December 3, 2010

An Open Letter to the Alumni Council

This morning, I submitted a letter to the Alumni Council representative from my own Class of 2009. In it, I urged Mr. Lane to push for fair reviews of electoral processes, particularly in light of our recent analysis of the 2010 alumni elections. The full letter is below.



In response to your recent request for input from members of the Class of 2009, I wish to address a concern about alumni elections.

Before, during and after the elections, many members of the Alumni Council and its nominated candidates decried the negativity of the petition candidates, including Joe Asch ’79 and the Dartmouth United slate. These claims seemed particularly unusual to me considering the negative tone that many Council-nominated candidates used over the course of the election.

As I recently posted on The Little Green Blog, Mr. Replogle and Mr. Kondracke – both of whom you supported – mentioned and attacked Mr. Asch several times on their websites and in their official communications. Mr. Asch, by contrast, never mentioned his opponent -- by name or otherwise -- on his website.

The Alumni Council did not rebuke the attacks leveled against Mr. Asch. Councilors also did not refute claims that Mr. Asch opposed funding for needy students or that he is a racist. Such base attacks are unbecoming members of the Dartmouth fellowship and deserved the unwavering disapproval of the Alumni Council and its nominated candidates.

The Alumni Council was also silent on the scurrilous attacks published on the website “Joe VS Dartmouth.” Typically I would dismiss such an attack site as an inevitable evil of campaigns. This site, however, was directly tied to Mr. Replogle’s campaign. The site was published by Chris Allen, who also designed Mr. Replogle’s and Mr. Kondracke’s websites, and was publicly advertised by Mr. Kondracke at alumni events.

I hope that these issues will be honestly discussed at this weekend’s Council meeting. A fair evaluation of the campaign tactics used in the 2010 alumni elections will reveal, as I posted on The Little Green Blog, that most negativity was directed at the petition candidates, not by them.

In considering rules to curb the negativity of future campaigns, the Council should adopt measures that ensure that the nomination process is open and transparent, that all candidates have fair access to mailing lists, and that all alumni are given a fair chance to assess the Council’s nominees and petition for office if they so desire.

Further, I hope that you will encourage Council members to discourage negative campaigning from all sides. Using this meeting as a chance to weaken the hand of future petition candidates while ignoring the considerable negativity expressed by the Council’s nominees would be a regrettable result.

Please remember that, while we may disagree on how best to govern the College on the Hill, we are – as President Wright said in our commencement ceremony – “ever a part of Dartmouth undying as Dartmouth is forever a part of [us].” Let us be worthy of that distinction and design future rules for alumni elections accordingly.

I hope this finds you well,

Brice D. L. Acree ‘09
Webmaster, Class of 2009

December 2, 2010

An Assessment of Negative Campaigning

As the Alumni Council meets this weekend to discuss, in part, how to curb negative campaigning in alumni elections, one must ask the obvious question: whom should we blame for negativity? Members of Dartmouth Undying seem to take as a matter of course that petition candidates are injecting bile into the system, but further inspection rebuffs this claim. Someone should set the record straight.

A recent content analysis by Little Green Blog considers the websites for John Replogle ’88 and Mort Kondracke ‘60, the Alumni Council-nominated candidates for Trustee in 2010, and Mr. Replogle’s petition opponent Joe Asch ‘79. Our findings were as follows:

The Context

A common theme from erstwhile College president Wright’s office, particularly during the height of the Lone Pine Revolution, was to belittle petition candidates as negative and divisive politicians. Supporters of Wright and the Alumni Council nominees, such as Jonathan Hancock ’06, called on petitioners to end their campaign of “stoking divisiveness and negativity at Dartmouth”.

After the most recent round of alumni elections, prominent Dartmouth leaders were just as quick to decry the negativity of the campaign. President Kim remarked that new rules should be adopted to calm the “acrid, negative [and] angry campaigning.” Martha Beattie ’76, President of Dartmouth Undying (a group supporting Alumni Council nominees) referred to the result, which strongly favored her slate of candidates, as a call by alumni to end “contentious elections.”

The Findings

Despite alumni councilors and Dartmouth Undying bemoaning the negativity of the petitioners in the last election, the websites of the trustee candidates points to a different conclusion.

Mr. Asch: The website for Mr. Asch does not specifically target Mr. Replogle or reference the Dartmouth Undying slate. On his site, Mr. Asch frequently states his support for President Kim while also supporting fiscal prudence and a restoration of parity on the Board of Trustees. Some letters of support published on Mr. Asch’s site do make thinly veiled references to his opponents, but no outwardly negative attacks are made.

In total, Mr. Replogle’s name appears zero times on Mr. Asch’s site. Mr. Kondracke’s name likewise never appears. Mr. Asch’s site makes no reference to Dartmouth Undying or the Alumni Council nominees for other offices. (The only reference to the above parties comes in a letter linked to on the site in which Mr. Asch attempts to respond to the attack website “Joe VS Dartmouth”. Even in this letter, Mr. Asch does not critique either Mr. Replogle or Mr. Kondracke, only indicating that Mr. Kondracke urged audience members at a round table in Minneapolis to visit the “Joe VS Dartmouth”.)

Mr. Replogle and Mr. Kondracke: The websites for Mr. Replogle and Mort Kondracke ’60 (who ran unopposed for the other open seat on the Board) are a different story. Mr. Replogle and Mr Kondracke published many letters that were openly critical of Mr. Asch, in addition to publishing independent critiques of Mr. Replogle’s opponent. A letter from Phil Kron, Gene Kron and Jim Adler calls Mr. Asch a micromanager, claims he is “ill equipped to serve on the Board of Trustees” in addition to mocking Mr. Asch for an letter supporting Mr. Replogle signed by several members of the Class of 1979.

In another letter published on the sites of Mr. Replogle and Mr. Kondracke, Merle Adelman ’80, a former acting president of the Association of Alumni, accuses Mr. Asch of a “flip flop” on the alumni lawsuit blocking the Board’s 2007 expansion. Weighing in on the letter, Mr. Kondracke and Mr. Replogle intone that the letter proves “Asch will say whatever it takes to get himself elected.”

In total, Mr. Asch’s name appears 16 times on Mr. Replogles site, with a conservative estimate of eight instances where Mr. Asch is criticized or attacked. Mr. Asch’s name appears 15 times on Mr. Kondracke’s website, with a conservative estimate of seven instances where Mr. Asch is criticized or attacked. (This latter figure is particularly noteworthy considering that Mr. Kondracke faced no opposition in the campaign, from Mr. Asch or otherwise.)

Attacks From Without: Mr. Asch was also the subject of a particularly negative website entitled “Joe VS Dartmouth” which derided Mr. Asch’s qualifications and character. Typically this brand of attack site would not be considered a part of the Replogle-Kondracke campaign, except that the engineer of the site also built and maintained the campaign sites for Mr. Replogle and Mr. Kondracke. Neither candidate explicitly condemned the site, either. In fact, Mr. Kondracke publicly directed traffic to the site on at least one occasion.

“Joe VS Dartmouth” advances several negative claims about Mr. Asch, including that Mr. Asch hid aspects of his business past (in reality, Mr. Asch had once mistakenly paid taxes to the U.S. instead of the French government, and the issue had been amicably resolved), that he opposes Pell Grants and federal support for needy students, and that he “denigrates” supporters of Dartmouth’s Greek system. The scant support for these claims is often taken wildly out of context or is overtly false.


The board at Little Green Blog makes no normative claims about negative campaigning in alumni elections -- that question is beyond the scope of this study. Instead, we hope to provide alumni with useful facts with which to analyze the 2010 alumni elections.

This analysis is not exhaustive. The staff at Little Green Blog could not include a comprehensive survey of all reported communications during the course of the campaign. (A cursory glance, however, points to more negativity from Mr. Asch's opponents, including the rather spurious and unsupported charge that Mr. Asch "has demonstrated racism on numerous occasions.")

That said, candidates' official websites can reveal the general timbre of their electoral efforts and allow for the most reliable analysis of the strategies employed by each campaign. Mr. Asch, whatever our personal assessments of his merits as a candidate, made a painstaking effort to put forth only a positive campaign message. As we showed, Mr. Asch did not critique his opponent or the Dartmouth Undying slate in his web communications. This strategy stands in stark contrast to the websites of Mr. Replogle and Mr. Kondracke, which each mention Mr. Asch more than a dozen times, frequently criticizing him.

The campaigns of Mr. Replogle and Mr. Kondracke seem more vociferously negative when we consider the campaign site “Joe VS Dartmouth” which was built and maintained by an active member of the Replogle-Kondracke team and publicly advertised by Mr. Kondracke. The entire site was dedicated to attacking Mr. Asch’s qualifications and character. The claims published on the site often relied on information drawn out of context or ad hominem attacks.

Disclosure Statement

The directorate of Little Green Blog endorsed Mr. Asch’s campaign for the Board. This report’s primary author and publisher submitted an endorsement letter for Mr. Asch as well as other commentary on the election.

It would be easy to use this information to dismiss our findings. Readers would be remiss in doing so. We urge readers to visit the sites linked above and explore them. The numbers speak for themselves.

While our opinions of Mr. Ach moved us to support him in the election, we were not a part of his campaign and are not in close communication with him at the present time. The findings reported herein are based not on subjective evaluations but on factual content analysis of four websites frequented during the election. Final judgment of our methods of course rests with the reader.

November 17, 2010

The Great Class Gift Debate

Toward the end of the last academic year, the senior class (the Class of 2010) engaged in the annual ritual of raising funds for the "senior class gift". In an effort to top the Class of 2009's 96 percent participation rate, the '10s attempted to solicit contributions from 100 percent of seniors. Inspired, the Class of 1960 agreed to donate $1,000 for every percent of the '10 class that participated, and an additional $100,000 if the class reached 100 percent participation.

For those who have not yet been subjected to the class gift campaign, it is quite the ordeal. A committee of your peers, charged with meeting ever higher expectations, have access to the names of all seniors who have not contributed. They contact these seniors repeatedly until they give. The process, though effective, has more than a few drawbacks. Other than being devilishly annoying, it also risks putting undue pressure on seniors to contribute when they may not care to do so.

This happened in the last campaign. The name of the last holdout, who had her own reasons for not donating to the class gift, was released. She was criticized in College media (including an attack by a former contributor to this blog). The ensuing controversy earned Dartmouth a spot in The Chronicle of Higher Education for the coercive pressure placed on seniors to donate.

Today, Senior VP for Advancement Carrie Pelzel submitted an explanation to Dartmouth alumni. She claims that the issue was unfortunate, but not evidence of a systematic problem with Dartmouth's fundraising process. With all due respect to Ms. Pelzel, her letter does little to put the issue to bed.

The full letter after the jump.

November 16, 2010

Undue Influence

Sarah Palin may be able to influence our politics, but I draw the line at her influencing our language. This is a sad day for English.

From the New York Times:

At the start of the year the word “refudiate” didn’t exist. In mid-July Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor, changed that when she used the word in a Twitter message, somehow mashing up “refute” and “repudiate,” while trying to say something like “reject.”

Now refudiate has been named the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, published by the Oxford University Press, beating out a number of other locutions — many technology-related — that have spread through the language and the Web over the past year.

November 2, 2010

Stevenson '10 for MN Senate

Taylor Stevenson '10 is locked in a tight race for the Minnesota state senate from MN District 12. We will keep you posted as results are published.

Gazelka (R): 52 percent
Stevenson (D): 35 percent
Koering (I): 11 percent
Smith (C): 3 percent

5 precincts reporting.

note: Updated results drawn from the Brainerd Dispatch
The Associated Press does not break down the votes by precinct. We expect votes from Morrison County to favor Gazelka (R) and votes from Crow Wing County to favor Stevenson (D).

Update: This race should still be considered wide open. That said, Stevenson's window is closing. If the reported precincts come from Brainerd and/or Baxter, Stevenson will lose. If these reports are coming from outlying areas, particularly from Morrison County, Stevenson may yet win. (If forced to guess, this analyst would assume early reports come from the city centers of Crow Wing, but that is only a guess.) Stevenson still has a fighting chance.

Voting 2010: New Hampshire Second

Ayotte Wins, Lynch Narrowly Ahead.

Polls will close here shortly, and here's the latest from the Granite State:

Bass (R): 50.5
Kuster (D): 44.4

11 percent reporting.

*Ayotte (R): 63
Hodes (D): 34

11 percent reporting.

NH Governor:

Lynch (D): 50
Stephen (R): 48

11 percent reporting.

The Bass-Kuster race will likely tighten as Hanover and other Democratic areas report, but Bass will probably maintain his lead. Lynch's lead will shrink but he will win the race. Hodes's lead disappeared when Merrimack and Hillsborough Counties reported, and Hodes will likely lose.

Aside: Anyone who's been following the Rand Paul circus might be interested to hear that the Washington Post and New York Times have called the Kentucky senate race for Paul. Dr. Paul currently holds 56 percent of ballots to Conway's 44 percent.

Update: Joe Manchin III will win the West Virginia senate contest, making the probability of a Republican takeover of the upper house very low. The hilariously scary Christine O'Donnell will lose her contest in Delaware.

Update: Expectedly, Dartmouth alumnus John Hoeven '79 (R) will win the North Dakota senate contest by a wide margin.

Shooting at NH Polls

Two people were just shot at a polling location in Pittsburg, NH.

From Fox News (via the Associated Press):

New Hampshire State Police say two people have been shot in the North Country town of Pittsburg and a suspect is on the loose.

Police say one of the victims was shot in the chest and "is not doing well."

The other victim's wounds are said to be superficial.

The kindergarten through grade 12 Pittsburg School has been locked down and voting at the school has been suspended.

School Public information officer Sheli Aldridge says all 130 students are safe and no one is coming or going.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

UPDATE: The Union Leader is reporting that one victim died at the scene, and two were transported to a nearby hospital. The UL also reports that one suspect is in custody. The shooting occurred at the Lake Francis General Store. [Updated Tuesday at 13:14)

October 26, 2010

Kim's Worst Nightmare?

Yesterday, President Kim spoke at the general meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to address sexual assault and alcohol abuse. During that speech, Kim described the scenario that haunts his darkest dreams:

“My nightmare is that someone dies with a .396 blood alcohol level … because people were scared that calling for help would get the student or themselves in trouble — and then I have to call the parents the next morning, and the mother is a public health physician, and the father is a lawyer.”

Perhaps this author's naiveté knows no bounds, but shouldn't President Kim's nightmare scenario be that a student dies of alcohol poisoning? Why the caveat about the student's parents?

This post is not intended to question Kim's fundamental concern for student safety. But for a President who is oft lauded for his communication skills, this seems a faux pas extraordinaire. To effectively communicate with students on the dangers of alcohol abuse, and to work with students on crafting an effective alcohol policy, Kim needs credibility. Students should trust that Kim cares for their well-being. Statements like the one above give the opposite impression: students are left feeling that Kim is more concerned with covering his own liabilities than ensuring students' safety.

Kim's communications failure becomes even more egregious when juxtaposed with his record of accomplishment in this arena. As Joe Asch over at Dartblog points out today, Kim's rhetoric of action doesn't square with his record of inaction. Kim needs walk instead of just talk.

Of course, if Kim just wants to keep talking about a new alcohol policy instead of writing one, he should at least choose his words more carefully. Kim's speech to the Faculty of Arts & Sciences is a big step in the wrong direction.

President Kim is losing political capital with students who are increasingly frustrated with his lack of action. As an anonymous poster on the aforementioned story in The D proposes, leaving students to wonder if Kim hopes that the first student to die from alcohol poisoning has uneducated parents does little to build necessary trust.

October 19, 2010

A Sign of the Times

Observers of the Dartmouth political climate have commented on, or critiqued, the perceived negativity of recent campaigns for trustee or Association of Alumni seats. The Board claimed that its 2007 expansion, which reduced elected trustees to permanent minority status, was in part a response to the increasingly expensive and negative campaign efforts by petition candidates. Recent elections, such as the contest between John Replogle '88 and Joe Asch '79, were no different, with each side accusing the other of taking the low road.

Over the coming weeks, your servants at LGB will consider the merits of contested elections for alumni positions. Understandably, there are a plethora of opinions on the subject which we hope to uncover. Yet, as we posted yesterday, moving the College forward will require partisans to sit at the table and compromise.

A letter submitted to The Dartmouth by former Alumni Council president Rick Silverman '81, and the ensuing sniping in the comment section, are discouraging. Bickering over the use of dangling modifiers does little to move Dartmouth forward.

This is, admittedly, a small dispute -- but it is indicative of a deeper problem in College politics. Progress will forever be bounded by the maturity of those who seek to advance it. We have plenty of big issues to tackle; let's stop arguing about grammar.

October 18, 2010

The Corporatization of Academe

After a brief hiatus, your servants at Little Green Blog are returning to reconsider Dartmouth in her broader context. Many of the issues that face the College are reflected in the faces of university trustees, administrators, faculty members and students across the nation.

Too often we become ideologically ensconced, with doctrine serving as a perceptual screen intended to filter information. To the extent that we connect new information to our ideology, we either accept it or throw it out. Such a division over perceived party lines makes us rigid and stale. In considering how to address the challenges of the next decade, we must free ourselves from the confines of old entrenchments and sample good ideas from across the ideological spectrum.

In the process, though, we would do well to not ignore the guiding lights of history. Understanding whence we've come can inform whither we go. Today, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an interesting piece by Marvin Lazerson, a professor at Central European University and former professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania. In it, Lazerson eloquently guides the reader through the history of higher education in America, putting academe's current challenges in a concise but apt context.

Like the automobile and housing industries, Lazerson argues, the academic industry has marketed itself into the American dream. As demand exploded, so did the cost of attendance. As universities increasingly saw themselves as providers of a valuable service, their leaders became more market-oriented in their governance. The lessons learned after the the dot-com bubble burst were soon forgotten -- until history, infamously known for doing so, repeated itself. As Lazerson writes:

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the automobile industry appeared to collapse, along with the housing market—two of the mainstays of success in America. [...] The higher-education industry has not collapsed, but it has faced complaints similar to those hurled at the automobile and housing industries: chastised for offering overpriced, poor-quality products and services; as inefficient and bureaucratic, unwilling to adapt to new markets, technologically backward, administratively bloated, uninterested in teaching, and more concerned with frills than the core product.
The complaints sound all too familiar. For the past decade, increasing choruses of disparagement have risen from factions of Dartmouth's faculty, alumni and students. These have largely been described as the wind in the sails of previous petition candidates for trustee. Yet as the first decade of the century spirals toward its end, has the competition between the keepers of the status quo and their increasingly vociferous critics served to better the College?

That is, my friends, the sixty-four dollar question. We cannot answer those questions in a single post, but intend this one to begin a conversation. Stay posted.

September 2, 2010

The 8 Lessons I've Learned from COPS

In the history of television, there is perhaps no better show to turn off your brain and watch than COPS. Every day after work, I come home, loosen my tie, pour my whiskey on ice and settle in for the nightly COPS marathon on the channel 191. Hooah! I'm on location with the men and women of law enforcement and al suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

It's hard, however, to not learn something after watching all those hours of footage. In fact, I've become sort of an expert when it comes to law enforcement and the class of people who regularly interact with them. So below, for your reading pleasure, I've included the top 8 lessons I've learned.

#8: If you're being chased by the cops in a car, never ditch and run. You may be surprised to learn this, but you are much faster when driving an automobile than when on foot. Also, if you are a drug-user or general law-breaking scumbag, you probably don't exercise too much. The cops do. This means that they are both faster and stronger than you. They also have dogs and heat-vision equipped helicopters.

#7: If you steal a car, or need one to escape from the cops, steal a Porsche. Police cars can simply not go as fast as most sports cars. The corollary of lesson #1 is keep on the highways; it will help you avoid pit maneuvers from police cruisers and other obstacles that can render your car immobile. Do this in a fast car with a powerful engine and you're set. Just watch out for the spike strips!

#6: If you are unarmed, and the cops aim their guns at you, just keep running. The police are not going to shoot you unless you are an imminent danger to them or the civilians around you. You'd think that if you ran away they'd shoot you in the legs or something to slow you down, but they never do. The advent of tazer-guns changes this situation slightly as police are just itching to use those.

#5: Never wear sarcastic or dumb T-Shirts in public. You know the ones I'm talking about... the one you got in Myrtle Beach that says "Female Body Inspector". 8 times out of 10, the time you wear it you will be arrested... or maybe it's 8 out of the 10 white trash hill billies who wear those shirts are being arrested at any moment. The other two are witnesses giving statements.

Read the top 4 after the jump.

September 1, 2010

My next bookshelf

I'm a man of books, and a firm believer in owning them so that they may be tastefully displayed in your home or office. There is no wallpaper quite as handsome as the spines of books, nor is there any way to make a room quite as comfortable. Nothing, perhaps, except this:

The picture is apparently from a cafe in Toronto where they offer a wide selection of boardgames for patrons to enjoy. As soon as I saw this, I became a firm believer that every decent house in America should be equipped with such an arsenal of games. Some of chance, some of skill, some of wit, others of knowledge, upon opening each one must evoke a unique kind of nostalgic excitement for the participants. In part for the time in our lives when we could sit together and play like this and in part because of the fond memories we have for classics like Battleship, Candyland, Life, and others.

What about you? What is in your mahogany shelf of boardgames?

If They Hate Us, Why Haven’t They Killed Us Yet?

A very good question.

August 30, 2010

August 29, 2010

Sunday Sundries

Sunday is not a time for biting commentary or stimulating news from the Hanover plain and beyond. There is no point fighting it. It's a veridical fact of life.

So let us embrace it. This video will probably change the course of your life.

When you've forgotten to go to class or work for weeks because you're still lying in bed listening to this song... well, we hope you'll also have forgotten who showed it to you first.


August 28, 2010

On Glenn Beck's completely non-partisian rally against the President

People converged on Washington this weekend with one thing in common: they want to help Glenn Beck restore honor or salute troops or whatever vaguely patriotic way he wants to spread fear and hate towards President Obama while hiding behind the flag.

As I mingled through the crowd -- I live right across the river from the Lincoln Memorial, where Beck's rally was held -- I discovered that the people there actually had a lot more in common. Just about every single person was white, old, middle class, somewhat overweight, extremely misinformed, and hyper-conservative. Actually, take back that first line. The entire gathering was homogeneous and in every way the GOP's target demographic.

More on the crowd and speeches after the jump

REVIEW: Linchpin is simple, weak on meaning, and poorly written

Imagine the worst motivational speech ever given. That's Seth Godin's Linchpin.

Now the premise of the book is an admirable and important topic to cover: how can you make yourself indispensable at work? Godin correctly summarizes the situation we now live in-- If you are just a gear in a machine, if you do what you're told and nothing more, if you want to be paid just for showing up, if you want a profession that does not require you to be creative-- then sucks to be you. Those kinds of jobs are rightly being shipped away overseas to be done by equally qualified people at a fraction of the price. What are left are jobs that require creativity, problem solving, and original thinking, and there begins Godin's advice.

The gaping, cavernous-sized flaw with Godin's book is that the vision he offers is one that precludes regular work environments. He wants people to devote themselves entirely to creating "art" but never reconciles this noble pursuit of self-actualization with employment realities. The 'artist' Godin describes cannot work for a boss or really fit into a team. Instead they are merely creative people who when given the possibilty to expand beyond their job descriptions are able to usher in a new corporate ideology or system for doing things that improves the company. If it's news that people should be doing that, they you should take Godin's book and smack yourself in the face.

August 26, 2010

The Tea Partiers Know Nothing

Deep thought: Perhaps the Tea Baggers (when exactly was it that we all agreed to give them intellectual and historical credibility by calling them "Tea Partiers") should change their name to the "Know Nothing Party". It works perfectly. Just like the Tea Baggers, the Know Nothings of the second/third party system were xenophobic, abhorred the naturalization of immigrants, were mostly middle class white protestants, and, like the tea partiers today, knew absolutely nothing.

Shuffling of Financial Staff

Michael Wagner, who currently serves as chief financial officer at Dartmouth Medical School, will assume responsibilities as Vice President for Finance in September. Wagner is replacing Adam Keller, who left that position last December.

Steve Kadish, Dartmouth's executive vice president and chief financial officer, also announced three other appointments today. Tricia Spellman and Kevin Weinman will serve as assistant vice presidents for finance, and Tammy Moffatt will take over as director of Procurement.

Of these four appointments, only one joins Dartmouth from beyond the Hanover plain. Mrs. Spellman currently serves as administrative director at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard -- the center whence came President Kim. The other three are internal appointments. Mr. Wagner has worked as Dartmouth's controller before becoming the CFO at Dartmouth Med School; Mr. Weinman has been working as Dartmouth's director of financial planning and budget; and Mrs. Moffatt has been working at the College since 1987.

Creativity might not be a particular strength of President Kim's, at least not where staff appointments are concerned.

August 25, 2010

Asch '79 is Groping Around for Something

We here at LGB try to avoid reactionary writing, but on occasion we find something important to draw attention to -- for better or worse. Joe Asch '79 over at Dartblog has lately taken to railing against the Sexperts and other sexual health organizations at the College. His arguments, which largely center on fiscal restraint in hard economic times, are hit-or-miss. Groups that provide information to students about how to enjoy a healthy sex life are vital to the modern American student, although this author sympathizes with Mr. Asch's view that bondage workshops might be a bit much.

Today, however, Mr. Asch went further, critiquing the Sexperts' annual Consent Day. He took particular issue with the advertising slogan "Consensual Groping is HOT," writing:
Consensual groping makes as much sense as consensual rape.
Mr. Asch precedes this revelation with an in-dept review of groping on the subway system in New York, as well as relevant New Hampshire statute. Readers should feel enlightened -- they now know that sexual assault in the form of groping is bad.

This type of politicized argument is distracting at discrediting. Mr. Asch would do well to remember two things:
  1. Grope ≠ rape. By its very nature, rape implies sexual assault without the consent of the victim. Groping is different, as it is the fondling for sexual pleasure. The type of groping described in the Dartblog post -- on subways, for example -- is not consensual; ergo, illegal. Groping can be performed with consent, however, and in such a case, is usually quite... well, hot.

  2. A high quality of political discourse at the College, and one's own reputation as a positive contributor to College life, depend on bringing valid arguments to the table. Attempts to fan the flames of discontent using misleading examples and doltish comparisons are a step in the wrong direction.
Perhaps the College does dispense too many resources aimed at heightening the sexual pleasure of her students. Either way, grabby poster headings (sorry!) and the resources spent to produce them are small drops in a very big bucket.

ADDENDUM: As one reader points out, "It is rich of Joe Asch to take issue with The Dartmouth's use of the word 'donate' when he clearly misuses the word 'grope.'"

August 24, 2010

Fmr. Rockefeller Administrator Will Lose Primary

Matt Dunne, candidate for governor of Vermont, currently lags behind the field in fourth place in the race for the Democratic Party's nomination.

Some, though admittedly few, Dartmouth students have followed Matt Dunne in his race for Vermont's governorship. Mr. Dunne, who graduated from Hanover High School in 1987 and then from Brown University in 1992, once worked as the assistant director for the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. While at Dartmouth, he served in the Vermont senate, and ran for the lieutenant governorship in 2006, winning the Democratic primary but losing the general election. Since 2006, Mr. Dunne has been busy running Google's community affairs initiative.

Mr. Dunne has spent the last several months seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. From the angle of an aspiring political scientist, this race is a frustrating one to watch, with no available public polling data to analyze. Mr. Dunne, who has been a party standard bearer before, is certainly a contender, but he runs amidst some of Vermont's power players.

This evening, polls closed in the gubernatorial primary. With nearly half of all precincts reporting, Mr. Dunne trails in fourth place. He is currently almost 1,900 votes behind the leader, Peter Shumlin, President Pro Tempore of the Vermont senate.

Full standings, courtesy of Vermont Public Radio:

Paul Hodes'72 is... Still in Trouble

We here at LGB haven’t recently covered the upcoming cage match between Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes, Dartmouth Class of 1972, and his Republican opponent, erstwhile New Hampshire attorney general Kelly Ayote.

Mr. Hodes decided last year to pursue the Senate seat being vacated by Judd Gregg in lieu of seeking reelection from New Hampshire’s second congressional district (which includes Hanover). But his prospects of winning that election have remained dangerously low.

This writer initially projected Hodes as the favorite, albeit narrowly, to win. As more polling data becomes available, your LGB staff will keep you posted on the latest trends. (The latest poll on this race comes from Rasmussen (500 likely voters, 4.5 percent margin of error) on August 5, showing Ayotte ahead by 13 points.) Needless to say, we will also be updating our assessment of the race.

As for now, the race certainly leans Republican.

Stimulating Statistics

Today, the econometric whiz kids at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released the results of a study on the financial stimulus – known in formal Washington parlance as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Their findings are quite enlightening.

Primarily, the CBO established that the stimulus boosted American Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.7 percent to 4.5 percent. Per Reuters:
CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

The CBO report [pdf] also posits that between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs were added due to the stimulus. That translates to an unemployment rate 0.7 to 1.8 percentage points less than it would have otherwise been.

Unfortunately, as Ben Page of the CBO’s Macroeconomic Analysis Division notes on the Director’s Blog:
The effects of ARRA on output and employment are expected to gradually diminish during the second half of 2010 and beyond. The effects of ARRA on employment and unemployment are expected to lag slightly behind the effects on output; they are expected to wane gradually in 2011 and beyond.

Your servant here at LGB sees this as a good rationale for further stimulus. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Princeton economist, thinks further stimulus would be a grand idea. (He also argued that the original stimulus was too small.)

August 20, 2010

A Lesson in Methodological Ignorance

Last week, a piece appeared in The Dartmouth by columnist Emily Johnson discussing the role of Teach for America, which places graduates from top universities to teach underprivileged students. Her column is a prime example of why Dartmouth's social science departments require majors to complete a research methods and design course. Some exposure to basic statistics could have saved Ms. Johnson from making a pretty big journalistic and intellectual faux pas.

Emily Johnson follows many reputable newspaper columnists and reporters into the trap of presenting questionable research as conclusive. She cites a recent policy brief by the Great Lakes Center, a group that represents teachers’ associations and unions, on the relative effectiveness of Teach for America teachers. Ms. Johnson questions the return-on-investment that society receives from TFA corps members, using the report’s authors as evidence. But Ms. Johnson fails to critically judge the data, instead accepting them in toto.

While there are questions of journalistic integrity – what role should journalists play in reporting on quantitative research methods? – I will leave those conversations for a later date (stay posted!). What is more pressing now is a critical review of Ms. Johnson’s conclusions about TFA. Here's a hint: her conclusions aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

August 19, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg is an asshole, thief, threat to privacy, richer than you

I don't know if it's the incandescent lights, Ivy League intrigue, or just the awesome acoustic Radio Head choral sound track, but I've had this trailer in my head for the last few days:

As a movie, I have no idea how it will turn out aside from the fact that Jesse Eisenberg was awesome in both Zombieland and Adventureland and therefore I trust him to be a good Zuckerberg. As terrifying as Facebook has become -- it now wants to know your exact location and has aspirations beyond Google's biggest anti-privacy wet dream -- all the shit about Zuckerberg being a massive tit is so much more interesting.

Be sure to also check out these funny parodies of the trailer above for twitter, youtube, and ebay after the jump.

What's In a Rank, Part I

For those who missed it, Dartmouth recently received some welcome news regarding its ranking. U.S. News and World Report ranked Dartmouth ninth, up two spots from the eleventh-place rut we’d been stuck in since the 2008 rankings. Forbes also moved Dartmouth up the ladder, to thirtieth from ninety-second.

Some have rejoiced at these ranks, claiming that they show Dartmouth’s improvement in a number of areas. An e-mail and press release from Dartmouth Public Affairs, as well as recent comments from Provost Carol Folt, make much ado about the rise.

Ultimately, though, the reason for Dartmouth’s jump rests more in the methods used by USNWR and Forbes, and less in improvements to the Dartmouth experience.

August 18, 2010

REVIEW: Scott Pilgrim's video-game romance not steamy but visually amazing

Scott Pilgrim looks the way that would feel.

Shot like the comic books from whence the movie drew its inspiration, Scott Pilgrim v. the World is the first major-motion ‘expressionist’ movie I’ve ever seen. Dazzling colors, awesome mortal-combat-esque fight scenes, hilarious absurdist comedy, rockin' alternative music, and polite Canadians pepper the screen making it an incredible and impressive watch.

I normally don’t care for Michael Cera and don’t consider him a serious actor. He just plays his awkward self in every movie... they probably don’t even tell him that the cameras are rolling. I went into the theater fearful that Cera would screw this movie up. Thankfully, the supporting cast draws a lot of attention away from this main protagonist (Thanks Jason Schwartzman! P.S.: Pilgrim’s gay roommate is priceless) and the role was properly designed for Cera to fill.

What's In a Rank?

Dartmouth -- as well as pretty much every major college and university in the United States -- has anxiously awaited the recent release of rankings from US News and World Report (and to a lesser extent, Forbes). In a recent e-mail to alumni, Dartmouth's PR office boasted our ranking bump from eleventh place (for 2008, 2009 and 2010) to ninth place in 2011. Dartmouth also moved significantly up the ranks according to Forbes, who moved the College from the mid-90s to thirtieth place.

Over the next few days, we'll be considering the rankings, what they mean, and how important they really are. Just to start us off, here are a couple of important questions to consider:

  • What does Dartmouth's jump in ranking really mean?
  • How closely do prospective students observe ranking methodology?
  • Is the recent rank bump a tribute to President Kim's success at Dartmouth?


REVIEW: Sedaris's Flames shine bright

David Sedaris has to be one of the greatest writers who ever lived. I say this because while other best-selling writers teach you compelling lessons (David McCullough), encourage your inner conspirator (Dan Brown), show you new and scary worlds (Michael Crichton), or take you off into fantasy (J.K. Rowling), Sedaris writes about the mundane and somehow makes it fascinating. Each of the many stories in his books are like literary candy: short, sweet, and easily digestible. That is not to say that he is entirely frivolous, though the books are far from serious, as at each turn Sedaris is able to make quick incisive quips about the absurd and awkward world he tries in vain to live in.

August 17, 2010

Dartmouth Ranked Best in Undergraduate Teaching

US News and World Report just released its rankings of American colleges and universities. Dartmouth College ranked ninth overall -- tied with the University of Chicago and Duke. This marks an "improvement" over last year's ranking of eleventh, although as Joe Asch over at Dartblog points out:

Not to be a wet blanket — at least any more than usual — but we are now ranked 9th in a tie with Duke and the University of Chicago. The school placing immediately after our three-way tie is Northwestern, which is ranked 12th. By that measure, I guess we are no longer ranked 11th.

Dartmouth also maintained its ranking as America's best institution for undergraduate teaching, beating out other perennial Ivy League competitors like Princeton, Brown and Yale.

August 16, 2010

Construction Zone

After a summer hiatus, and perhaps inspired by the College's decision to upgrade e-mail clients, I decided to avail myself of the administrative privileges bestowed on me by our editor and upgrade Little Green Blog. Over the coming weeks, I will be leading LGB through a series of updates hopefully resulting in a more intuitive, organized and aesthetically pleasing design.

In addition, posts to this site will become more regular and we will expand to use a set of Web 2.0 networking tools.

We first ask for your patience, as the transition may mess with the outlay of the site for periods of time. And we ask for your comments and suggestions, since we do this for our readers first and foremost.

Thank you for sticking in there. I hope you're as excited as I am for a revamping of Dartmouth's leading blog.

August 13, 2010

A Farewell to Blitz

For those who haven’t heard, the College administration recently decided to phase out the use of Blitz over the next year. Soon, all Dartmouth students, faculty and staff will be using e-mail and calendar services provided by Microsoft.

Generally speaking, moving away from BlitzMail is probably a wise decision. The program’s inability to handle HTML formatting, combined with its unaltered (some might say unadulterated) 1980's layout, make the program distinctive but sorely dated.

Perhaps BlitzMail has run its course. It lived a long life – 23 years, ancient for any software – and, as the adage goes, all good things much come to an end.

Accepting that the pill is necessary, though, doesn’t always make it easier to swallow.

After reading a piece in the D, I felt guilty for how neglectful I had become of my old friend. (I didn’t even have the client installed on my new laptop!) So I rushed over to Dartmouth’s computing webpage, downloaded Blitz, and logged into my alumni account.

Staring at my screen, with the ugly, pixilated little mailbox in the upper-left corner, makes me ache for Dartmouth more acutely than I have in a good while. Something about my Blitz inbox takes me to the terminals in Novack Café, the FoCo lobby, my sophomore year dormitory on Wheeler first floor, and the bench on Main Street right in front of Dirt Cowboy.

Sitting in this downtown loft apartment, thousands of miles from Hanover, I can smell coffee and Keystone; I can feel the chilled winds whipping across the Green; I can see the trees, molting blankets of gold and orange; and in this moment, I can feel the rush of reuniting with old friends, of the first syllabus of the term, of long nights with my nose pressed against a deadline. If I close my eyes and stand, I am sure I could feel the granite beneath my feet.

Remembering the countless blitzes to friends makes me miss them more keenly than ever. Today they are scattered – from the marble halls of Washington to the gorges of Ithaca and the cornfields of Iowa. Lost in this moment, though, I can almost pretend that they are just a jaunt across the Green.

With nostalgic ruminations stacked one atop the other, I can forget the flaws and frustrations of the ‘real world’ which, for all its wonder, cannot quite satisfy the yearning for comfort that the Dartmouth embrace always provided.

And while it hurts to acknowledge that those days are behind us, it still makes me smile to remember that they happened at all.

BlitzMail, for all its quirks and shortcomings, still strikes a powerful pose in the College psyche. Even as its time comes to an end, it lives on in the shared consciousness that we built, together, in our time at the College on the Hill.

So if you, like me, haven’t checked your Blitz in a while – do it today, if only one more time, for the love of Dear Old Dartmouth.

July 19, 2010

REVIEW: Inception

Many newspapers reviewers have said that Christopher Nolan's Inception is too "complicated" when in reality, it is just complicated enough. Movies today, it seems, cater to the absolute lowest common intellectual denominator with nothing but cute animals, tired jokes, and fluffy plots. When Academy Award-Winning actress Penélope Cruz's most commercially successful movie is G-Force, a movie about secret agent guinea pigs, something is wrong with the world. The success of Inception just might make it right again.

If you've read my past reviews, you'll know that I place a strong emphasis on the plots of movies. What are movies but stories? -- stories that allow us to explore areas connected to, but just beyond, the human experience? That's why I loved Inception.

The story centers around Cobb, an "extraction" specialist, who uses a Matrix-like artificial reality network machine to infiltrate people's dreams and steal their deepest, most profitable secrets. In his crew are an architect who designs the 'levels' where the dreams take place, an impersonation expert who acts out characters int he dream, a chemist who develops drugs to sedate his targets, and various other dream-bandits. Cobb's greatest challenge, and the movie's focus, comes when a businessman offers to clear Cobb's troubled background in exchange for planting an advantageous idea in the businessman's rival's head.

July 11, 2010

REVIEW: Nightlight: A Parody

The Harvard Lampoon lives up to its narcissistic self-promotion in this laugh-out-loud hilarious parody of that ultimate tween literary decay, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. I can't tell if it's the pure absurdity of the basis books (and the magnitude of their popularity) or if the kids at Harvard really are that funny, but Nightlight had me in stitches to the bemusement of the other passengers on the NYC subway.

Basically the book is written as if a girl as insane, spacey, and self-obsessed as Bella 'Goose' were actually the narrator and 'Edwart' were not a vampire but rather a highly odd, slightly-hypochondriac, overachieving dweebish high school student. Knowing more than just a few Dartmouth students who, like Bella, seem to live in their own little worlds where their suffocating underachievement and complete awkwardness is remaped in their brain as evidence of insightfullness, attractiveness, and being interesting, Nightlight was a lampoon for me on many levels.

June 7, 2010

It's your last chance... "Be forward. Who gives a fuck?"

Even though classes may be over, is still giving us some final assignments. So blitz your buddy and form a, uh, study group. Just make sure to use up your remaining topside on necessary, um, school supplies.
--- Forwarded Message from ---

>Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2010
>Subject: You have a match!

Hi Xx X. Xx,

You have a match from!

Zz Z. Zz wants to get to know you better!

Send a blitz. Be forward. Who gives a fuck? It's senior week. Only 6 more nights until graduation... get busy.

Zz Z. Zz has also been sent a blitz alerting them of the match. The awkwardness has been taken care of for you. Enjoy!

June 4, 2010

REVIEW: Theodor SEUSS Geisel (Lives and Legacies)

Dr. Suess is one of Dartmouth's favorite sons, and yet few of us know much about Theodor Seuss Geisel, the D'25 son of a brewer who drew naughty cartoons for the Jack-O and made war movies for the military. In his book, Theodor SEUSS Geisel Dartmouth Professor and MALS director Donald Pease shows us the flesh-and-blood man behind the most celebrated children's books in America. We see how Geisel's shame and ostracism due to his German ancestry in WWI America inspired him to take refuge in satire. We learn how he adopted his now famous pen-name to circumvent the administration's suspension of his extracurricular activities after H-Po caught him drinking during prohibition. We see the development he experiences, from a war-cartoonist and political satirist to an author/illustrator primarily for children, and we take note of the tragedies that befall him, notably the suicide of his first wife.

"10LastChances" offers last-ditch hook-ups, STDs

Hey, '10. I know you're pretty bummed about graduating soon. You know, my uncle once told me that there is a time and a place for everything and it's called college, and now that we'll all about to enter the 'real world', I'm glad we got all those crazy hi-jinks out of our system.

Oh wait. You're saying that you forgot to do all that crazy stuff we kept talking about and now that graduation is fast approaching us like aid-boat off the Gaza Strip, you're consumed with regret at all the thing (people) you haven't done? Well don't fret; some comp sci kids have given us the answer!!

You know that (well I'm not sure I would call her cute) girl you've been ogling since your freshman seminar together? And you, Missy. Remember that athletic guy from writing 5? The one with the killer biceps? Well you're not getting any younger, and let's face it, you're all getting pretty desperate. Why not turn Senior Week into one Kafkaesque madhouse of fornication and unleashed repressed desires? And that's where 10LastChances comes in.

June 3, 2010

DeLorenzo '10 almost costs Dartmouth $100,000

In a stunning move that simultaneously demonstrates the insignificance of an individual, the uselessness of symbolic protest, and the generosity of Dartmouth alumni, the class of 1960 has agreed to donate the $100,000 reward for 100% participation to the 2010 Senior Class Gift (SCG) despite the fact that it fell short of that goal by 1 single person. That single holdout, perhaps a Rip Van Winkle character who slumbered through the high profile SCG collection process, is Laura DeLorenzo '10, and she's become the darling of Bored@Baker, displacing Phil Aubart, Sarah Koo and the SAE 3 as the queen supreme.

The Senior Class Gift, a traditional fund-raising campaign held by the graduating class, this year sought to break the 2009 class record on the curiously scaled graph from its website, reproduced on the right (dammit, we didn't break 120% again!). Incentivizing the annoying and self-congratulatory hecklers in charge of collecting funds and distributing flairy retro-sunglasses, was the class of 1960 (the '10s mentor class) who agreed to pay $1,000 for every percentage of the class who gave, and an extra $100,000 if all 100% donated. But just as sure as every theme park needs its one molesting mascot, so too does every ointment need its fly. And that's where DeLorenzo comes in.

After the jump, color-commentary and her anti-Dartmouth tirade in full.

June 2, 2010

Sun God publishes video manifesto, school shooting his inevitable next step

Dartmouth's "The Sun God" today published a video manifesto, thereby providing campus with the final perfunctory warning sign before he inevitably engages in a mass-casualty attack, most likely at the upcoming Commencement exercises. Video manifestos have become a staple of modern terrorists, from Islamic suicide bombers to those engaging in psychological warfare, like the Kardashians. Regardless, while I applaud the quality of the video, I now lament the fact that when The Sun God kills us all, however he is planning to do it, we will be unable to say that we never saw it coming. Because, let's be honest, we totally do.

For those unfamiliar with "The Sun God," he appears to be Hanover's equivalent of a village idiot: a buffoon who travels freely about campus doing odd or embarrassing things, while the admissions department desperately tries to hide him from outsiders and while we all learn a lesson about social tolerance. Though he's usually silent, apparently when he does speak he exhibits almost a Charles-Manson-esque psychotic charisma that, rumor has it, has helped him to enlist a sidekick in his late-night adventures. And get this: she's a girl!

Full video and commentary after the jump.

June 1, 2010

Adderall Receives Honorary Degree From Harvard

More comedic genius from The Onion
"Harvard is proud to honor the tremendous merits of Adderall, without which many of you would not be sitting here today," Faust said in her opening address to the nearly 1,900 unblinking and intensely focused students receiving their diplomas. "I don't think I'm exaggerating matters when I say that Adderall has been an inspiration to us all."

The psychologically addictive drug then received resounding applause from the assembled graduates, with many jumping to their feet, clapping in near unison for 25 straight minutes, temporarily forgetting where they were, and then grinding their teeth in celebration of the well-deserved honor.

REVIEW: One Bullet Away

Nate Fick (D'99) divides his life into three sections: "peace", "war", and "afterward". By page count, "war" is by far the longest.

After completing Officer Candidate School and his A.B. in Classics from Dartmouth, Fick was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marines and commanded the auxiliary platoon of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines in the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit during the first stages of the War in Afghanistan. As the kind of guy who gets perfect scores on the Marine physical exam, Fick thought he wasn't challenged enough with that assignment and passed rigorous training to be a platoon commander of the Marine's elite 1st Reconnaissance Battalion on the front-most lines in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Thanks to embedded Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright, Fick's story was published as an article series in that magazine and later turned into a book, movie, and TV show all entitled Generation Kill. The publicity made Fick a Marine celebrity, rocketing his career as a Washington expert on the war and eventually as CEO of the Center for a New American Security.

REVIEW: Naked Economics

Where was Charlie Wheelan (D '88) when I took Econ 01?

In the foreword to Wheelan's acclaimed 2002 pop-economics book Naked Economics, Princeton University professor Burton Malkiel sums up the author best: “Charles Wheelan is the man with the anti-Midas touch... If he touched gold he would turn it to life.”

For casual observers of 'the dismal science', Naked Economics takes your hand and walks you through a basic understanding of market-theory frameworks, all in a light and conversational tone. Wheelan explains why everyone should love government (as a necessary correcting and regulating force in the market) and outlines which uses of it would be most efficient. He explains why it is that Bill Gates makes more money than you or I and uses that example to bolster later conversations about value and scarcity. He detailed the differences between fiscal and monetary policy and shows you why and when governments would use each.

May 31, 2010

RIP Rope Swing (~2006 -- 2010)

Canoeing up the Connecticut today, I decided to check whether the rope swing had been reattached to its tree. Sadly I discovered the situation to be much worse. The entire rope swing tree and much of the shore on which it was perched has broken off of the river-front hill and completely slid into the water below. On shore is left a gaping hole where the massive tree's roots once rested-- where classes of students forged fond memories of Hanover in summer and Dartmouth at its best.

The rope swing tree of my time was not the only one of its kind. Responding to town concerns about late-night noises coming from a previous rope swing in 2001, H-Po cut down the rope before later cutting down the entire tree. The same thing happened again in 2002 and 2003. Suffice it to say, the move did not improve H-Po's reputation among the students, or the student's relationship with the town. Many criticized the college and the town for destroying students' fun, eliminating mildly hazardous pastimes however much they positively impact the Dartmouth Experience, and however much similar dangers are allowed to continue (looking at you, Dartmouth Skiway).

Thus ends another Dartmouth tradition. May future classes invent another.

May 25, 2010

SAE's Cocaine Party Affidavit

Bored@Baker is quickly reinventing itself as Dartmouth's version of WikiLeaks. When news broke that Dartmouth students had been arrested for cocaine use, B@B already had the names. As The Dartmouth sat on the story until it broke in the Valley News and Union Leader, Bored@Baker continues to fill in the gaps of our knowledge.

Fighting back, The D has gone for the win and linked to THIS ARREST WARRANT AND AFFIDAVIT ripe with juicy details from the protagonists' mouths. It has everything: girls 'who want to hook up with you', property destruction, nasty emails, snorting cocaine off of composite portraits, copious amounts of drinking, a tabard party, people peeing all over everything in retaliation, and a whole lot of name-dropping. For an abbreviated version, without any of the witness tampering stuff, check out THIS OTHER WARRANT.

The post has been updated.

May 17, 2010

Green Key Weekend

Green Key weekend is the greatest weekend of spring term.

It was like a holiday-- there were BBQs, free food, and plenty of music playing around campus.

I spent all of Friday and Saturday doing absolutely nothing-- hanging out with friends, reveling in the sun.

There were plenty of dance parties in the evening-- an '80s theme, a eurotrash, and a Dartmouth favorite, gammapalooza.

Amidst midterms, projects, and homework, this break was so worthwhile. I can't wait for Green Key next year!

May 8, 2010

Review: This Is Our Youth

Drugs and sex, drugs and sex. That's all the older generations think we teenagers are obsessed with these days. Maybe a little music thrown in, but these days seems like the elderly tend to reminisce about their lovely music days and criticize us for letting that fall by the wayside, too.

Well, maybe it's true. Do we ever think about our purpose in life? Do we ever contemplate the bad decisions that we as an age group make that can impact- or end- our lives?

Kenneth Lonergan's dark, occasionally comic "This Is Our Youth" asks these eye-opening questions. True, the mode of the message is a few decades aged, but the themes still seem to ring true these days. Not much really changes as far as human behavior goes, anyway, does it? In the Bentley tonight at 8pm Warren Straub (Jack Coster '13) and Jessica Goldman (Marguerite Imbert '12) argued this point briefly, but didn't seem to come to a definite conclusion. There were few conclusions (or at least few solutions) offered in this work- in their place, there were quite a few heavy questions.

April 28, 2010

Just kidding prospies, it does snow in Hanover in late April!

9AM, I woke up to this:

ugh. I can only imagine the damage this would have done if it happened over dimensions.

April 26, 2010

Daniel Webster dinner sucks rotten eggs.

Take a look on Banner Student, the college's student information system, and you'll see a link for "Daniel Webster Reception Registration." This senior-only, registration-required-dinner dangles in front of every student on banner student for all four years of enrollment; I could only expect that it would be some classy way of honoring the students and seeing them off into the bright world beyond. Instead, I found myself overdressed at the worst cocktail party in town, in the hottest room at Dartmouth. And there are no chairs.

This "reception" -- which I swear to god was a "dinner" on my banner student in previous years -- is little more than "snacks for seniors". Students of age jump through hoops by bringing government ID and putting on plastic bracelets for the privilege of drinking champagne only a step or two better than André. Odd selections of edible, but not great, finger food are put out on small tables for hundreds of '10s to swarm around. Alumni from the class of 1960 are there to mingle, but with no specific purpose.

The event begins with a 'few remarks from our fellow '10s' and we soon discover that the entire evening is just one big selling of student government after college. We meet the SEC (senior executive committee) and watch a video they produced in which the twenty or so of them describes at painful length who they are and what exactly they are suppose to do. The video ends with bloopers, which could only be funny to the people appearing in them and are almost as long as the entire preceding presentation. A lull in the speeches emerges and you continue your marathon of standing awkwardly, waiting for Jim Kim to come at end and save you from having to continue standing awkwardly listening to more speeches. Someone gets up and extols the virtue of giving back financially to the school. He points to the oft-quoted statistic that even full-tuition-paying students have half their tuition subsidized, and you wonder in amazement how on earth Dartmouth could possibly cost $100k per year per student. The more you think about it, the more Dartmouth's tremendous fiscal shortfall makes sense.

Another alum comes up and gives his top 10 list of advice for young alums: numbers 7 though 9 on the list are 'not being Joe Asch'. As all the tables run out of food and lemonade, your legs get more tired, and the speaker comments on how nice the evening is and how many of these exact events you'll get to go to when you're active in alumni affairs. yippie.

Jim Kim takes the stage and for the first time in the evening everyone is silent. He talks about dimensions and cracks a few jokes about how easily Dartmouth alums cry when thinking about Dartmouth, and how silly "Brown people" are (he means the Alumni of Brown University). The program ends, and though you are invited to stay and continue to mingle, you leave immediately so you can go to Foco and get some real food. As you look around foco, you notice everyone else from the Daniel Webster reception is there too. Oh, and they never explain why the thing is named for Daniel Webster.

For the love of god, don't waste your time going to this event. The whole thing is so half-assed, I'd rather just cut it entirely and save Dartmouth the money.

April 24, 2010

"Thank you for making my decision to come to Dartmouth"

"RESOLVED: Don't come to Dartmouth"

That was the topic of the Dartmouth Political Union debate for prospective students visiting campus over Dimensions, the admitted students weekend. Shocking and controversial in a line-up of events designed to zealously sell Dartmouth to the admitted students, this debate was designed to offer the most balanced look at Dartmouth available at Dimensions and show the DPU's unflinching commitment to fostering topical debate.

The room was completely packed. Every chair was filled, every space on the side stairs was used, and kids even sat on the floor in the very front of the room. Chris Kendig '10 and John Lee '11 both volunteered for the difficult task of arguing against Dartmouth in a loyal opposition sort of way. Their arguments were valid: drinking is rampant and low in quality, flair is the pervasive fashion sense, winter is cold, and really deep conversations are largely confined to freshmen dorm rooms. John proclaimed that "Dartmouth is like yogurt, and not because we're all white (laughter). It's because we're one homogeneous culture."

Will Hix '12 and I took on the pro-Dartmouth case. In my speech to the crowd, I explained that there is a presentation for parents and a different one for students, and that I will be giving both. The one for parents focused around numbers and looking at Dartmouth as a return on investment. As Dartmouth graduates make the most money of any university graduates in the country, our ROI is supreme and the benefits of membership in the Dartmouth Alumni body are many.

In the presentation for Dartmouth, I talked about the very first thing President Wright ever said to me during freshmen orientation -- "Welcome home" -- and how from that moment until the present day, that's exactly where I've been. I've been home. And I used the remainder of the time to talk about all the reasons I love Dartmouth: from the way that no matter which direction you approach Hanover, the first thing you see rising out of the hills is Baker Tower, to the benefits the D plan has personally given me in terms of study abroad opportunities. I ended with the following lines:
"...[And if someone asked me why I loved Dartmouth], I'd tell them about the feeling I get when at 6pm the Bell Tower plays the Alma Mater. And from now until the day I die, I'll think about all of these things ever time I look down at my graduation ring. And years from now, when I return to campus, and cross the green at 6pm and hear the first lines of that song, I'll know that I'll be home."

During our question and answer time, one prospie girl asked me -- as the leader of the pro-Dartmouth side -- for one thing that I would want to change about Dartmouth.
me: Though the college works really hard to bring in entertainment from out of town, the fact that we are so far away from Boston or New York makes it feel rather isolated at times. I frankly have no idea why Wheelock chose this hill of all places to put his school, but I'd want to move it an hour or so south if I could.
D'12: I can answer why Dartmouth is in Hanover. It's because it was founded to teach Native Americans and here's where the native students were.
me: then I'd move the Native Americans. (laughter)

The crowd was simply perfect-- the right combination of parents and students -- and our balance in tone between being funny and serious perfectly matched it. After the debate and vote were finished (the resolution failed unanimously), the students came down to mingle with the DPU leaders and many of them sought me out to tell me how much much easier their decision was after seeing my presentation. It was such a rush to defend Dartmouth so publicly and it makes me sad that this was perhaps my last opportunity to do so.

April 22, 2010

It's About That Time

Vanessa Sievers ’10, a Democrat, hasn’t had the easiest time as Grafton County treasurer. She was elected in 2008, gaining national attention after her Republican opponent Carol Elliott attacked her for being a “teenybopper.” After taking office, she was criticized by some local officials for being lackadaisical in handing county funds. Even after successfully passing her investment plan last year, the county commission just asked Ms. Sievers to stand aside, according to an Associated Press wire story.

And they're right to do so. As unpleasant as it is, Ms. Sievers should resign her post.

During the 2008 election, I was working for the Democratic coordinated campaign effort in the Upper Valley. When Elliott launched her ridiculous attacks on Ms. Sievers, we were understandably outraged. The treasurer’s job just entails parceling out the county’s funds between local banks, and it was preposterous to assert that a student at a school like Dartmouth wasn’t up to the task.

That was, of course, what we assumed before we saw Ms. Sievers in action.

Are some of the attacks on Ms. Sievers politically motivated? Sure. Commissioner Ray Burton, a Republican, has been critical of Ms. Sievers since day one, and rather unfairly so. Many of his comments have smacked of vendetta against the candidate who ousted his Republican co-worker.

Some things, though, are pretty clear. Ms. Sievers did not move quickly to design and implement an investment plan after her election. She also failed to attend several meetings, instead opting to e-mail her contribution to the commissioners. Many local Democrats defended her, explaining that she just has a different way of communicating “from us old geezers” on the county commission, according to Commissioner Martha Richards (D).

Last year, Sievers explained that she was busy, but was working hard and was in e-mail contact with local officials. This round, Ms. Sievers claims that she didn’t know when meetings were taking place. (Nevermind that the schedule is posted online.)

For Ms. Sievers, it’s been one excuse after another. She has failed to be proactive, failed to attend meetings – and therefore, failed to execute the duties of her office. And what Ms. Sievers does not seem to understand is that being county treasurer isn’t the same as being the College Democrats’ treasurer – this is taxpayer money and it should be handled with care. You don’t just blitz in your contribution, you take the time to show up. If you don’t know when the meetings are, you take thirty seconds to find out.

Ms. Sievers isn’t just hurting herself, she’s damaging the credibility of those who fought for her in 2008, and those college students everywhere who want to run for office in their own communities. Ms. Sievers had her chance – and then another, and another still.

The commission is right, Vanessa, it’s time for you to go.

Image courtesy of Facebook.