The Eggshell Student.

August 13, 2015

The Atlantic recently ran a thoughtful, very well-written piece by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, in which they describe and trace the causes of a disease epidemic in American higher education: the development of thin-skinned students who expect coddling and protection from any perceived offense, no matter how slight (or imaginary) and who have become expert in escalating situations from misunderstanding to hate crime. The condition is unfortunately well-known to anybody graduating college in the last few decades: everybody seems eager to be offended by anything, and instead of honest self-analysis or even meaningful conversation they call for politically correct retribution, sometimes with frighteningly real consequences. Take the authors’ example:

“[I]n 2013, a student group at UCLA staged a sit-in during a class taught by Val Rust, an education professor… In the course of correcting his students’ grammar and spelling, Rust had noted that a student had wrongly capitalized the first letter of the word indigenous. Lowercasing the capital I was an insult to the student and her ideology, the group claimed.”

Careers have been ruined with this kind of nonsense.

The authors note the danger of accepting claims of offense at face value, absent any ability to objectively quantify (or even confirm the existence of) offense. “I’m offended” has become the trump card in any campus debate, immediately foreclosing debate (for fear of giving further offense) and requiring appeasement to the offended party – regardless of the intent behind (or even existence of) the offending act. Further, they point out nothing good can come of coddling hypersensitive, entitled students – they learn that brittle feelings are precious snowflakes to which sacrifice will be made by administrators fearful of litigation, and are thus unprepared upon graduation for anything resembling the real world or an adult relationship of any kind.

Were it not for the fact the rest of us have to put up with these people, that might be poetic justice. But as things stand, these student crusaders against offense are as dangerous as child monarchs – they have immense power and use it unreasonably upon the slightest provocation, recreating scenes better left in The Crucible. To their credit, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have both stopped performing on college campuses, citing the inability of students to take a joke.


The College Years

April 2, 2012

Your editorial staff was (Were? What if the staff numbers exactly one member? Anyway:) recently enmeshed in a discussion regarding the practical job skills with which students graduate colleges and universities. The distinction is made between the two types of institutions because they are worlds apart and unto themselves, a point which became quickly apparent during the above-mentioned enmeshing: colleges are smaller (sometimes miniscule) and keen on well-rounded intellectuals, akin to cultural finishing schools, whereas universities tend toward the large (sometimes gargantuan), and are more interested in productive graduates: those who can do a job.

There are benefits and dangers to each school of thought (specifically, that liberal arts colleges turn out yuppie free-thinkers who can’t actually accomplish much but think, while universities manufacture bland worker bees who don’t know art from an aardvark). Whichever type of education is better depends entirely on the student seeking it, what he wants to do and how he best learns.

The educational component aside, there remains a different, equally important part of a college (or university) education. Academics can be come by at most decent schools. One need not attend M.I.T. to get a good handle on math. What cannot be come by is the cultural finishing referenced previously. The college years are the most formative of any graduate’s life, and the people, places and things with which they are surrounded outside the classroom will have a much greater impact on their mature identities than will whatever coursework in Renaissance masters was available.

And so the two types of education must again be compared: regardless of the type or style of education a student might be best off pursuing, in which type of place will he best grow up? Surrounded by which type of people?

As before, the answer varies by case. What’s good for the goose can poison the gander. Still, it behoves every student, when making applications, to do his best to settle on a place filled with the type of person he wants to be, who is going the places he wants to go. As John Locke wrote: “Education begins the gentleman, but reading and good company and reflection must finish him.” Matt Damon puts it more cynically, but no less accurately, in School Ties:

“The right schools, the right grades, the right friends… these are the keys to the kingdom.”


Dartmouth Rugby Splits Opener

September 18, 2011

Dispatched from the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club wire service:

On a beautiful Labor Day weekend in Hanover, Dartmouth kicked off their fall season with a pair of tough tests against top Canadian sides Queen’s University and McGill University as part of the Dartmouth Rugby Classic, presented by Rockwood and Royall Rugby.

Although The Big Green had a tough opening game against Queen’s, losing 36-0, they bounced back nicely to defeat McGill 32-15 to get a split on the weekend. Overall, both games were good experiences that helped a 1st XV looking to break in several new starters, according to Captain and No. 8 Paul Jarvis, Darmouth Class of 2012. “I was very excited to see the team progress over the weekend,” he said. “We still have a ways to go in terms of technique in contact and winning set piece ball, but the team really showed glimpses of greatness this weekend.”

Dartmouth was back on their heel right away in their first game against Queen’s, as the opening kick off didn’t go ten meters, giving the Golden Gaels a scrum at midfield. From there, they quickly moved the ball down the field, taking it to the five-meter line in only a few phases. It was then that Jarvis got hit in the head by an opponent’s knee while going for a tackle, suffering a mild concussion.

As he lay on the field still reeling from the injury, Queen’s quickly moved the ball wide to get their first try. As the guests made the subsequent conversion, Jarvis was able to walk off the field under his own power, but was unable to return to the game. “It was immensely disappointing to get hurt so early in the season,” he said afterwards. “Fortunately it’s only the preseason, so I should be back within a few weeks at worst. In the mean time, I’ll contribute to the team in other ways and work on my recovery.”

With their captain sidelined and down a try only two minutes into the game, things somehow only got worse for The Big Green. A few minutes later, they would have a kick deep in their own territory blocked, leading to a mad scramble in the try zone for the ball. While fullback Madison Hughes, Dartmouth Class of 2015, was able to hold up a Queen’s player to prevent the try, the Golden Gaels would not be denied that easily as they deftly moved the ball wide from the subsequent scrum to get their second try and go up 12-0. They would add another only two minutes later as they once again went wide, this time from a lineout to increase the lead to 17-0. Ultimately, Dartmouth would not be able to recover from their slow start. “The first ten minutes against Queen’s evidenced our relative inexperience with one another on defense, as we conceded three fairly routine tries at the very start of the game,” said co-captain and flyhalf Bill Lehmann, Dartmouth Class of 2012. “From that deficit, it was always going to be difficult to catch up.” While the match became a much more even contest as it went on, any hopes of a Dartmouth comeback would be dashed right before halftime, when a Queen’s player caught the ball off the goalpost after a missed penalty kick and then proceeded to run it through the hands for another try to make the score 24-0. The Golden Gaels would add two more tires in the second half to bring the final score to 36-0.

The Big Green would have a much better opening, and much better go of it overall, in their next game against McGill. Where they had been stifled by the Queen’s defense the day before, Dartmouth was able to move the ball well against the Redmen. Dartmouth was especially effective when they were able to get it with pace to their speedy back three, who in turn created several line breaks. The team was able to open the scoring this way, as center Owen Scannell, Dartmouth Class of 2013 was able to hit Hughes, who took it from around the 22-meter line into the try zone to give The Big Green a 5-0 lead.

Hughes would strike again about ten minutes later, once again burning the McGill defenders on the edge to increase the advantage to 10-0. He would finish off the hat trick five minutes later, and would add on the conversion for good measure to make it 17-0. All in all, Hughes was far and away the best player of the day, tallying 22 of the team’s points (three tries, two conversions, one penalty). “It felt great,” Hughes said when asked about his performance after the game. “After yesterday’s loss, it was important for the team to turn around and perform better today. I was really happy to be able to help do that and we got the result we wanted. Hopefully we can build on this and get a winning streak together.”

While McGill was able to respond only a few minutes later with a converted penalty to make the score 17-3, the outcome of the game once would again be put out of question right before halftime. Except this time, it was the Big Green who put the game away, as prop Lawrence Anfo-Whyte, Dartmouth Class of 2013, burst through the McGill defense on a set strike move from a lineout and took it the distance to bring the lead to 24-3. That lead would prove too big to come back from for the Redmen. Although they would score two tries in the second half, good defense from Dartmouth, along with a Hughes penalty and a try by wing Kevin Clark, Dartmouth Class of 2014, would be enough to let The Big Green hold on for the 32-15 win.

Dartmouth will next be in action Saturday, Sept. 10th as they host the Granite State Cup in Hanover. The one-day tournament will see the Big Green’s 1st and 2nd XV sides taking on college teams from all over New Hampshire and Vermont. The action will kick off at 9 am at the Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, located at 9 Reservoir Road in Hanover, 1.8 miles north of the Hanover Inn, off of Lyme Road.


WFB: Fads Be Damned.

July 29, 2011

Excerpted piratically, but gratefully, from National Review:

(From a question and answer booklet issued by The Alumni Council of Princeton University, June 1, 1958.)

QUESTION: Why don’t Princeton undergraduates look as glossy as they used to? Is it because the admissions people frown on well dressed, social-looking young men?

ANSWER: Certainly not. Since the war, Princeton undergraduates, like those in other colleges, have gone out of their way to wear beat-up clothes. It’s a fad the GI’s started.

If I had been permitted to butt in with the next question, I’d have asked, “What would you do if the next fad called on the students to go about naked?” The answer would presumably have been as evasive as the first, probably something like, “My dear sir, there are laws against indecent exposure.” To be sure, and there are none against wearing sweat shirts in a venerable university eating hall, or in a classroom where the lecture that morning may be on the age of elegance; none, even, governing dress in fraternity houses where, it is commonly supposed, it is the elite who meet to eat. The reason? Rules affecting a student’s dress are . . .

But let me relate an experience. At Yale, ten years ago, there gadded about a distinguished professor of philosophy with a mania for equalitarianism. Notwithstanding, he was himself a man of personal taste, of imposing countenance and erect bearing, and one day he decided it would be reasonable to expect members of his college (undergraduate Yale is quartered in ten colleges) to come to dinner at the college dining hall dressed in coat and tie. Accordingly, he laid down the edict. Hours later, a student had summoned fellow members of the college student council in extraordinary session to devise appropriate means of resisting the act of tyranny. In due course the president of the council appeared before the guileless master and announced that it was the consensus of the student council that the ordinance he had passed was undemocratic. The master did not reply (such a reply would not have occurred to him, even as a lascivious possibility) “Tell the student council to go—eat democratically some place else.” No, our professor of Philosophy simply rescinded his order, aghast at the revelation that, albeit subconsciously, he had entertained an Undemocratic Thought.

It is the knout of Democracy that is most generally used to flail those who believe the administrators of a college are entitled to specify, nay should specify, norms of undergraduate dress. The economic argument, implausible though it increasingly becomes, is still widely used. It holds that coats and ties are expensive, that therefore the uniform requirement that they be worn daily, and hence worn out prematurely, is a form of regressive taxation. The argument is unrealistic because in point of fact ties do not cost very much, and coats made out of a tough material will outlive even a pauper’s inclination to wear them.

It is something else, really, that prevents the deans and masters from acting. They fear, in an age of permissiveness, the howl of protest. The dean of the Graduate School at Yale said recently, “The attire of students is incredibly sloppy. It would be fine if we could get away with a rule requiring ties at all meals. A good thing to press for in my retiring years.”

Must we wait until the Dean retires? Let us hope not. Meanwhile, I make a few observations. The first: Does not insistence on a minimal standard of dress reflect a decent respect for the opinions of mankind? The same community that insists that one pay at least a procedural respect to the opinions of ideological aberrants can hardly be expected to shrink from deferring to society on the appropriate means of clothing one’s nakedness. Even in the world of getting and spending, for whose coarseness a considerable contempt is stimulated in many colleges and campuses, coat-and-tie is a prerequisite to participation. The Beats who indulge their sloppiness as a symbol of their individualism can take the measure of their hypocrisy by reflecting on their imminent surrender — effective on the day they graduate into the world of commerce in which, almost to a man, they fully intend to spend their lives. The young graduate who informs Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane that to require coat and tie is undemocratic, can expect a most un-Philosophic reply. I doubt, going further, that there is a Princeton undergraduate who would presume to call on Jack Kerouac without coat and tie. If disorderly attire is a genuine symbol of personal independence, then the college generation should stick by their symbol at least a few decorous weeks after the ink is dry on their baccalaureate degrees. If it is not that, then dishevelment is what it is: a blend of affectation and laziness.

The second point for the academic community to think over is the matter of authority. Is it theirs to stipulate a minimal standard of dress? Professor Joseph T. Curtiss of Yale said recently, “Respectful or respectable dressing is a characteristic of adult society. Some people are born gentlemen, other people acquire gentility during life, still others must have it forced on them.” The tendency is to depreciate the beneficence of externally imposed norms of civilized behavior. There are many who, like myself, would, if left alone, permit our standards of personal dress to deteriorate to the level of the downright offensive. Conscientious members of society — and I include here, intending no offense, administrators of our colleges and universities — should not permit us to indulge our disintegrative proclivities. Coat-and-tie is merely a symbol. It could be courtesy; deference; reverence; humility; moderation: and are these not, all, the proper concern of a college administration? Is there a relationship between a faculty’s weakmindedness, and a student body’s disorderliness?


Correspondents Afield.

December 27, 2010

Correspondents afield, per winter holidays. Back soon. Please return often.


Dartmouth Rugby Round-Up

October 4, 2010

The Dartmouth Rugby Football Club downed the University of Pennsylvania last weekend, at Penn, by a final tally of 78-7. The match was the first of the Ivy season for the DRFC, which also notched a 38-7 victory in a B-side match played later that day.

The next day saw Dartmouth in Princeton, New Jersey, rolling over the Tigers 52-3 amidst strong play by back Will Lehmann ’12 and DRFC co-captain Tommy Brothers ’11.

This past Saturday, Dartmouth took the pitch in New Haven, set to play the Bulldogs at Yale. Match reports aren’t yet in but Yale came into the came with a 2-0 record, similar to Dartmouth’s, after downing Ivy rivals Columbia and Cornell. Details forthcoming.  


Rugby: Dartmouth Hosts Granite Cup

September 15, 2010

Fall rugby season got underway at Dartmouth College this past weekend as teams from the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont, St. Michael’s College, Franklin Pierce, Keene State, and Plymouth State converged in Hanover. British cologne maker Royall Lyme sponsored the tournament, and also sponsors the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club.

Ted Kennedy at the Dartmouth-Harvard match, 1964.

Despite injuries and pre-season commitments, the DRFC fielded three full sides, each of which performed strongly. The Green side took the pitch at 10 am and quickly notched 12 unanswered tries against UNH, a fair number of which were carried in by co-captain Paul Jarvis ’12.  By the final whistle, Dartmouth was up 76-0 on the newly unveiled scoreboard. The scoreboard is dedicated to the 1959 DRFC’s tour of California and will be officially dedicated at the club’s 60th anniversary in October.

A less experienced DRFC side took the pitch next to put St. Michael’s away, 53-0.

After play, the club was generally optimistic about its performance. “There were definitely positives to take away from all of the games,” said Jarvis. “A lot of guys were able to get playing time, often working in new positions or new combinations, and the boys responded well …there is a lot of room to improve, but it was a very promising day for the team and built on the good foundation this team had established the week earlier [during tour] in Canada.”

Official season Ivy League play begins September 25th and 26th, against the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton, respectively.