Another One Of "Those" Posts from Dave

From Ephblog:

From WSO:
Seeing only one female student on the list of candidates for class speaker made me wonder and I looked at commencement archives. No female class speakers between 2003 and 2010. The archives start in 2003.
In addition, only 3 out of 24 total speakers are female. If we don’t count the valedictorians, then only 1 out of 16 chosen speakers is female (this includes Phi Beta Kappa & class speakers).
This makes me very uneasy.
Instead of becoming “uneasy,” this student (and the WSO commentators that follow) might consider becoming “educated.”

Men and women are biologically different.
If you don’t think that this scientific fact plays a major role (not the only role) in the gender of Commencement Day speakers, then you are deeply uneducated. And that is probably partly the fault of Williams College.

Would any Williams professor dare to point this out in a public forum? I doubt it. They all saw what happened to Larry Summers . . .

Now, let's compare the WSO post and David's post. The WSO post states that seeing one candidate for speaker made her curious, and so she found that there have been no class speakers since 2003. She also found that only 3 out of 24 speakers are female, and that only 1 of the elected speaking roles is female. This causes her to be uneasy, presumably, because she thinks that something is preventing equal representation (or, that this isn't due entire to chance.

David's response is that "uneasiness" is a flat-out wrong thing to feel, and that a smarter, more educated person would immediately understand that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gap. Why? Because "men and women are biologically different."

What David misses entirely is that the WSO poster never said the differences weren't biological; indeed, she didn't say anything about biology. David takes this as a permission slip to imply that she is "deeply uneducated," and as a bonus, "probably" blames Williams College for this deficiency. David further takes this as an opportunity to reference Larry Summers.

The problem, of course, is that even if there are still biological differences between women and men that affect the selection process for speaking roles, it's still perfectly appropriate to feel uneasy about the gap. Thus David's entire post is falsely premised on an imagined deficiency in the WSO poster - assuming ignorance where ignorance may or may not have existed.

But let's take it a step further. David just wrote a post about biological differences between men and women at Williams. Just as he assumed the WSO poster was unaware of these, I will also assume that David doesn't know anything about them, given that he included absolutely no references, supporting documentation, or citations of any kind.

And since he doesn't seem to think that citations are important, I have justification under his ground rules to state that he must be "Deeply uneducated" to miss such an obvious fact, right?

And the kicker: I've been in touch with the WSO poster, and she understands all of this, even if David didn't expect her to. Pity she's now going to be less willing to make a perfectly reasonable post on WSO, given that idiots from the wider Williams community will quote her, make assumptions about her, and attack her.

People talk sometimes about how women are "silenced" in society sometimes. Well, if making assumptions about someone's knowledge, insulting them without grounds, and stating that Williams has failed her, all while failing to provide any sources that can be checked/refuted, thereby preventing any responsible discourse doesn't count as "silencing," I don't know what does. Because the ultimate point of David's post isn't that Williams is under-educating people. It's that simply questioning a platform with apparent male privilege is out-of-bounds, and makes one worthy of condemnation. And that is, in itself, condemnable.

For a Prefrosh

I gave up on my schedule, it seemed a little TMIish.....these are quotes from an e-mail I sent a prefrosh who asked me several questions about Williams online (her questions/quotes deleted):

I actually wouldn't worry too much about the weather - snow can be annoying, and slushy stuff moreso, but the weather Sept-Nov is wonderful, as is April-May. Being so far from your family is also probably, in my experience, not going to be the main issue (the relevant point is if you're within driving distance to go home for the weekend), and in this era of Skype/Cell Phone, the isolation of Williamstown is less punishing.

What will remain, though, is that Williams is a school in the middle of nowhere. We have one movie theatre in town, 3 bars (if you count one I've never been to), and the restaurant of choice ("the Forge") is a decent drive. There are gobs of things to do every weekend; boredom is never a problem, but some of the things that are normal in cities (a nearby airport, traffic lights, variety of live shows) just aren't present here. Instead, we're surrounded by BEAUTIFUL mountains and a variety of trails, from casual to punishing. The Outing Club is really awesome here, and Mountain Day, of course, is all about our surroundings. The question that I think many frosh can fail to answer is "Do I want to be in a context of trails/mountains/beauty, giving up the accessories of a city?"

For most Ephs, that question is a nobrainer, but some don't give it a thought, and then can't enjoy the wonderful science/art/music/what-have-you facilities and resources because of a Williamstown block....

Financial Aid is strange; the colleges used to coordinate aid packages so that students would be able to attend a college of their choice, regardless of aid, but the antitrust folks didn't really go for that. Not super relevant, but that's the sort of thing that you learn here in a course about higher ed taught by the President. However, if you didn't like Bowdoin Williams might not be much better; you should also feel free to appeal their decision; it can't hurt after all.......

Roughly 2/3s of freshman rooms are singles, but that doesn't mean a majority of frosh get them. I would actually say that living with a roommate for a year teaches valuable skills, and helped me to appreciate my singles for years 2-4 much more. Plus doubles are all in frosh quad, which has a much better location.....

 My entry was a mess for a variety of reasons, but I still like all of my entrymates: more importantly, while I am living with two people from my entry this year in a FABULOUS co-op (you can come visit us @ Susie Hopkins during previews if you want), I didn't do that for the past two years. In fact, I've found that my closest friends at Williams have been gained slowly but surely, from year to year to year. Not getting along with one's entry is not the doom that you might have heard of. It does happen, and will happen though. The entry is supposed to be a "family" of default connections for each frosh, but because of the demographics that means that a huge range of incomes/origins/mindsets are in a veeerry small space. Is that always comfortable? no. Do I think its valuable? YES.....

(about diversity) - The $64,000 question. Of course, I'm a white-straight-male, so the closest I've gotten to some of these issues has been living in black DC for a few weeks in winter study and experiencing the feeling of standing out like a sore thumb. One thing I'll say straight away is that people have a variety of high school experiences - for some of us, we were the smartest kids in the room from K-12; others went to Williams-like prep schools where everyone is smart. I had something of a hybrid experience - my school was 50/50 black/white with a similar socio-economic gap, but I think when I came to Williams I expected a bunch of people like the "smart kids" at my high school.

That's not what I found. Athletes at Williams do tend to be whiter, richer, and more from the northeast, partly because Williams is athletically strong and it takes money to develop those skills in high school, but the key thing for me is that for many students at Williams, everyone around them has always been smart, which means that their social identity has never been about being a "nerd." For others of us, we were the nerds growing up, so we tend to take on that role at Williams, which can be hard because everyone here is smart. I think part of what you have heard about is the clash/surprise of having to find a new identity - based on being a leader, an artist, a historian, a dancer, a musician, a future-doctor, a fun-lover, an outdoors-lover, a cook, a religious person, or mostly likely some combination of these and many more possibilities. That's hard, and the people coming here from prep school don't have the same hurdle, in some ways.

Specifically addressing you concerns, I think it's more that athletes tend to cluster in their teams, which makes sense - they spend huge amounts of time in practice, on the road, or at games together, and they all share common attributes. But for the rest of campus, it can sometimes feel like athletics steal people away from the rest of us, espeically fall-sport athletes who honestly might not have much time for their entry until season is over. Is there a divide of sorts between athletes and non-athletes? Yes, but its a very bridged divide, and more about individual groups/teams than anything else, just as many friend groups at Williams are based on entries.

As for race, there are many types of people of every race here; I think the shock can be suddenly being surrounded by so many white people (I had to get used to having white custodians, which don't exist in the South, and not a lot of blacks). Williams is small, though, and there is no group on this campus that won't welcome yo because of your race. Not one. I think that we play out some of the gaps in society in the uncomfortableness of putting so many people together. We're not a happy family of perfection up here (you won't find that anywhere, despite what brochures will tell you), but I think we do it pretty well. Some of the older alums can be problematic at times, but that's something you'll only see if you want to be involved with them.....

 (on grades) -
Where do you hear this? I don't think its that hard, really, so long as you plan ahead, stay on top of your readings, and give assignments enough time. It can be hard to get an A if you're doing a million other things, but if you spend the same amount of time you used to be in school focused on your work you'll be far ahead of the rest of us. We do operate with curves here, to work against grade inflation, but I think an A-, at least, is always in reach, and probably higher than that in many classes. There are a lot of resources (Math/Scienve Resource Center, Writing Workshop) for people to use; I'd only make sure that you don't put yourself in a class you aren't prepared for....

It's always easy to be the party of "no."

And the democrats are playing that role to Paul Ryan's budget proposal. Come out with something in opposition, and we'll talk. But calling it a "death trap" is stupid and hypocritical. We're walking towards a cliff.

The Last Six Weeks - a Daily Diary - 4/5

11:00 - wake up from late night problem set
11:15 - actually get up for 11:20 class
11:20 - class; discuss libya
12:35 - grab lunch, go to library, finish problem set
1:10 - class
2:35 - POEC meeting, realize much work to do
4:00 - fix question #3 on PS with prof permission
4:30 - turn that in, read news then go home and cook dinner
7:00 - event
8:30 - 12:30: chatting, talking with people in Sawyer, and sending 33 e-mails
12:30 - watch end of star wars @ susie
now - going to sleeeeeeep

The Last Six Weeks - a Daily Diary - 4/4

In an effort to record daily life at Williams, I'm going to record a brief bit about the events of my days.

9:00 AM - Wake up, watch news, read blogs, write e-mails
Head to grab breakfast at Eco Cafe, then
11:00 AM - CSCI 134 Class
12:00 PM - Get lunch, talk with lots of folks
12:45 PM - Bell training
1:10 PM - Audit class #1
2:35 PM - Audit class #2
4:00 PM - Job discussion
5:30 PM - Buy milk, deliver home
6:00 PM - Labbbbbbb until 9:45
10:00 PM - Susie fun time with Diego's Birthday

At some point: a problem set due tomorrow....