Williams College (Make Believe I'm Your Son--I Need Info!)





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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Williams College (Make Believe I'm Your Son--I Need Info!)
By Deerhunter (Deerhunter) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 10:38 pm: Edit

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty roughness of it. I'm cool. I'm quirky. I'm handsome. I'm a little weird. Am I Williams material? (My name is "William," but I doubt that's enough.)

I know I'm not giving you much to work with, but I'm more of a "Brown" kid (liberal, quirky, etc) but I'm leaning towards Williams. Where the hell am I going with this?

Basically, does William only admit traditional, preppy-type kids? Or are "slightly, though delightfully, weird" students admitted as well? (In significant numbers?) Thanks for your help...

By Momrath (Momrath) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

Deerhunter, I answered you on the Williams thread, but your self-description just reminded me of the comments of a friend of mine (a third generation Princeton-man) made when I told him my son was going to Williams. He said "I knew a lot of kids who went to Williams and they all thought very highly ... (pause) ... of themselves!"

We worried about image at the time, but after a year's experience can say that my son's group is definitely friendly, down to earth, and yes, quirky and weird as well. (Good looking, too, but then this is a mom's opinion so you have to take that as highly prejudiced.)

By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 12:34 am: Edit

It would be easy to accentuate the differences without first understanding the similarities in the student bodies. Both schools have extremely high "entitlement" indexes (among the highest in the country). At Brown, 40% of students come from private schools, 60% of student receive no need-based aid, and only 10% receive Pell grants. At Williams (my alma mater), 46% come from private schools, 58% receive no need-based aid, and only 9% are on Pell grants.

In other words, neither place is particularly diverse (outside of "face diversity"), with Williams likely slightly more "preppy". But you might notice it more at Williams because it is smaller. Both schools have a national student body, but with a slant toward the northeast. They are drawing from the same pool. The differences might have more to do with campus culture than with the makeup of the student bodies.

Interesting what the Princeton-man said, because the Princeton student body is, statistically, virtually the same as the Williams student body, except they have even fewer Pell Grant recipients.

You can get a great education at any of these places. I do have to say that when my d. at I were visiting Williams, we made a sport of counting the number of students with dreads, noserings, or visible tattoos (it was very, very small). Having spent time at Evergreen State College, she was hoping to find more diversity, at least in appearance. Haven't been to Brown, though.

Visit, and find out where you feel comfortable - most folks would give their eye-teeth to attend either.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 05:14 am: Edit

I think my Princeton friend meant to be funny, but for sure there's no shortage of self-confidence at HYP either. You definitely won't see piercings, tatoos or any such physical self-expressiveness at Williams. From what I could see no one pays much attention to fashion at all. The quirkiness is purely cerebral.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 09:27 am: Edit

I went to Brown and I've spent a lot of time on the Williams campus. I love Williams. I think there's a danger of stereotyping people as "preppy." Just because someone wears polo shirts doesn't mean he or she isn't a songwriter or a political junkie or a scientific researcher. Keep in mind that because Williams is D3 you can play a sport and also do other extracurriculars, so individual students can pursue varied interests. The courses they offer at Williams in January certainly indicate a high level of quirkiness.

By Sopranosmom (Sopranosmom) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 11:19 am: Edit

My son graduated from Williams and is 'cool, quirky, and handsome -- and a little weird.! I agree with all the other posters about Williams but I think you have to go there yourself -- stay overnight, go to classes, hang out -- and see if you feel comfortable with the people and the place. That's what my son did 5 years ago this fall. He came home convinced -- got himself together to apply ED -- was admitted by Christmas -- attended Williams and loved everything about it.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 01:16 pm: Edit

I don't think Williams is oppressively "preppie" in terms of ambience. It's always struck me as a student body that is mostly comprised of normal, well-adjusted, friendly, affluent, suburban kids who don't push the limits much in any direction. It's never been a place with a lot of protest marches.

There are only three issues that would make me hesitant about Williams:

a) If a student is NOT from a normal affluent white background with normal affluent white career ambitions. Not saying that such an atypical student wouldn't love Williams, but I would want to consider the issue in some depth.

b) If a student is not actively involved in athletics or "outdoorsy" pursuits. Again, not a requirment at all. But, it there is a heavy athletic emphasis (along with the jock-school drinking culture).

c) If a student will go stark raving mad holed up in the middle of nowhere.

>> Or are "slightly, though delightfully, weird" students admitted as well?

Yes, but "thoroughly normal" would be a better description for the student body as a whole. "Slightly, though delightfully, weird" would be a much more widespread description of the Swarthmore student body. There is obviously a tremendous amount of overlap in the student bodies at the two schools. But, at Swarthmore, you take away a couple hundred students from the hard-core athletic crowd and replace them with a couple hundred students who are hard core in political, social service, intellectual, or quirky interests. The bulk of the student body remains virtually identical, but that change on the fringes has a significant impact on campus ambience.

My daughter chose Swarthmore. Her best friend chose Williams. We think each girl picked the PERECT school, considering their personalities.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 02:03 pm: Edit

What is the Amherst persona?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 02:41 pm: Edit

I'm not qualified to answer that. When I went to Williams back in the 1970's, Williams was the flannel shirt and hiking boots, more laid back, mellow school while Amherst was far more traditionally hard-core preppie and Swarthmore was more politically active and probably more "hippie".

I don't think Williams has changed much since then, but Amherst may have. Since my daughter never considered Amherst, I really haven't looked at its character at all. From what I've learned here, they have been a bit more aggressive in their affirmative action recruiting than Williams. However, I would be very surprised if Amherst moves the needle on the "quirky" guage and it does lack the art history and theater strengths that counterbalance the "jock" emphasis at Williams.

Depsite the changes at both schools since they started accepting women a few years ago, it is important to remember that they have both been totally male-dominated institutions: in student body, career path, faculty, and management for the vast majority of their histories. Both are still male-dominated at the Board of Directors level. (This applies to the Ivy League schools as well). Despite their political correctness, I would describe all of the traditionally all-male elite New England colleges as fundamentally conservative in institutional character.

By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 03:25 pm: Edit

Again, statistically, Amherst is now substantially more diverse than Williams, with a much higher percentage of Pell Grant recipients (15.6% vs. 9.4%) , and a higher percentage receiving needbased aid, and a smaller percentage of athletes. You might not notice it though, as Amherst is substantially smaller than Williams. You also might not notice it, as Amherst is also the magnet for 5-College alcohol consumption. Entire busloads come over from other schools to drink, and one doesn't see busloads of Amherst students leaving the home campus to do so. I would agree with Interesteddad's speculation that Amherst has changed more since the 1970s than Williams has.

Both great schools, though, drawing students essentially from the same pool. You just have to go visit, and see where you'd feel more comfortable.

Folks should note that Williams will be undergoing quite a bit of construction in the next two years. The student union, where traditionally freshman have eaten, will be closed, and, I think, the snack bar is being moved. The new theatre is still under construction, and next up will be the library (they are going to level the current one - YAY!). All good additions, but likely to affect campus life (especially the student union.)

To me, the problem at Williams (where I received a GREAT education) is its isolation. Williams does a tremendous job of bringing stuff in to cope with the isolation -- especially in the arts -- but if it ain't there, it ain't there. The Five-College Consortium, in contrast, is a terrific advantage and, in fact, makes courses possible that wouldn't otherwise be. Two quick examples for my d. Last term, a well-known world-music professor at Amherst taught his south Indian music course on the Smith campus. This may have been a result of there not being enough students at Amherst to sustain the course (I don't know), but there were definitiely enough once they moved it. There is a "Five-College Professor" (joint appointment) who is housed at Mt. Holyoke who is the founder of the Folger Consort and teaches early music, with locations of the courses rotating. Williams may be substantially larger than Amherst, but there are simply more active educational opportunities in the Five-College setup than Williams can offer. But if you are really into the outdoors, or into art history, don't even consider not becoming an Eph.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 03:53 pm: Edit

Mini:

If I were a self-described "slightly, though delightfully, weird" student, I wouldn't put Williams or Amherst at the top spot on my LAC list. Both are very traditional, especially in terms of career path (med school, law school, biz school, Wall Street). If anything, I would guess that this is even stronger today than it was in the 1970's when these career paths dominated the scene.

That "slightly, though delightfully, weird" description is almost word for word how Swarthmore students describe themselves, substituting the words "geeky" or "quirky" for "weird". ("Weird" is probably a description that would be a better fit for Wesleyan.) While there is signficant overlap with Williams and Amherst on the med school, law school, biz school career path, Swarthmore sends a higher percentage into grad schools/academic careers, public policy, education, and service careers.

By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:13 pm: Edit

"If I were a self-described "slightly, though delightfully, weird" student, I wouldn't put Williams or Amherst at the top spot on my LAC list."

No argument from me! As you well know, Williams prides itself on getting a fine well-rounded class by accepting a large number of fine, well-rounded students. (This is in contrast to Harvard, for example, that tries to get a fine, well-rounded class by getting lots of individually quirky folks and melding them together.)

I'd hardly call Swarthmore the home of the quirkies, though. For one thing, their high school GPAs are much too high.(LOL! How can you really be that quirky if your GPA is 4.9? Having said that, my favorite Swattie alum is the dropout poetess Diana DiPrima - her autobiography "Recollections of My Life as a Woman", and especialky the section on post-war Swarthmore, is a hoot!) Quirky? Earlham, maybe (as a Quaker, what I think Swarthmore should be, and once was, but is no longer), or Bard, or Bennington. (And Reedies are really quirky, in a completely different way.) Of course, when I was that age, Swarthmore would have been quirky enough for me (I was kind of boring, I imagine), and, to me, Eph country was definitely a cross-cultural experience! (even as an alum, I have to admit that sometimes it feels like it still is.)

By Deerhunter (Deerhunter) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:19 pm: Edit

Momrath, Mini, Aparent, Interesteddad, Mom101, and Sopranosmom, I'd like to thank you all for your great advice.

But to clarify a point--I may have exaggerated when I said I was "slightly, though delightfully, weird."

I don't play Dungeons or Dragons, nor do I prefer Harry Potter to Joe Dimaggio as a role model. I started my own (rather liberal) humor magazine and I perform stand-up comedy--that's about the extent of my not "weirdness" but perhaps "untraditionalism." I also invent words in my spare time (see previous sentence).

The reason I'm considering Williams is that I'm a future lawyer/Wall Street-type, and I hear Williams is unparalleled (with the exception of HYP) in terms of career placement in those two areas. Is this true?

By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:26 pm: Edit

Now that's a stitch!!!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:29 pm: Edit

>> I'd hardly call Swarthmore the home of the quirkies, though. For one thing, their high school GPAs were too high.(LOL!)

Absolutely. I would guess that somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% of the Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore student bodies are the same. It's inevitable when you have those median class rank and SAT stats.

But, in this era of "slotted" admissions, it is remarkable how the admissions priorities at the margins impact the overall ambience of a school. For example, I believe that Williams heavy emphasis on its varsity football program is largely responsible for its alcohol problems and it all goes back to admissions slots.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:36 pm: Edit

Deerhunter:

IMO, you can (and should) completely disregard career path specifics when choosing among essentially identical schools like Amherst, Williams, and Swarthmore. If you want to be a corporate lawyer or Wall Street investment banker, you will have no trouble doing so from any of these schools.

IMO, the single most important factor in choosing an LAC is to learn as much as you can about the overall ambience of the school and the student body. Choose the one that best fits your personality and outside interests. Over the course of four years, that stuff is far more important than splitting hairs over career path percentages.

For example, Swat sends a far larger percentage of students to science PhDs. than Williams. But, that is totally irrelevant if Williams is a better fit. For example, if you are football playing Physics major, you would have to be nuts to choose Swat over Williams (no football team).

IMO, the biggest single mistake I see students (and their parents) making in the College Confidential forums is being far, far, far too career-path oriented in their college selection. Here's the hard cold truth. At age 18, you cannot possibly know what you want to do for the rest of your life.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

Williams is certainly well represented on the Street, but no more so than many other top schools. Actually, I think Dartmouth and Duke host more of the real Wall Street "personalities" if that's what you're getting at.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 04:54 pm: Edit

>> I started my own (rather liberal) humor magazine

Based on that, if you were my imaginary son, I would say, without question Swarthmore over my alma mater, Williams. BAsed on my experience Williams is not notabaly liberal, political, nor humorous.

In my brief exposure to Swarthmore, the single most striking quality I've noticed is the consistent thread of offbeat humor the runs through ALL of the student publications. For example, this year's senior class speaker was a pre-med geek/genious triple major from Sri Lanka. He started his commencement address with a lengthy bit about finding his true calling in life during his Swat years -- professional wrestling!

By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 05:41 pm: Edit

Nah -- if you wanna be a wall street lawyer type, Williams is a good bet. Four former Prez's of the NY Stock Exchange can't all have been wrong.

Of course, if that is really what you want, arranging your birth into the right family (and their having enough money to easily pay for graduate school, and to join the right clubs) is far more important than any of this stuff.

If you go to Williams, you are more likely to meet future clients.

By Coureur (Coureur) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:30 pm: Edit

The most famous Williams alum I can think of: George Steinbrenner. His father considered him a falure for not getting into MIT (the family tradtion), but a Williams education seems to have served George just fine.

By Jrpar (Jrpar) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:57 pm: Edit

"slightly, though delightfully, weird" students admitted as well?

How about Wesleyan?!

By Momrath (Momrath) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 01:48 am: Edit

Humor is a very subjective quality. My son has an offbeat, quirky sense of humor. He was worried that Williams would be too serious, but in fact found that wasn't the case at all. He's managed to assemble a great group of kids that "get it". I think he would have been equally happy at Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Brown or Yale (now, whether or not he would have been accepted is a whole other issue) but for many reasons he chose Williams and in the end it turned out to be a perfect fit.

Williams kids are less intellectually and culturally alike one another than they may initially appear as they tend more toward the understated than the in your face. There's not a big political movement on campus, but there is a greater range of political diversity than you would find among a more liberal student body. I like to think that they'd make good dinner guests whether at a Republican White House or a mudhut in Tibet, i.e., they can find something interesting to talk about in just about any circumstance. (I think Mini and Interesteddad would also pass the dinner partner test.)

All of these schools attract extremely accomplished, ambitious kids. They are interested and interesting. Multi tasking of diverse interests is common.

They all seem to think that their schools are the most fun which is a good thing. (T-shirt seen at Williams: Swarthmore -- the place that fun goes to die.) They all take academics very seriously and study hard.

What they do to let off steam seems to be variable and might be a good fit indicator. At Williams they would tend to do something active like play broomball or climb a mountain then go to a party.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 09:14 am: Edit

I'm following this with much amusement - DD even read some of this thread, and she won't get online here on a bet!

Momrath, if Ephs climb mountains to blow off steam, and Amherst (I'm assuming, because of TAP) party, what do the Swatties do?

On our visit, Williams students pushed the "Quirkiness Quotient" fairly hard - after all they have the Moocow Marching Band. The most telling thing about Swat was the tour guide got positively gushy about the student led Shakespeare scenes in the amphitheater. Amherst, even though my daughter liked the open curriculum seemed the most "generic"?

Deerhunter, you'll be fine at Williams, wierd, quirky, whatever. Maybe you should meet my daughter?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 12:34 pm: Edit

>> On our visit, Williams students pushed the "Quirkiness Quotient" fairly hard - after all they have the Moocow Marching Band.

By "humor" I wasn't really refering to the institutional traditions like the marching band, but rather the frequency of humor showing up in day to day student communication such as the campus newspaper and even responses to questions from wet-behind-the-ears incoming freshmen.

The Moocow Marching Band is a long-standing tradition, well established at Williams when I was there in the early 1970s. It goes back to a time when football and the associated trappings weren't taken so seriously. Of course, now football IS a serious thing at Williams.

Of the top 25 or so LACs in the United States, Williams and Davidson are the two that really stand out with football programs that are major institutional priorities and key aspects of the schools' identities.

A serious football program at a tiny co-ed college has a major impact on admissions and campus culture. Supporting a football team at anything beyond a club level means that at least 1 out of every 5 incoming male freshman must be a varsity football player. IMO, this is one of the reasons that there is so much concern at Williams these days about alcohol abuse, although I don't think you would ever get the powers at be to admit that. Eph football is not only a Purple Cow, but a sacred cow.

Based on the fact that both Williams and Amherst have been averaging over 100 liquor law disciplinary actions on campus per year recently, it would seem that drinking is an equally major issue at both colleges. Perhaphs "blowing lunch" would be a better description than "blowing off steam".

Swat, where alcohol is available at campus wide parties, averages 3 disciplinary actions per year. Is this the result of a different college policy towards drinking or a different campus culture? Some of both, I suspect; the two go hand in hand.

I do think that it is important to keep disctinctions in perspective. Schools such as Williams, Amherst, and Swarthmore are so similar in the "big picture" stuff (academics, size, quality of student body, etc.) that a student interested in one could hardly go wrong at any of them. A very large perecentage of the student bodies at all three schools are the same kids. If my daughter had ended up getting rejected by Swat and accepted by Williams, I would have been VERY happy for her to be an Ephman. I am very happy for her closesst girlfriend who is going to be an Ephman.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 01:06 pm: Edit

Interestteddad, I don't disagree with you, but I know how they support the football teams at my daughter's private high school, and at the other 2 major privates in our city, and I would think Williams, Davidson and Amherst keep their football teams competitive in much the same way. How competitive is the football program at Williams anyway? Conference champs every year for the last 20 or sometimes good sometimes so-so? - I know about the Director's Cup, but they win that the same way my kids' school won the state athletic trophy 3 of the last 5 years, with breadth of programs and more strong than weak programs. My impression of Williams from my admitted short visit, and from working side by side with Williams grad for a number of years is that it takes all sports seriously, not just football.

ALso, what I meant by "pushing" was that the student tour guide, and the student running the info session (no adcoms the day we visited, which indirectly I think led to DD rejecting Williams), kept coming back to the unique, humorous "quirky" aspects of the school - as if they were trying to say "No, we're not just outdoorsy jocks". The fact that every other child in the info session played some sort of sport, and she didn't - that's what turned her off, and if the adcoms had been there, I'm not sure that fact would have come out in the session.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 01:26 pm: Edit

Cangle:

Sports are very big deal at Williams, much more so than when I attended 30 years ago when Williams won the "Little Three" title fairly often but football was kept in its proper perspective.

From 1987 through 2003, the football team amassed a record of 114-19-3 and had five undefeated seasons. That kind of winning percentage doesn't happen by accident.

Williams also won the Division III national basketball championship recently. Again, that doesn't happen without making athletics a serious priority.

I don't think that athletics are bad. I'm a huge football fan. However, I think you do have to consider the ramifications at these ultra small schools. Remember, Davidson, Amherst, and Swat only have 700 to 800 male students TOTAL. Williams about 1200.

For a tiny liberal arts college to make athletics a top priority, they must make a huge commitment in terms of admissions slots. If one out of every five incoming male freshmen are varsity football players, you are going to have a campus climate with a great deal of drinking and frat boy antics.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 02:07 pm: Edit

I used to have a deal with my alumni rep -- I only gave the Ephs money in years they had a losing football team. Didn't have to give them a dime for 25 years! (not that they would have gotten much out of me in any case.)

As I have written before, my D. (who thought W. would be an excellent place to go to school, loved the academic program, and had 3 years of contact with faculty with whom she wanted to work), was shocked at the level of midweek alcohol consumption, and it was a key element in her turning down admission. But I am not sure whether it was athletics or something else operating (like Interesteddad, I think it may also have to do with freshman apartheid.) Alcohol was hugely prevalent at Amherst as well, where whole busloads of folks come from other colleges to drink. Both administrations are very concerned. And there are large numbers of folks on both campuses that don't drink at all, and large numbers who drink responsibly. It does, however, affect the feel of the campus.

But, also, as Interesteddad points out, it is NOT the same everywhere. It really isn't. Don't use that canard -- campus culture is very much a matter of institutional decisions and choices, and really does vary from campus to campus. (Williams, for example, could -- if it chose -- eliminate half of its freshman drinking problem tomorrow simply by holding its JAs accountable, as they already are under Mass. law, if they procure alcohol for underage students. All they would have to do is require their JAs to obey the law.)

Nonetheless, many students will love the Williams environment just as it is. The students work hard, and play hard, in a magnificent environment with huge amounts of resources, and an academic program second to none. The Moo-Cow band is wonderful! It's great to have choices!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 02:50 pm: Edit

>> the student running the info session kept coming back to the unique, humorous "quirky" aspects of the school - as if they were trying to say "No, we're not just outdoorsy jocks".

Over the course of several campus visits, it dawned on me that the best information about a school comes from the things that the tour guides went out of their way to dispel.

For example, I never heard so much emphasis on the lack of TAs and small class sizes as I did at the two large state universities we visited. Who's kidding who? Obviously, a major R1 research university with 15,000 undergrads is going to have large lecture classes and TAs. And, they know it or they wouldn't include vehement denials as part of the canned tour guide spiel.

You get the same kind of denial about Greek life at schools where frats and sororities dominate the social scene.

And, you get the denials about "jock school" and drinking at Williams.

The "knock" on Swarthmore is it's brutal academics. What do the students say? "Hey, we admit it. We're a bunch of geeks. We like busting our butts to get a B-."

By Momrath (Momrath) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 09:07 pm: Edit

"Over the course of several campus visits, it dawned on me that the best information about a school comes from the things that the tour guides went out of their way to dispel."

Agree, as part of the drive toward cultural diversity colleges are trying to recruit anti-stereotypes and the tour guide is a good starting place. At Swarthmore our guide was a good looking average-Joe guy soccer player who said he didn't study an excessive amount. At Wesleyan we got an also good looking average-Joe guy who happened to be a sculptor, actor AND Republican. And at Williams it was a ditto good looking average Jane-Girl English major who played Rugby (she must have been all of 5 feet tall!) and published poetry. In all three cases, they were so charming and charismatic that son would have signed on the spot. Though I don't think they were necessarily typical students, they were not abnormal either. Cultural diversity does exist.

I asked my son to articulate his feelings on Williams athlete/alcoholic image. (I know I've said this ad naseam, but once more, he is does not participate in team sports though he does climb mountains, and he is not a heavy drinker, although not an abstainer.) He said that the reputation as a sports school exists. There are a few sports boors, but they just ignore them. For the most part the way the sports emphasis translates into everyday life is that the kids support the teams and their friends by going to events. Not just football, but whatever their friends are involved in. Same goes for theater, dance, musical performances. If someone's putting on a show, they go to cheer him on. They like it, it's fun, it's part of the school spirit.

As for drinking he was quite adamant that this reputation is not deserved. He said that yes there are people who overindulge but that beer boors are not tolerated or reinforced. Son's JA's would NEVER have procured alcohol for the freshmen. Son was shocked to hear it even suggested and said if it is done it is very rare. The JA's are revered by the kids for their good humor, sound advice and soft shoulders. Son thought the freshman entry system was one of the best parts of the Williams experience.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:27 pm: Edit

I can only go by what we witnessed, and what we read.

When my d. stayed for her midweek overnight, she watched as the JA brought in the case of beer before dinner. The students drank, quietly I would add, all evening. Sage Hall. Many of the students complained that in the next entry, students were boisterously drunk two or three times a week. When she asked what would happen if students didn't want to live next door to folks who were boisterously drunk three times a week, she said they looked at her as if she was nuts. Students brought flasks to the 9:30 p.m. a capella concert.

I tried to pooh-pooh it, (I really did - as I wanted to her like my alma mater), and then I started reading:

The College is now considering a policy whereby JAs would be prohibited from providing HARD liquor to freshman, as they currently do. But there is heavy resistance to such a ban. (see also the Williams Record of March 16, 2004).

http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?view=article&section=news&id=5705

From September to December last year, according to the college, the health center had 52 overnight stays for alcohol poisoning (compared with 72 the previous year.) This does not include emergency room visits, of which there were several. (Big deal in Williamstown, as the emergency room is 7 miles away, often on icy or snowy roads)).

http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?section=news&view=article&id=5372

It got so bad that the College cited the situation as one of the reasons they have had to close the college health center for overnights, as local physicians don't want the liability. Now all alcohol emergencies have to be dealt with by a call to the North Adams Hospital.

http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?section=news&view=article&id=5199

"Alcohol abuse spiralling out of control."
http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?view=article&section=opinion&id=4873

This article came out two weeks after my d.'s visit.

Two weeks later, here's Homecoming:

http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?section=news&view=article&id=4971
http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?section=news&view=article&id=5024

Now it has become a matter for the Board of Trustees:

http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?section=news&view=article&id=5143

There's another one on local police now stepping in to prevent a repeat of the last alcoholic homecoming.

There are dozens more I could cite, and they go on for years. (In 2000, they tried to impose a ban on drinking games like Beirut, but with little success.) (I'm on an e-mail list with other alums who have kids there.)

I believe your son thinks that what he sees is what is to be expected on college campuses. I do this stuff for a living, so I know the data, and see the data -- what is happening at my alma mater is not what is seen on other campuses, or at least to that extreme. And it makes me sad, because I do actually (really!) love the place, and they afforded me opportunities that, looking back on it, are absolutely priceless.

I don't for one minute think it has much to do with the student body -- as I said, they come from the same pool as the other schools, maybe somewhat more athletic, but not that different. It has to do with campus culture. I feel somewhat bad about airing the dirty linen, but that's part of how things like this get cleaned up. Sigh. (I mean that sigh seriously, and I fear for the day that a JA is charged with a felony for providing alcohol to a freshman who does something stupid -- which is what it would be in Massachusetts.)

I'm looking forward to it changing.

(Ouch - that hurt to write.)

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:35 pm: Edit

Mini, what do you know about the drinking at Bucknell, Colgate, and American?
Is there more drinking at Williams now than twenty years ago? Across many college campuses?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:00 am: Edit

>> Is there more drinking at Williams now than twenty years ago? Across many college campuses?

I do not recall seeing a single instance of someone needing medical attention from alchohol during my four years at Williams in the 1970s. The scene I read about in the Williams Record articles bears no resemblence to what I recall at my alma mater.

At the time, the drinking age was 18, so alcohol was widely available. I spent many nights, often with professors, nursing a pitcher of beer at The Log on Spring Street. I'm sure that there must have been some Animal House stuff in the Residential Houses. But, I do not recall widespread alcohol abuse at all.

BTW, I share a common experience with Mini. My wife, who is more involved in Williams alumni stuff than I, started telling me a couple of years ago that the place had turned into a hard-drinking jock school. I pooh-pooh'ed her because what she was saying simply didn't jive with our experience there. But, the emphasis on varsity athletics is undeniable and it's hard to argue with the concern being expressed on campus regarding alcohol.

Both issues bother me. The major reasons I personally chose to go to Williams were that athletics were not overemphasized and the campus was not dominated by a drunken frat boy atmosphere. Frankly, for a football powerhouse, party school, why not just go to a school like the Univ. of Miami with a professional football program? The football, the weather, and the parties are better.

I don't understand what Williams is doing. Maybe they need a few more women on the Board of Managers!

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:12 am: Edit

First of all, in aggregate, there is more drinking on campuses than there was 20 years ago, and, especially, more binge drinking. To give you an idea of how much alcohol is consumed by young people generally, 25% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. is now consumed by youth under age 21, and it is rising fairly rapidly. On the whole, as a rule, there is more drinking on campuses in the northeast and the south, residential, Greeks, and sports associated. There is more drug use in the West (though still lots of alcohol). Variations are wide, campus to campus.

Every college, as a condition of certain kinds of federal funding, has to have an alcohol/drug coordinator, and must submit a report on alcohol/drug use, using a standardized questionnaire, to the federal gov't.But while this is officially "public" information, one of the conditions is that the government won't publish comparative campus-by- campus data. You can, however, write any particular campus to get their report, and they are required to give it to you. Needless to say, I see all the data for Washington State schools, and then a few that I was particularly interested in (since my d. was applying.)

At most campuses, there are usually 30% who abstain totally. And, needless to say, lots of folks who drink more responsibly. Binge drinking rates vary widely -- and they are very high at both Williams and Amherst -- but well below 50%. (I don't, offhand, know of a school above 50%.) (as I remember, and it is awhile since I looked at the data, it was in the mid 30s?)

Now, mind you, when I attended college, I, and virtually everyone else I knew, used drugs. (Child of the 60s.) The major difference (maybe...perhaps -- I don't have a lot of perspective) is that it didn't pervade so much of campus life. Or at least I don't think so. (For all I know the administration was shivering in their boots, as the trustees at Williams are now.)

Don't get the impression that I think Williams is a bad place to go even now. I don't think that at all!!! I think it is a fabulous place! It just didn't fit my daughter -- or more precisely, she found a place that fit better. They know they have a problem - and are pretty public about it, which I think is great -- and I trust Prez Morty to figure out how to deal with it.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:22 am: Edit

I asked my son: If a student were adverse to sports culture would you recommend s/he stay away from Williams? He said, yes.

If a student were adverse to drinking culture would you recommend s/he stay away from Williams? He said, no, it's not an issue.

Any one else who is a student or parent of a current or recent student care to weigh in?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:38 am: Edit

>> I asked my son: If a student were adverse to sports culture would you recommend s/he stay away from Williams? He said, yes.

>> If a student were adverse to drinking culture would you recommend s/he stay away from Williams? He said, no, it's not an issue.

Those two issues are inextricably linked. There is not a college administrator in the United States who doesn't know that there is a strong corrrelation between varsity sports teams and concentrations of heavy alcohol consumption on campus.

Here's the problem at Williams. To win national championships and amass the kind of football record the Ephmen have enjoyed over the last two decades requires stocking these teams with recruited athletes. With such a small student body, the percentage of recruited athletes is very high -- almost certainly 30% or more incoming Williams freshmen are selected, in part, because of their interest in varsity athletics. In effect, they have made an institutional decision to give admissions priority to applicants most likely to engage in frat-boy style alcohol abuse.

Do that for several decades and you establish a campus culture that is self-perpetuating. The mystery to me is why Williams made the decision to become an athletic powerhouse. At a school that has been among the best academic institutions in the country for decades, I simply don't understand the thinking.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:00 am: Edit

We know two boys who were recruited athletes at Williams, one a swimmer, one a runner. They are both strict non-drinkers.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:15 am: Edit

Unlike Interesteddad, I'm not entirely sure about the athletic thing. I know that Prez Morty has said publicly he plans to crack down on athletic recruiting. Or it may have started as an athletic thing and, as Interesteddad suggests, became self-perpetuating.

Is it more difficult to change a culture that is isolated from outsisde influences? or easier? I imagine they really could change it rather quickly if they wanted to and took freshmen in hand -- after all, they are basically isolated in just two locations. There would still be plenty of drinking -- but you have to drink an awful lot to be overnighted/hospitalized for it. 30% of the students don't drink at all, and it stands to reason that at least some of them must be athletes.

Couldn't you recruit "dry athletes"? (That's a real question -- I don't know the answer, or if it has ever been tried.)

By Momrath (Momrath) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:51 am: Edit

My son says there's an enormous emphasis on health, both among athletes and in general and that because of that binge drinking is uncommon and smoking & drugs very rare. He also says that the athletes don't party on Fridays because of Saturday competitions, but there's always Thursday. . .

I'm retiring from this post as it's making me want a drink (and it's only lunchtime here). I'd really like to hear from some current students/parents.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:17 am: Edit

>> I'm retiring from this post as it's making me want a drink (and it's only lunchtime here).

I've been browsing some of the recent Williams Committee on Undergrad Life reports. In keeping with the theme, I think I'll go chug 30 or 40 shots of Wild Turkey.

It is just stunning that the Williams Health Center was averaging 3 cases of alcohol poisoning PER NIGHT on Thurs, Fri, and Sat. nights.

Here's a sobering report. In 2000, security found a pre-frosh visitor unconscious from alcohol poisoning on the floor of a Freshman Quad dorm. They transported the pre-frosh to the North Adams hospital where the visitor almost died overnight. Yeow.

There seems to be a stunning lack of community responsibility.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:19 am: Edit

Throughout this, Williams reputation as a great school is still intact. The school will get through this.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:22 am: Edit

>> He also says that the athletes don't party on Fridays because of Saturday competitions, but there's always Thursday. . .

Thursday is the drinking night at Swarthmore, too. Perusing the articles in the Swat newspaper, the few reported drinking incidents seem to be associated with sports teams.

After causing a drunken ruckess a few years ago, the Rubgy Team reached an "agreement" with the Dean that they would be responsible for organizing the alcohol abuse training during freshmen orientation.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 04:06 am: Edit

Mini, what if any schools have developed effective programs for dealing with campus drinking? What discussion is there in the professional literature about the relationship between the higher drinking age and increased campus drinking? What other factors are compelling?

So many schools project the "work hard play hard" image...

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 09:52 am: Edit

I would be reluctant to single out Williams for alcohol problems, given the number of hospitalizations that appear to occur at most of the well-known schools and the increase in binge drinking reporting at campuses across the country. Schools from Duke to MIT report alcohol problems.

A chaplain at Duke, Will Willimon, wrote a ground-breaking paper called "We Work Hard, We Play Hard," in which he recommended sweeping changes to campus life to combat heavy drinking. http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/news/dialogue_newsrelease4242.html?p=all&id=2129&catid=46 It used to be online but I haven't found it...

Princeton has had an Alcohol Initiative for several years now. (Not sure why they don't call it the "Anti-Alcohol Initiative," but anyway...) It has several facets and really affects every aspect of student life, including a required alcohol awareness course for every first-year student, tons of funding for campus groups who will sponsor alcohol-free events (they do bring in big-name bands), free tickets to performing arts and other events, and offering more Friday classes to cut down on Thursday night partying.

By Patient (Patient) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 10:35 am: Edit

I agree with Aparent4...the problem seems to be widespread. Pomona also had issues last year, with a similar student population. Do you think that all the hard work that students do in high school culminates like this, or do you think these same kids were also drinking in high school?

I also question the heavy athletic recruiting statement about Williams. My son was recruited there and the coach was given 2 athletic tips--one at the higher academic level and one at the lower band. A New York Times article on sports at Williams this winter said that 2 per team was the norm at Williams. Maybe there are more for football, I don't know. Given the number of teams there and the small size of the school, that still results in I would guess 10% of the school being a recruited athlete but it is by no means the majority, I don't think.

My son is also a varsity athlete and he not only does not touch alcohol, he won't even take over-the-counter Tylenol or Advil. Doesn't drink soda or caffeine, either. I do not think he is at all in the minority for most sports. I'll carve out a couple of well-known exceptions as there are a couple of big college sports that are indeed notorious for drinking.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit

>> I agree with Aparent4...the problem seems to be widespread.

The problem is widespread. The reason that alums like Mini and I are upset about Williams is that we hold Williams to a higher standard than the average college.

>> I also question the heavy athletic recruiting statement about Williams. A New York Times article on sports at Williams this winter said that 2 per team was the norm at Williams.

Whoever was feeding the NYTime information was practicing more admissions-office double-speak. Technically, it was the truth; I'm sure that each athletic coach is only allowed to handpick two athletes per team for a strong enough "tip" to overcome an otherwise below par application. But, that does NOT include all the athletic slots where athletics becomes the tie-breaker among several equally qualified candidates. The impetus behind Swarthmore's decision to drop football was that the athletic department came to the administration and said that they could no longer continue to field the full slate of teams without allocating 30%+ of the acceptance slots to students interested in varsity athletics -- and this is at a college that hsasn't sniffed a national championship or had a winning record in football in half a century. There is no way that Williams is racking up their records without heavy emphasis on athletics in the admissions office.

>> I'll carve out a couple of well-known exceptions as there are a couple of big college sports that are indeed notorious for drinking.

Unfortuntely, football (and the other so-called "helmet" sports) is one of the athletic teams that IS notorious for drinking. The problem at small liberal arts college is that the combination of football players, rugby players, lacross players, and hockey players make up a sizeable percentage of the male population. The drinking problem at Williams is not that the entire student body is staggering around campus. The problem is that the heavy drinkers make up a large enough percentage to have a visible impact and drink to such excess as to create a serious health issue.

Athletics must be perceived as part of the problem. One of the key findings of the recent Williams' CUL report on acohol abuse was that the Athletic Director must be heavily involved in finding solutions.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:41 am: Edit

There are issues at lots of schools, but don't use the canard that they are all the same. They're not.

Institutional policies and campus cultures drive differences. At Pomona, there were 8 alcohol overnights all of last year, compared with 52 at Williams just September to December. Pomona saw it as a crisis, banned hard alcohol in all freshman and sophomore housing areas, instituted a "good Samaritan" policy (if a student sees another student drinking and getting herself into trouble and doesn't take steps to help, the non-drinking student can be subject to disciplinary action.) Hasn't worked entirely -- it has pushed lots of folks over to the junior and senior campus (north campus). But it is a significant start.

At Amherst, Wednesday and Thursday nights are the big drinking nights. Whole busloads of students from other campuses descend on Amherst to drink. The administration has dealt with it thus far by making it difficult for students to avoid Friday morning classes, and by bringing in more town police presence (which shields the college from being the bad guys.)

There are campuses that have made substantial progress. Western Washington University has been the national leader. They've done a ton of "social marketing", publishing campus drinking rates regularly to show that the majority of students DON'T binge drink. (though a study just completed at Harvard by Wechsler and associates casts doubt on the effectiveness of social marketing.) They also gave the local police $40,000 for the "green bus". In the 3rd week of school, when freshmen are bingeing, the police pull up the green bus on campus, and take underage drinkers into custody (they put 'em on the green bus.) They take pictures, and publish the names. And let 'em out the next morning (no charges are filed.)

There are "dry" campuses, too, like Earlham. If campus security sees alcohol, they pour it out, and report it to the dean. Doesn't mean there is no drinking, but it is much, much lower. Some students will like it; others won't.

Personally, I think it is to be expected that students will experiment with alcohol and/or other drugs. I know I did. It becomes a problem when it affects campus climate. I find it hard to believe that more than 50 emergency calls and overnights for alcohol poisoning (and there were probably three times as many that didn't result in overnights) wouldn't affect the overall campus climate, even for non-drinkers. My d. certainly thought it did.

By Patient (Patient) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:53 am: Edit

Okay guys, I stand corrected on the over-generalizations. I still just generally wonder about these super-high-achieving students drinking to excess. When did it start: in high school, or do they let loose in college?

If it is the athletes that you think is the problem, then I guess the answer is that it started before college. I also wonder, though, about the kids who just focused all of their energies in high school on academics, and then start to drink once they have arrived.

By the way, please understand that I am asking questions, not taking positions.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:00 pm: Edit

Mini:

I think the fundamental cause of the widespread binge drinking is the unrealistic imposition and enforcement of the 21-year old drinking age on college campuses.

It drives drinking underground. In the old days, a group of underclassmen would sit around on a Friday night with a keg. At the end of the night, you might well have a bunch of silly, even rowdy college kids. But, it would be unlikely that three of them would end up unconscious in the local emergency room.

Now, those same students must consume contraband alcohol. Instead of a keg, it's a bottle of hard liquor. Instead of drinking openly over the course of an evening, the goal seems to be to consume as much alcohol as possible in as short a time as possible. It's the rapid ingestion of shots that is putting these kids in life-threatening situations.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:09 pm: Edit

I'd agree with you, except I've been to Earlham. It just ain't so. That of course is a "dry" campus. But I've also seen what they have done at Pomona - pushing drinking (of hard liquor) over to the north campus, where more of the students are 21.

It is hardly contraband when it is procured by your junior advisor. Anyone know anything about Wesleyan's "three strikes" policy?

Patient's question is a really good one - and I don't know the answer.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:28 pm: Edit

>> If it is the athletes that you think is the problem, then I guess the answer is that it started before college. I also wonder, though, about the kids who just focused all of their energies in high school on academics, and then start to drink once they have arrived.

I don't think drinking alcohol on campus is the problem. It's the culture of forced ingestion of mass-quantities (chugging shots, etc.) that is causing the health issues. In perusing some of the Williams links Mini posted, I found that Williams had done a statistical anaylysis of 200 alcohol-related Health Center inverventions over a two year period. 90% of these resulted from hard liquor. 50% were freshmen.

These kids are sitting around playing drinking games that force an arbitrary and accelerated consumption of hard liquor, short-circuiting the natural pacing that almost any "normal" social drinker quickly learns.

These games, when played with beer, don't result in life-threatening health issues. One can only consume so much beer in an hour! Played with hard alcohol, kids have consumed near lethal doses before the first shot is fully absorbed by the bloodstream.

The issue is really a campus culture issue. IMO, prohibition policies are unlikely to prove successful. Frankly, if I were Morty Shapiro, I would take my health center alcohol abuse records and start looking for common threads in terms of college activities and admissions profiles. I also would start holding people accountable. From reading the alcohol stories in the Swat newspaper it appears that whenever there is a health scare or other unacceptable "incident", the group hosting the party has a visit with the dean and usually loses a priveledge or volunteers to make an appropriate contribution to the the community. That is how the Swat Rubgy Team ended taking on the responsibility for lining up alcohol-abuse experts for mandatory Freshmen Orientation seminars.

I think it is very important to instill a community culture where students are expected to behave like responsible adults. Drinking is not irresponsible per se. Drinking until your roommate is in the back of an ambulance is NOT responsible behavior. Where is the sense of community and looking out for each other? How can you leava pre-frosh visitor for dead on the steps of a dorm entrance?

I find that statements about personal and community responsibility are strangely absent from the extensive Williams newspaper articles. Everything is posed in terms of potential new "rules" to solve the problem.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:47 pm: Edit

A while ago I read an article, either in the Brown Alumni Monthly or the NY Times Magazine, about how sophisticated we all thought we were when we met a professor in the campus bar and had a philosophical debate over a beer, or went to a wine and cheese party in a foreign language house. With alcohol now illegal for them, we are missing out on such a valuable opportunity to teach kids moderation.

It is strange how different schools have quite different policies; according to the students who post here, alcohol flows freely in Yale's residential colleges, while at Princeton, despite the administration's dislike of the students' frequenting the eating clubs, it is very hard to have a room party. It doesn't seem as though the schools are consulting the same research.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:09 pm: Edit

"I still just generally wonder about these super-high-achieving students drinking to excess. When did it start: in high school, or do they let loose in college"?


My college sons' theory is that the worst of the abusers are letting go and acting out now that they are finally away from their really high pressure & controlling parents; that it is used as an acceptable (??) excuse for irresponsible sexual behavior; that it is what the "cool" kids do. I'm not buying any of their explanations; IMHO the difference is the raising of the drinking age. We treat them like children and they act like very badly behaved children. As others have pointed out, if the administration at any school really wanted this behavior stopped.. it would stop. These super-high-achievers wouldn't take a chance on having a demerit on their permanent record.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:18 pm: Edit

>> It is strange how different schools have quite different policies;

I don't think school administrators, parents, or prospective students pay enough attention to seemingly small policies, institituted decades earlier, that impact the campus culture of a school.

For example, Williams data clearly indicates that alcohol poisoning is a freshman issue. The rate of health care intervention is THREE TIMES HIGHER for freshmen than for any other class. Logically, any increase is cross-class interaction would increase role-modeling and community responsiblity and help reduce the freshman problem.

But, the housing situation at Williams is designed to prevent interaction to the greatest possible degree. Start with freshman dorms. Freshmen at Williams never see an upper classmen in their buildings except for their ONE junior advisor.

Now, chop up these dorms into vertical entries. Not only do you not see any other freshmen at the other end of your hall, you don't even use the same door, let alone join them in a common room to watch Monday Night Football. ALL you see from the time you walk into your dorm is a handful of kids from your entry. There is absolutely zero sense of larger community. If your freshman entry turns out to be a collection of primates, there is absolutely zero community pressure to change the Planet of the Apes behavior. To the contrary, the isolation probably serves to reinforce and magnify the acting-out.

Contrast that to my daughter's freshman accomdations. She is in a three story dorm, each floor with a North Wing and a South Wing, each wing sharing a woman's bathroom and a men's bathroom. All floors sharing a main entrance and common rooms.

My daughter's wing has 25 students -- an equal mix of men and women. 14 of these students are in seven freshmen doubles. 11 of these students are juniors and seniors in single rooms. From the minute she walks into her room, she will be a part of the larger college community, with role-models and expectations that she interact appropriately and behave like a mature college student, not a out-of-control freshman. It also places the 11 upperclassmen in position of being mentors, whether they like it or not, for their own self-preservation.

Seemingly insignificant difference in housing policy. Major differnce in campus culture.

Interestingly, Swat has one dorm that, because of its lack of desireabilty in the upperclass room lottery, ends up being mostly freshmen and sophmores. This dorm has been "the party dorm" and an ongoing source of most of the school's irresponsible alcohol related behavior. To change this dorm culture, the Dean of Housing quietly started assigning rooms on half of the floors to incoming freshmen who indicated a preference for substance-free, non-party rooming. In effect, the adminstration took steps to change the culture in that dorm and, by all reports, it has been successful to some degree. When there is alcohol related damage to the common areas of the dorm and the perps don't come forward, every resident of the dorm is accessed an equal fee. Again...an effort to make the whole community responsible for the actions of the community and use peer pressure to handle the bulk of the policing chores.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:23 pm: Edit

Interesteddad:

Harvard has freshman dorms, but not the same alcohol problem as Williams. In fact, I remember threads criticizing H for not being enough of a party school compared to Yale and Princeton. As best as I could ascertain, it meant that alcohol does not flow as freely at H as it does at P and Y.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:38 pm: Edit

Actually, it's two Junior Advisors (one for beer; one for tequila? Sorry, couldn't resist. I apologize.) Sort of agree with your overall point, though - the lack of ongoing upperclass role models could be significant. (I'm prejudiced -- I didn't like the folks in my entryway, but did make friends elsewhere. But I think folks are missing out on educational role modelsm which I think is more significant -- funny, when I was in college I didn't see it, but in visiting colleges, I sure do now.)

But I also agree with Emptynester -- if they wanted it stopped, they could stop it. And in some ways, it is easier - they've got the freshman, and JAs, etc., all in one place. Honestly, it's not so easy for an 18-year-old to buy a bottle of hard liquor in Williamstown - oh, I'm sure many would manage it, but we're talkin' lots of hard liquor. I mean really a lot, and there aren't that many sources. (Edgar Bronfman, former CEO and Pres. of Seagrams is a BIG Williams benefactor.) (Beirut, in contrast, seems to be a game played mostly by upperclassmen.)

By Patient (Patient) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:48 pm: Edit

I really really worry about hazing and drinking games. A boy in our area died two years ago in his first weeks of college as a result of one of those. I haven't gotten over it yet. He was clearly not used to alcohol or its life-threatening aspect. I have definitely talked about this with my son and it continues to worry me.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:09 pm: Edit

Yes. Harvard has roughly the same number of liquor law violations on campus as Williams, which (using that simplistic stat) would indicate about 1/3rd the per capita problem of Williams. The more meaningful stat would be Health Center interventions. The number of interventions in 2002/2003 was 123. Last Fall, Harvard was averaging 22 alcohol poisoning health care visits per month. With three times the undergrad student body, that indicates that Harvard's problem, while perhaps incrementally lower than Williams, is probably of the same order of magnitude and still in the "serious" range. Harvard must feel that they have a problem as Dean Gross formed a blue-ribbon committee last year to address the issue.

I'm not confident that anybody in the Harvard administration really has an up-close-and-personal handle on undergrad life -- it's such a bureacracy and far less a cohesive community and less day-to-day institutional "interest" in the undergrad students. In a place like Williamstown, problems on campus are immediately apparent. Not only do the faculty and adminstrators work on campus, they essentially live there, too.

It could also be that Harvard undergrads are simply less likely to drag an unconsious roommate through the streets of Cambridge to the health center.

I do know that Harvard has incredibly tight enforcement and policing of underage drinking at officially sanctioned functions. You really have to jump through hoops in terms of on-site security to serve alcohol at Harvard.

Conversely, MIT reports essentially zero on-campus liquor violations, but has been rocked with an alcohol poisoning death.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:12 pm: Edit

Marite, what I've read is that the H students are mad because they have to register all room parties, and the university shuts down their parties at an hour they consider too early. I think it's 1 a.m. This year I believe there was some movement toward moving that back a bit. I guess the houses have parties that are fun, though some have apparently been banned recently. Some students started a website called www.harvardparties.com to liven things up.

P students, otoh, get disciplinary probation when they are caught having room parties. However, residential colleges have parties and dances, and the eating clubs have formal parties, outdoor concerts, lawn parties, semiformal parties, etc., and they have tap rooms downstairs.

And Yale, according to many posts on this website, provides kegs in the residential college quads, where parties are attended by Yalies as well as many students from the surrounding area.

I guess each school has its peculiarities.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:18 pm: Edit

Actually - you may (I don't know) be comparing apples and oranges. Williams had far, far more Health Center interventions -- the number 52 was for the number of overnights (a subset of interventions) from Sept. to Dec. 2003.

Interventions can be seen as a positive to some extent, too -- at least the students sought out help.

Most campuses in the northeast are affected. But they are far from being all the same.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:24 pm: Edit

>> Actually - you may (I don't know) be comparing apples and oranges. Williams had far, far more Health Center interventions -- the number 52 was for the number of overnights (a subset of interventions) from Sept. to Dec. 2003.

Maybe. I don't know, either. The 22 per month number at Harvard last Oct and Nov. was the number of students ADMITTED to the Health Services facility. Presuming that most, if not all, of these admittances took place at night, I suspect that they were overnight stays since releasing a student that inebriated after a 2 hour observation would probably require dragging him out the front door and dropping him on sidewalk! But, "overnights" are not specifically detailed in the Crimson article.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 04:48 pm: Edit

"I really really worry about hazing and drinking games. A boy in our area died two years ago in his first weeks of college as a result of one of those. I haven't gotten over it yet. He was clearly not used to alcohol or its life-threatening aspect. I have definitely talked about this with my son and it continues to worry me."

This is what the professor who heads the Williams Committee on Undergraduate Life told the Williams College Council this May:

"McAllister said that when we had a health center, an average of 80 students went to the health center and 10-15 went to the hospital per year. There are spikes during certain years and during different times of the year. This year numbers were very high in the beginning of the year, but it’s been leveling off and it seems to be about a “normal year” in terms of alcohol related incidents. Students have been recording alcohol levels of .4, which he said was “near death.” He then said that the moment a student dies here on this campus, it is quite likely that there will be no more JA system, it will be replaced by an RA system which has RA’s checking rooms and reporting back to the administration. He said that the atmosphere on the campus the day we have a fatality will totally change. There will be no more discussion on these issues; it’s in everyone’s interest that the numbers of incidents goes down."

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 05:09 pm: Edit

I totally disagree that the drinking age has caused the problem. I graduate from one of the ivys most heavily known for drinking in 1981, when the drinking age was 18. Sure kegs were out in the open then, but the heavy drinking of hard alcohol was the major issue even when kegs for all was the rule. I guess I was not too surprised when my nanny this summer, from said college, informed me that absolutely nothing has changed save the lip service and formation of committees to study the ongoing problem. Why does this go on? The greek system has always played a major role. Parties were advertised by what drinks would be served. Phi Reds. Beta Green Machines. All based on grain alcohol. They were long standing traditions and everyone wanted to be part of those centuries old traditions. Work hard, play hard was the rule. Get through the week and let loose on the weekend. But the weekend yielded to Wedensday house meetings....and so on. You were not part of the crowd if you did not partake. I look back and wonder how it's possible that I didn't know anyone arrested for drunk driving in college because it was all too common. I didn't know anyone who died or got seriously hurt. How? Dumb luck is the only answer, and police who turned the other way. The unfortunate reality, however, is the drinking problems that resulted into adulthood for way too many of my classmates. It's so hard for me to believe that in spite of all the education this still persists among smart kids.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit

I read an article about the alcohol death at the MIT fraternity. That student had a blood alcohol level of 0.41 -- the equivalent of 16 shots of whiskey. Apparently a blood alcohol level of .4 has a survival rate of 50%/50%.

It's really incomprehsible to me what these kids are doing.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 05:32 pm: Edit

"The greek system has always played a major role. Parties were advertised by what drinks would be served. Phi Reds. Beta Green Machines. All based on grain alcohol. They were long standing traditions and everyone wanted to be part of those centuries old traditions."

absolutely agree, but when I think about overall college alcohol abuse I tend to put frats in a separate category from the general population. IMHO frats have historically and will most likely always encourage risky and outrageous and unacceptable (to me!) behaviors. Yes, I know.. not all frats are like this, but enough it seems to me.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 06:11 pm: Edit

What explains the disconnect between knowledge, which undoubtedly these kids have and behavior? Peer pressure is one answer, lack of experience another. ULtimately, an environment has to exist which facilitates the behavior (which is why MIT has shut down the fraternity noted above, and a few others-- and why they no longer have freshman pledging or living in frat houses)- or individuals in positions of responsibility who give tacit approval, if only by looking the other way.

Where we live the drinking age in not enforced (outside the US) and our community is very mixed-many Europeans and Australians and even more Asians. Since the kids do not drive, our situation is unlike the U.S. on many accounts. Typically, the American parents have the strictest ideas about when kids can start "going out"- a broad euphemism for an opportunity to drink- among other things. The Europeans definitely feel we are "uptight" and they cite their countries lower rates of drunkenness as evidence that their approach works more effectively. They begin allowing their kids to drink with them at home at a much younger age than most Americans do- in a social way. This way the kids learn to be social and drink moderately at the same time(the parents are there and this discourages excessive consumption).

By contrast, there is a chance that a U.S. kid goes off to an American university having never had alcohol- at which point uninhibited by parents, pressured by peers (and maybe encouraged by the factors which are noted above to increase binging)- they do not do the same kind of "social drinking learning."

This is such a sticky topic, I am glad the thread has gone away from the discussion of one college's issues with it. A huge epidemiological study seems indicated, looking at all the variables described...I nominate any of the schools receiving substantial funding from any of the beer or alcohol companies....

By Thinkingoutloud (Thinkingoutloud) on Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 10:36 pm: Edit

There is too much drinking at most colleges. Interesteddad's assertion that Williams students drink too much because of having a good football program is without merit. Only 15 of approximately 528 Freshman spaces are "tipped" in favor of football players. What's that, 2 or 3 percent? The activites of two or three percent rarely dominate a college. To the extent Williams students drink, I would certainly prefer this to having the drug problem that exits at Swarthmore and several similar colleges.

By Mini (Mini) on Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 11:11 pm: Edit

Thinkingoutloud -- the data is clear that while many colleges have drinking and/or drug problems -- they are most assuredly NOT all the same. You don't do your argument much good with your first statement. Brigham Young would probably say they have too much drinking, too. But as far as I am aware - and I do this for a living - there isn't another college health center in the entire United States that has had to close its overnight service because of physicians' unwillingness to treat the huge tide of alcohol poisonings, even if it means transporting students seven miles away in a snowstorm

What Interesteddad was attempting to do was explain why Williams is, in fact, different -- and the data are very clear that it IS different. I happen not to buy the explanation, or at least not totally. If you have an alternative explanation, it would great to hear it - but to simply say it isn't there when the data and the college itself says otherwise doesn't cut it, and you do neither yourself nor the college (my alma mater) a great service by suggesting otherwise.

By Jrpar (Jrpar) on Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 11:43 pm: Edit

"if one out of every five incoming male freshmen are varsity football players, you are going to have a campus climate with a great deal of drinking and frat boy antics."

Really?! 1 out of 5? Is this true at Amherst too? If true, I think this is an astonishing stat. I thought football "tips" are far fewer than this at Williams.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 12:13 am: Edit

Think about it. You need 80 or so players to field a college football team. So, with no attrition, you've got to bring in 20 a year. I would say that you have to at least double or triple that number in terms of high school football players coming into a freshman class.

Let's say 50 of your incoming freshmen are high school football players. Swarthmore only had 175 male freshmen. Williams has about 260 or so.

The misleading term here is "tip". A "tip" is a an admissions factor so strong as to overcome substandard stats. The far larger group consists of athletes who meet the basic academic standards and are selected over other qualified candidates because of their athletics.

I don't know Williams percentage. But, Swarthmore dropped their football program becaue the Athletic Department said that they could not continue to field all of their varsity teams (most of which stink) without 30+ % of the freshman slots allocated to likely varsity athletes.

It's not that athletics are bad. It's simply a numbers game at these very, very small co-ed colleges.

The emphasis on athletics IS becoming an issue. My wife attended an alumni function in Williamstown a year or so ago. One of the panel discussions was on the topic Williams being a jock school, good or bad?

BTW, I'm not attributing the Williams alcohol problem solely to athletics. It's a widespread problem. Williams' isolation probably contributes. Williams' freshman housing policy contributes. Williams emphasis on athletics (and associated frat boy antics) probably contributes. The campus culture contributes. One must assume that the type of students the admissions office is accepting must contribute as well.

By Thinkingoutloud (Thinkingoutloud) on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 06:04 pm: Edit

My bone to pick with Interesteddad is his assertion that Williams students have a drinking problem because it has a football program. That assertion is pure speculation. Fortunately he has now backed off that assertion and offered other theories. Williams football players are student-athletes and not athletes who also happen to be students as is the case at the top twenty football schools in the country. You cannot simply binge drink to the extreme and expect to be able to play football and to win as often as does Williams. Mini, I really wonder if the statistics you and Interesteddad rely upon are accurate. For example, there remains a great deal of controvery regarding the accuracy of certain crime statistics such as rape. Colleges do not like to accurately report this information because they know parents do not want to send their daughters to rape risk universities. Regarding drinking many college police departments simply escort drunk students home rather than arresting them thereby creating an arrest statistic. I think you have to take crime and drinking statistics at colleges with a grain of salt. It may be the case that Williams is more honest in its statistical reporting than are other colleges. Finally, I would rather hire a college graduate who is well-rounded and thinks of himself or herself as a winner from a winning school than hire a graduate who is an academic geek from a school that losses most of the time.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 08:12 pm: Edit

I think part of the reason this topic thread has had a bit of a "finger pointing" feel to it is that fundamentally, it is a worry of many parents sending their children off to college. Unless your child is a complete non-drinker or is going to a campus where there is absolutely no alcohol presence, it is a potentially an issue. While we all hope that our children will be healthy and safe and show excellent judgement, we all worry on some level.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:49 am: Edit

I doubt that Williams goes out of its way to overly report alcohol poisoning hospitalizations and overnights. I doubt it lies about why it has to close its college health center at night, or why physicians won't work for them at night. I doubt that the faculty chair of undergraduate life goes to the college council and lies about students having so much alcohol in them that they are on death-watches. I doubt that trustees (most of whom are multi-millionaires and don't have a lot of spare time on their hands) would call a special two-day meeting to deal with alcohol problems. All the statistics reported are reported by the college itself - none are third-party data. The statistical data reported by the colleges to the federal government are all gathered in the same way - through a standardized survey and questionnaire, administered by the college alcohol/drug coordinator (at Williams, it is one of the deans.) It is possible for any college to "jigger" its data, but not consistently (over five years?) and certainly not for the purpose of showing there is MORE of a problem than there really is! (what's the incentive?)

I don't know what to make of the sports hypothesis. Certainly, as Interesteddad notes, in the 1970s there was nothing like the drinking problem there is on campus now. Nor in the 60s (although drugs were widespread.) I think the combination of issues he suggests coming together could easily build on each other.

My own thinking on the football issue is a little different -- while there are only 80 members on the football team itself, the college reports that a full 50% of students play some form of intercollegiate athletics (either college or club team.) That is a huge number (which, apparently, the college president is unhappy about, and has said so publicly.) What this means is that at any one time, there is an enormous number of athletes who are out of season. (My d. reported hearing women complaining that they were gaining weight -- common among college women -- but they attributed it to the fact that their sports were in different seasons, and they weren't fully training anymore.) Does it spill over into drunken support of other athletic activities (as it did this year at Homecoming, so severe that the local and state police are threatening to close next year's "pregame activities" down?) Is it just what athletes do during downtime? (maybe they did it in high school? Not having been one, it is a mystery to me.)

And some of it becomes self-fulfilling - a cultural issue. I know at least 3 students (including my d.) who were admitted this year, who turned down admission at least in part because of alcohol/athletic issues.I expect there were quite a few more. Obviously those places are being filled by students who don't share that concern, or least to the extent they did. And so a culture becomes self-perpetuating, which makes it difficult to change.

I'd note that the data at Amherst, while not nearly the same as at Williams, are also troubling, and without the athletic issue being substantial (I don't think, though of course they do maintain a football team, and with a much smaller student population.) There, it is a matter of the College having become a magnate for drinking from the entire area.

But schools can also have football teams with no such problems. Earlham has only 1,100 students, has a football team, and has virtually none of the excesses seen on the other two campuses. Of course, it has chosen to be dry, and students self-select. Again, it is a culture thing.

The question I would pose to parents is how does one go about changing it? (We pros are highly divided on the issue.)

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:02 am: Edit

Isn't the issue really the small size and isolation of these schools? My many Williams grad friends, along with those at other similarly isolated colleges such as Dartmouth where I went, will tell you that the extreme drinking had a lot to do with the fact that there wasn't that much else to do. It's the all girl school nature of Smith and the other sisters (and absence of frats) that limits the drinking on those campuses I would think.

By Deerhunter (Deerhunter) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:06 am: Edit

Okay. This thread was successfully derailed 49 posts ago. Let's give it a rest.

It resembles the "telephone" game...we started with William's admissions preferences, and now...drinking.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:12 am: Edit

Isolation and small size can certainly exacerbate existing cultural tendencies. Though there are schools which, because of their cultures, have less extreme drinking as a result (think Wheaton in Illinois.) Yes, the women's colleges have less, and schools without frats generally less (though Williams has no frats), non-athletic schools less, and extreme drinking does correlate with income on college campuses (schools with lots of wealthier students tend to have more problems.) (Wouldn't lots of athletics be considered "something else to do?")

But Williams was no less isolated, and smaller when Interesteddad was there than it is today, so obviously something else is going on.

I should stop beating on them. (After all, they are one of the campuses that is taking the issue really seriously, and publicly, even if they haven't figured out what to do.) That's not the point. The point is that too many kids are getting themselves in trouble, and setting themselves up for trouble later in life. I know -- because professionally those are the folks I get to deal with all the time.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:16 am: Edit

I agree that the problem continues and always wondered it if was an extention from college or the type of high pressure careers many of these folks chose. I didn't realize Williams doesn't have frats. Where does the drinking happen? Glad this is being talked about because there was a recent thread where good kids were posting how much they were looking forward to the drinking in college. Scary.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:32 am: Edit

Here I was just thinking of elite LAC's for the first time in the last day or so and I find out they probably drink just as much or more as at UT Austin, where my son has been planning to go.

Since many of the posters I like the most,particularly mini, are on this thread I have a few questions as I find myself getting more confused about this issue daily. My son is a senior and still not really into thinking about this too much aside from UT Austin where many kids in his highschool go.

1) mini, after reading some recent threads, I don't want my child to grow up to be an elitist who thinks, only NYC and the SF Bay Area and a couple hundred k per year is culture and the good, purposeful life. You suggest, perhaps, that all these elite LAC's are mainly populated by the children of that demographic. I wonder if having a few poor kids or urm's on the reservation of these bastions of privilege, despite their liberal reputations is really effective in dispelling these notions and unfortunately might inculcate these elitist "values" in the poor and urms who are allowed on the reservation.

2) Last week out of the blue we got a call from Harvard urm admissions committee asking my son, Hispanic, if he was interested in Harvard. Caught by surprise, he said: "yes" in a generic sort of way. Anyone know if this type of thing is serious or just another attempt to gin up apps?

Son's SAT's are average for Harvard. GPA is low as he didn't study much fresh and soph years. 15% class rank at a large top 100 public that usually has approx 5-9% NMF. He will be one. Previously quite shy, but suddenly blossoming. Short on ec's. A serious tennis player who is recently more serious about school (jr year). He seems to be becoming very serious about public service as his parents are. My wife is a school nurse in the heavily Hispanic public schools.

Being a lucky self employed lawyer I get to work with the poor and forgotten of society and still make enough to not qualify for need based aid. Though very educated (I think) undergrad engineering and grad shool in clinical psych, MBA and law, which is the one I finished, I have no experience with elite LAC's or top 25 type schools. For informality of admission and a convenient schedule, I went to a lowly rated night law school. When my wife moved to Austin briefly I did fine during one visiting semester at UT, a rated law school.

Have only visited Tulane, which son didn't like, UT Austin for a day visit , and Southwestern, a small LAC which was a visit a year or so before he had any interest in college. Intend to go back there soon.

What schools would you or others suggest for my son, given our liberalism and antagonism toward prestige and wealth mongering? I think he basically feels the same way. He has grown up privileged middle class and can certainly hang with the children of typical professionals. Like us , he has no contact with the really wealthy

What about Grinnel? Is it less a bastion of elitism? Any sugestions?

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 06:51 am: Edit

Re: Harvard.

Harvard does not need to gin up applications.

Larry Summers has announced a more aggressive policy of recruiting URMs, along with the new policy on financial aid. Harvard is serious. Your S has two counts going for him: being from Texas, which does not send many students to the NE, and being a URM. If his stats are average for Harvard and his record is improving, I'd think he has a good chance of getting in.
Because it is urban and because of so many of its students are on financial aid, Harvard probably feels less elitist than many of its competitors. I'd think your son would fit in just fine. Harvard also provides huge opportunities for community service through the Philipps Brooks House Association. If you go to the Harvard website, you'll be able to read up on PBHA and other points of information.
IF your son is interested, do take the Harvard call seriously! Of course, he'd have to put up with the weather...

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 08:43 am: Edit

Harvard may not have to gin up applications but something is going on - my daughter got a call, we are not URM, she will probably only be NM Commended and she has expressed no specific interest in Harvard - I would consider her a mid-range applicant as well.

Texdad - if your son is interested in LACs, look at Swarthmore and Carleton - both I think have traditions of public service, Haverford as well - though a world away from UT Austin!

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 10:08 am: Edit

While drinking on college campuses is an issue, and albeit might be more of an issue at one college than another because of its culture, I really do NOT see the link to athletes as InterestedDad maintains. I have to agree with some of Patient's posts earlier on (I had not read this thread til now, sorry).

While this is no statistic or anything, my own kid is a three sport varsity athlete and does not drink at all. To be an athlete, you must be in top physical condition. There are practices daily and games/meets/races often. It would be hard to be a heavy drinker and do these things. Many of the athletes I know are the type who are into healthy lifestyles. Actually at our high school, the standards and consequences for drinking are more stringent with athletes than the general student body. We don't have football here, though. But in general, I do not see the athletes as any more prone to drinking that normal students. As I said, they have to be in shape and alert every day. All summer, just to stay in shape for sports in college, my D has been leaving the house at 6:30 AM to work out BEFORE work (and she is working about 50 hours per week at two jobs, often all day and all evening). The committment to that is great. The hard physical training involves that kind of committment and lifestyle. I am not saying she will never have a drink in college (am sure she will though never has yet), but she would be very conscious of what she had to do the next day with her body. While not the same thing, but all through high school, she would never entertain the idea of being up late on a weekend because she had to be up extremely early on weekends to ski race and be in tip tip condition with her body. I don't think she is the only athlete who would feel this way.

Anyway, the discussion on this drinking issue is an important one. I just don't think it needs to be linked to athletics.

My sister in law went to Williams and was not an athlete and is not much of a drinker. A girl from our high school is there now and she was into dance, not sports. She was not a party girl in high school either.

I also do not buy into how the majority of kids at elites are from very privileged (money) backgrounds. Some are, of course, but not all. My kid is not! LOL. I am sure she will be fine.

Susan

By Texdad (Texdad) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit

Perhaps this is what's up. My son got a number to call back if he had questions.

(from the Harvard Thread in the Ivy Section)
>>>>>>>>>>>
So. I received this email from the "Harvard Recruitment Program." Included is one sentence:

"We are an undergraduate group dedicated to recruiting talented students from all backgrounds. As current Harvard students, we welcome your questions and look forward to sharing our experiences with you."

Now I'm sure some 100,000 kids get this email. Okay. Maybe that's a *teeny* bit of melodrama.

My real question is: has anyone ever heard of this before? I searched online and couldn't find anything. Maybe this is new; maybe internal.

Just wondering. At first I though it might have been a hoax, lol.

Oh well. Thanks in advance to those who respond!

By Albertfermat (Albertfermat) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 05:54 pm: Edit


I got it too. I don't know what it means. All those who know about this and what it means in terms of admission please respond. Also, all those who received it post.

By Caramelkisses06 (Caramelkisses06) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 06:08 pm: Edit


I received the same email last year and also received a few postcards in the mail from the same group. They emphasized that they were in no way affiliated with the admissions office, and that their main purpose was to generate minority interest in Harvard and to encourage people from all backgrounds to apply to the school. They aren't evaluating you in any way, from what I could tell and was told. It's purely for informational purposes.

If anyone wants to know, I was accepted into the class of 2008, but that was strictly an admissions office decision, and none of the other people at my school who received the same postcard/email and attended the information session at our school were accepted, just to put things in perspective.

By Oliviakang (Oliviakang) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 06:24 pm: Edit


ooh, thanks. I got that e-mail too and was wondering about it.

By Zantedeschia (Zantedeschia) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 10:12 pm: Edit


Did anyone get a call home?
I got a message from them and I never solicited anything from Harvard.

By Minerva (Minerva) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 05:30 pm: Edit


Yeah I got a call. I didn't talk to them tho b/c I'm not really interested in Harvard.

By Navygrl (Navygrl) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 07:16 pm: Edit


I received an e-mail also but I'm not a minority.

By Ella05 (Ella05) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 06:18 pm: Edit


I got an email, I'm not a URM, but I come from a low income family. "All backgrounds" might refer to race and lifestyle. I wish they WERE affiliated with the adcom.

By Ella05 (Ella05) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:42 pm: Edit


I also got a phone call from them. How many kids do they call, and does it mean anything?

By Achat (Achat) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit

"I also do not buy into how the majority of kids at elites are from very privileged (money) backgrounds. Some are, of course, but not all. My kid is not! LOL. I am sure she will be fine. "

I don't either. I don't know where this comes from.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:00 pm: Edit

Texdad,
My thoughts about the phone call were, sad to say, quite cynical. I hope that this group is indeed what it portrays itself to be, I will take it at face value - Forget all those things I thought when I heard the message on the answering machine!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:17 pm: Edit

Texdad, you have clearly raised your son with your values, so I'm sure he's not predisposed to "wealth mongoring." My suggestion is that you should trust him enough to go out into the world and get lots of exposure, even meet some of the wealthy who don't think wealth creation is treason, and let him find out who he wants to be. Mini survived Williams per your critera!

By Texdad (Texdad) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:14 pm: Edit

Mom101, you could very well be right. You do seem like an elist, but I must admit your humanity comes through in your posts.

In similar vein, I would suggest you and your kids spend a few weeks in the America between the coasts and the wealthiest suburbs.

By Tiesrule (Tiesrule) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

I'm not a parent, im a high school senior,but i'm considering williams and i would much rather take the advice of parents than the kids on this site. I visited the school, loved the surrounding, but didn't get a chance to take the tour and get a feel for the type of students there. I love journalism (im editor of my school's paper), i love music (im a vocal major at laguardia high school-the "fame" school) and the arts in general. I'm not big on sports or drinking, but i do love the outdoors. I like princeton a lot better than williams (i read the princetonian at least once a week. i have a favorite columnist), but i think i have a better chance at getting into williams.
what would you tell your kid if they were in my situation? will i be miserable at williams if im not the sports "type"? I don't have a wide range of choices when it comes to colleges because i need schools that give aid to international students (and those are few). So i guess the big question is: can someone who isn't into sports but loves the arts, journalism, and politics (though im not particularly active) be happy at williams? im not looking for a school with lost of active liberals, just a place where people like to talk about books, music, art, etc...not just the next game.

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

Texdad:

I would strongly urge you to get your S to consider Harvard. I think a student who does not fit the traditional mold will have an easier time at Harvard than at some other Ivies or LACS because Harvard is somewhat more diverse itself and because it is part of a larger community that is very diverse.
I really think Summers is serious about wanting to increase diversity. Maybe that is what is behind this campaign. It's not to increase applications per se (especially since USN&WR is dropping yield as a criterion anyway) but casting a wider net to attract different kinds of students. It may be hit or miss, but I believe it is a sincere effort. Of course, if your son is uncomfortable at the idea of attending, that's the end of the story!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:39 pm: Edit

Texdad, I come from a lower middle class NYC neighborhood with a broad ethnic mix. While my kids have lived in wealthy suburbs, I've done my best to give them as much exposure to different people and places as I can. They've been to over 40 countries in addition to seeing most of the US. Living with us this summer was an ultra liberal young school teacher who espoused thoughts and ideas I very much disagreed with. That's par for the course in my home. I honestly try to bring different ideas into my children's environment. I have a fundemental belief that they should see as much as they can before they decide who they want to be and what they want to do. That's why your earlier post struck me. I honestly don't care if my kids turn out to be wealthy investment bankers or starving artists as long as they make good decisions for themselves and find happiness. To me, your son might be better off going to a place where many have views in opposition to the ones he grew up with. How else can he really find himself as opposed to becoming you by default (as many of the kids in my wealthy suburb do!)?

By Texdad (Texdad) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:51 pm: Edit

Mom, 101. Again you may be right. Although don't underestimate the exposure he gets to Rush Limbaugh and conservative fundamentalists in Texas. They're tough to escape.

I do think more acquaintance with life between the coasts, not just exposure to different races or even poor kids in the prep school environment, would allay your and their fear of not making big bucks.

These discussions have really gotten me to think. I do know that there are middle class kids at the Ivies. We know some from our highschool, though I have never discussed these somewhat sensitive issues nad my possible parnaoia with them or their parents. The internet makes it easier to discuss some issues.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:55 pm: Edit

Marite, I really see merit in your assetion that an Ivy or LAC in a big city would not have perhaps the elitist atmosphere of an isolated school . Also the opportunity for more community service in a bigger city rings true.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 06:56 pm: Edit

Texdad, as I was driving around this afternoon (my leafy suburb in a car you would consider elitest), I was thinking about your post: elitest yet have some humanity. So some ernest questions: what defines elitest in your book? Do wealth and humanity not coexist in general? What negatives do you think children from wealthy families bring to college?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 07:06 pm: Edit

Mom101, there are many kinds of elites.
1. Thinking they are better than anybody else.
2. I know better. My way is better. Just do what I do and say and you will improve yourself (Be more like me).
3. Solutions to problems that don't help the masses and will actually cause more problems.
4. Unable to relate to the masses or their problems.
5. Has all the advantages and doesn't care about anybody else.
What, you don't know anybody who has these characteristics?

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 07:15 pm: Edit

Mom101, I am not Texdad of course, don't have the southern accent, lol....but there are just so many discussions on here lately about income levels and such, don't you think? And often I think they are misunderstood. For instance, when I said I don't think the majority of kids at elite colleges are from wealthy backgrounds, it wasn't a commentary on an opinion of those from wealthy backgrounds one way or the other. Just a fact as to numbers of kids on campus from a certain background, not anything else. I don't t think I, nor others, then make the jump that kids from wealth are elitist. To me, wealth is a fact. Wealth is not to be frowned on. At least I certainly do not frown on wealth. I even come from a very comfortable background. I certainly don't frown on my kids' wealthy friends that they have from out of state. I don't see them as elitist at all. To me, elitism is an ATTITUDE. It does not mean that every wealthy person personifies elitism. At least not to me. So, when someone talks of those from well to do backgrounds, I think sometimes you assume we are frowning upon wealth or these folks. Not at all. At least not me. But I really don't think others are either.

Elite attitudes are another thing and some do take offense to that. Elite attitudes sometimes comprise a sense of that one MUST be a certain way or have certain things to be worthy or acceptable, as if nothing less will do. However, this does not necessarily go hand in hand with wealth. I see these as two different things. Wealth is a fact. Elitism is an attitude. So, please do not think that every time one mentions wealthy people, that we do so in a negative way. When I stated that not every kid on an elite college campus is from a wealthy background (as SOMETIMES Mini might imply...hi Mini! lol), I certainly do not look down on the wealthy kids. I want my child to mix with all types of people! They have in the past and I look forward to an even more diverse group when they arrive at college. And that includes wealthy friends if so be it.

Your comment that someone might find your expensive car elitist is what I mean. I don't find it that way. It is what you can afford. Why would I begrudge you that? My mom just bought a Lexus! I would not get one. I cannot afford one either. My brother thought it was ridiculous to get such a car but that is what my mom can afford and wanted. I don't begrudge her what she enjoys. It is not my values but what does it matter? I don't see it as elitist but simply in her lifestyle of her income level.

Wealth and humanity certainly can coexist!

And I am not sure how you then jump to asking what "negatives" children from wealthy backgrounds bring to college? I do not see that jump anyone is making AT ALL! To say that there are some wealthy kids at college is not a negative connotation but a fact. I don't see them as bringing anything negative to college. Each person is an individual. There are likely kids who are wealthy with really elitist attitudes and some who simply act humble. There are likely poor or middle class kids who are real jerks and others who are as nice as can be. Someone's income need not define their inner worth or attitude. So, let's decide what we think of someone without knowing their inner wallet but only their inner selves and leave it at that.

Susan

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 07:32 pm: Edit

In an earlier post Texdad spoke of his antagonism--his word--against prestige and wealth. And if I read him right, he equated those thoughts with his family being liberal. Now I've read many of his posts and he's clearly intelligent. As are many others on these boards who seem to have overall issues with what is often called elitism, although it hasn't really been defined in most posts. Yes Dstark, I certainly know a lot of people who fit your discription of elitest, but in my mind there is no correlation between elitism and wealth. Texdad clearly has some fears about his son being comfortable in an elitist environment, and I do think many posts equate children of some wealth (full pays) with elitism. Opinions?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 07:40 pm: Edit

I think you are fooling yourself if you don't think there is a correlation between wealth and elitism. Not everybody who is wealthy is an elitist.
It isn't a perfect correlation but there is one.
There are intellectual elites, wealthy elites, born in the right family elites, sports elites, career elites, artist elites, and on and on.
There are definitely people who are wealthy elites.
I made it, why can't you?
Or I made it, you can't, so I am better.
Or, you aren't wealthy, you should be wealthy, you should strive to be wealthy, life isn't complete if you aren't wealthy.
Look at Silicon Valley.
Many people went from wealthy to something else. Many of these people are depressed because they are no longer wealthy; therefore, they no longer consider themselves elite. They are actually looking down at themselves.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 08:25 pm: Edit

Dstark, to be totally honest, it has always seemed to me that the upper middle class, as opposed to the wealthy, have elitest views and the need to show off wealth. Especially in Silicon Valley. The "tech" mentality equates success with invention, mental achievement--not money on the whole. Look how many entrepreneurs got caught never having sold a share when the bubble burst. Did you see the interview with Craig of Craigslist in the Chron yesterday? It's the wannabes, in my mind, that have the need to show designer lables, very high end cars and other shows of wealth--to announce "I'm rich." To borrow to buy the car and the house so there's is no money left for giving. Many of the very wealthiest I know give of themselves, their time and their money above all. Their kids do not have BMWs or clothes with labels. They do not drive Ferarris--they would be embarassed to. Their real wealth makes them perhaps better understand the need to teach their kids down to earth values more so than the upper middle class. There is a poster on the HS board who lists the obscene amount of clothing she's taking to boarding school. Most of the wealthy kids I know would never dream of bringing such a show of clothes nor would they consider posting such a list. Money and things are not a mystery to the wealthy. Perhaps the joy comes from knowing whatever you want is attainable, but the need to attain goes away pretty fast for many. It was two years before I knew that a Rockefeller I met in college was one of the Rockefellers, and that I was surrounded by heirs to major fortunes. I was, however, aware of many BMW driving upper middle class kids who had a lot of cash to spend. I don't argue that there are many who make seeming to have money look like an ugly thing. I just invite some thought about who those people really are and whether it has anything to do with how much money they really have.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:11 pm: Edit

In rereading the above, I want to emphesize that I'm not talking about the upper middle class in general, just who IMO is likely to be who Dstark has described.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:15 pm: Edit

You can give your time, and money and still be elitist.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:21 pm: Edit

Mom101, what kind of kids make up the Williams student body?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040816/ap_on_re_us/income_gap
The elite don't see this as a problem, can't relate to it or worse.
Their solutions will not help the masses and will make things worse.
The solution to the income gap is more supply side economics according to the rich.
The same policies that have helped create this mess.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:58 pm: Edit

That "the elite don't see this as a problem" is a huge generalization as I fear will be anything I say. It's hard to argue that there are pleanty of people out there who have what they want and need and don't care that others don't. When I talk about outsourcing on these boards (and many other places too) there is a strong message back from those who don't believe it's a real threat, think it's a plot against the middle class or just don't want to hear about it. Yet "elite" CEOs have been in Washington screaming for years that we need to change American education to reflect the reality that free trade has created in this country. You're Yahoo link says it all, there are fewer jobs and the jobs that are being created right now are lower paying--no doubt the divide is getting bigger. And it feels bigger than ever because so many professionals are involved. But this is not a corporate America plot, but the result of the maturing of developing countries and pacts that have been advanced by both parties, not a Republican/Bush/elitest plot. But it seems a clear result is anger aimed at those perceived to be benefiting from these job losses and salary reductions. Honestly, that would be well educated young professionals in India, China and a few other countries. Corporate America has little choice in remaining globally competitive but to use such labor or we will all be out of work. And there would be amazing sanctions against us by countries we have trade agreements with, countries that are eyeing some proposed legislation in this country and are screaming foul. Where was everyone when we were signing those agreements?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:59 pm: Edit

Mom101, you don't get it.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:23 pm: Edit

I obviously don't from your perspective Dstark. I'm trying to, but I hear a lot of anger and blame that seems misplaced. Are you arguing that the divide is not largely the result of trade?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:06 am: Edit

There are two things going on.
The private sector is making it harder and harder for the middle class.
Technology, trade, the recovery of foreign countries from WWII, the way corporate America pays itself, the Wal Marts of the world, costs of health care, education, etc. have made it difficult for the middle class.
Now we have the public sector, the government.
Since the middle class is hurting, the government should enact policies that at least are neutral-- my opinion, the government should have policies that help the middle class to counterbalance what is happening in the private sector.
What happens, the government for over 20 years has enacted policies that have hurt the middle class and has shifted a larger tax burden to the middle class.
A huge double blow.
Your re-education policy is not going to work.
The anger and blame is not misplaced.
It is going to get bigger and bigger as long as both the public and private sector are working against the middle class.
I would like to see policies in place that stop this double whammy now, before it is too late.
Otherwise, we are going to end up with class warfare we have never seen, higher tax rates than we thought possible, wealth taxes, and an economic disaster. Have you noticed that some people on this board already support wealth taxes?
The Republicans and Bush are so off track they are part of the problem. Their policies make things worse.
We can do something now, or wait until things blow up.
The people where you live are out of touch. They are not affected.
When the stock market falls apart, what happens?
Grrenspan lowers interest rates to 60 year lows (depression rates) to save Wall Street and investors' butts. Not only does he make sure the real estate market doesn't get affected by the stock market, but lowers rates so low that he may have created another bubble.
What did he ever do for the middle class?
Raise social security taxes to protect social security.
What did we do with the money?
Spent it on tax cuts that primarily benefited the rich.
The social security surplus is not used for social security.
Finally what happens when workers wages go up 3%? Greenspan freaks because that is inflationary.
What happens when CEO pay goes up 15% a year?
Free market.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:23 am: Edit

I don't have answers, but do have questions. Why has Kerry proposed lowering corporate tax rates? Do you think it's total BS that lowering taxes spus the economy? I have little problem raising back taxes for those making over $200K but will it really make a difference? As class warfare grows, and I also think it will, isn't wealth tax inevitable because most Americans will clearly vote for it? When doctor's pay started being regulated many smart people stopped wanting to be doctors. Won't that happen if we try to regulate the pay of key executives who we are hoping will create jobs? What kind of policies will counterbalance things for the middle class? Can we further regulate (or up) wages without losing a lot of jobs?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:31 am: Edit

What proposal of Kerry's are you talking about?
Raising taxes above $200,000 income will help a little and will take a little pressure off.
I hope that a wealth tax is not inevitable.
The longer we wait, the larger the tax increases are going to be.
I don't want to regulate wages, but I am interested in a living wage. Don't know if it is feasible.
Don't want to regulate wages.
Don't want to regulate CEO pay.
However, since many of them are pigs and they keep score by how much they pay themselves, I want to tax them heavily.
When Grasso from the NYSE has a pay package that equals the profits of the whole exchange, fine. Tax the guy 80%. He can have his ego...but not the money.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:56 am: Edit

It's not at all true that people I know havn't been effected. In a recent country wide poll, people in the Valley were the most negative about the future. While every CEO may not feel personally effected, there is a grave understanding among all educated people here about what is happening. We are seeing whole categories of jobs dry up overnight. People thought it was just engineering and programming, then all the back office functions started to go. We thought biotech would save the valley until we understood how easily many of those jobs could be exported too. People wanted to believe Google would usher in a new wave of IPOs.....I know several people who have had to sell homes. My best friend's husband, a 55 year old engineer at a dying company, is coming to grips with the fact he will have to find a new career at his advanced age. Commercial space is selling for what it used to rent for for one year and there are still few buyers. It's just a different scenario but the pain is real. Certainly it's different than nor having health care or being able to feed families, but I think the point is that relative pain is being felt accross the Country. Shame on CEOs of hurting companies who have not taken a hit in their own paychecks. There are pigs in all job categories. When technology was robust people here felt well paid and had good benefits. We need to create new industries and new jobs. Not just here but in the country as a whole. I'm not saying there are not other ways of helping the middle class as well. But this will suely be one.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 01:44 am: Edit

Mom101, you might find this link interesting if you haven't been to this site before.
www.thespaceplace.net

By Farawayplaces (Farawayplaces) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:34 am: Edit

Texdad:

Just want to wish your son luck and to echo the idea that your son would fit in at Harvard. I know a half dozen nice kids from our rural area, from modest homes, who are fine there.

Also--just because the two LACs were mentioned: Of Grinnell and Carleton, Carleton is a bit more preppy, and Grinnell more down-to-earth with very friendly kids (my daughter attended). In addition, Grinnell has a great tradition of community service/political awareness. They also give great need and merit aid. Good luck!

Mom l01:

I'm sure you do not think of yourself as elitist. And you're probably not more parochial than any of the rest of us, seeing the world through the small lens of our experience. But I do think that you frequently post about money, and that may be misinterpreted as bragging on what is defined as a college discussion board.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 03:35 am: Edit

Thanks Dstark, I've seen the numbers, but never in such a fun way! It's so hard to believe house prices haven't followed.

Farawayplaces, someone has to represent the idea of wealth and pursuing it being socially acceptable on these boards. The kids deserve to know that it's OK if they want to go for it, IMHO anyway. Reading comments about "wealth mongoring" made by intelligent people is scary to me and adds to the growing class warfare that we've been talking about. If bragging were my intent, I'd just wear a lot of designer clothes and drive a Ferrari where people actually can see me!!

By Texdad (Texdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 06:05 am: Edit

Dstark, you get it.

What's wrong with having a middle class country? Many of the US elite like vacationing or even living in Europe with it accompanying low crime rates, depth of culture and (gasp) higher marginal tax rates, unionization and single payer health care.

Mom 101, I'm very political so part of my remarks to you were undoubtedly influenced by your attitudes toward the public school system--privatize it-- your opposition to inheritance taxes for the approximately 3,000 or so per year 5 million dollar estates etc. You have a contented acceptance of trade policies which are not simply immutable like the law of gravity, but rather man made laws pushed for by the corporate elite in line with their conception of what is worthwhile.

At least you do seemed roused to question some of this as it is now effecting people you associate with and perhaps your children. That is how most people get political.

I must admit that I think that, even with education , there is such a thing as enough is enough. There was one poster with many family members attending and or teaching at the Ivies who urged you approach them also from a consumer point of view and not just romanticize them. The whole prestigious boarding school thing seems like more than a desire for qualityeducation.

Despite this, Ivalue our online discussions, and believe we could , if I didn't get too hot, lol, discuss this over a moderate (don't make me too nervous!) priced bottle of wine.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:01 am: Edit

Texdad, you make a lot of assumptions. I'm a little afraid to tell you something of my background for fear you'll send your son directly to Berkeley. I am the child of parents who were very liberal, very political Dems. Some of my earliesy memories involve things like picketing for school integration, listening to Malcolm X and passing out flyers for the most liberal of candidates. Then I somehow ended up in the ivy league, and voila, a fiscal conservative emerged. Then again Hillary Clinton went to Wellseley and Yale a staunch Republican. But I remain surprising political and have many causes I believe in, work for and am known to have taken major actions to address.

As for living in socialized countries, I lived in Canada for several years in my early adulthood. If anything, that influenced my strong feelings about getting government out of as many things as possible. High taxation, social medicine in which you wait 6 months for a needed CAT scan and the inefficiency of having so many government run companies led to the extraordinary brain drain that has kept Canada stagnant.

As for privitizing education, I don't see it as an elitist viewpoint, but as a desperate measure to stop the pain. I don't know how it is where you live, but here in CA the government has made a complete mess out of education. We have raised a generation of kids who couldn't pass a simple high school exit exam until they dummied it down. Arnold wants to give control back to the communities which may help in wealthy, educated areas. I work with an educational foundation staffed by ultra liberal people who make about $30K. They all want to privitize education and see it as a last chance since charter school didn't work out in most cases here.

On the boarding "prep" school front, I think you need to see one in action. I never had until a year ago. You can make a strong arguement that elitest money created them and the values of the wealthy defined them for a long time. Today the top schools, that are as academically selective as the ivy league, are liberal all. If a family is looking to send their kids to school with the wealthy and conservative, most private day schools in wealthy parts of the country will do. As a book I recently read said, at prep school "your child's roomate is as likely to be the prince of a country as he is to be the Fresh Prince of Belair." They are the ivy league of HS, with ivy league-like resources. The Bronx seems to be the most represented town in my daughter's entering class. This is about prestige only in that these are some of the highest achieving kids you can imagine being taught by some of the most impressive teachers on earth. These are kids who are ready for college early, chomping at the bit for more, getting what they want and need.

On the trade front, I began my research with the belief that we just needed to stop the damn outsourcing and restore jobs here. Then I learned a bit more about the economics of it, our long history in creating the trade agreements that allowed it and what would happen if we tried to stop it. You are right in that now I accept that we can't stop it, and I'm not at all sure I'd want to just to stop short term pain here. I do believe in a global world and global economy. I'm glad that a large part of the world's population has taken action to stem the tide of their vast poverty.

And to me, inheritence tax is simply double taxarion. Taxes were already paid, why should there be a further penalty for dying?

You'd be surprised who I hang out with Texdad. I enjoy a moderately priced bottle of wine with lots of different kinds of people. My views may sound extreme here because I'm a lone conservative voice here and I do love playing devils advocate. In my community I'm actually considered pretty liberal and a social dogooder!

By Dadx (Dadx) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:49 am: Edit

">>>>>>>>>>>>And to me, inheritence tax is simply double taxarion. Taxes were already paid, why should there be a further penalty for dying?

Mom101 You really don't get it. THat money is needed to buy votes for the politicians more than you need or deserve it. Unless you understand that, you are hopeless in this type of discussion. It is all about someone else determining what you deserve and and what your needs are. Once a true system like this is implemented, all strife will cease, and we'll finally be content. :)

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

Mom101, some of inheritance tax is double taxed. Not all of it. Those that say "all of it" are lying.
Has a majority of Warren Buffett's money been taxed?
Has Bill Gates?
If you tax inheritance after allowing the first $5 million tax free, you are only going to tax 50,000 estates a year.
300 people in this country own 6% of the wealth.
What do we have in this country 280 million people?
300 people! Not 3 million, 3 hundred thousand, 30,000, 3,000...THREE HUNDRED. We are moving towards wealth distribution similar to the dark ages.
Think about it.
Bill Gates SR., and Warren Buffett both support inheritance taxes.
What do you think of the $3 special dividend that Microsoft is going to pay out? Bill Gates is going to get over $ 3 billion taxed at a 15% rate. There are many teachers in this country that are going to pay taxes at a higher rate than Bill Gates.
Doesn't make sense to me.
In your community, the fact that you are considered pretty liberal, is down right scary to me.
You would never want to send your kids to Berkeley.
I would never want to send my kids to Dartmouth.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 11:36 am: Edit

Some of my earliesy memories involve things like picketing for school integration, listening to Malcolm X and passing out flyers for the most liberal of candidates. Then I somehow ended up in the ivy league, and voila, a fiscal conservative emerged. mom 101

Oh no! Our worst nightmare! A mind is a horrible thing to waste! Just what I thought!

His mother and I are now thinking Oberlin. Is there anywhere else more consistently left wing?

It must be that early background that I detected as evidence of humanity.lol

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 11:47 am: Edit

Dstark, what part of Buffett's and Gates' money isn't already taxed? If you want to argue that cap gains is too low, that's another arguement. And I don't care that it only effects a few people, it's the concept of double taxation I have a problem with.

Sunday's paper carried a poll of some iniatives on November's ballot here in CA that would require new taxes. Voters planned to vote every one down except for one where the only people who would have to pay anything are those that make over $1 million/year. That one practically everyone is planning to vote yes on. Why don't we just take a voye and only make people who make over a coupke of hundred thousand pay any taxes at all? It would clearly win with a huge majority!!

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 11:55 am: Edit

Mom101:

I heard Bill Gates, Sr. make a very forceful speech against the repeal of the estate tax. His argument is not on the issue of double taxation. It's the same as Bill Clinton's about the tax cut. The super rich don't need it, it does little to benefit the middle and lower income families, and it increases the size of the deficit. A case has been made that the estate tax causes hardship on farm owners and others with modest estates. Bill Gates, Sr. and others have argued that the way to deal with this is to raise the threshhold at which the real estate tax begins to kick in.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 11:58 am: Edit

Mom101, look at reality.
Don't look at rhetoric. The rich keep saying the population is trying to soak us. You just want to tax all our hard earned money.
You just want class warfare against us. We don't want class warfare. We just want what is best for the ecomony.
The truth.
The rich have been engaging in class warfare for over 20 years.
Warren Buffett knows it and has stated this fact.
The tax cuts have been going to the rich.
That is the reality.
Why can't you see that?
Almost all the wealth Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have accumulated has never been taxed.
Their wealth is in Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway stocks.
No inheritance tax...that money will never be taxed.
Billions and Billions and Billions.
Never taxed.
Teachers paying higher tax rates than people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and many others.
I find this disgusting.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:04 pm: Edit

Texdad, have you ever read Loren Pope's book "Looking Beyond The Ivy League"?
A nice story written by a woman who went to Williams but studied a semester at Oberlin is in that book.
Anybody interested in Oberlin would probably not be too interested in Williams.
That story explains the diasagreement between Mom101 and a few of us.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:09 pm: Edit

I'm simply asking why it's fair to double tax the income of anyone, at any level, in any profession?

Dstark, of course their shares, when realized but them or any generation, will be taxed. And if you agree with all of Warren Buffets thoughts on taxes, do you agree Prop 13 should be done away with too? Warren doesn't think it's fair that he pays more taxes on his Omaha home than the one worth multiples in CA.

If you want to see cap gains raised that's simply another issue with other repercutions for the economy. The top 5% of tax payers already pay over 35% of taxes. Why should there be a massive disincentive to create wealth? Wealth creates jobs and does great things for the economy.

By Garland (Garland) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:12 pm: Edit

Do you pay sales tax? property tax? didn't you already pay taxes on that income?

And, an inheritance tax does not tax the deceased (who's dead, right?); it taxes the inheritor, who is getting the money for the first time.

I really don't get this "double tax" argument.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:21 pm: Edit

Almost every tax can be labled a double tax.
You are wrong about the shares.
No inheritance tax, as things are now, the cost of those stocks will be revalued to market value and there will never be a tax on those gains.
I told you I am in favor of prop 13.
It is ridiculous to compare Cal and Nebraska. Different economies, different needs.
The top 5% make the money. They should pay the taxes. They can afford it.
I know you read the article I linked above.
What massive disincentive to create wealth?
You are telling me that increasing capital gains back to 20%, and raising dividend taxes above 15% will stop people from trying to create wealth. That increasing the top federal tax rate back to 40% from 35% will stop people from trying to create wealth.
That people who own Microsoft stock should pay taxes at a 15% while workers should pay at 25% or more?
You are kidding, right?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:23 pm: Edit

Yes Garland, the money I pay sales tax and property tax with has already been taxed as income tax.

Dstark, look at Canada and lots of other countries. At some point the wealthy just get to the point where they choose to become expats. Spending half your year in Bermuda really isn't so bad, especially with today's technology. Gates has already said he'd move Microsoft (not for tax reasons) id things don't go his way. American's are feeling very mobile.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Dropped a line above. My point Garland, is so does everyone. Is it really fair to single out one group and tax their income again? To me a flat tax would be most fair. Then we could all stop worrying about who pays at an unfair rate.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:35 pm: Edit

What, changing our tax structure a little bit and we are now like Canada? We are moving to Bermuda? I would like to see changes put in place so we never get to a level of taxes that will make people do this.
Here we are, taxing Bill Gates income and wealth at lower rates than teachers, firefighters, the military, policeman, nurses, and if he doesn't get his way he is going to throw a temper tantrum and get up and leave.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:36 pm: Edit

Mom101, we are already singling out one group and kicking the crap out of them.
The group being singled out...the middle class.
The flat tax is just another way to transfer taxes from the rich to the middle class.

By Garland (Garland) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 01:25 pm: Edit

Mom101: you missed my second point: the dead person isn't being taxed; the inheritor is. And he/she's getting the money for the *first* time.

By Lefthandofdog (Lefthandofdog) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:11 pm: Edit

This thread has me tangled up - I'm getting dizzy watching the back and forth. If someone waits 6 months in Canada for an MRI, how do you compare that to the American who doesn't get one at all because they have no insurance? I realized a while ago that the diversity that causes discomfort is not racial, religious or anything other than economic. It's easy to get along with people who share the same health care, schools (either local or far off privates) lawn service, kitchen appliances, vacation destination, etc. What's hard to parse are inequities in standard of living, and they occur right here in the richest country in the world. I'd like to see if high taxes would be a disincentive to accumulation of wealth - seems to me that people pursue wealth for its own sake, or because they love building a business. The money is beside the point. Bill Gates can't be in it for the money, can he? And to return to the origin of this board, do you think he'll be fretting over his children's chances at competitive colleges?

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 03:45 pm: Edit

The Gates foundation is set up to give away money. They are doing so at a pretty good clip. Bill gates may not be the richest man in the world anymore, but he is spending it as if he is. He has said that he isn't leaving much for his children to inherit. Of course I don't know if that includes their mom who has money of her own. I am sure he isn't too worried about college for his kids, after all he didn't even graduate and they are still in grade school.
I assume people have seen this AP story about the top 20% having 50% of wealth in this country, up from 44% 30 years ago. The bottom 1/5 is getting poorer, their share is down to 3.5% from 4.2%.
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/186625_incomegap17.html

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 04:17 pm: Edit

A lot of food for thought. Why is the middle class percentage of wealth in this country shrinking? From what I can see it's because middle class jobs no longer pay what the used to. Why? Because of the ease of good flowing between countries. Trade and open borders. The auto industry is a good example. A generation of kids woke up one morning in Flint and other towns and learned that they would not have their parent's jobs and paychecks. All kinds of manufacturing jobs went. Call centers. Now we are seeing it inch up the ladder to engineers and other high tech professionals, scientists, accountants, lawyers and bankers. The vast majority of these folks had to replace their jobs, when the could, with others paying significantly less. Where are the jobs? Walmart and Costco, which have benefited tremendously from goods moving across borders (sorry you have no jobs folks, but the good news is goods cost less). This is what has happened to the middle class, it has been in the making long before Clinton and Bush. How do we address this? Most people on this board seem to believe it's by taxing the heck out of the rich and making CEOs cut their salaries. That might make people feel better, but it will not address the underlying problem which is there needs to be new, higher paying jobs for the middle class. Silicon Valley is a good microcosm to take a look at. When things were good here and there was tremendous growth, everyone benefited. There was such demand for administrative people that good secretaries were making 6 figures. Money was flowing and companies were generous with benefits to all. Trickle down works, but not enough is trickling in the country now. We can raise back takes of those making $200K and put cap gains back at 20%--I really have no problem with that. But it won't begin to pay for everything the middle class needs or what Kerry is promising. Only restoring good paying jobs with benefits in this Country will do that. And yes, companies will move to other countries (not to mention we will be boycotted by the rest of the world) if they are stopped from global competition. It's too late to be protectionist, so we will have to grow the jobs.

Garland, I didn't miss your point, I just don't buy it. And Dstark, why are you for inheritence tax and against wealth tax?

Lefthandofthedog, in my experience the Bill Gates' of the world are not in it for the money, but there is a strong belief in free enterprise. It is protectionist tactics that made him threaten to move microsoft. It's clear to most all at his level that this needs to be a global economy and we will shoot ourselves in the foot big time with efforts to stop that now.

By Lefthandofdog (Lefthandofdog) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

Mom101 - I would have a strong belief in free enterprise, too, if I were in Bill Gates' shoes. It's worked for him. (Any many others). The strange thing is, when it doesn't quite work out (can't remember the name of that Greenwich, Ct., co. - Long Term Capital Management, maybe?) the government has to step in or the shock waves are felt worldwide. I guess if you're taking big risks like that, it's nice to know there's a safety net. Same with airlines, steel industry, etc. This is what I imagine draws big guffaws behind closed board-room doors. On a personal note, I wouldn't trade places with the Bill Gates of the world for anything - you sneeze, and world economies feel the spray.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 04:33 pm: Edit

1. We need the money.
2. You are taxing the estate of dead people.
3. Or you are taxing the people who never earned the money.
4. Less aristocratic.
5. I only favor taxing large estates.
Concentrating wealth into the hands of the few will not lead to more jobs for the middle class.
Bush has made the problem of income and wealth distribution worse.
It was just mentioned on CNBC that Republicans in some budgetary office have looked at the administrations policies and have concluded that these policies have made this problem worse.
Nobody is suggesting there aren't problems in the private sector that are hurting the middle class.
There are policies in the public sector that are making these problems worse and this is not necessary. Change these policies.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:19 pm: Edit

Emeraldkity4, if you buy or sell stocks, do you have to pay the B&O tax?

By Kluge (Kluge) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:23 pm: Edit

Mom101, the seven (and eight!) figure annual salaries for unremarkable corporate executives aren't the source of the problem - just a symptom of it. The fact that you respond to "estate tax" with "double taxation", which is, I'm sorry to say, a profoundly muddled example of knee-jerk non-analysis, is a symptom. The fact that the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was back in the 60's, is a symptom. The fact that the share of national wealth held by the bottom 50% is shrinking, and that held by the top 1%, is a symptom. The fact that public schools are being squeezed financially, is a symptom.

A symptom of what? Of the triumph of a philosophy which holds that the rich deserve more. That the middle class is not worth preserving and enlarging. That the true golden rule is that he who has the gold should get to make the rules. Entitlement of the haves; entitlement to nothing of the have-nots. It's not just Pres. Bush (although the Republicans are the most ardent and uncritical of the disciples) -- this has become the dominant social/economic philosophy of our day. That's why the economic trends have been taking place for decades, not just years.

Tax the rich and its "economic warfare". Tax the poor, and there's nobody there to spin it with a nasty label. There's a slick justification for every policy which rewards the rich and screws the middle class - and we've been buying them for years.

If we don't turn it around, our kids will face feudal conditions, with real class warfare, not the namby-pamby name-calling kind you see now. I honestly think this is the biggest crisis in the making that our children will face in their lifetimes.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:26 pm: Edit

I asked some people, the most left leaning liberals I could put my hands on, to read this thread this PM. These are people I regularly have point/counterpoint debates with. Some interesting feedback. First, I can clearly see, and they confirm, how galling it is for most of America to read articles about the rich getting richer when they are feeling really pinched. These articles really make it seem as though there is a plot against the middle class on the part of Corporate America, and that making the rich pay their fair share of taxes would fix things. A lot of interesting discussion here about the issue of the disappearing middle class jobs which many don't see as being outside of their area. "Is it really not just The Valley?

Second, everyone heard a lot of self interest. Dstark, most American's consider a Marin homeowner with a professional job wealthy. All these folks would vote for you to pay inheritence tax right alongside me. They can't afford Bay Area homes and it galls them to think someone "wealthy" like you could get away without inheritence tax. And wealth tax? Sure, anyone who makes six figures is wealthy. They'd vote for it. It's all relative but we both know it's easy to feel pinched in this area way into 6 figures. Now they were of course all for raising cap gains before asked if their parents own homes. Like many boomers they are looking forward to inheriting homes, this is their nest egg. Up the taxes when those are sold? No way! It's another plot against the middle class.

We talked about free enterprise, this was the most interesting part. Everyone agreed it is the American way. Other countries, like Canada, are openly socialist so it's more acceptable to regulate companies and have different tax rules for the rich there. It's hard for everyone to come to grips with how they feel now and how they would feel when wealthy. This being Silicon Valley, most have given thought to what they would do with wealth. Most had no idea that the top 5% of tax payers already pay 35% of taxes. I actually got hem really questioning if whether "they can afford it" is a good reason for 5% to pay more than 35% of taxes. They're sleeping on it.

It seems we are all protective of what we and our parents worked hard for. I don't think Bill should pay a higher percentage of his earnings than someone like me with a fraction of his money. God bless Bill, he's put a hell of a lot of people to work, advanced technology and generously gives to education and other charities. He deserves the money and to do whatever he wants with it IMHO.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:43 pm: Edit

Mom101, there is a plot against the middle class. It is just not called this and it has been happening for over two decades.
I agree with Kluge, this may become the biggest crises of our kid's generation. This is why I am so concerned and want to stop policies that are exacerbating the problem.
The fact that you are asking around tells me you see the problem a little bit, but are in denial.
This stuff about the top 5% paying 35% of the taxes is BS to me.
It doesn't mean anything to me unless you look at income figures, what other taxes are out there, who pays those, and who can afford the taxes.
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and others would never have made the kind of money they have if they didn't live in the US. They need to pay their share.
Our values are different. I don't think Bill Gates should be taxed at lower rates than my sister, who happens to be a teacher. The policies and people you support have been in charge for most of the last 25 years.
And you want more of the same.
I don't.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 08:55 pm: Edit

Frankly, what scares me is the divide that is growing in America. It's ugly for all. Even though I don't think excessively taxing the rich is the answer, I'm listening because something does have to be done. I lived near Detroit for a time during Moore's "Where's Roger" timeframe. The anger was extraordinarily palpable. I'm seeing that anger everywhere now. But I honestly believe fixing it will go way beyond adjusting a few tax tables. I'm afraid of what the anger will be (if) a couple of years into a Kerry administration when it becomes clear that not near enough "help" was really on the "way." What do you really think it's going to take if it's not job creation?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:13 pm: Edit

Kluge, I agree with your 8:23 post. I see the country the way you see the country. And I voted for Reagan.
Mom101, there is no magic bullet.
We are going to need job creation.
Adjusting the tax tables is not going to solve the problem.
But it is going to lessen the problem.
Look, I don't want a wealth tax.
I don't want to go back to 70% income tax rates (OK, except for jerks like Grasso and overpaid CEOs).
CEO pay used to be 40 times the level of the average worker.
Now it is over 300 times the average worker. People like this got most of the tax cuts.
Does this seem right to you?
Should upper management be immune to what is happening in this country regarding wages?
I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to become wealthy.
But pigs need to be slaughtered.
I am not looking for a perfect world. If my kids want to become wealthy, more power to them.
I hope they won't be looking at 70% income tax rates.
Doesn't it bother you that we are running huge deficits at the peak of the baby bommer's most productive years?
I am not in love with tax and spend policies, but borrow and spend are worse.
I want a strong middle class.
I don't see any strong countries with a weak middle class.
I have seen what Bush has done.
I will take almost anybody else.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:27 pm: Edit

Frankly, I would support tax increases that would assuage some of the anger. It's going to be a symbolic drop in the bucked though. To me it's supply and demand, I don't care what a CEO makes if he's doing a good job, and more importantly, creating much needed jobs. What bothers me is politicians are masking the root of the problem, pandering to middle class unease and pretending simplistic solutions are going to fix things. I'm not going to defend Bush, but Edwards, who had millions in all Asian funds, claiming he's going to keep jobs in America, disgusts me too. They're feeding the anger with the help of a mostly cooperative media. And I love Kerry's front porch speeches, but wonder why none of them are on the front porches of his five mulit million dollar homes. This rhetoric is such BS. Something real needs to be talked about. The real issues understood.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:30 pm: Edit

And I agree with both you and Kluge, that this is going to be an ugly mess our children will face. From being stuck with the deficit to class warfare.

By Dadx (Dadx) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

Heres a wrench for you all.

I suspect (assert???...cannot prove) that if examined, well over half of the shift in the "gap" numbers in the Yahoo article cited above is the consequence of greater opportunities for women. The period from 73 to today is the perfect period over which that phenomenon had its beginnings.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:52 pm: Edit

Dadx, we were starting to come to some agreements and you just had to stir the pot.
Do you feel the middle class is holding its own?

By Dadx (Dadx) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 10:33 pm: Edit

Well sometimes the pot needs to be stirred just to move the song along a little. We get stuck on one note a lot once the discussion turns to affluence.

That question is too tough to answer simply. Requires lots of definitions, as well as judgements I'm too tired to make right now,..maybe ever.

(I will say that I agree that Grasso and the jokers who approved that pay package deserve to be shamed and more.)

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:10 am: Edit

I just watched a show called "Trading Spouses" at the request of one of the people involved in reading this thread today. She thought it would give me insight into how people viewed the affluent. Ouch. Spoiled, arrogant, none to bright, affluent white woman trades place with poor, bright, classy black woman. Why does TV do this? Race war, class war all rolled up into one "reality" TV show. Does everyone here really think that affluence means you're just out for yourself and don't care what's going on in the country and world? Is this what you see in Marin Dstark? Texdad? Kluge?

By Cheers (Cheers) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:18 am: Edit

Does anyone else find it ironic that CC parents love the braggart who is pleased with his/her (well-endowed) successful children but dislikes the braggart who is pleased with her own (well endowed) affluence?? (Sorry Mom101, but you is guilty!)

Aren't both braggarts part and parcel of the same American 'success' mythology?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:25 am: Edit

Once again Cheers, I will argue with your characterizing people's willingness to speak candidly in an anonymous forum as bragging. To do this at your local supermarket would be. I for one am thankful that people are willing to give us the absolute facts about their kids and their achievements. It's greatly helped me in my research and my understanding of what it will take for my own kids to go where their's have gone. But you really do have a point. Why is success, American style, be it monetary or educational achievement, so offensive to such a large part of the population?

By Cheers (Cheers) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:51 am: Edit

Hey, CC is the best resource for researchers and I will be the first to admit that I can be as big a braggart as the next CCr , lol, but the parameters of this board are a bit curious....

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 02:11 am: Edit

OK, here's my proposak. Can we agree to focus on sin tax? Arnold just approved the world's second biggest casino in the bay area which will vring in $200 million/year. Next we should triple the price of liquor (same price as in Canada), put a $10 tax on every pack of cigarettes, legalize marajuana and tax the heck out of that. Now this would raise some serious money.

By Kluge (Kluge) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 02:58 am: Edit

Mom101, I think what you are not willing to face is that I'm just talking about returning income distribution and tax burdens to where they were 20 or 30 years ago. You seem to think I'm proposing some radical shift - "unfair taxes" on the rich. I'm not. What I'm, saying is that we've gone overboard in handing more and more benefits to the rich, in exchange for less and less contribution from that sector of society, compared to a time when the middle class was more solid. In the 15 years from '86 to 2001 the share of income tax paid by the top 1% of taxpayers increased by 30% - but their share of all income increased by over 50%. And the income tax is the only even slightly progressive tax. Virtually all other taxes take a higher portion of less affluent people's earnings - i.e, are regressive.

Class warfare is already here, and as Warren Buffet said - his side is winning. I'm lucky enough to be sort of on that side (by income, if not inclination) but I don't want my kids growing to adulthood in that warzone.

Unless reasonable people start to realize how far we've tilted towards rewarding wealth and raising barriers to the middle class, it's just going to keep getting worse. The absolutely least "unfair" tax in Amerrica is the estate tax. Complaining about taxing money heirs didn't lift a finger to earn, while blythely accepting that working stiffs should pay SS tax, income take, etc. on every cent they earn by working, just exemplifies everything that is dead wrong with the prevailing moral/economic ethos of the country today.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 06:22 am: Edit

Kluge, I just plain disagree with your thinking. Not out of self interest or denial. Class warfare will not end if the rich pay a higher percentage of taxes. It will only end when the middle class feels prosperous in it's own right again. I have heard many an economist on this subject and they're just plain right. Your thinking will make us another Canada. We will cease to be a powerhouse and will not lead any industrial revolution. We'll just be another stagnant, going nowhere fast country. And look North to understand that even they have realized your plan isn't working. They are lowering taxes on wealth to try to stop brain drain and stimulate growth.

Should there be some short term tax adjustments to address the mess we're in? Maybe, but I'm not an economist. Should we become a socialist country, accepting the dissapearance of a solid, prospering middle class? I really hope not, I've lived in one of those and everyone there was desperately trying to get a green card. Wonder if there still are.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 06:32 am: Edit

And it's just fascinating to me that no one here seems to buy into what used to be called the American dream. Everyone can become rich! Go to America and make your fortune. It was thought to be an admirable goal. Immigrants arrived with dollar signs in their eyes. They made us a powerhouse. We are rapidly losing that power.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 07:21 am: Edit

Texdad, have you ever read Loren Pope's book "Looking Beyond The Ivy League"?

No I have "Colleges that Change People's Lives". I'll have to check out the other one.

Returning to one of the original topic. A couple of lawyer friends went to Oberlin. One of those lawyer's son is starting at Earlham as he thinks there is too much of a drug culture at Oberlin. Let's see binge drinking at Williams; drugs at Oberlin.

By Achat (Achat) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 08:24 am: Edit

Texdad, I would take every rumor with a grain of salt and actually go visit these places. There is something that Marite once said that stuck with me: "Every rumor sticks to a place like a cheshire cat's smile. The cat will be long gone but the smile remains in the air'. Things go get exagerrated quite a bit because of parents' fears for their kids. Someone runs in Central Park alone in the dark and gets assaulted. All of a sudden NYC is unsafe.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 08:46 am: Edit

Achat, thanks for the common sense statement of what is almost undoubtedly true. I was writing somewhat satrically, but it is easy to get lost in your own rhetoric and miss the forest for the trees. I actually think that lawyer might be particularly worried as his kid, though I think a good kid, is an underachiever and has ADD, with the additional risk for drug abuse that possibly entails.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:07 am: Edit

I think what you are not willing to face is that I'm just talking about returning income distribution and tax burdens to where they were 20 or 30 years ago. Kluge

So true, Kluge. BTW when the marginal tax rate was 70% in the 50's and 60's the US built the Interstate Hwy System, built or expanded many great State U's, a lot of whose basic research allows the Silcon Valley crowd to open their dot coms; had the GI bill and the middle class did well. So did GM, Coca Cola, IBM, Xerox.

Conservative ideology used to justify continual tax cutting for the wealthy should require them to prove that the wealthy stopped going to work during that 50's and at least the early 60's. Mom, 101. Please provide the proof of this. BTW check how the overall unemployment rate was lower back then and how by playing with statistics, counting the military as employed and other reporting changes recent employment is made to look better.

Mom 101 you employ a lot of cliches. Canada is socialist. In TX they do it this way. A Kerry supporter, liberal, Democrat are all the same--communist. As seen in TX, you blame the Liberal Media. In this case for the middle class concern over transfer of wealth from their class.

You grudgingly support some tax relief for the middle class to appease their allegedly childish anger (this involves the wealthy paying more). Hey, we'll take it, grudging or not, as we did with minimum wage the 40 hour week.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:38 am: Edit

Well, you guys have definitely made me more political. UNCLE. Rather than pursue this arguement I've decided to go door to door in my neighborhood campaigning for Bush. I'm going to tell everyone the sky is falling and a coup is coming. 70% tax rates, wealth redistribution? Maybe I missed the boat and the reason no one is pushing growth and creating middle class jobs is because they knew what was coming and already left. Perhaps my neighbors want to go in on a gated community on Bermuda! Pack kids!!

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:40 am: Edit

Mom101, the pendulum of the last 25 years is going to switch directions.
There are people that have made a lot of money that want to see the pendulum switch.
That is the majority position in Marin.
People are willing to give up the chance to get really rich if the middle class does better, better education opportunities for all,
health care for everybody, a living wage for those that work 40 hours a week.
The majority of people in Marin don't buy the trickle down theory.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:56 am: Edit

I don't beleive in the trickle down theory either. That is a hoot! Increasing the health at the bottom can't help but benefit everyone. everyone needs health care, affordable food and shelter, a decent job and transportation.
To get prepared for what are becoming middle class jobs, ( engineers, etc) more education is needed but in many areas schools are very sad.
Why do we have such a high percentage of minority males in prison, wouldn't it be cheaper to educate them?

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:00 am: Edit

lol, Mom I think your nighbors all vote for Bush anyway. Don't they?

I enjoy our conversations. I meet many Texans who have your basic views, not as sophisticated of course. You give me a rare chance to talk to a wealthy conservative. The only wealthy people I know are some wealthy Democratic trial lawyers who I associate with infrequently and only professionally.

Maybe we can have coffee some day. I actually have more cousins in the Bay Area than everywhere else. I get out there about every two years. They are mostly refugees from Oklahoma and Kansas. One was a lawyer here in Texas before moving out there. I suspect that he is moving your direction politically, though not yet to the extreme of becoming Republican, as his wife is an endodontist and their home in Noe Valley is escalating in price.

I do appreciate your cautionary tale of what can befall a middle class kid who goes to Dartmouth .

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:02 am: Edit

Emeraldkity4, do you know anything about the B&O tax?
Are stock trades taxed under the B&O tax?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:04 am: Edit

Yes Emerald it would be. And education is also the way to get back to having a prosperous middle class. I believe very much in health care for all, good wage full time jobs that pay enough to comfortably support a family and much of what any other decent human being believes. I don't have to pay the proposed 70% tax because now I'm a student in a field where I don't have a hope of making much these days. But I think the misguided thought that this country will get healthy by just taxing the rich and redistributing wealth is scary and destructive.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:07 am: Edit

I know people that are canvassing door to door in the bay area trying to raise funds for Kerry.
Where Mom101 lives, the canvassers haven't been very successful.

Elsewhere, people are willing to give over $1000 to door to door solicitors to get rid of Bush.
Somebody gave $5,000.
Of course, California is a blue state.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:13 am: Edit

There is a lot of complaining about education on this board.
There are more people graduating from college than ever before...in numbers and percentages.
This hasn't stopped the trends of the last 25 years.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:18 am: Edit

I think the misguided thought that this country will get healthy by just taxing the rich and redistributing wealth is scary and destructive. mom 101

Nope not that simplistic. Your straw man is indeed a misguided thought. Try this. Is family spending or even borrowing that strains the budget good or bad? Depends. If it is financed with a credit card for needlessly ostentatious consumer goods, it is unwise. If it is to buy an adequate education it is good.

Increased taxation for worthwhile public infrastructure creates wealth in the end. Certainly more than encouraging the wealthy to speculate in stock, bonds, commodities and real estate, even more than encouraging a lot fo their their dot com start ups.

The Asians you seem to admire are pulling themselves up with a lot of government spending and planning-- not just start ups by the wealthy few.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:23 am: Edit

I have no idea what a B & O tax is. What does that stand for business and occupation?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:25 am: Edit

Texdad, why do you think the democratic party isn't pushing more for a larger change in the tax code? Why aren't they offering voters a bigger choice?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:26 am: Edit

Emeraldkity4, Yes, business and occupation.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:34 am: Edit

I'd enjoy meeting you Texdad. The funny thing is that Dartmouth in my day was apolitical. I guess the things I learned there were clarity of thought and that rich people could be down to earth good citizens, too. I wish you knew more wealthy people because I think you'd see that clearly too. Many of my neighbors are Democrats in fact and have liberal ideas, especially on social issues. People here, as opposed to other places where you find significant wealth, have mostly made it all themselves. Most started out middle class and most did not go to ivy league schools. So we have a lot of believers in free enterprise, lack of government intervention, globalism...all the things that go with the entrepreneur mentality. Many of my neighbors have started companies, some several and counting. They have created countless jobs and thrieve on doing so. Most didn't start out by being in it for the money. They're doing what they love. There is total belief, which I buy into and my research supports, that "the next big things", be they in technology, science or whatever, will be what makes the country healthy again. There is not an economist report I've seen on outsourcing or the death of manufacturing here that does not agree. Despite the rhetoric, people here write some pretty huge checks on April 15. We have one of the highest State income taxes, too. Many could work from anywhere and start their next companies anywhere. Having made the money they don't suffer from the guily many who inherited money do. Many of these folks will leave the country if we ever see a 70% tax rate again. They believe in capitalism and it doesn't make them bad people. Really. People are pissed about what's going on in this election, pitting the wealthy against the middle class, pretending that offshoring can be stopped. They're pissed about the war too. And they're especially pissed about the Republicans stopping stem cell research. So no one is in a great hurry to vote for anyone in this race. It's hardly black or white.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:37 am: Edit

Dstark, they have become captured by the corporate contributors also. Nader is right on this, though he is ridiculous egotist who pisses me off.

BTW where is your kid going or planning to go to school? In my confusion I am now going back to UT with a few extra writing courses and or internships to keep up with the elites. Also son isn't really into this too much. I guess I'll just have to insure his future by investing the 80k or so saved for his old age.

Son accuses his dad of just wanting to go back to college or living vicariously through him. He is probably right , but I am too old to ruin a good weekend day trying to please the professorial elite. A few years ago I reached that painful conclusion on a beautiful weekend day while trying to write a paper for a graduate political science course I was dabbling with. This led to an F and the end of my fitful academic career.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:45 am: Edit

Dstark, we have a higher high school drop out rate than we did 20 years ago, too. We graduate 6% of college graduates with math/science degrees. India and China have over 50% math/science. And IMHO, the democrats don't want to wreck the economy with socialist taxation like Canada did. That's why I was eeven considering voting them before this thread.

Texdad, work on your son. Help him find something in a school that can excite him. Where's he going to go otherwise?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:50 am: Edit

Texdad, I agree with your statement about the democrats. There isn't a party anymore that has policies in favor of the working class. I also agree about Nader.
My daughter is going to Michigan.
She says she has lived in California all her life and this is her chance to live in a different place with people from differnet areas. There are 8,000 out of staters at the school. This appeals to her.
I totally understand your last paragraph.
Your politics match the SF Bay Area better than Texas.
Are you from the Austin area?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:57 am: Edit

MOm101, yes, we are not graduating enough math/science students. Not good for our future.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:02 am: Edit

What is your son interested in Texdad, maybe we can think of something that might spark interest,

Dstark, how does UMich out of state compare to privates in tuition?

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:02 am: Edit

Son will probably go to UT Austin where most of his friends, including Nat Merit Types ultimately go. I doubt in the end he will want to jump through all the hoops necessary for the top 25. I think we can get him to apply to a few more schools. If he was a top 10% and an auto admit even that might be hard. Also in the past Dad has probably influenced him to be "antagonistic" toward elite schools and it is hard to make him more open minded now. A desire to prove you are as good as the Ivy bound can be another type of motivation.

He has registered for 5 AP courses, (not 8 like his Penn striving friend) seems to be quite content and is still on a high from his service project in a small Mexican village this summer. He has registered for tennis as a class even though it hurts his weighted gpa a bit. He says he wants to volunteer with poor Hispanics in Houston instead of doing a lot more ec's at school. Overall he is happy and we're pretty happy with him.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:06 am: Edit

Texdad, sounds like a great kid. The last sentence says it all.
Mom101, Michigan is not much cheaper.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit

Texdad, my kids just love it when I tell them I was wrong about something! So what is he planning to study? Have you posted for help from Alexandre and Carolyn as to what schools to consider? Neither has an elite bias!

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:24 am: Edit

Mom101, you stated earlier that most succesful people around you did not go to IVY League schools and are from middle class backgrounds. Have you seen The latest issue of Newsweek? The magazine says there are more elite schools than ever. Successful people are coming from a greater variety of schools.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:41 am: Edit

The Newsweek issue is great. Yes, the world has certainly become more of a meritocracy. Nothing wrong with UT (though I suppose you're glad the Bush daughter is gone, lol), but I think the Newsweek article and other things might inspire your son to look a bit further as well. Experiencing a different State alone is truly expanding. Those who understand the world broadly will have the most options in the future. Good luck in the fun college process Newsweek describes so well!

By Kluge (Kluge) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:56 am: Edit

Mom101 - last time: You're the one pushing income redistribution, not me. Income has been being redistributed from the middle class (and poor) to the wealthy for the past twenty years, fueled by the same slick propaganda which you've faithfully and unquestioningly repeated.
Class warfare is here - and the middle class and poor have been on the losing end for years. The thing is, the wealthy will suffer as well, eventually - and that's where all of our kids come in.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 01:18 pm: Edit

Texdad, my kids just love it when I tell them I was wrong about something! mom 101

Touche! but I haven't admitted I was wrong yet--just questioning. Son is totally undecided. might want to go to law school for the wrong reasons. Sees his lucky father whose undereducated but fightfully efficient assistant does most of his work.

One of the possible solutions. The Emergency Technical Education Act of 2004. Full scholarships for all who make 3.0 or over in Engineering. Full stipends for a couple hundred thousand per year for grad school. Encourage unionization of engineers so they don't get screwed around with and give them 90% unemployment and retraining benefits. Engineers eventually understand that they are cogs for the giant corps and get pissed when people running a coffee stand in the financial district make more with better security.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 03:14 pm: Edit

Mom101, we must be reading a different magazine.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5626596/site/newsweek/

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Dstark, wasn't saying go to a name brand school. Just saying Newsweek was full of good ideas of school's that might interest his son. My general feeling is kid's should do what your daughter is doing--choose a school in another State, with kids from all over as opposed to their HS friends, if at all possible.

Texdad, I sense you are about to seriously reconsider some long held prejudices and feel OK about your son exploring the other side. Besides, keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

By Texdad (Texdad) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:28 pm: Edit

Regarding Nader and the Demos. We practically have the two pary system enshrined in the Consitution. If we can tame the campaign contribution beast the Democrats could offer a clearer alternative. Some of the groups and the individuals in the party like Robert Reich "get it" to quote dstark.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:42 pm: Edit

Texdad, if you ever have time and the inclination go to http://webcast.berkeley.edu
go to events
check them out
You can watch interviews with people like Reich.
For Reich go to archives. He talked around April 14th.
Yes, Reich gets it.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 09:11 am: Edit

Dstark, I will check out the link.
Here are the key exerpts from a recent Reich article from tompaine.com

...the Congressional Budget Office—which, incidentally, works for a Republican Congress and is headed by a former Bush economist—reports that two-thirds of the Bush tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 20 percent of American families. And the lion’s share, to the top 1 percent.
Now the second fact, equally important: The Treasury Department tells us that the nation’s total debt has soared from 5.7 trillion dollars four years ago, to 7.3 trillion dollars today.

... Wealthy Americans used to add to government revenues mainly through their tax payments. Now, wealthy Americans add to government revenues by lending the government money....

...you go from one method of financing government (which we used to call it a progressive income tax) to another method—consisting of loans from the wealthy—and interest payments to them from everyone else.

By Dave72 (Dave72) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

Texdad, I hope you will encourage your son to continue to explore the possibility of Oberlin. Great academics, a highly diverse student body (probably the most truly "national" demographics of any LAC in the country), and a long-standing commitment to social justice. As Achat said yesterday, you shouldn't trust the stereotypes: most Oberlin students are solid, grounded, responsible kids who are serious about their work and passionate about their causes (lots of volunteer work in the community, etc.). If your son's interested, he should try to visit and see for himself.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 11:59 pm: Edit

Well, that was a fascinating read! I have opinions about almost everything! But I won't....

Hasn't the weather been great?

By Dstark (Dstark) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:20 am: Edit

Mini, why not?
Reich's talk on 1/30/03 at http://webcast.berkeley.edu makes me sorry he isn't running for president.
We have the wrong Massachusettes guy.


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