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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.

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.

Our favorite summer swimming spot over in Norwich is in fine form: freezing cold water tinged an emerald green. We go twice or even three times a day when it’s hot and humid.

Swimming Hole.JPG

Paddling around in a rushing current is refreshing; the flow takes away your body heat in short order. Also, it is fun to swim upstream under the current and then surface into the foam of the waterfall. Simple pleasures. Of course, getting in can take a little effort.

Just as New Hampshire is #2 in the nation for per capita beer consumption, so is the state in second place for wine drinking — this time behind the District of Columbia. Is it something in the water?

USA Wine Consumption Comp.jpg

The figures don’t indicate whether Washington D.C.’s nation-leading performance derives from high sales of Chablis or Thunderbird — probably both.

Of course, New Hamsphire’s wine consumption is fairly modest by international standards. We are on a par with the UK, but only at a fraction of the level achieved by the Latin countries of Europe:

Wine Consumption Int'l.jpg

Addendum: One might wonder if New Hampshire’s state liquor store system is skewing the results by selling a great deal of alcohol to bargain-hunting Massachusetts citizens, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. How to explain Vermont’s and Massachusetts’ high ranking?

Sexual Assault Summit Logo Comp.jpgSexual assault on Dartmouth’s campus is a real problem — anyone who denies that assertion has not spent time discussing the issue with young women at the College. For decades I have heard thoughtful undergrads describe events that befell them and many of their friends. Yes, alcohol is always part of the equation, but so are predators who maneuver vulnerable students into searingly regrettable situations. Just what percentage of students are assaulted is unclear, but the figure is significant.

By all accounts, Phil Hanlon’s administration did a bold thing in hosting this week’s conference on assault. Several presenters talked about the longstanding difficulty in finding a venue for the event. Of course, as this space has observed, the College will take it on the chin for doing so alone. I wonder if the administration spent any time investigating whether the other Ivy schools had an interest in co-hosting the event as a sign that they, too, take the problem seriously.

That said, as Alexandra Arnold recently noted here, both peer-reviewed research and local experience point to a small number of students being responsible for a great many assaults. Yet all of the event’s polished presenters — many of whom seem to have presented the same material many times; in fact, several of them had worked as stand-up comedians — had a tremendous investment in the notion of “the water in which we swim.” Speaker after speaker asserted that our entire society is at fault for sexual assaults, and that incitement to assault is all around us in the media, the general culture, in rape jokes, and even in children’s nursery songs (not that I have ever heard the ballads that were sung by two of the speakers).

Different presenters had trolled the internet for evidence of the objectification of women’s bodies (avant garde fashion ads directed at women seemed particularly at fault), the glorification of violence against women, and rape images. Dartmouth Professor Susan Brison described the entire world as deeply misogynistic, and more than one speaker made statements to the effect that, “Any time a women leaves the house, she fears being raped, harassed and beaten.”

Perhaps the latter statement is true of the women at the conference (90% of the 250-300 people in attendance), but the assertion is a long way from reflecting the attitudes of most women. Activists and victims have a particular worldview, but, no matter how justified, it should not be allowed to dictate policy. In this instance, such shrillness undercut the seriousness of many of the speakers.

Sexual Assault Conference.JPGSpeaking of policy and its dictation, one session of the conference was entitled Sexual Assault on Campus: Federal Perspectives. The speakers were Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and Anurima Bhargava, Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. These self-assured, well spoken regulators insisted that it was their role to enforce “the law,” not withstanding the fact that prior to the Obama administration, Title IX had never been interpreted to cover sexual assault.

Both women seemed to believe that the world of higher ed should bend to their will — for its own good — and that we’ll all be better off if the effort against assault is piloted from Washington. Bhargava mentioned that this year alone she had threatened four schools with the complete loss of Federal support and grants unless they complied with her department’s orders. Questions from the audience about “safe harbors,” so that schools can know if they are in compliance with regulations, were met with derisory laughter from the audience. The consensus seemed to be that the Feds could not do enough to force schools to follow rules developed in D.C.

The whole proceeding recalled for me the fight against crime in the 1960’s and 1970’s: for decades, many people asserted that criminality was “a social problem” that was difficult, if not impossible, to solve, stemming, as it supposedly did, from social injustice and inequality. That idea turned out to be untrue. Since the 1980’s, strong enforcement and the incarceration of a relatively small number of criminals have returned us to low crime rates not seen since the 1950’s. Despite the unsupported ideological posturing of other speakers, David Lisak’s research, which he presented with special conviction at the conference, leads self-evidently to the conclusion that enforcement efforts should be specifically directed at predators (here and here). Notions of a rape culture distract from the needed fight against only a few culpable people, and worse, they generate a pushback when this idea leads all men to be tarred with a broad brush.

The coming months will make clear in which direction the College’s bureaucrats will go.

Addendum: The press was not allowed to attend the conference’s working groups, which addressed specific issues of prevention and enforcement. These groups will report on their recommendations in several months, perhaps at another conference.

Addendum: MindingTheCampus notes that the conference organizers chose not to include any civil libertarians or defense attorneys among the presenters.

Addendum: Several speakers commented that the U.S. military was far more energetic in working transparently against sexual assault than our leading universities. The military is forthcoming with detailed statistics about its problem; colleges were accused are being motivated by PR to downplay or even hide the gravity of campus assault. David Lisak asked pointedly if schools want to behave honorably or whether they will choose to conduct themselves in the manner of the Catholic Church.

Would you send your child to this school? Or if you were a senior educator, how would you evaluate Dartmouth when asked to do so by U.S. News as it prepares its rankings for the coming year?

In some abstract way, the College is taking the lead in the fight against sexual assault. However, on the ground, the administration-induced harm to our reputation will last for decades. The Chronicle of Higher Education is widely read. Articles like this don’t help us.

CHE Assault Conf Comp.jpg

Read the entire Chronicle piece here.

For a place that has been dead in the water for several decades, a V-P in charge of academic innovation could be a good idea — or it might just be another layer of bureaucracy. The choice of the person to lead the charge will make all the difference.

Vice-Provost.jpg

My sense at the moment is that Phil is hiring tough-minded, honest people to run the College. A good change. There remains plenty more house-cleaning to do at the senior level, and the new hires will have to deal with the Augean Stables bureaucracies below them, but the signs are there that this is already happening. Are things looking up?

Addendum: Upon further reflection, I might inquire why everyone in the administration is not responsible for innovation.

The College is spending $1.1M to replace the Hop’s windows, and there is still work going on at the Inn: it turns out that the structure’s porte-cochere needs to be renovated in order to be in compliance with building and transportation codes, and the outdoor dining area is being reconfigured. One would think that Jim Kim would have dealt with these things while spending over $50M on the Inn’s recent renovation.

In addition, the Town and the College, with the help of Federal money, are turning the area in front of the Hop and the Inn into a “Mobility Hub.” How did we get along all these years with just a plain old bus stop.

Mobility Hub.jpg

Let’s hope that the College’s new building czar, Lisa Hogarty, will soon be done cleaning up past messes.

Addendum: Here is the College’s press release on the various projects.

Mosley1.jpgThe exodus from OPAL continues, perhaps as a result of Charlotte Johnson hitting the road. As we mentioned the other day, Alysson Satterlund is leaving town, and Kyle and Aeriel Ashlee have departed, too, after a memorable parting shot.

Now Assistant Dean and Advisor to Black Students Dr. T.M. Mosley has told colleagues that she is exiting Hanover for points unstated. Mosley is well known to Dartblog readers: Charlotte Johnson sent her to Ghana in 2013 with another Dartmouth staffer to console the family of Ernest Amoh, a rising sophomore at Trinity University in Hartford, Connecticut, who drowned in a swimming accident at the Chieftan Inn. Ernest was the brother of Justice Amoh ‘13.

Mosley also journeyed to Hawaii this spring on the College’s dime to attend an American Counseling Association conference. Given that she’ll be leaving town soon, I can’t see how the College earned much return on that investment.

In my own business, when people don’t stay with us for at least a year after they attend a conference, they get to pay for half the cost of attending the event. Not so at the College, I guess.

We’ve commented before on how the College’s bureaucracy seems to have formal procedures for resolving even de minimis incidents. Nothing just gets sorted out any more; everything must be adjudicated. As a result, there is pushback, with the upshot that we are burdened with endless, expensive processes. Students, lawyer up:

Con Rights Comp.jpg

On the subject of sexual assault — about which a national conference is currently being held at the College — we’ve noted in the past the depredations of notorious College administrators. I am not aware of any local litigious responses to frontier justice, but on a national level, an ever-growing number of institutions are being sued for sloppy, arbitrary procedures. Not that this situation is always the schools’ fault: the Departments of Justice and Education are micromanaging the anti-assault effort on an increasingly granular level according to the Chronicle of Higher Education (here and here).

Helman Mandel.jpgAs part of the search that led to Phil Hanlon ‘77’s appointment as President, Trustees Steve Mandel Jr. ‘78 and Bill Helman IV ‘80 met with several members of the Faculty Coordinating Committee a little more than two years ago. The event was memorable as an illustration of how out of touch with faculty sentiment these muckymucks are.

About a half dozen professors were present at a meeting that was the culmination of an extended formal process to gather faculty sentiment about the characteristics that professors wanted to see in the College’s next President. Helman explained at some length that the search committee was casting a wide net and that he had interviewed many candidates. Then he jocularly remarked, “But I imagine that you would all be happy with Carol Folt.”

The response of the professors in attendance could fairly be described as a deafening silence. To a man, they looked blankly downward at the conference room table.

Mandel reacted with his usual pokerface, but Helman was more expressive. My source, who heard an account of the meeting from one of the participants, says that the Committee members were surprised that the Trustees had so little insight into faculty sentiment. She can’t recall whether Helman exclaimed, “Oh shit!” out loud, or whether he only communicated that message via his facial expression. The effect was the same. For a brief moment, the two Trustees shifted uncomfortably in their chairs, and then they moved on to other matters.

How could these top Trustees not know that Carol was held in contempt/disdain by not only the members of Faculty Coordinating Committee, but also by almost everyone on the faculty itself, even women science professors? To whom were the Trustees turning at that time in order to understand the day-to-day working of the College? I only know one person who thought that the IP was doing a good job — Carol herself. There’s your answer to the latter question.

As I have repeatedly written, the Trustees need to get out more.

Addendum: Of course, Carol has been the subject of special attention in this space for many years. It seems that the Trustees read Dartblog; sadly they don’t take it to heart. Experience shows that they should.

My boy is at Babson College’s five-week summer entrepreneurship program. Seems a rigorous affair. In contrast to the decrepit, steamy dorms reserved for summer students by a certain Ivy League college, the dormitories at Babson are all air conditioned with, get this, individual units that the denizens can adjust themselves. The 72 high school students in the program will leave Babson thinking that the school is a cool place.

Babson also offers all campus visitors an easy-to-use Internet connection. Access to the speedy network is unsecured, and once you are recognized, your are accorded instant access forevermore. Turn on your iPhone and you are in. In contrast, Dartmouth Public doesn’t remember you at all: if you turn off your phone, even for a few minutes, and then turn it back on, you will need to go to Settings/WiFi/Dartmouth Public and then tap on the network; after 5-10 seconds you are connected to the College’s slow public server. A poor show. Check out the comparative download speeds at Babson and Dartmouth — over an order of magnitude of difference from one to the other:

Dartmouth Babson WiFi.jpg

Slow speeds make a difference when you try to download even something basic like e-mail. But the multi-step connection process is the real burden. The College should do better here, but I bet that some department somewhere is saving a few bucks by cutting bone to save fat. Visitors to Hanover will not go away impressed. This sad performance comes from a school that used to win awards as the nation’s most wired campus.

Addendum: A reader provides some background:

College and university amenities are an interesting consideration. They do seem to attract potential students (and perhaps more importantly, their parents). One of my friends currently attends High Point University, which is definitely on the extreme end of amenity spending. Though its endowment is only $37M, the current president has directed roughly $700M toward renovations and new amenities over the years. HPU has a beautifully landscaped campus, outdoor swimming pools & hot tubs, movie theater showing new releases (with free snacks), free arcade, putting green, sports bar, ice cream truck, personalized visitor parking spots, and an on-campus steakhouse that students can eat at with their meal plan. Obviously, Dartmouth doesn’t need most of these somewhat cheesy amenities; we have an excellent academic reputation to stand on.

While we don’t need to model ourselves on HPU, we do need to make investments in things that have a profound impact on students and academic life. The Choates dorms are decrepit, DDS continues to limit competition and burdens students with high prices, and our technological innovation has come to a near stand-still. According to a somewhat recent article on the D, our network capacity is 4 gigabits of data per second. To put this into perspective, Google Fiber offers gigabit connections for $70/month, admittedly in a few select markets. Thus, four homes with Google Fiber have the same network capacity as a college with over 6000 total students. Dartmouth used to be associated with innovation—BASIC, campuswide wireless Internet, even VoIP in dorms—but it seems non-academic staff members take precedence in our budget today.

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