College announces members of presidential search committee

As part of the developing search process for College President Jim Yong Kim’s successor, the College announced 14 new members of the 17-member Presidential Search Committee in a press release today.

Committee Chair Bill Helman ’80 and Vice Chair Diana Taylor ’77 will be joined by fellow trustees Jim Coulter ’82, Denise Dupre ’80, Annette Gordon-Reed ’81 and John Rich ’80. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Mandel ’78 will serve as an ex-officio member of the committee.

Tuck School of Business professor Ron Adner, biology professor Mary Lou Guerinot, environmental studies professor Anne Kapuscinski, Dean of Graduate Studies and Thayer School of Engineering professor Brian Pogue, Geisel School of Medicine psychiatry professor Alan Green, music professor Steven Swayne and government professor William Wohlforth will join the committee to represent Dartmouth’s faculty.

Emily Bakemeier ’82, deputy provost for the arts and humanities at Yale University, and Dean of Libraries Jeffrey Horrell were also selected to join the committee.

Student Body President Suril Kantaria ’13 will join the committee as its only student member, consistent with the previous Presidential Search Committee that selected Kim in 2009, on which former Student Body President Molly Bode ’09 served as the sole student representative.

According to the release, the committee’s first goal is to create a Statement on Leadership Criteria, which will detail the qualifications of a president “who embodies the qualities and characteristics that will ensure Dartmouth’s continued preeminence in higher education,” while attracting potential candidates for the job.

The committee will also conduct “more extensive alumni outreach” and host a second faculty forum in the near future, the press release said.

The consulting firm Issacson, Miller has also been selected to support the presidential search in light of its participation in numerous presidential searches, including those at the University of Pennsylvania and Williams College, according to the release.

Wheeler: More Than an Object

The first time my friends and I descended into a frat basement, we were immediately confronted with the eager whisperings of upperclassmen: “She’s cute. That ones ok. She’s a zero.” I remember my discomfort in the face of these quick judgments, these cruel labels of attractiveness and subsequent worth. I remember my frustration with a school of supposed intellectuals who dismissed or accepted their peers on such a superficial basis.

As Spring term comes to an end, I find myself wondering what it means to be a freshman woman at Dartmouth. I’ve had many amazing experiences in all parts of Dartmouth life. But there are some aspects of my experience and the experiences of my fellow freshman women that concern me. Of course, I cannot attempt to prescribe some sort of metanarrative that defines exactly what it means to be a freshman woman here at Dartmouth. But in my time at this school, I’ve come to believe that freshman women here share in a particular set of obstacles and abuses.

First, to be a freshman woman is, in many cases, to be objectified. In a frat basement, freshman women are often perceived not as intelligent human beings with academic and extracurricular interests, passions and pursuits. Rather, we are judged as mere objects of a certain superficial value. It is the way we look that determines whether or not we get handed a beer at the bar or asked to play pong. In the unfamiliar, male-dominated space that is the frat basement, freshman women are left to the whims of upperclassmen who can accept or discard us after a cursory encounter. We often represent nothing more than potential hook-ups and consequently, we are treated as subordinates who exist merely for the convenience and pleasure of upperclassmen.

To be a freshman woman is also, to some extent, to be naive. Sometimes, freshman women reinforce the stereotypes of the Dartmouth social scene, even without fully realizing it. At times, we do things because we think we should, because it seems to be the “correct” freshman girl behavior. We feel obligated to come up with some flirty handshake with our pong partner even if we aren’t at all romantically interested in him. We suck up to upperclassmen because it helps us feel significant in a system where an upperclassman’s attention grants us some sort of status. We strive to get invited to formal and, when we go, drink ourselves sick because it seems like the right and fun thing to do. In our bouts of naivete and the desire to fit in, we do what is expected of us and consequently confine ourselves within the oppressive freshman girl stereotype that we claim to despise.

Because the freshman woman retains a certain degree of naivete, she sometimes earns resentment from those who are more seasoned than she is. Upperclasswomen often shake their heads at the behavior of freshman women who seem to embody the freshman girl stereotype. This cynical and even patronizing perception of freshman women hinders the formation of a meaningful and supportive relationship between them and the upperclasswomen. This is unfortunate because freshman women can learn so much from their older counterparts and upperclasswomen, conversely, stand to learn new and fresh ideas from the freshmen.

Overcoming these obstacles and abuses is no easy task. Women have long been objectified, and freshman women appear to be locked into a stereotype whether they truly consent to it or not. I believe that the best way to better the freshman woman’s experience is by improving the relationships and discussions between upperclasswomen and freshman women. When united, these groups will be better able to determine and shape the way in which a woman can be safe and free at Dartmouth.

Although upperclasswomen and freshman women can be connected through classes and various extracurricular activities at Dartmouth, I feel that the best way to enhance this connection is through groups such as Women’s Forum, in which women can come together to discuss their experiences, struggles and aspirations as women. Bringing together Dartmouth women of different ages, backgrounds and perspectives will further the initiative to liberate them from the pressures of male-dominated social spaces and the stereotypes of these unnecessarily divided groups.

Verbum Ultimum: Searching for Participation

Over the past two weeks, Presidential Search Committee Chairman Bill Helman ’80 and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Mandel ’78 have sought input from the student body about which qualities to look for in Dartmouth’s 18th president. Last Thursday, only about 30 students attended a discussion hosted by Helman and Mandel to discuss these issues (“Forums gather input for search,” May 18). While we commend Helman and Mandel for reaching out to students during this important transition period, we hope that the poor attendance at the forum is not reflective of a general lack of interest among the student body in the search for the College’s next president.

A few weeks ago, the two chairs of the Inter-Community Council published a column arguing that there should be multiple students on the search committee because the student voice is critical in the process, and one student cannot adequately represent the views of the entire student body (“A Plurality of Voices,” May 1). If students were actively engaged in expressing their views to the Board of Trustees, perhaps it would make sense to increase their representation on the search committee. Students as a whole, however, do not seem to be prioritizing the presidential selection process, calling into question any increase in student representation.

Dartmouth students are quick to complain about the various issues and concerns that they have about the College, from the somewhat trivial to the critically important. At the same time, many students take great pride in the Dartmouth community, and they remain connected to the College long after graduation. As a result, it certainly makes sense for students to be invested in who is leading the College, and yet very few seem to have demonstrated any interest.

Many students have interesting ideas about the direction that the College should take. We hope that they will take the opportunities provided to them the discussions hosted by the search committee and an online forum that solicits student opinions to voice their input to the Presidential Search Committee to ensure that the next president is engaged in the issues that are important to students. While students may think that the issues they care about are obvious, the Board of Trustees does not have a strong presence on campus and cannot be expected to be acutely aware of student concerns without direct input.

Students should use the presidential search process as a chance to take ownership of their community and think about their vision for this campus. We hope that students seize this rare opportunity to step back and think about the future of the College as a whole and the importance of engaging in the search for Dartmouth’s next president.

Daily Debriefing

The Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault held a town hall meeting on Thursday in Paganucci Lounge at which students, faculty members and administrators discussed the committee’s recently released recommendations for combating sexual assault. The recommendations were drafted during January’s Sexual Assault Symposium, which was attended by members of several student organizations. Faculty members suggested mandatory training and education for both students and faculty members to combat sexual violence. Theater professor Peter Hackett reiterated the importance of including specific statistics in the guidelines, saying that the statistics were “very compelling.” Students should not “carry this burden alone,” Hackett said, and should reach out to the trustees because they have important influence on the matter.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney announced on Wednesday that if elected, he would change or eliminate two of the Obama administration’s higher education policies tighter regulations on for-profit colleges and the overhaul of the federal student loan program, Inside Higher Education reported. Romney said he would also simplify federal financial aid and return to bank-based student loans. Romney discussed changing the eligibility guidelines for Pell Grants to allocate the grants to students most in need, according to Inside Higher Education. Romney’s platform emphasizes need for a new “normal” in America, where education is affordable, Inside Higher Education reported.

Asian-Americans hold a higher proportion of bachelor’s degrees than members of any other race or ethnicity in the United States, according to an American Community Service report released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Almost 50 percent of Asian-Americans over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree, while the national rate is 28 percent. The survey found that Taiwanese and Indians had the highest proportion of bachelor’s degrees compared to all ethnic groups surveyed, while Salvadorans had the lowest percentage of degrees. Other census data released this year has shown significant increases over the past 10 years in the percentage of minorities attaining bachelor’s degrees, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Rauner Special Collections Library hosts diverse archives

Webster Hall houses Rauner Special Collections Library, which features many rare books and manuscripts.

Rauner Special Collections Library, currently housed in Webster Hall, features massive, wide-ranging collections of rare books, manuscripts and the College’s archives, including one of the most extensive Robert Frost collections in the world, according to Special Collections librarian Jay Satterfield. The collection has been in continuous existence since 1924, according to College Archivist Peter Carini.

Rauner is one of the most accessible and user-friendly special collections libraries for a collection of its size and depth, Satterfield said.

“For us, it’s all about access and use,” he said. “My ultimate goal is that students feel that using the special collections is a simple, everyday kind of thing to do.”

The Rauner collection contains 120,000 books in the rare book collection, and if its boxes of archives and manuscripts were lined up end to end, they would span over five miles, according to Satterfield. The collection dates from the 20th century B.C. to the present, with materials from almost every era, he said.

“No matter what you are working on, if it has a historical angle to it, there is something here that will make your paper much better,” Satterfield said. “The same goes for classes if you are teaching a class, there’s something here that will make that class more interesting for your students.”

In addition to its breadth, the collection also includes “places where we go really deep,” according to Satterfield.

Most of the materials in the collection were donated to the College by alumni, according to Carini. There is also an annual acquisition budget that can range from $260,000 to over $500,000. During years in which the acquisition budget was low, however, the rare book market was generally down as well, so there was not a major discernible impact on buying power.

“We almost didn’t notice it, except books that were $33,000 one day dropped down to $15,000,” Carini said. “That’s how volatile the market is.”

Satterfield said that the library is very selective about what it takes into its collections because of the cost of obtaining and maintaining many of the rare books and manuscripts. Most archives produced by the College are obtained free of cost.

“Our goal is that we don’t bring anything into the collection that we don’t believe will get used,” he said.

Rauner Library relocated to Webster Hall in 1998, according to Carini. Before that, the library was called the Department of Special Collections and was housed in the Treasure Room of Baker Library, Satterfield said.

Webster Hall was originally built as an administrative building, a gathering place and a memorial, hence its original name of Memorial Hall, Carini said.

“They also shrank this building dramatically because they ran out of money,” he said. “They [changed the name to] Webster and downsized it to make it a theater and gathering place for students.”

Almost all of the materials in the collection are available for student use, Satterfield said.

The librarians at Rauner do not require students to wear gloves when handling all but a few materials from the collection, according to Anne Peale ’11, who has been working as an intern in Rauner for the past year.

“We take it on good faith that people have an interest in being careful with what they are handling,” she said. “We almost never have trouble.”

Peale, who wants to become a special collections librarian in the future, describes her job as fun and rewarding. She is currently working on a project reprocessing the Robert Frost collection at the library.

“My job was to take everything and bring it together and [create] an online guide that categorizes all the different types of items we have and makes them searchable and usable to patrons,” she said.

Many classes from over half of the academic departments on campus have come into Rauner to work with primary documents, according to Satterfield.

Michael Chaney, an English professor, said that he regularly uses Rauner as a curricular resource.

“Rauner is a top-notch campus resource because of its amazing staff,” he said. “[Satterfield] is a fantastic teacher and knows just how to present materials related to my courses in order to pique my students’ interest.”

Study finds contact sports’ academic effects

While it is known that concussions can harm an athlete’s ability to learn, a new study has found evidence that even one season of contact sports can affect how well some athletes acquire new information, according to the study’s lead author and Director of Neuropsychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine Thomas McAllister. The research was part of a multi-institution study that has been working for five or six years to understand the biomechanical basis and effects for concussions, McAllister said.

The study, which was published by the American Academy of Neurology, found that contact sport athletes did not perform worse than non-contact sports athletes on cognitive tests before their seasons began. These results were “reassuring,” McAllister said.

“We did not find any systematic widespread adverse affects on cognition,” he said. “The two groups on average looked pretty similar at the end of the season.”

The study did find that a larger subgroup of contact sport athletes than non-contact sports athletes performed worse than expected on tests taken immediately after the season. Taking into account how well the athletes tested before their season began and controlling for other indicators of general test performance and the interval between tests, the authors predicted how well the athletes should perform after their season and compared this to their actual results.

“We found that about 22 percent [of contact sport athletes] did worse than 1.5 standard deviations below what we would have predicted,” McAllister said. “This was a significant difference from the non-contact group.”

McAllister said that this raises the possibility that some individuals are particularly vulnerable to suffering negative effects from hitting their heads repeatedly during contact sports.

“This changes the emphasis of the debate a little bit,” McAllister said. “It’s a new direction for us to be thinking about the risks or lack of risks for contact sports. There may not be the same risk for everyone.”

The researchers also used the tests administered at the beginning of the season to see whether athletes who had been playing contact sports for most of their lives and had presumably hit their head more often had lower cognition than non-contact sport athletes.

“We did not find any systematic differences between the two athlete groups at the beginning of the season,” McAllister said. “We think this is good news. We were unable to detect widespread significant differences in their cognitive capabilities.”

To measure their results, researchers administered two tests to male and female contact and non-contact sport athletes from the College, Brown University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University at the beginning and end of their seasons. Contact sport athletes played football or ice hockey while non-contact sport athletes participated in track, Nordic skiing or crew.

Participants that sustained a documented concussion during the season were not included in the study results because researchers were primarily interested in the effects of “repetitive impacts to the head not apparently causing a concussion,” according to McAllister.

A 20-minute computerized test measured cognition, memory attention and reaction time. The other neurological test, administered to a sub-group of athletes, was more extensive and used “paper and pencil.” Researchers compared the results of the contact sport athletes’ tests with the non-contact sport athletes’ tests, which were used as a control.

Contact sport athletes wore special helmets during practice and games equipped with a Head Impact Telemetry System designed by Richard Greenwald, the president of Simbex, a technology company in Lebanon. The helmets have been in use since 2004 around the United States, according to Greenwald.

“The helmets contain a system that monitors head impacts automatically and wirelessly,” Greenwald said. “They measure how often, how hard and where on the helmet gets hit.”

Jessica Gagner ’13 plays women’s ice hockey and participated in the study as a contact sport athlete. She said she was not more cognizant about hitting her head when wearing the helmet.

“To me, if you’re playing a contact sport, you’re obviously going have a bigger effect on your head,” Gagner said. “It’s really inevitable that you’re going to have more of an issue with head impacts if you are a contact sport athlete.”

Cara Vernacchia ’13 runs track and was a non-contact athlete who participated in the study. She said she was glad to be able to take part to help researchers learn more about concussions and how to prevent them.

“Being able to be part of the study made me realize that concussions do occur,” Vernacchia said. “It’s interesting to see how prominent head impacts are, even on our campus.”

The researchers hope to continue observing the effects of contact sports on the study’s participants. Many students agreed to undergo neuroimaging before and after their seasons and researchers hope to examine these results.

“We’d love to be able to revisit with some of these athletes four or five years down line and get a second set of test results to see how they’re doing after a whole collegiate career,” McAllister said.

The researchers also hope to learn more about why certain athletes performed worse than expected on tests after a season of contact sports.

“I think the second theme of ongoing research would be to try and understand what individuals are at risk to be in that not doing as well as we would have thought’ category,” McAllister said.

Greenwald said that the researchers hope to learn more about the effects of contact sports on youth and women in the future.

Allison Singh ’97 gives college rejection advice

When Allison Singh ’97 matriculated at Dartmouth after being rejected from Princeton University, her top choice, she considered the College a second-tier institution. Twenty years later, she has written a book to help students cope with college rejection. In “Getting Over Not Getting In: A College Rejection Guide,” Singh said she aims to “help students move on and get excited about college again.”

Singh’s first objective in writing the book was to help students understand the arbitrary nature of the college admissions process, she said. Rejection often does not reflect a student’s qualifications or predict future success, according to Singh.

“I think a lot of students take [rejection] personally, but it’s really not about that,” she said. “Colleges often have their own agendas, be it geographic, athletic or financial concerns. A lot of times they really want to accept students, but they can’t.”

Singh also encourages students to put the situation in perspective and to focus on what each school has to offer rather than becoming fixated on a school’s name.

“It really doesn’t matter as much as students think,” she said. “These days, employers really want to know what you can do rather than where you go. Once I got out of school and was in the working world, I saw how the people who succeed really are not always the ones who go to the most prestigious schools.”

Another point Singh stresses in her book is the importance of keeping an open mind and not becoming jaded by a disappointing college admissions process, she said.

“I think there are people who come to a school and they think they’re too good for it,” she said. “They think they’re smarter than everyone else, and they’re missing out on all the opportunities that are there.”

Singh said she never intended to write a book on college admissions but was inspired to do so after a friend asked her to help a devastated student deal with rejection from her “dream school.”

“In advising that student, I started to think about what I went through, and I realized that there’s really nothing out there to help students make sense of rejection,” Singh said.

Still, Singh said she questions why top schools are not making more of an effort to increase their outreach by setting up satellite schools and online degrees.

“I’m not trying to tear down these schools, but I do think there is a commercial aspect to it these colleges are luxury brands in a way because they’re so exclusive,” she said. “Keeping the admissions rate so low helps them inflate their rating on U.S. News and World Report and to maintain the mystique of being out of reach for most people.”

During her time at Dartmouth, Singh said she thought there was a mix of students for whom Dartmouth was their first choice and students who came to the College after being rejected from “first tier” schools such as Harvard University, Princeton or Yale University.

“I think Dartmouth has become more of a hot school’ in the past 15 years, though, even in terms of pop culture,” she said, citing references to Dartmouth in television show “Grey’s Anatomy” and in the movie “Superbad” (2007).

There is a range of students who considered the College to be their first choice and those who did not, according to current students interviewed by The Dartmouth.

Amanda Martin ’15 said that although many of her peers committed early to Dartmouth especially athletes others chose Dartmouth after being rejected from their first choice.

“I think a lot of people came here because it was their backup, for lack of a better word, which is strange because it’s such a great school,” she said.

John Cofer ’15 reported feeling disappointed after not getting accepted to his early-action choice.

“All of your life up to that point seems to be directed toward getting into a good college,” he said. “Putting yourself out there and being rejected definitely isn’t pleasant, but I think it was a good learning experience for me.”

Cofer added that now that the college admissions process is behind him, he is happy with his choice and feels that most Dartmouth students share his enthusiasm for the school.

“I think people are generally really enthusiastic about Dartmouth, even more so than my friends at other schools,” he said.

Although Anastasia Kahan ’15 did not have a clear first choice, she said it was “disappointing” to have her options limited by the admissions process. At the same time, it helped her make her final decision, she said.

Kahan said she feels that Dartmouth students generally have a positive attitude about the school.

When asked to give a piece of advice to current Dartmouth students, Singh said she hopes students use their time at the College wisely and take advantage of what the school as to offer.

“Don’t waste time,” she said. “There is a lot of important work to be done in college like trying to make sense of the world and your place in it.”

Local organizations assist Upper Valley post-hurricane

Small businesses in the Upper Valley are still struggling after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene in August, but many have begun to receive help from the Small Business Support Team, a project organized by the disaster relief group Upper Valley Strong and the regional organization Vital Communities.

Although the main focus after a major disaster is on individuals who have lost homes or have immediate needs, the impact on small businesses is so strong that an average of 40 percent do not reopen within a year, according to Vital Communities Executive Director Mary Margaret Sloan.

Upper Valley Strong the region’s Federal Emergency Management Administration-certified relief group formed immediately after the storm when a group of concerned organizations began working together to help those impacted by the extensive flooding. After recognizing that businesses were still in need of assistance, they began finding additional groups who would be interested in starting the Small Business Support Team.

“Some businesses were already hurt by the slow economy of the recession, so to have that plus the flooding was really difficult to navigate,” Sloan said. “The small businesses are not just important to the people who live here, but to the character of this region. It makes it really special.”

Most businesses’ needs were financial, so one of the team’s first actions was to offer low-interest loans. These were provided through the Vermont Small Business Development Center and the Small Business Association, according to Sloan.

The businesses the team plans to reach out to all have fewer than five employees. The team also hopes to provide these businesses with volunteer repairs, business strategies from Tuck School of Business professors and a network through which they can reach out to other businesses, according to Sloan.

“Small businesses feel like they’ve been overlooked a little bit,” Sloan said. “We’re going to be working with them on a very individualized basis.”

Although many business needs are mainly financial, existing grant programs are small, and asking for additional loans may not be feasible, according to Sam Harvey, the long-term disaster relief coordinator at Southeastern Vermont Community Action.

“A lot of [small businesses] took on loans just to get started in the first place, so while it’s presented as an option, for a lot of them the answer is, No. We can’t take on many more loans,'” he said. “The next question is, How do we get creative with our solutions?'”

There are fewer solutions and resources available for businesses than there are for individuals because FEMA only provides help for damaged homes and not businesses, though many small local businesses focusing on services such as landscaping or carpentry are run from families’ homes or garages and may still need structural repairs, according to Harvey.

“The businesses get lost in that shuffle,” he said. “You don’t have to look very far to see which ones have been impacted.”

The closure rates in the Upper Valley post-Hurricane Irene seem to be low, however, according to business owners interviewed by The Dartmouth.

“I did not have any damage, but business slowed down a lot,” Janice Hubbard, owner of My Stained Glass Store in White River Junction, said. “I’m sure it hurt everybody as far as people weren’t coming out to shop, but no one around me was hurt so much that they had to close their business.”

Other owners of specialty stores also found that people were not interested in buying their goods after the storm, according to White River Junction business owner Mark Estes, president of Junction Frame Shop.

“Picture framing wasn’t on the top of the minds of people in the area at the time,” Estes said. “Last year was a down year even prior to Irene’s arrival, though I can say that this year has picked up.”

For business owners in Queechee, Vt., the closing of the Queechee Bridge and the lack of tourists during the fall foliage season created additional obstacles to recovery, according to Tony Baptagalia, owner of the Route 4 Country Store and Vermont Chocolatiers. While he spoke with the Small Business Support Team, Baptagalia did not use its resources.

“Ours was primarily an economic impact with a loss of customers,” he said. “The people who had physical damages were more involved [with the team].”

There was flooding in Queechee’s downtown area, and some “mom and pop” stores have gone out of business, according to Sharon Hamberger, owner of the Queechee Country Store.

“It’s difficult to pay the bills without business,” she said. “We were greatly impacted because the fall is our number one season. We’re still feeling it.”