Daily Archives: October 3, 2014

Our finer educational institutions engage in some unproductive ass-covering

Thank goodness for the Clery Act, the federal law that forces educational institutions to track and report sex crimes on campus. It’s blown some fresh air into some very stuffy corridors. And compelled us all to take a hard look at what actually goes on in our supposedly safe, high-toned precincts.

The latest, as reported by VPR, is that reports of sexual assaults “saw dramatic increases” in 2013 at Dartmouth and Middlebury Colleges.

Said institutions reacted, sadly, by blaming the messenger. Middlebury:

“While these numbers are a source of real concern, and we will remain vigilant in enforcing our policies, it is also possible that these numbers reflect a greater willingness among individuals to report violations,” said Shirley M. Collado, dean of the College.

And even worse, from Dartmouth:

We believe that the increase in the number of reports is a result of Dartmouth’s efforts to strengthen a climate of reporting rather than an increase in the actual incidence of sex offenses.

“It is possible.” “We believe.” No evidence offered, just a very convenient belief.

Now, I’m sure they’re right, at least in part. But it’s still a disappointing reaction. Especially from Dartmouth, which has much to atone for in these areas.

A little free PR advice. Here’s what you SHOULD have said.

We view this news with dismay. We believe that the increase may be caused, in part, by an improved climate of reporting; but any incidence of sexual assault on our campus is unacceptable.

We have tried to create an atmosphere in which our students learn that sexual assault is unacceptable, and in which they feel absolutely free to report any assaults. Clearly, we have more work to do.

There. Was that so hard?



Vile overreaction at Goddard College

Well, you knew that inviting Mumia Abu Jamal to speak would prompt a backlash. Especially when the professional ragemongers at Fox News got hold of it. (Seriously, Rupert Murdoch should make a donation to Goddard for giving his minions some raw meat to chew on.)

And, as we might have guessed, the reaction is thoroughly despicable. Goddard staff are getting obscenely violent emails and voice mails. My old colleague John Odum has written it up at his new outpost, POVt.net, and I suggest you check it out. I’ll give you just a sample here, and apologies for the language. This is not the worst one, by the way.

“Hey, if I rape one of your students and slit her throat – can I become a Graduation Day Speaker?”

Yes, there’s worse than that. According to John, the college has contacted the Vermont State Police. For those unfamiliar, this is a small college out in the boonies with a very roomy and impossible-to-secure campus. The commencement ceremonies are small affairs, with each program getting its own; the group that invited Mumia has only 23 students. It’d only take one nutjob to turn commencement into a crime scene.

I hope the VSP takes this seriously and provides appropriate security. I hope the troopers set aside their understandable feelings about Mumia and do their jobs like professionals.

And no, in no way does inviting Mumia Abu Jamal mean that Goddard “deserves” this kind of reaction.

The saddest political advertisement I’ve seen in a very long time

No, it didn’t come from Scott Milne’s campaign. Nor Hempily Peyton’s.

No, it came from a Democrat. And a Democrat with a strong track record who happens to represent my county.

Without further ado, here is the saddest political ad I’ve seen in maybe forever.

Ann Cummings print ad


The quality’s a bit degraded because it appeared in a local free newspaper. But still: this is the best Ann Cummings could do? Cheesy, slipshod graphics? A grim, dark, uninviting photo? Lots of wasted space?

This is bad, very bad.

I hope it’s not an indication of the Cummings effort. She’s one of three incumbent state Senators from Washington County — along with eternal Republican Bill “Survey Says” Doyle and Prog/Dem Anthony Pollina. She’s running for a fifth term, and was the district’s top vote-getter in each of the last three races. fourth term; she’s been a strong candidate in her first three races, finishing first once (2010) and second twice (to then-Sen. Phil Scott in2008 and to Doyle in 2012).

So maybe she thinks she doesn’t have to try. But the Republicans have themselves a solid candidate in Pat McDonald this time. She’s a former state representative and state GOP chair, and she held administrative positions under Governors Snelling, Dean, and Douglas. Republicans have high hopes that she can turn a second Washington County seat to the GOP.

If past results are anything to go by, McDonald is a bigger threat to Pollina than to Cummings. But this ad doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.