April 1, 2007

NY Post on Trustee Election:

A few points:

1) Refers to Dartmouth as Dartmouth University. I'm not sure if that's because the "journalist" didn't bother to check the most basic fact of the story or if he's trying to further the "Dartmouth is turning into a University!!!" meme. (It's an op-ed, so I don't think the latter option is completely irrational, although I think the former is more likely.)

2) Nice of them to tie this all in to a (heavily anticipated) wave of conservative backlash against liberal administrations across the country: "Stephen Smith's insurgent campaign likely presages struggles all across the world of U.S. higher education."

3) I think the last paragraph is just plain weird:
Recent decades have seen one insular and unaccountable institution after another broken open - from the Big Three auto companies to securities brokerages to IBM. Now this trend toward openness and accountability - fostered in part by technology, and in part by stakeholders' unwillingness to be taken advantage of - is coming to higher education. The bumpy ride for university administrators may be just beginning.
Breaking up monopolies and prosecuting unethical business practices seems like a very different venture from (ostensibly) returning a small private college to its traditional values, but hey, what's the point in accurate analogies?

4) I really like how athletics are part of the "meat" of the College according to Smith ("Worse, he says, the school met financial shortfalls after the collapse of the tech bubble by moving to to cut athletics and library facilities, not administration - an approach Smith calls 'cutting the meat to spare the fat.'"), while things like (I'm guessing) OPAL and IDE are part of the "fat." Yes, athletics are essential to the College's mission while diversity and equity aren't. Dear god.

5) Here's another instance of Smith referring to Dartmouth as being under a "New McCarthyism."

I'm starting to wonder what my Dartmouth degree will be worth in twenty years if the Smiths and the Rodgerses have their way. We'll keep the "meat," sure, but we'll be certain to lose the brain.

More: Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that the piece is by conservative blogshitter Glenn Reynolds. Figures.
PowerLine also links to the article, and says this about the column: "Glenn Reynolds now takes a look at the Dartmouth College trustee election that kicks off today and features (in our view) independent trustee candidate Stephen Smith."
Does this mean that Smith is independent "in our view"—i.e., that most sensible people don't think Smith is independent, but they persist in doing so? Why the caveat? If they're so sure Smith is independent, can't they say so on their own blog? Maybe this was just a typo, but you know what Freud would say.


  1. Anonymous9:34 AM

    If Smith is elected, you think Dartmouth will keep the "meat" and "lose the brain?" You think a noted Supreme Court clerk and professor at a top law school is less brainy than a man who works in professional baseball?

  2. That's a curious reading of what I said. I'm not referring to Smith's or Alderson's intelligence at all; I'm referring to priorities. If Smith wants to insist that athletics is part of the "meat" of Dartmouth (as is, no doubt, the Greek system), and that we should de-emphasize worthwhile research by our professors in favor of some ill-defined small-class/no-research=good-teaching program, then yeah, I think that kind of focus will lead to a diminishing of Dartmouth's intellectual prowess relative to other institutions.

  3. Anonymous12:59 PM

    Look at this crock: http://www.stephensmithtrustee.com/2007/03/24/crashing-the-party/

  4. Anonymous1:45 PM

    "PowerLine also links to the article, and says this about the column: "Glenn Reynolds now takes a look at the Dartmouth College trustee election that kicks off today and features (in our view) independent trustee candidate Stephen Smith."
    Does this mean that Smith is independent "in our view"—i.e., that most sensible people don't think Smith is independent, but they persist in doing so? Why the caveat? If they're so sure Smith is independent, can't they say so on their own blog? Maybe this was just a typo, but you know what Freud would say."

    The sentence discussed above is hardly worth the level of contention you apply.

    Most would read this as simply as it is written: as the constituents of their site admitting that it is only their opinion that the article "features" Stephen Smith, not a real fact.

    They likely see the article as a positive PR instrument for the candidate of their preference. This is pretty clear, and Freudian only to those who are seeking a hidden meaning.

    Secondarily, I doubt very much that they are walking on eggshells around their support for Smith. The current vagueness in the term rests only on Dartmouth-specific semantics, born out of the Dartmouth trustee elections. Since there are no real party lines, the term independent was used in the past to reference those candidates independent of the college's official selection process. The "issue" of who is and perpetuated only by those who insist on nuanced harping. I would imagine that at this point these guys are pretty much indifferent as to how one can draw the lines in the sand.

    Additionally, any debate over who and who isn't truly independent is no longer relevant as the campaign has become privatized, essentially rendering all candidates independent.

    The issue of campaign finance has been an ongoing debate on all political fronts and will certainly be going forward at Dartmouth. Smith does not have the unilateral conservative support you use to demonize him, nor does he have any more access to funding than any other candidate. I highly doubt his profession serves him on this front any more than that a CEO or a baseball magnate.

    In the past I have found your website an insightful way to stay in touch with what is really going on back in Hanover. But at this point, I doubt you have any less of a bias or agenda than the evildoers you plan to stop.

    Zealotry is equally obnoxious coming from either side of this argument, despite your moral high-ground stance. You are reaching more and more every day, and moving further and further away from intelligent commentary, political or otherwise.

  5. Anonymous2:05 PM

    xof course athletics is part of the meat, as much as class work is. sandy alderson (arguably an idiot, but an accomplished idiot) and jeff immelt were both noted dartmouth athletes.

    few english majors go on to become professional authors, few philosophy majors go on to become professional philosophers, and few athletes go on to compete professionally. the point is, what you do in school doesn't necessarily define you as much as how you do it, and in that case athletics goes a very, very long way to developing hard working, dedicated, team-oriented adults with leadership abilities. consider how often does a student spend on classwork and how dedicated must he be to it to succeed; its a much lesser amount that how much a varsity athlete must be dedicated to his sport and the work required of him to succeed.

    athletics is undeniably valuable for the development of individuals, especially with close to 50% of dartmouth students participating, at either the varsity, club or intramural level.

  6. I fail to see how a reasonable person would assume that the parenthetical phrase "in our view" in any way modifies the verb "features" in that sentence. Your contention that it does, and that it does because there is doubt whether or not the article in question "features" Smith is ridiculous. The article clearly features Smith; there is no doubt to be found there.

    I wasn't putting very much stress on the sentence--it was an aside, a snarky comment that a) the PowerLiners can't write very well and b) their poor writing skills lead to a sentence that could be reasonably interpreted as casting doubt on how independent Smith really is. There is, of course, plenty of reason to doubt Smith's independence, and that doubt is significant because it contradicts Smith's own assertions, a valid criticism even if campaigns have been "privatized." Whether candidates should be independent or not is not my concern here; it's whether Smith tells the truth about his own campaign. I don't think he does tell the truth, I think most people assume he is closely linked to Rodgers and the rest, and I think this sentence unwittingly reveals that assumption.

    As far as bias goes, you are an idiot if you think I've ever tried to pass myself off as unbiased. What I have asserted is that Smith is profoundly disingenuous on many fronts and his duplicity makes him a terrible candidate for Dartmouth regardless of his politics. I do detest his politics and I think they will ruin Dartmouth as a nationally competitive institution if they are enacted, but I can also look at his statement and record and evaluate it on its own merits. And those merits aren't great

  7. Anonymous2:31 PM

    Alderson and Immelt were Dartmouth athletes during the time when Dartmouth football players had to get past the admissions board on the same terms as everyone else.

    Nowadays Dartmouth recruits any knuckle-dragger who can crack 1100 on the SAT, and cheats on the "academic index" calculations to creat the illusion that our football players are "student athletes."

    Unfortunately, all that many of the old alumni care about is the win-loss record of our football team. I'd rather see our school compete with Harvard for Rhodes Scholarships or for athletic titles in sports that are less infested with morons (skiing, for example). In focusing on the win-loss record of our football team, Smith ignores the facts that most of Dartmouth's varsity teams--particularly the women's teams--are doing well by any measure, that many of its club teams are models of achievement (e.g. the rugby teams are financially independent and have a clubhouse), and that many of the undergrads are ex-varsity athletes from high school. Instead, he focuses on the football team to get the old alums riled up and to complain that Dartmouth's priorities are off.

    The school has plenty of respect for athletics, but Smith wants us to lower our standards even more so that a bunch of old people can enjoy their football. This will come at the cost of money that would be better spent on some of his other priorities (faculty hiring) and at the cost of admitting academically qualified applicants.

  8. 2:05-- I'll grant you that athletics can foster the development of values like commitment and cooperation, but I fail to see why athletics must be the preferred method of doing so. Maybe that's because I'm not an athlete, but I think journalism could also function in this way, or music performance, or hell, even good old-fashioned classwork (which you allow works kind of like athletics).

    I think the point is that athletics aligns in its values and performance with a set of careers which many Dartmouth students enter—i-banking, stock trading, law—better, perhaps, than these other options. But I am unconvinced that this is a causal connection. The culture behind these careers might be somewhat athleticized simply because former athletes are already in it, not because being able to cross-check another hockey player makes you better at cross-examining a witness. The mix of commitment, competition, and cooperation isn't unique to sports, and I see no reason why it should be preferred over other methods of developing those traits or values, especially over the actual educational component of college, which is, in fact, the mission of any academic institution, and particularly of a liberal arts college like ours.

  9. Jeff Solomon9:48 AM

    The fact that there is even a debate about this lightweight is beyond my comprehension. To clarify, I'm a modestly involved alum, primarliy with local interviewing, but have no ties to the Alumni Council. Stripping all of the politics out of this discussion, and silly comments like the council nominated trustees carrying "big rubber stamps" -- I mean seriously, how could anyone who has done even a surface review of a candidate like Alderson think he would rubber stamp anything -- the fact is, Smith is just not qualfied. TJ Rodgers and Peter Robinson, whatever I may think of their politics, are accomplished in their fields, have demonstrated leadership and varied experience. Smith, however (and Zywicki before him) is a lightweight, with nothing like a CV appropriate for someone to be a trustee of an ivy league institution. What, going to law school and teaching gives on the leadership and perspective to guide a 250 year old school that is among the finest in the world? We shoudl be seeking out excellence, and it is a tremendous privilege to be a trustee of the college, and nothing personal, but some average alum 19 years out who teaches at law school just doesn't cut it for rewarding outstanding achievement and excellence.