Category Archive 'Dartmouth'

18 Oct 2021

A Story From Dick Press

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Clement Atlee.

Dick Press (of the illustrious J. Press family) has an amusing tale of meeting the former British Labour Party Prime Minister Clement Atlee when he was an undergraduate at Dartmouth in 1959.

Clement Attlee memorably defeated Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a landslide June, 1945 election taking his place alongside President Harry S. Truman and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference. Following his retirement from politics Attlee was elevated to the peerage taking his seat in the House of Lords in 1955.

For reasons unknown, perhaps my perceived joie de vivre, I was selected to be a member of the Welcoming Committee for the Great Issues Class, a senior curriculum subject.

The Great Issues course brought to campus a weekly series of illustrious speakers to educate seniors on pressing national and international issues of the time. Speakers included Robert Frost (class of 1896), former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, containment strategist George Kennan, NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller (class of 1930), and conservative commentator Bill Buckley.

My assignment on a bleak snowy winter afternoon was to pick up Lord Attlee at the nearby White River Junction, Vermont railroad station where he was expected to arrive from Boston. I was to transport him back to Hanover. The conveyance was my battered 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air, veteran of numerous fraternity road trips to Smith and Skidmore, nicknamed “Sheldon Chevrolet” and always parked in the back lot of my Chi Phi fraternity.

As Lord Attlee arrived at the primitive White River station, he emerged quite alone introducing himself to me as if I were but a hired retainer. Holding a note telling him a student, Richard Press, would meet him when he arrived. I retrieved his two pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage that barely fit in the back trunk along with the proverbial spare tire.

“Mr. Press, my ungodly journey from North Station on an unspeakable turn of the century train car requires me to take whiskey refreshment. Kindly take me to wherever we might find immediate relief. I would most certainly enjoy your company elucidating your own Dartmouth College experience.”

Twenty minutes later we were seated at the cocktail lounge of The Hanover Inn, normally not a student domain. Lord Attlee ordered the lounge attendant, gaped open mouth in apparent trauma, “two double Scotch Whiskeys for each of us.” …

Rest of the Story

HT: David Solin.


Dick Press presents the Labour leader in a very positive light. I could not help but recall that it was his stupid policies that kept Britain starving under food rationing until 1954.

Winston Churchill had several great comments on Atlee. He once said:

“An empty taxi pulled up and out stepped Clement Attlee.”

Churchill described Atlee as:

“A modest man, who has much to be modest about.”

According to Churchill:

Winston Churchill entered a men’s washroom in the House of Commons one day and, observing Labor leader Clement Attlee standing before the urinal, took up his stance at the opposite end of the room. “Feeling stand-offish today, are we, Winston?” Attlee chirped. “That’s right,” Churchill replied. “Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”

18 Oct 2012

If I’d Been There, I’d Have Rooted For Dartmouth

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Dartmouth’s water bottle kicking tee.

Cringe-making behavior by the Yale football coach.


Dartmouth arrived at its game against Yale on Oct. 6 with a full complement of players, all in uniform, to go with many sets of shoulder pads, several footballs and a coaching staff. The Big Green were ready for an important, potentially season-defining Ivy League game.

Dartmouth brought it all, minus one key on-field component: a kicking tee.

After combing through equipment bag after equipment bag roughly an hour before the start of the game against the Bulldogs, Dartmouth players and coaches realized that someone – and we’re not naming names – forgot to include that one vital piece of kicking paraphernalia.

(I will say this: No one is ever truly responsible for packing the equipment. Or everyone is responsible. You know what I mean. Again, we’re not naming names.)

So the Big Green did what any team would do in such a pickle: Dartmouth asked Yale, a brother Ivy, if it could spare a tee.

At first, the Yale equipment manager lent the Big Green a substitute tee. About fifteen minutes before kickoff, however, Yale head coach Tony Reno came over to Dartmouth’s sideline and said that the Bulldogs wanted their tee back, recounted Dartmouth kicker R.C. Willenbrock.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. You need a kicking tee to, you know, kick off. So the Big Green improvised.

Willenbrock came upon inspiration in the form of a water bottle, one he cut down to size, taped and molded before testing as a makeshift tee. Success!

Absolutely pathetic.

And Dartmouth deservedly won, after this disgraceful case of bad sportsmanship, 34-14.

Reading this, I profoundly wished I were president of Yale, so I could have fired that coach so fast his head would spin.

No wonder Yale is losing at football. We have a coach who doesn’t even understand why educational institutions like Yale encouraged young men to play competitive games in the first place.

Hat tip to Tristyn Bloom.

06 May 2008

Postmodern Comedy at Dartmouth

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Priya Venkatesan, Dartmouth ’90

Joseph Rago, at the Wall Street Journal, is running a bit late in covering a recent political correctness flap at Dartmouth, but I’m even later since I only learned of this news story from him.

Often it seems as though American higher education exists only to provide gag material for the outside world. The latest spectacle is an Ivy League professor threatening to sue her students because, she claims, their “anti-intellectualism” violated her civil rights.

Priya Venkatesan taught English at Dartmouth College. She maintains that some of her students were so unreceptive of “French narrative theory” that it amounted to a hostile working environment. She is also readying lawsuits against her superiors, who she says papered over the harassment, as well as a confessional exposé, which she promises will “name names.”

The trauma was so intense that in March Ms. Venkatesan quit Dartmouth and decamped for Northwestern. She declined to comment for this piece, pointing instead to the multiple interviews she conducted with the campus press.

Ms. Venkatesan lectured in freshman composition, intended to introduce undergraduates to the rigors of expository argument. “My students were very bully-ish, very aggressive, and very disrespectful,” she told Tyler Brace of the Dartmouth Review. “They’d argue with your ideas.” This caused “subversiveness,” a principle English professors usually favor.

Ms. Venkatesan’s scholarly specialty is “science studies,” which, as she wrote in a journal article last year, “teaches that scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth.” She continues: “Scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct.”

The agenda of Ms. Venkatesan’s seminar, then, was to “problematize” technology and the life sciences. Students told me that most of the “problems” owed to her impenetrable lectures and various eruptions when students indicated skepticism of literary theory. She counters that such skepticism was “intolerant of ideas” and “questioned my knowledge in very inappropriate ways.” Ms. Venkatesan, who is of South Asian descent, also alleges that critics were motivated by racism, though it is unclear why.

After a winter of discontent, the snapping point came while Ms. Venkatesan was lecturing on “ecofeminism,” which holds, in part, that scientific advancements benefit the patriarchy but leave women out. One student took issue, and reasonably so – actually, empirically so. But “these weren’t thoughtful statements,” Ms. Venkatesan protests. “They were irrational.” The class thought otherwise. Following what she calls the student’s “diatribe,” several of his classmates applauded.

Ms. Venkatesan informed her pupils that their behavior was “fascist demagoguery.” Then, after consulting a physician about “intellectual distress,” she cancelled classes for a week. Thus the pending litigation.


The original story, Dartblog 4/26 quotes Ms. Venkatesan’s emails

Email 1:

—– Original Message —–
From: Priya Venkatesan
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 [time redacted]
Subject: Class Action Suit

Dear Student:

As a courtesy, you are being notified that you are being named in a potential class action suit that is being brought against Dartmouth College, which is being accused of violating federal anti-discrimination laws. Please do not respond to this email because it will be potentially used against you in a court of law.

Priya Venkatesan, PhD

Email 2:

— Forwarded message from “Priya Venkatesan” —

From: “Priya Venkatesan”
To: < [REDACTED]Dartmouth.EDU>,
Subject: Re: Class Action Suit
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 [time redacted]

Dear Student:

Please disregard the previous email sent by Priya Venkatesan. This is to officially inform you that you are being accused of violating Title VII pertaining to federal anti-discrimination laws, by the plaintiff, Priya Venkatesan. You are being specifically accused of, but not limited to, harassment. Please do not respond to this email as it will be used against you in a court of law.

Priya Venkatesan, PhD

Email 3:

Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 20:56:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: Priya.Venkatesan@Dartmouth.EDU
To: “WRIT.005.17.18-WI08”:;, Priya.Venkatesan@Dartmouth.EDU
Subject: WRIT.005.17.18-WI08: Possible lawsuit

Dear former class members of Science, Technology and Society:

I tried to send an email through my server but got undelivered messages. I regret to inform you that I am pursuing a lawsuit in which I am accusing some of you (whom shall go unmentioned in this email) of violating Title VII of anti-federal [SIC] discrimination laws.
The feeling that I am getting from the outside world is that Dartmouth is considered a bigoted place, so this may not be news and I may be successful in this lawsuit.
I am also writing a book detailing my experiences as your instructor, which will “name names” so to speak. I have all of your evaluations and these will be reproduced in the book.

Have a nice day.


Priya Venkatesan’s academic goal:

After finishing up my studies in literature, I entered a molecular biology lab at DMS with the intention of seeking parallels between scientific practice and literature. My interests in graduate school were mainly theoretical, as I textually analyzed certain aspects of scientific communication. However, for me, a question remained: Is there room for literary theory within the framework of the laboratory?


Priya Venkatesan left Dartmouth and wound up at Northwestern. She announced that she was withdrawing her law suit the students, and would avenge herself on them via a novel, but she was still planning to sue Dartmouth.

Dartmouth Review interview 4/30.


Dartmouth Independent 5/1 update and bio.

One female student was a nose-blower,” says Priya Venkatesan, who, until just a few weeks ago, was a professor in Dartmouth’s writing department. A 1990 graduate of the College, Venkatesan spent the better part of her twenties earning a Masters in Genetics and a PhD in Literature. But those were different days. Now, Venkatesan finds her thoughts occupied by that student who “incessantly disrupted class with her nose-blowing.” Or the one who interrupted her lecture on bioethics with “a real evil look that made me feel very uncomfortable.” Or the one who loudly declared that Lyotard was “cheesy.”

A casual observer might conclude that Venkatesan is on the edge of a nervous breakdown, frantically trying to confront her demons that sometimes appear to her as students. But Venkatesan has no apparent demons; in fact, she seems like she has had a very normal, undramatic life. Raised halfway between New York City and Albany by traditional Hindu parents, Venkatesan suggests that her heavy inculcation in Indian culture may have played a part in her ardent desire to excel academically (but then again it may not have – such is the nature of the self-described “postmodernist in the laboratory”). …


Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

17 Feb 2007

University of Illinois Drops Indian Mascot

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The University of Illinois is declining to fight NCAA sanctions, and is surrendering its 81 year old mascot Chief Illiniwek.

Of course, the poltroons running the University of Illinois are a long way from the first academic administrators to bow to the forces of political correctness. Indian mascots have been dropped by a great many colleges, universities, and high schools all over the United States. The most famous examples are probably those of Dartmouth and Stanford who gave up mascots completely when they dropped their beloved Indians.

Why do the PC busybodies always get to win these things?

There seems to be a basic rule of life that to become a college president or high school principal, you have to be a small-minded conformist, coward, and lickspittle, who can be relied upon to cringe and kowtow in the face of any fashionable cause.

They abolished the Newtown (Fairfield County, Connecticut) Indian back in the 1990s. The Indian mascot had been selected by the Newtown High School’s predecessor, the Newtown Community School, in 1919, as part of a whole body of symbolism adopted in enthusiastic identification with the supposedly virtuous characteristics of pre-18th century Indian residents of Newtown’s immediate Connecticut environs.

The Indian was replaced with a wholly imaginary and entirely bogus mascot called “the Night Hawk,” a choice based obviously entirely upon alliteration. I wrote a letter to the local paper (including illustrations) explaining that no actual nocturnal raptors which were not owls, in fact, existed, and that the nighthawk was, in reality, a name conventionally applied to Chordeiles minor, one of the Caprimulgidae, wide-mouthed, insect-devouring relatives of the whippoorwill, traditionally called “goatsuckers,” on the basis of a folk belief in the purpose of their wide and hairy mouths.

Before long, Newtown students were appearing at games, attired in “Newtown Goatsuckers” t-shirts.

The school administration responded by banning the wearing of Goatsucker, as well as Indian, mascot devices.

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