program in political science at Yale. This proved to be a much more enriching intellectual experience for Bedi, who grew to love the academic life as an assistant to the prominent legal scholar Bruce Ackerman, and he earned his doctorate with distinction in 2006. He subsequently joined the Dartmouth faculty, and he has been in Hanover ever since.

Assuming that you grew up in the United States (or any other liberal democracy, for that matter), you believe that you have certain rights which entitle you to certain things. The ability to freely express a personal opinion or practice a given religion without fear of persecution or punishment, for example, is a fundamental part of public life; in fact, it is constitutionally guaranteed in the United States. Such rights may not be abridged by the government; they are located outside the sphere of influence of the normal lawmaking process.

Because they are so powerful, rights are constantly invoked by people arguing either side of virtually any important political debate. This can lead to rhetorical impasses and a frustrating sense of entrenchment. Women were granted the right to abort because of an alleged constitutional right to privacy, but what about the unborn child’s right to life? The Second Amendment explicitly gives the right to bear arms, but what happens if that infringes upon another person’s right to have an expectation of safety in public? One runs in circles.

Bedi’s response to the above conundrum makes him either a tremendously innovative scholar or a crazy person (or both). He would like to see rights, as a concept, removed from the arena of democratic decision-making; the 2009 book in which Bedi outlines his theory is bluntly titled Rejecting Rights. Instead of relying on the language of rights to decide difficult political and social issues, Bedi argues that we should limit the power of the government by requiring that it justify its actions within the context of a harm principle; that is, governments would only be allowed to act if doing so can reasonably be argued to combat some sort of harm. State actions based on mere moral considerations, on the other hand, would be illegitimate. Bedi claims that expanding the sphere of the government’s possible influence while forcing it to meet a higher justificatory bar would allow democracies to be more flexible and, at the same time, limit state power. Why the state does something — not what alleged right state action violates — ought to guide limits on governmental authority. Reasons, not rights, should do the normative work.

Bedi’s second book, Beyond Race, Sex, and Sexual Orientation: Legal Equality Without Identity (2013), expands the notion of harm-based justification of governmental action to the (mine)field of equal protection. Traditionally, justices and scholars interpret the Constitution’s commitment to equality as protecting certain classes of people — women, gays and lesbians, and racial minorities, to name a few examples. Bedi argues that we should stop relying on the identity of so-called “suspect classes” as the trigger for equal protection (what he dubs the “identity approach”) and instead focus on the state’s power to act on certain rationales or reasons rather than others as a better way to ensure equality.

The Supreme Court could, for example, invalidate voter identification laws if it found that they were insufficiently justified with respect to harm by a state legislature. Or the Court could invalidate anti-gay legislation by determining that such legislation is based on religious (rather than secular) rationales instead of by invoking the rights of gays and lesbians. The Court would therefore not have to wade into the dangerous waters of invoking identity rights-based claims and the language of strict scrutiny that accompanies it. In essence, Bedi finds that identity approach needlessly exacerbates the sting of the Court’s ability to strike down legislation and threatens the sense of individualism that is required by our deliberative democracy.

Bedi’s ability to provide thought-provoking — if unconventional — solutions to complex problems will make him an excellent Director of the Ethics Institute, a post to which he was recently appointed. Bedi hopes to raise the scholarly profile of the Institute and encourage students to become involved with its programming. An annual lecture series will provide guest speakers the opportunity to present arguments relating to a chosen theme from different perspectives; Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School will kick off the 2017-2018 series, titled “Free Speech on College Campuses,” on September 14th.

Bedi is a force in the classroom as well, as evidenced by the Class of 2014’s decision to grant him the Jerome Goldstein Award for Distinguished Teaching. His lineup of courses reflects his diverse scholarly interests; “Civil Liberties,” “Constitutional Law, Development, and Theory,” “Contemporary Readings on Justice,” and “Theorizing Free Speech” are invariably packed with politically curious and civic-minded students.

Addendum: Bedi has a reputation of really going to bat for students when it comes to mentorship and writing letters of recommendation. I can personally attest to both of those things as someone who was lucky enough to take two of his courses, which were challenging and incredibly engaging. He is, to sum up, a first-class scholar and educator in addition to being a first-class human being.

Addendum: Watch Professor Bedi lecture on the topic of Rejecting Rights:

schlissel.jpegUniversity of Michigan President Mark Schlissel has recently caught a bit of flak for deciding that this year his school will have to do without a commencement speaker. Why would he make such a decision, you ask? Try not to grit your teeth as you read his explanation, as printed in an article in The Michigan Daily:

Schlissel clarified the plans for the bicentennial commencement ceremony, specifically the choice not to have an outside speaker, which has sparked negative reactions from students. He cited recent commencement speakers like Michael Bloomberg, who was criticized for his discussion of safe spaces and trigger warnings, and the founders of Zingerman’s, who some students considered not sufficiently “prominent” to speak at commencement, to show how controversy over commencement is an annual occurrence.

The former Mayor of New York, who more or less told safe space guard dogs and microaggression crusaders to stick it where the sun don’t shine in his remarks at Michigan’s commencement last year, ruffled some feathers with his much-needed frankness. Apparently, the scars left behind by that traumatic bout of honesty haven’t quite healed, and Schlissel is afraid that the presence of another voice not hitched to the promulgation of the present-day university orthodoxy would tear open those wounds anew.

Meanwhile, Zingerman’s, an Ann Arbor staple, makes a damn good sandwich. Seems prominent enough to me. Let’s continue:

“I point this out to say it’s always controversial,” Schlissel said. “In this particularly politically polarizing era, it would have been very challenging to find anybody in the political domain because everybody offends somebody these days in politics. We’ll go back to having speakers in subsequent years’ graduations, but for this one time, we decided to do something different.”

To be clear, the offended parties when it comes to “controversial speakers” at universities virtually always happen to be left-wing social justice advocates who, in their quest for tolerance, forget to be tolerant themselves. As a reference, this helpful article provides a list of speakers who were uninvited from campuses in 2015-16, and there have, of course, been more incidents across the country this year. So, it is far from an “everyone” problem; this paralyzing sense of righteous indignation is almost exclusively the province of what I like to call illiberal liberals. If you think like they do, great, but if not, sit down and shut up.

Moreover, Schlissel’s indication that the absence of a speaker will be a one-time occurrence is a real head-scratcher. Does he think that people will stop having opinions in future years? Will free speech suddenly cease to excite and engage and inflame as it always has? Or is this hiatus just meant as a timeout for the more boisterous children so that they can rest their lungs?

He acknowledged student complaints that their voices were not heard during the decision process, but he emphasized the efforts of the University to make the bicentennial commencement unique.

“I heard them, but I didn’t obey, in effect,” Schlissel said of student voices. “I think that’s healthy, I think the student voice is always important, it’s always welcome, but I think it’s misleading to think that it’s always determinative.”

Schlissel gets a couple of points here for being up-front about his disregard for student opinion, even if such disregard is endemic of university administrators’ dismissive attitudes towards dissenting viewpoints nowadays.

Despite the student body pushback, Schlissel emphasized his belief that commencement will still be memorable for all those who are graduating.

It will be memorable because all those who are graduating will remember how their commencement took place without a speaker.

“We’re stepping away from tradition for the sake of making this a special graduation,” Schlissel said. “I’m confident it’s going to be great.”


Addendum: It may be a coincidence — or perhaps there’s something in the water in Ann Arbor — but it was at Michigan that Phil Hanlon cut his administrative teeth.

Inside Higher Education reports on the continuing shame at Middlebury:

Middlebury Professor Apologizes Comp.jpg

Read Bertram Johnson’s full piece.

The pathetic self-criticism ritual on display here was typical of Communist nations in the bad old days. Could anything be more abject?

Addendum: What a contrast with erstwhile Midd President Ron Liebowitz’ forthright and principled condemnation of the defacement of a 9/11 commemoration in 2013.

Addendum: Jon Haidt’s provocative piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education properly summarizes the issues inherent in the current environment: Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus; From now on, any speaker who arouses a protest is at risk of a beating.

Eleven Dartmouth women and four Dartmouth men have won Fulbright scholarships, according to Dartmouth News.

Addendum: This past fall, fourteen women and six men were inducted into Dartmouth’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Addendum: During my time as a student, President Kemeny would begin his speeches with the salutation, “Women and men of Dartmouth.”

When I met with Phil Hanlon early in his Presidency (faithful readers will recall that he asked me off the bat if I was an alumnus — so much for preparing for a meeting), I commented that it had been reported in the press that during the financial crisis he had cut costs significantly at the University of Michigan. To his credit, at least as far as honesty goes, he told me that this information was not true; in fact, he said, he had helped restore Michigan’s finances by increasing the size of the student body.

Phil did not, however, go on to say that in doing so, he was diluting the education of Michigan’s students.

I recalled Phil’s remark when I looked at this Dartmouth News story:

Morton Hall Renovation Comp.jpg

More students in more rooms in the same space, n’est-ce pas? Please don’t tell me that living conditions in Morton Hall will be better after the renovation.

But then Morton Hall is just a reflection of the longstanding growth of the total student body enrolled at the College in the fall term: from 4,084 students in 2002 to 4,310 last year:

Total Undergraduate Enrollment.jpg

That’s an increase of 5.5%. The result: more pressure to get into classes and dorms; larger classes; and a decline in the quality of a Dartmouth education.

If the administration has a long term plan to grow the student body, maybe Phil and the Trustees should let us in on it.

Jane Hill3.jpgThe D has finally gotten around to reporting on the abrupt dismissal of Thayer Professor Jane Hill as the head of Allen House. Beyond material already covered in this space, the piece noted Hill’s popularity with students:

“It’s going to be hard to get another house professor, especially one of [Hill’s] quality and caliber,” [Sam] Seifert [‘20, an Allen House Leadership Council member] said…

Seifert said he was upset that Hill was fired and that the council appreciated Hill’s efforts and that she was always willing to help.

“The council loved her,” Seifert said.

In addition, we should not forget what an exemplary scientist Hill is. She is doing cutting edge work with a large staff in The Hill Lab at Thayer. The laboratory’s website describes its activities as follows:

We seek to push the technological boundaries of what can be achieved diagnostically using human breath as well as patient sputum, lavage, blood, and urine. We are particularly focused on respiratory infections - viral, bacterial, and fungal - and our work over the past few years shows great promise, particularly for bacterial infections.

We apply some of the most sophisticated analytical tools available to determine the applications and limits of breath analysis, working with collaborators from around the world. In our basic science work, we are keen to understand the origins and consequences of the volatile molecules we find in breath.

With grant awards and contracts from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the NIH, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a vaccine development organization called AERAS — total funding from these entities comes to about $1.1 million — Hill works fulltime with two research scientists, two post-docs, and four graduate students, and at any given time she has about eight undergraduates working in her lab.

As well, Hill is leading a grant from the Luce Foundation ($300,000) that seeks to develop tomorrow’s female leaders in science and engineering. The funding supports undergraduate women who do research in labs at Thayer or with Thayer-affiliated faculty.

The administration has made a serious mistake in allowing Dean of the College Rebecca Biron to dismiss Hill, especially in such a peremptory manner. Crackerjack female scientists are rare, and ones who have a heartfelt interest in students are rarer still. That Jane Hill does not yet have tenure, but was willing to devote her time to Allen House, is further testimony to her commitment to undergraduates. But then those factors seem of little importance to an administration addicted to political correctness and the exercise of dictatorial control over all people in contact with students. How pathetic.

Addendum: Hill describes her research in this video dated October, 21, 2015:

Addendum: Hill teaches ENGS 30: Biological Physics; ENGS 156: Heat, Mass, and Momentum Transfer; and ENGG 199: Medical Devices and Monitoring Technologies.

No sooner had we reported on Staci Mannella ‘18’s lawsuit against the College for insufficiently accommodating her special needs than the latest Alumni Magazine arrived with a story about her exploits:

DAM Staci.jpg

Here is Staci’s website, named Blinding Fast.

After Adam Wright 17’s death at the end of January — President Hanlon’s letter noted that he “died unexpectedly” — the issue of suicide has been pushed to front and center on campus. The Student Assembly has organized a “backpack campaign” to take place over the next five days:

Suicide SA.jpg

And on May 13, the College’s third annual Out of the Darkness Walk will be held:

Out of Darkness Walk Comp.jpg

Just how prevalent is suicide in America? According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it is America’s 10th leading cause of death. Each year 44,193 Americans die by their own hand. For every suicide, twenty-five attempts are made. The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.26 per 100,000 individuals. Men die by suicide three and a half times more often than women. On average, there are 121 suicides per day.

Closer to home, the Class of ‘79 website’s In Memory section lists as deceased 36 members of our about-1,000-students-strong class. Of those unfortunates, 8-10 had their deaths described using the telltale language of suicide — “died unexpectedly,” “passed away suddenly,” “died at his home” or other pregnantly nondescript language — anything but an admission of what actually occurred.

Perhaps if we speak openly about the problem of suicide, one that is more common than deaths in automobile accidents, our society might make progress in reducing it. Good for the students who are taking up this cause.

Addendum: A close observer of the College writes in:

Good way to frame today’s post on suicide. It is indirect, yet addresses in passing the fact that Adam Wright’s death came by his own hand — something (perhaps understandably) people have been loathe to say in public. At the memorial service in Rollins in late March, his father described what occurred as a “tragic accident.” Of the many students who celebrated Adam’s life through fond remarks from the dais, not one alluded even indirectly to what has taken their classmate and friend.

In the long run, it is healthier and more helpful for people to deal with sobering realities like this honestly (albeit discreetly). The memorial felt like a beautifully orchestrated exercise in avoiding the obvious question: How is that we are here grieving the loss of such a vibrant 22 year-old classmate? From all appearances, no one seemed to know — or if they did, no one was saying. That does not help people process their loss. This week’s campus events that your post highlights might be a positive step forward and a useful antidote to what has occurred until now. These are difficult, complicated and sensitive matters, but sunlight stimulates healing.

Addendum: You can put one more item on the list of events:

DCS Awareness.jpg

We don’t seem to make the national press very often for innovations in academics or residential life (maybe because there aren’t any), but we sure do look bad on a regular basis:

Staci Mannella Comp.jpg

Here is Staci’s Athletics Department bio and a Dartmouth News press release about her skiing and horseback riding exploits for the College’s varsity teams.

Addendum: A story from NBC’s New York affiliate gives more detail regarding Staci’s complaint:

Staci Mannella, who has been legally blind since birth with a condition called achromatopsia, claims Dartmouth has repeatedly delayed or failed to provide her with note takers, test readers, lab assistants, and the other visual aids she needs to fully participate in courses where her classmates have the advantage of full eyesight.

In one instance, Mannella says she failed a biology exam because she wasn’t given a test reader. The exam, according to the lawsuit, required Mannella to visually identify microscope images. In another example, Mannella says the school failed to line up a note taker for her chemistry class, even though all of the lecture notes were done on a chalk board which she couldn’t see…

Mannella concedes Dartmouth has provided some of the disability help she has requested, but too often she says the accommodations came too late. According to the lawsuit, during her very first semester, she didn’t receive course reading materials in a digital format until well after classes began, putting her at a disadvantage to students who could start their reading immediately.

Aside from seeking more help with her visual disability, Mannella is requesting the school refund her tuition and change her grades - from the B range to the A range - in classes where she says accommodations have been effectively denied or delayed.

Does this Simpson’s excerpt explain in the Yale context why Phil’s capital campaign is dead in the water as we approach the fourth anniversary of his arrival in Hanover?

The formal announcement of the campaign appears to have been pushed off again. There is talk of 2018 — or even 2019, the 250th anniversary year of the College’s creation.

Have big donors taken the measure of our President and found him wanting, too? By now, almost everyone in Hanover has come to that conclusion.

Addendum: At 2:06 in the video, watch a pompous undergrad take umbrage at the word “fellow” — the term that got erstwhile Allen House head Jane Hill in trouble with various dean-alings — despite the fact that Phil can’t say enough about his Society of Fellows.

Baker at Night1.jpg

Not a bad nighttime image for an iPhone 7 using the ProCam photo app (click on the image for a full-screen image at a much higher resolution).



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