Since war came to the West on September 11, 2001, only a handful of Ephs have read these words. Are you among them?

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My Home Is in the Valley Amid the Hills

Each morning I watch the sunlight drifting down through the pines, scattering the clouds from the mountain sides, driving the mists from the glens.

Each night I see the purple lights as they creep up the slopes of the Dome and the shadows as they fall on wood and stream.

My home is among young men — young men who dream dreams and see visions; young men who will carry my banner out into the world and make the world better because they have lived with me in my valley amid the hills.

Among my sons who have left me, some have caught the poet’s fire, and their words have touched men’s hearts and have bought cheer to a weary world.

And some, in answer to the call of country, have gone out to battle for the common rights of men against the enemy. Some of them will not return to me, for they have given all they had, and now they rest at the foot of a simple cross or lie deep below the waves. But even as they passed, the music of the chimes was in their ears and before their eyes were visions of the quiet walks beneath the elms

Whether apart in solitude or pressing along the crowded highways, all these who have breathed my spirit and touched my hand have played their parts for the better, for

I am ALMA MATER:
I am WILLIAMS.

This 1926 eulogy, written by Professor of Rhetoric Carroll Lewis Maxey, comes from page 136 of Williams College in the World War, a beautifully arranged remembrance of those Ephs who served in freedom’s cause during the Great War. To Williams students today, World War I is as far away as the War of 1812 was to the generation that Professor Maxey sought to inspire. What will the great-grandchildren of today’s Ephs think of us? What will they remember and what will they forget?

1st Lt Nate Krissoff ’03, USMC died ten years ago today. For the first year after his death, we maintained a link at the upper right to our collection of related posts, as sad and inspiring as anything you will ever read at EphBlog. Yet that link came down. Time leaves behind the bravest of our Williams warriors and Nate’s sacrifice now passes from News to History, joining the roll call of honored heroes back to Colonel Ephraim Williams, who died in battle during the Bloody Morning Scout on September 8, 1755.

More than 250 years have marched by from Ephraim’s death to Nate’s. But the traditions of military brotherhood and sacrifice are the same as they ever were, the same as they will ever be as long as Ephs stand willing to do violence against our enemies so that my daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters might sleep safely in their beds at night. Consider this moving ceremony in Iraq for Nate in the week after his death.

Before there was Taps, there was the final symbolic roll-call, unanswered. “Krissoff,” intoned Sergeant Major Kenneth Pickering.

“Lt. Krissoff.”

“1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff.”

By culture and custom, the Marine Corps is given to ritual and none so important as the farewell to comrades who have fallen in battle. And so the memorial service here for 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff, intelligence officer for the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, was both stylized and achingly intimate.

The author, Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times, captures perfectly the ethos of the Marine Corps. During Officer Candidate School, our Platoon Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant Anderson, sang a haunting song of blood and sacrifice. The chorus went:

Let me tell you how I feel.
Why Marines must fight and die?

I can only remember snatches now, three decades later. It was a short song, repeated slowly, with emotion. For years, I have looked for the words to that plaintive melody, the eternal warrior’s lament of pain and suffering. Gunny Anderson only sang it with our platoon a handful of times, only when he felt that we were worthy of inclusion in the brotherhood of arms.

The last of those times was near the end of our training. At OCS, the fun-filled day begins with PT (physical training) at around 0500. Our entire company (200 men) is standing at attention in the humid Virginia morning. Back in July, there had been plenty of light to start exercising that early, but, by August, the later sunrise left us all waiting in darkness.

Gunny Anderson had the “duty” that morning, so he was the only member of the staff present. The others, well aware of the timing of sunrise, would be along shortly. Gunny Andersen, recognizing that graduation day was near and that he had us all to himself, led the entire company in that song, including the other platoons who had never heard it before.

And he did it in a whisper. We all stood there — having survived almost 10 weeks of brutal training, shouting our lungs out day after day — and whispered the song with him, 200 voices joined with the spirits of the Marines who had gone before us. Nate is with those spirits now. When the next Eph Marine is marching on that same parade deck during OCS, Nate will be watching him as well.

I remember the name of my platoon sergeant from 30 years ago. My father still remembers the name of his platoon sergeant from 55 years before. Let none of us forget the sacrifices of Marines like Nate and Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Krissoff, 25, a champion swimmer and kayaker in college, was killed Dec. 9 by a roadside bomb that also injured other Marines. Hundreds of grim-faced Marines who knew Krissoff came to the Chapel of Hope, the converted Iraqi Army auditorium, for the service.

“We have a bond here, we have a family here,” said Staff Sgt. Allan Clemons, his voice breaking as he delivered a eulogy. “Nathan was part of that family.”

There were embraces, but not in the sobbing style one might see at a civilian funeral. The Marines put arms around another and slapped each others’ backs — the sound was like repeated rifle reports in the cavernous hall. Navy Cmdr. Mark Smith, a Presbyterian chaplain, said later he has seen Marines do this at other memorials. “They need to touch each other,” he said. “I’ve heard them talk about ‘hugging it out.’ But they want to do it in a manly way.”

By all accounts, Krissoff was a charismatic leader who had impressed his superiors and earned the trust of his subordinates.

War always takes the best of my Marines.

Civilians may not recognize the meaning of the first person possessive in that last sentence, may attribute its usage to my megalomania. Indeed, to avoid that confusion, my initial instinct was to write “our Marines.”

Yet that is not the way that real Marines think about our Corps. Despite defending an independent, freedom-loving country, the Marines are fundamentally socialist in outlook. Everything belongs to every individual. This is not just my rifle or my uniform, but my tank and my obstacle course. And what is mine is yours. See the bootcamp scenes from Full Metal Jacket for an introduction to an outlook as far away from Williams College as Falluja is from Williamstown.

At OCS, the worst sin is not to be slow or stupid or weak, although all these sins are real enough. The worst sin is to be selfish, to be an “individual,” to care more about what happens to you then what happens to your squad, your platoon, your battalion or your Corps. What happens to you, as an individual, is irrelevant.

When the instructors at OCS are angry with you (and they get angry with everyone), they will scream: “What are you? A freakin’ individual? Is that what you are? A freakin’ individual?”

To get the full effect of this instruction, you need to imagine it being shouted from 5 inches away by the loudest voice you have ever heard.

When they shouted it at me, I was sorely tempted to respond:

Yes! Indeed! I am an individual! Four hundred of years of Enlightenment philosophy have demonstrated that this is true. My degree in philosophy from Williams College has taught me that I, as an individual, have value, that my needs and wants are not subservient to those of the larger society, that I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For once, I kept my mouth shut.

In quieter moments at OCS, I recalled Rousseau’s parable of the Spartan mother from Emile.

A Spartan mother had five sons in the army and awaited news of the battle. A Helot arrived; trembling she asked his news. “Your five sons have been killed.” “Vile slave, was that what I asked you?” “We have won the victory.” She ran to the temple to give thanks to the gods. That was a citizen.

For Rousseau, there are two ways for a man to be free. First, he can live alone, cut off from humankind but self-sufficient. He needs no one. Second, a man can be a citizen and so, like the Spartan mother, unconcerned with his own, and his family’s, well-being. All that matters is the polis.

A Marine is many things, but not a freakin’ individual.

The article continues:

He grew up in Truckee, Nev., graduated from Williams College, majoring in international relations, and hoped someday to work for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Lt. Col. William Seely, the battalion commander, talked of the silence left by death of Krissoff and other Marines. “When we depart these lands, when we deploy home, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the long silence of our friends,” he said. “Nathan…your silence will be deafening.”

If there was mourning, there was also anger that, as the chaplain said, Krissoff “was taken from us by evil men.”

This is true and false. Marines do not sympathize with the insurgents whom they battle but they do empathize with them. “Clifton Chapel” by Sir Henry Newbolt describes this duality in the oath that every warrior takes.

To set the cause above renown,
To love the game beyond the prize,
To honour, while you strike him down,
The foe that comes with fearless eyes;
To count the life of battle good,
And dear the land that gave you birth,
And dearer yet the brotherhood
That binds the brave of all the earth.

Most of those responsible for Krissoff’s death are now themselves dead, killed in battle by Krissoff’s fellow Marines. Do their families remember them with tears, as we remember Nate? Or are their memories fading along with ours? Recall how the Williams honored Nate ten years ago.

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The Ephmen of Williams Swimming and Diving dedicated their 2007 championship season to Nate when they proudly wore their conference shirts emblazoned with the simple words on the back: “Semper Athlete.” (“Semper,” obviously for the Marines, and “Athlete,” one of his favorite terms for any of his teammates.) Nate would be proud of “his boys”: each of the 24 Williams conference team members had a hand in dominating the NESCAC competition.

Yet how quickly these honors pass. I asked a swim team member a few years ago about Nate and he sadly (and unsurprisingly?) had no idea what I was talking about. Will Coaches Kuster and Dow remind the team of those Ephs who have gone before? If Nate’s coach won’t speak of his spirit and sacrifice at Williams, then who will?

Back to Tony Perry’s article:

Among the readings and quotations was the classic from World War I, “In Flanders Fields.” The poem challenges the living to continue the fight and not break faith with the dead: “Take up our quarrel with the foe/To you from failing hands we throw/The torch: be yours to hold it high….”

I did not know, when I first wrote of Nate’s death, that his fellow Marines would also be using “In Flanders Fields” as a way of memorializing his sacrifice. Who will take up the torch thrown by Nate? Are there any Williams students heading to OCS this coming summer? Are there no warriors left among the Ephs?

Williams College in the World War opens with a call for remembrance.

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The text, by Solomon Bulkley Griffin, class of 1872, begins:

The wave of full-hearted devotion that rose in the World War has receded from its crest, as must have been in times more normal. But never will there be forgetfulness of it. Memory of the glory that wave bore aloft is the priceless possession of all the colleges.

The service of Williams men enshrined in this volume is of abiding import. By it the past was made glorious, as the future will be shadowed while it is illumined. Natural it was to go forward when God quickened the souls of men to serve the need of the world, and so they held themselves fortunate.

Indeed. Yet are Griffin’s assurances that we have nothing to fear from “forgetfulness” correct? I worry, and not just because of the contempt with which faculty members like Mark Taylor treat the US military. Consider the College’s official description of the most prestigious prize at Williams, the only award presented on graduation day.

WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER CITIZENSHIP PRIZE. From a fund established in memory of William Bradford Turner, 1914, who was killed in action in France in September, 1918, a cash prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class who, in the judgment of the faculty and of the graduating class, has best fulfilled her or his obligations to the College, to fellow students, and to self. The committee of award, appointed by the President of the College, is composed jointly of faculty members and members of the graduating class.

Was Williams Bradford Turner ’14 just a soldier who was “killed in action in France?” Does this description do justice to Turner or is it an example of the “forgetfulness” that Griffin thought unlikely? Consider:

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He led a small group of men to the attack, under terrific artillery and machinegun fire, after they had become separated from the rest of the company in the darkness. Single-handed he rushed an enemy machinegun which had suddenly opened fire on his group and killed the crew with his pistol. He then pressed forward to another machinegun post 25 yards away and had killed 1 gunner himself by the time the remainder of his detachment arrived and put the gun out of action. With the utmost bravery he continued to lead his men over 3 lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one as they advanced, regardless of the fact that he had been wounded 3 times, and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand encounters. After his pistol ammunition was exhausted, this gallant officer seized the rifle of a dead soldier, bayoneted several members of a machinegun crew, and shot the other. Upon reaching the fourth-line trench, which was his objective, 1st Lt. Turner captured it with the 9 men remaining in his group and resisted a hostile counterattack until he was finally surrounded and killed.

The most important prize awarded by Williams College is named in honor of a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and virtually no one at Williams knows it. If Williams today does not remember that 1st Lt William Bradford Turner ’14 won the Congressional Medal of Honor, then who will remember 1st Lt Nathanial Krissoff ’03 one hundred years from now?

Both died for us, for ALMA MATER, for Williams and the West.

Krissoff’s brothers bade him farewell in Anbar just nine years ago.

When the roll-call and Taps were finished, the Marines came single-file to the altar to kneel in front of an inverted rifle with a helmet placed on the buttstock. Each was alone in his grief.

As are we all.

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They start with a great headline:

College employee falsely accused student of rape so she wouldn’t get fired, lawsuit claims

This is much better than our first effort since it mentions the (obviously false) rape accusation. After reading the material associated with the case, no reasonable person would believe that John Doe sexually assaulted Susan Smith. However, I don’t think that Smith used the false rape accusation to avoid getting fired. The timing does not work out. This is much more likely to be a women-scorned scenario.

Williams College is withholding a former student’s diploma based on transparently false rape accusations by a college employee – his former lover – who believed her job was jeopardized by him, a new lawsuit claims.

The former student accused the once-religious private school of conducting an “inherently flawed” and “fundamentally unfair” rape investigation, in violation of his Title IX rights, and violating federal education privacy law.

1) Again, the most important (and indisputed!) facts of the case are that Smith/Doe were having sex for a year, then something happened one night, then they continued to have sex for another year. Now, obviously, sexual assault can occur in the middle of a long-standing sexual relationship. But there ought to be a fairly high standard of evidence required if you are going to ruin someone’s life in this scenario.

2) Why the College Fix uses the (accurate) description of “once-religious private school” for Williams is a mystery to me. Is this some sort of weird right wing tic?

To investigate the employee’s claims, the college hired the same person named in a lawsuit against nearby Amherst College that said her work was rushed and one-sided in favor of the accuser.

That would be Allyson Kurker, another person who makes money off of the weaponizing of sexual relationships in college. If you are accused of sexual assault, the last thing you want is Kurker to investigate the claim. From KC Johnson:

In the deposition, Kurker made clear that when accusers change their minds about whether they were sexually assaulted, what they previously said about their attack isn’t relevant to her inquiry. She added that she was interested in contemporaneous writings from the accuser only “to the extent that the incident is being described as nonconsensual.” Kurker continued: “The only e-mails that I would have found material” were those in which A.S. had described the incident as nonconsensual. This standard suggests that Kurker sees her job as not searching for—indeed, arguably concealing—potentially exculpatory evidence.

And Williams still hired her! There are dozens of Massachusetts attorneys who would love to get money from the College to investigate sexual assault claims. Why would Williams hire someone like Kurker who is so obviously biased against the accused? The naive answer is that Williams is incompetent, that it did not know about Kurker and did not bother to check out her previous work. The scary answer is that Williams knew all about Kurker, knew that she was biased against the accused and hired her anyway because, after all the complaints over the Lexie Brackenridge case, the College wanted to collect some scalps.

In May [2016], with less than a month before Doe’s graduation, Smith filed a counter-complaint with the Title IX office alleging that he had “displayed abusive behavior towards her during the past two years.”

Smith’s initial complaint provided few details as to the nature of her claim. During the Title IX investigation, which took place over several weeks and included several interviews with witnesses provided by Smith, she made several new allegations.

That timing is the strangest part of the case. It is May 2016. Smith graduated in 2015. Doe is weeks away from graduation. She tried to get him thrown up on trumped up honor code violations and failed to do so. She has been employed by Williams for almost a year but has been (I hope!) told that, given her behavior in striking (!) a student, the College will not be renewing her contract. The relationship between Doe/Smith has been over (really??) for months. So, why file a complaint now?

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A week and 2 days after its release, the lawsuit filed against Williams for botching a Title IX case (and violating FERPA, Mass. Privacy Act, etc.) has finally found its space on the Record.

First impressions/issues:

1. Why does the reporter keep using the word “allegedly” to describe materially factual events? For example:

After this event, Smith allegedly emailed former Dean of the College Sarah Bolton, stating that she had written essays for Doe in violation of the College’s Honor Code.

This is not an allegation. This is a material fact that is founded on material evidence, i.e. the actual email. So either there is confusion about the definition of the word “allegedly” or this is sloppy reporting.

2. The only contribution this coverage yields are neutered quotes from the college, but alas, we can only go to war with the army we have. Notably, Dean Sandstrom is quoted saying “Williams is committed to the safety of all its students.” This is logically equivalent to when someone says “I’m not a/an____…” and then later follows with an inevitable “but…” One example that comes to mind (first pointed out by Professor Michael Lewis earlier this year in the Record) is President Falk when he said, in an all campus email, “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” and following with his inevitable “but” of disinviting speakers. Draw your own conclusions, but I see a pattern.

3. Why did it take 9 days from the release of the lawsuit for this to be published if all we get is an “alleged” summary of “alleged” events?

Either way, the article is suggestive of a first in many, since it leaves many crucial questions unanswered, so hopefully, we can anticipate that more substantive reporting will follow.

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Much of our best material comes from our commentators. For example, “wasting his tuition ’17” — who really ought to join us as an author — shared these thoughts:

As I ponder this case, there are two things most immediately clear to me: (1) given that this is John Doe’s lawsuit, the reporting of some details may have inevitably been skewed to his benefit, and as we don’t have the full side of Susan Smith, it is hard to ascertain who did what, and (2) what is factually verifiable by the complaint is the manhandling of the case by the College administration. Although Williams graces us with the luxury of choice with this case, I think that Pandora’s box is what should be investigated. There are many dimensions to this.For example, we can consider the different, colorful ways the Dean’s Office engages in college policy:

52. On the basis of information presented by Bolton behind closed doors and without affording John the opportunity to respond, the Committee said that it had no choice but to recommend expulsion as John’s sanction.


It is interesting that around this time, a group of Williams students were fervently campaigning for student representation in the Honor Code Committee (see: 8+4 Resolution). Was that related?

Another:

63. On March 8, 2016, Dean Johnson admitted to John and John’s sister, Lady Doe, that the disciplinary process is “unfair to students” and that the procedures are deliberately written in a way that allows Williams to maneuver itself in its favor. Johnson also stated that Pelaez should not have been aware of the outcome of the hearing or the likelihood of an appeal.

This knowing, explicit admission by a ranking Dean in Hopkins Hall of a flawed investigatory process suggests either tacit acceptance of this “unfair” process by a longtime administrator, or this longtime administrator’s incompetence at failing to do anything about it. If it is the latter, we ought to remember that Dean Dave’s experience prior to his current role is in coaching tennis, so we surely can’t blame him.

From the complaint that keeps on giving, we have:

The code of conduct, honor hearing procedures, violation reporting procedures, appeal procedures, etc. are ever-changing and continually edited with no notice to the students. The students have no way of knowing what the policies and procedures were at a past time unless they had downloaded the information themselves. A relevant example exists at http://sites.williams.edu/honor-system/suspected-violations/. Sometime at the end of March 2016, Plaintiff’s attorney cited the procedure when preparing this Complaint copying the standard for staff-reported infractions (see above). Since transcribing that information, changed sometime in April or May 2016, the procedure now states, “It is up to the Faculty Chair, in cooperation with the Student Chair and the Dean of the College, to determine whether to proceed with a hearing.” Before, it was solely up to the Faculty Chair and Student Chair to determine whether to proceed with a hearing.

Where are the accountability measures for changing policies? Who makes these changes? I’ve been here for three and a half years, and while I’ve yet to hear of any such procedures, there are many examples of the enforcement of these mystery policies by the Dean’s Office. One such example can be gleaned from our trove:

Also on March 8, 2016, Bolton told John and Lady Doe that John was “not allowed to appeal the sanction,” and that he can only appeal the fact finding portion of the hearing. The Honor Committee Appeals Procedures contain no provision barring students from appealing the sanction.

I’ve tried, and have yet to find any such procedures as well. This issue is not limited to the Honor Code Committee. The Committee on Academic Standing is gaining quite a reputation for making backwards decisions and telling students they are unable to appeal them, and then not saying why. Notably, there is also an athletics coach on that faculty standing committee. Same in the Honor Code Committee.

We further see how this just keeps getting better for Dean Sandstrom in an email she sent to John Doe:

The investigative report carefully lays out the relevant college policies that were in effect in 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and currently (see pages 4-8). While there were some shifts in specific language over time, there was always a code of conduct which prohibited sexual misconduct of any kind.

Who approves these “shifts in specific language”? Do the trustees? Does President Falk? I’ve also never seen these policies on printed paper; most are online, which makes it very easy for Dean Sandstrom slip in a word or two, as she or someone over there at Hopkins Hall clearly had. Again, where is the accountability? Who makes these decisions, and what processes and considerations do theses “shifts in specific language” go through?

For yet another example of curious specific language:

The College’s procedures limit appeals to i) significant procedural lapses or ii) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision. As such, the accused’s right of appeal remains highly circumscribed.

I find the word “lapses” in the phrase “significant procedural lapses” pretty interesting, but seeing as the college prefers to operate with a generous degree of flexibility with its definitions, I think one question we can reasonably ask is, lapses by whom? Since there was no new material evidence and it doesn’t seem like he did anything material in between appeals, did the Dean’s Office explicitly admit to incompetence by way of “significant procedural lapses” on their part by allowing him the opportunity? Is this the reason behind the last day (June 30, 2016) ex-Dean Bolton and Susan Smith shared at Williams?

Last one, I promise:

On October 21, 2016, the Hearing Panel convened. The Panel consisted of Ninah Pretto from the Dean’s Office; Steve Klass, Vice President for Campus Life; and Aaron Gordon, Administrative Director of Divisional Affairs and Vice President for Campus Life.

College policy says that the hearing panel is appointed by the Dean of the College and the three are drawn from a pool of staff who have been trained on such matters. I am curious as to what the policy means by “trained”. Steve Klass, who may warrant the benefit of the doubt given his experience here, and Aaron Gordon have careers built on operational roles and financial matters, it would seem, not sexual abuse cases. See here and here. Ninah Pretto, based on her LinkedIn, spent much of her career prior to Williams on immigration documentation and compliance, which, while valuable, do not constitute training in handling such cases. Why were three individuals inexperienced in these matters appointed to the hearing panel?

Curious to know your thoughts on these, and if you think they’re worth looking into as well. This is what I’m bothering my friends in the Record about right now, since a bunch of them are currently “torn” because they know either both or one of the parties.

The top few are great points that the Record ought to cover in detail. Contrary to some ill-informed commentary earlier, the Record comes out tonight. Perhaps you would join us as an author to provide a detailed analysis of their coverage?

But your later points are less relevant because they are the inevitable result of weaponizing Title IX in order to control the sexual relations among Williams students. Once you try to do this, endless language changes, regardless of who approves them, are unavoidable.

My current position: The College should dial back its sexual assault bureaucracy dramatically and stop using expulsion in such a ham-handed fashion. Give John Doe his degree and call it a day. To continue down this path is to ensure numerous embarrassing law suits — and destroyed lives — for years to come.

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Will the Record mention some of the sensitive PC issues associated with Safety Dance? For example:

only

True? Probably. Certainly, 90%+ of the cases must be against men. But the Record ought to find out the truth. Williams can’t reveal the students involved in individual cases, but it can discuss the overall statistics. It probably won’t but the Record should push the College to explain why not. If students in category X are much more likely to commit sexual assault, shouldn’t Williams admit fewer of them and/or devote more energy to educating them?

Even if Williams can’t admit fewer men, should it change the mixture of men which it admits?

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I have talked to enough recent students to know that minority men on financial aid are much more likely to be charged with sexual assault at Williams and punished for it. John Doe fits this pattern. (The same is also true of varsity athletes, especially those playing helmet-sports.)

Recall that in the recent Amherst case (investigated by the same attorney (Kurker) who Williams employed on this case), the accused student’s lawyer claimed that:

After the College [Amherst] adopted its new policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct in May 2013, it aggressively began to prosecute alleged perpetrators. On information and belief, in doing so, the College targeted male students of color. In particular, on information and belief, the only students who have been sanctioned with separation from the College (forced leave, suspension, or expulsion) as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct have been male students of color.

My friends on the Alt-Right would claim that, first, minority men are much more likely to commit sexual assault than white men in the general population, so it stands to reason that the same dynamics would apply to elite colleges. Second, they would be perplexed at how often “minority” in this context means “Asian-American,” as in the headline cases at Amherst and Vassar. Asian-Americans are, of course, much less likely to commit sexual assaults than whites. Is sexual assault by Asian-American men on college campuses more likely than we might naively expect or is it that the college justice system is biased against them? Save this debate for another day.

The last PC issues worth pondering concern class and culture. Consider some of the speech/actions that John Doe is accused of:

Susan brought John as her date to her 100 Days Dance. They had an argument, and she told him that she wanted to leave the party because they weren’t enjoying it. John and Susan walked towards the door, but as she walked out of it, he stayed at the door and said something like, “Oh, you can’t come back in now.”

(Susan stated that once a person left the dance, the College did not allow reentry.) At the time that John tricked Susan into leaving the dance without him, he knew that she did not have her phone or ID with her because he was holding them. Without these things, she was forced to sit outside of her dorm (Dodd House) in 19-degree weather, in only a dress and heels, as she waited about an hour for someone to come by to let her in to the building.

This is one of many (not uncontested!) examples of John Doe acting like a cad. But, as the Exploring Diversity Initiative at Williams is designed to teach, cultures differ. In Ecuador, men are expected to treat women in a certain fashion. That particular example of diversity may not be what Williams is interested in having more of. Should the College, therefore, prefer applicants from some cultures over those from others?

Side note: John Doe, on his Linked-In reports that he is Williams College 2011-2015. The first problem, obviously, is that he is implying that he has a Williams degree when, in fact, he does not. The second problem is that this suggests (since he didn’t complete the required course work until the spring of 2016) that he took time off from Williams. There is at least one anonymous suggestion that the College forced him to take time off because of his behavior towards a female student. Any truth to that? Would that explain why Williams has come down so hard on him when the facts of this case, alone, would not justify such an extreme punishment?

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eph and the log copy_zps2dewjps4

The current pick for Secretary of Defense Marine General James Mattis made the following observation on the history of warfare and our current position in it;

For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

Historical monuments are not “problematic in modern context.” These themes have not changed. War has not changed. It’s offensive. Making young men an women consider these issues will never be achieved by denying their current existence by censoring works of art and historical monuments. We are not above this. Remember that when you look at the log mural.

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The leadership of the Record — Matthew Borin, Zoe Harvan and Christian Ruhl — faces some difficult questions in covering “Safety Dance,” the latest sexual assault controversy at Williams. Reader comments are wanted on all the below.

1) Do they mention the real name of the accused, currently called John Doe in the legal filings? We all know his name, both because of anonymous unmaskings at EphBlog and because his attorney was sloppy in her initial legal filings, as pointed out by MRL ’91. I am unaware of any journalistic standard which protects privacy in a case like this. But the Record, out of sympathy for a fellow Eph, may not want to out him for all of Google to see.

2) Do they mention the real name of “Susan Smith,” the student who accused Doe? There is a journalistic standard — as a Williams official has repeatedly told me! — that reputable publications do not publish the names of reported victims of sexual assault. But, in those cases, the reported victim has no other status in the story beyond that of victim. In this case, Smith is an admitted perpetrator. No one contests that she slapped Doe.

Imagine if the Record had gotten a copy of this March 13, 2016 cease-and-desist letter (pdf) from Doe’s attorney to Smith. It accuses a college employee (Smith) of assaulting a student (Doe). Would that be newsworthy? Of course! Would the Record be justified in publishing both Doe and Smith’s real names? Of course! So, Smith’s name would (should) have appeared in the Record back in March. Her actions alone justify a lack of anonymity. But then, two months later, she accuses Doe of a sexual assault that occurred a year prior. Does that after-the-fact accusation mean that the Record is not allowed to publish her name with regard to a different, albeit connected, news event? I don’t know.

3) Should the Record use material that was (incompetently?) redacted from the filings? Consider page 42 from exhibit 13 pdf. In the PDF, it looks like:

redact

Many of the filings feature this sort of heavy redacting (for reasons that are unclear to me). But, if you just copy-and-paste that into a text processor, you get:

Susan’s Third Interview

The alleged incident of non-consensual sex occurred on Labor Day in 2014, on the night that Matias Crespo hosted his first party of the semester. Susan responded to John’s contentions as follows:

o Susan estimates that she and John only attended two parties in Matias’s room that semester.

o Susan maintained that, with the exception of the September incident, she and John never had sex after consuming any alcohol. She disputed John’s contention that on some occasions, they would have sex after drinking between one and three drinks each. She stated that when they went out they would drink to the point of such intoxication that they would throw up together in their room, but they never had sex after drinking.

o With respect to Susan’s level of intoxication that night, she believes that John observed her shot-gunning a beer because he was also shot-gunning beers. She also recalls that she was drinking shots of Fireball.

o Susan’s last recollection before engaging in sexual intercourse was of her leaving Matias’s room. During sex, she recalls that she was “physically trying” to get away from John by attempting to “shift out from under him,” but he was restraining her, using his body weight and strength to “hold [her] down.” NB: Susan described herself to Ms. Kurker as “lying on her stomach.”

And so on. Everything in the filings that has been redacted is actually available. Should the Record use that information in its reporting?

4) Should the Record give EphBlog credit and/or reference our reporting in any way? If it only uses documents that it, on its own, got from PACER, then it probably does not have to, unless the reporter first found out about the case by reading EphBlog. Or maybe it should credit KC Johnson? Either way, if the Record uses filings that we have provided, then it ought to credit EphBlog. Specifically, I bet that if the Record uses the non-redacted (or sloppily redacted) filings — which it almost certainly got from us — it ought to mention EphBlog. It should not pretend that it is using documents from PACER unless it has gotten them from PACER itself.

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We need a name for the latest Williams controversy. Let’s go with “Safety Dance.” Why? Recall this detail from the complaint:

On the night of December 5, 2015, John attended a party on the Williams campus. While dancing with another woman, employee Smith confronted him for dancing with someone other than herself as she wanted to dance with him. When John walked away, Smith followed John. The time was sometime between 11:30 pm of December 5, 2015 to midnight of December 6, 2015. Smith followed John all the way to his dormitory. John pointed out Smith’s wrongdoing, that she had violated the terms of her employment by attending a student party, as Smith held the position of Alumni Coordinator at Williams. Smith slapped John. She also grabbed and took away his phone. John retreated to his room. Smith escalated the situation even further afterwards by telephoning John’s sister, Lady Doe.

And the lyrics from the song “Safety Dance”:

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.

I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

Alas, John Doe has discovered that, leaving the real world far behind, is not so easy when it comes to the sexual assault bureaucracy at Williams . . .

PS. Not too late for readers to suggest a better scandal name . . .

UPDATE: Following conversations with both sides, and feedback from the EphBlog community, we have decided not to publish either John Doe’s and Susan Smith’s real names. We ask that commentators abide by this decision, although everyone is free to continue to argue about whether or not this decision is the correct one. Some post-hoc editing of prior posts will now begin. Apologies for any confusion that this causes in making sense of the comment threads.

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Greetings from Williamstown!

Saul Kassin with his memory book

I write to invite you to take part in a Williams initiative that we hope will be of interest to you. This is the second year we’ve invited alumni to share a memory of a retiring faculty member who impacted their Williams experience. Introduced as an important component of a broad engagement initiative calledPurple with Purpose, response to this program has been powerful in all the ways you might expect. Last year, the six retiring members of the Williams faculty each received a hardbound book of well-wishes and memories from alumni (more than 250 submissions to be exact).

This year, twelve Williams faculty members will retire, including William Wootters who has taught Physics at Williams since 1982.  As a former student of Professor Wootters or the Physics department, we invite you to share a specific memory or story of Professor Wootters’s impact on you. You can contribute your memory by submitting this form. Samples from last year are provided below.

Thanks in advance for considering a contribution; it will mean the world to Professor Wootters and your college.

Best wishes,


Brooks Foehl ‘88
Director of Alumni Relations


Here are a few selections from last year’s submissions:

“I still hold Professor Kassin as one of the best, most challenging mentors I’ve had in my life. He pushed me to deliver my very best work, in ways that I hadn’t experienced before (or since). I had so much respect for him… and I am so thankful for the time I got to work with him.” Katharine (Kami Neumann) Reagan ’96

“Professor Morgan was the first mathematics professor that really made me feel mathematics was a major I was capable of pursuing. Professor Morgan made teaching CONFIDENCE, not just mathematical CONTENT, a hallmark of his courses. In effect, he taught me more than my major; he helped mold my life. I’ll forever be grateful that he believed I could be successful and helped me believe in myself.” Kristin Grippi ’00

“I remember fondly [Professor Beaver’s] broad and deep intellect, passion for knowledge, and commitment to teaching. One could discern, behind the glimmer in his eye and barely concealed smirk on his face, that the history of ideas were for him a wellspring that continued to bring contentment and inspiration.” Gilles Heno-Coe ’10


We value your feedback!
Submit your comments here to let us know what you think about this and other Purple with Purpose initiatives.

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Dear Ephs,

I hope this email finds you well, in the last weeks before winter break. For many of us, this semester has been an especially long one—I write to both offer encouragement and a last word of solidarity.

As many of you know, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies are currently engaged in a struggle for water rights at Standing Rock, North Dakota. While many of us prepare for impending celebrations of heart and hearth, hundreds of water protectors persist in sub-zero temperatures and waning physical wellbeing, to ask the federal government and the corporate sponsors of the Dakota Access Pipeline to leave Sioux lands alone. This is a fight about water rights and sacred lands near Standing Rock, North Dakota, but more so, this is continuation of a centuries-old indigenous struggle for human rights. The Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted through Standing Rock because Bismarck’s residents, who are 90% white, feared it would poison their drinking water. Indigenous people are being forced at gunpoint to accept ecological risks that North Dakota’s white residents refused. Furthermore, the pipeline cuts through Standing Rock sacred lands and passes over indigenous graves.

Last week, 167 water protectors were injured, including Sophia Wilansky ‘16, a Williams graduate, who is facing potential amputation. The United Nations is currently investigating North Dakota law enforcement for human rights abuses.

Williams students, past and present, have already travelled to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with water protectors. Here on campus, Divest, the Davis Center, and the Zilkha Center (to name just a few) have organized donation drives and made phone calls to elected officials. They—and we—are working to educate each other about the violence occurring in North Dakota right now, as well as the centuries-long history of colonial violence against indigenous people in this country. We cannot forget that our very own Williams College was built on land stolen from the Mohican people.

Now I am asking you to take a stand. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling for influential organizations and individuals to stand with the water protectors, and we want to hear your voices. Please fill out this single question survey to let us know what you think: should Williams stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Your voices matter. These responses will help us better understand the desires of the student body, and serve you accordingly. As the Williams College mission statement reminds us, “an education at Williams should not be regarded as a privilege destined to create further privilege, but as a privilege that creates opportunities to serve society at large, and imposes the responsibility to do so.” The engagement and collective care demonstrated by the Williams student body, faculty, and staff in response to recent events have been vital to our continued thriving together. I hope I speak for many when I say that I am both humbled and grateful to share in this community with you.

Yours truly,

Suiyi Tang

VP of Community and Diversity, 2015-16

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Lovely essay by Professor Michael Lewis about Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York City’s Central Park.

Olmsted’s work is so lovely and unassailable that one is surprised to realize how unoriginal it was. His entire repertoire of motifs—pleasing juxtapositions of trees and meadows, serpentine paths that hug the contours of the land, rustic bridges and pavilions, sudden passages of rugged terrain and ravines—was thoroughly conventional. So too were his aesthetic values, which might be summarized as variety, contrast, and surprise. These were the principles of the picturesque, which erupted onto the scene suddenly in eighteenth-century England and with worldwide consequences. They were already old long before Olmsted’s birth. Whatever his achievement was, and it was spectacular, it did not consist in the invention of a new approach to landscape. What then, exactly, did Olmsted do?

If the basic American understanding of land was the unsentimental utilitarianism of a colonial mercantile society, there was also a latent residue of idealism. This was the legacy of the religious refugees of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries whose town planning was saturated with biblical ideas of a perfect ordered society. Olmsted himself was a product of New England Puritanism in its final manifestation, having been born just as its Calvinist core was dissolving into Transcendentalism and releasing its moral energies into American political and social life. Had Olmsted never existed, someone else surely would have applied the moral force of this ethic to landscape design, making parks the vehicle of social reform. But it is inconceivable that anyone else would have had the same deep cistern of human sympathy to drawn on. It was a cistern patiently filled during walks in England, ramblings through the South, urgent work for the Sanitary Commission, and all the other restless divagations that make up the career of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Read the whole thing.

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Registered Democrat and son-of-a-union-steel-worker Professor Robert Jackall voted for Donald Trump. He writes:

The issues to me are quite clear:

1.our over-regulated economy

2. our destructive trade deals

3. our ‘deal’ with Iran’

4. Obama’s dereliction of duty in opening our borders to all comers. The principal loser of his actions is precisely black Americans, though they don’t recognize the destructive consequences of his immigration policies because of their racial loyalty to him.

5. The necessity for tax cuts instead of increases.

6. the necessity for a massive de-regulation to eliminate the growth-crushing burden created by Obama’s regulations

7. the necessity to rein in presidential executive orders, which pervert the constitution.

8. the necessity to come to grips with the national debt, increased by 100 percent under Obama. This issue alone will destroy us if we leave it unaddressed.

First, political diversity among the faculty is important, so it is nice that there is at least one Trump voter among the 300+ professors at Williams. Are there any others?

Second, the Williams Forum is a new student organization, similar to the old Williams College Debate Union. It ought to host a collection of debates about Trump with a variety of liberal faculty members arguing against Jackall.

Third, which of the above arguments do our readers find most/least compelling?

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A faithful reader strongly (albeit privately) suggested to me that EphBlog ought to remove the name of the Williams employee provided in this post because she is “the reported victim of a sexual assault.” Most (all?) major publication do not publish the names of reported victims. Strangely (?) enough, John Doe’s ’16 attorney, Stacey Elin Rossi, made the same request.

What do readers think? As always, the measure of a good Williams education is how well you can argue both sides.

For removal, the case is simple: This women, while a Williams student, was sexually assaulted. No reputable publication makes the names of sexual assault victims public without their explicit permission. Although EphBlog does not have to comply with this standard, it ought to.

For non-removal, the case is also simple: This women, while a Williams student, was not sexually assaulted. The people, including my faithful reader, who want to us to remove her name are either honestly confused or purposely misleading. Consider this section from the Complaint:

panel

You need to read the report for all the messy details, but the central claim is that these students were having sex for a year. One day something may have happened. Then they continued to have sex for another year. Then they fought, broke up, she hit him and tried to get him thrown out of Williams on a trumped up honor code violation. Then she mentioned the sexual assault, more than a year after it allegedly happened. Nothing suspicious there!

Most importantly, I want to reserve the term “reported victim of a sexual assault” for cases of actual, you know, sexual assault. Or at least for cases where a sexual assault might have occurred. If everyone is a victim of sexual assault than no one is. Consider:

panel2

Here (pdf) is the highly redacted copy of the investigators report. And here (pdf) are John Doe’s ’16 comments. Just because Williams College wants to railroad this (minority!) student does not mean that EphBlog needs to go along with it.

What do readers think?

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Hello Williams,

College Council is happy to announce the Free University 2017 Winter Study Program!
Free University was founded in the 1980s to promote the diversity of interests and ideas at Williams by organizing classes taught by students, for students. For the only time in your Williams career, grades don’t matter; there are no papers to write or tests to take. Free University gives you the chance to do something truly unique with your peers.
Past courses have included “A Smashing Time: Advanced Super Smash Bros. Theory, Strategy, and Technique”, “Bake It Till You Make It”, and “Twerk”.

This year we are also encouraging any clubs, teams, and student organizations to sign up. You can do either a full Free University program or a 2-hour evening workshop. This is a great way to get exposure for your organization for potentially interested students and a way to share what you’re passionate about with the general college body.

If you have any idea at all, teach a course! Free University is a great, no pressure space to share your talents and interests with the student body. If you are interested in teaching a course, please contact me (ajb7) with your idea by Monday (December 5th) at 11:59pm. Please include a course title and a short description. Funding and logistical support will be provided by College Council, if needed. Soon after, I will email the campus with a course listing and sign up information.
Please join in on a great Williams tradition!

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs

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That is a misleading headline. But it isn’t untrue! From former Williams faculty member KC Johnson:

Adoption of the Dear Colleague letter in 2011—coupled with campus pressure from activists and their faculty and administrative allies—has paved the way for all sorts of procedural abuses in campus sexual assault cases. This new system is one that’s ripe for abuse and favoritism, in all sorts of ways. The latest example comes in a lawsuit filed against my former employer, Williams College. (You can read the complaint here.)

The case revolves around the actions of a former Williams employee, who worked in the Alumni Relations office for the 2015-2016 academic year. She came to the job after graduating from Williams. For more than a year before she graduated, the employee dated another Williams student—identified as John Doe in the complaint—who was one year behind her academically. The two were close enough that the employee knew Doe’s computer password and (allegedly) his Facebook and Snapchat passwords.

It seems to have been an uneven relationship; in October 2014, the employee (then still a student) wrote to Williams dean Sarah Bolton indicating that she and Doe had a (verbal) argument. (Bolton departed Williams last summer and is now president at the College of Wooster.) Because “he ended up calling me selfish and telling me he can’t even look at me,” the future employee reported, she’d need to take a week off from school to recover emotionally. The e-mail contained no hint of any allegation of physical misconduct by Doe. Bolton responded very sympathetically, despite the extreme nature of the request (a week off from classes) given the conduct alleged (a personal insult).

Read the whole thing. It is off the hook, as the kids say. At one point, the Williams employee slapped the Williams student. Even though the student has completed all the requirements for graduation, the College has since expelled him, without a degree. Comments:

dcp11) We need a scandal nickname. Suggestions? The Williams employee accused of assault is REDACTED ’15. Perhaps “REDACTED?” Maybe “Safety Dance?” (The big fight between Doe and REDACTED started when Doe danced with someone that REDACTED did not want him to dance with. “We can dance if we want to, we can leave our friends behind. …”)

2) I could spend all of January going through the details. Many friends of EphBlog (Dean Dave, Brooks Foehl ’88, Steve Klass) make cameo appearances. Would readers be interested?

3) The facts in the complaint are absolutely damning to Williams. (I realize that this is just one side of the case, but read it for yourself.) Why doesn’t Williams just settle and allow Doe to have his degree? Taking this to trial seems like madness to me.

4) I used to congratulate Williams on being fairly competent when it came to sexual assault investigations. There were certainly no absurd cases as at Vassar and Amherst. That is no longer true. Is new Dean of the College Sandstrom to blame?

5) If the Record does not have multiple front page articles on this story tomorrow, it is incompetent.

UPDATE: Student names redacted. Going forward, we will refer to the female student/employee as Susan Smith and the male student as John Doe, following the latest version of the legal filings.

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To the Williams Community,

I am pleased to report that Susan Engel, senior lecturer in psychology and the Class of 1959 Director of the Program in Teaching, has agreed to serve as the college’s next Gaudino Scholar. Her two and a half year appointment to this post will begin January 1, 2018. Susan will be the 16th faculty member to hold this title. The position has been active since 1982 and is named for former political science professor Robert Gaudino. The Gaudino Scholar creates and promotes opportunities for experiential education and uncomfortable learning.

Susan will bring to this role her considerable expertise as a scholar of developmental psychology and education. Her areas of specialty include teaching and learning, the development of narrative and autobiographical memory, and the development of curiosity. Her most recent book, co-authored with her son, is titled A School of Our Own: The Story of the First Student-Run High School and a New Vision for American Education.

For her Gaudino project Susan intends to explore the processes that lead to deep intellectual change, particularly among college students. She is especially interested in exploring how engaged conversations in the classroom and beyond promote the consideration of unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable points of view and, ultimately, influence how students form opinions and change their minds.

Susan will succeed Lois Banta, professor of biology, who has served in this role since July 2014. My thanks go to Susan and Lois for their willingness to serve the college in this capacity.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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To the Williams Community,

I’m delighted to announce that after a national search the college has appointed Jim Reische as Williams’ next chief communications officer. He’ll arrive in Williamstown and begin in his new role in early January.

Jim brings a wealth of experience and expertise in strategic communications, including five years as vice president for communications at Grinnell College, where he worked closely with President Raynard Kington and served as Grinnell’s first VP for communications, developing a staff of creative professionals and enhancing internal communications while helping to increase alumni and volunteer engagement and position the college nationally on issues of importance in higher education, including affordability and access.

He comes to Williams from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., where as chief communications officer he has, among other things, overseen the development of new admission marketing and communications strategies and the successful launch of a new website for the college.

Jim’s career in higher education began at the University of Michigan, where he served as a senior acquisitions editor and then executive editor of the University of Michigan Press. He then moved to the university’s development office, working as an editor and senior writer and then as assistant campaign director, helping to guide the strategic planning of the university’s $4 billion Victors for Michigan campaign.

Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Michigan, and master’s degrees in history and in Russian and East European area studies from Michigan and Harvard, respectively.

My sincere thanks go to the members of the search committee—Denise Buell, Liz Creighton, Lew Fisher, Brent Heeringa, Fred Puddester, and Danielle Gonzalez—for their dedicated work that has led us to this wonderful result, as well as to all those who participated in the interview process and who provided me with valuable input and perspective, including the terrific members of the communications office. And I’m especially grateful to Jim for his willingness and ability to get here so quickly, to ensure a smooth transition as outgoing chief communications officer Angela Schaeffer heads to her new role at Trinity College at the start of the new year.

I look forward to welcoming Jim and his wife Aimee to Williams and the community.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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From The New York Times:

Cause of Severe Injury at Pipeline Protest Becomes New Point of Dispute

Sophia Wilansky, 21, who grew up in the Bronx, rested in a Minneapolis hospital bed, her father by her side, recovering from surgery to try to save her left hand and arm after an explosion at a pipeline protest in North Dakota this week.

“From an inch below the elbow, to an inch above her wrist, the muscle is blown off,” her father, Wayne Wilansky, said from the hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center. “The radius bone, a significant amount of it, is blown away. The arteries inside her arm are blown away. The median nerve is mostly blown away.”

All the while, the protests have gone on, and the polarization between the police and protesters extended to their sharply differing explanations of how Ms. Wilansky was injured early Monday. Law enforcement accounts suggest that fellow protesters caused the explosion; the demonstrators insist the police are to blame.

Mr. Wilansky, who spoke by telephone and checked details with his daughter as he did, said the explosion had taken place around 4 a.m. Monday, when most of the protesters were gathered around a bonfire near the foot of the bridge.

His daughter and a handful of others were farther up on the bridge, he said, “playing around,” using pieces of plastic and wood as sleds to skid across icy sections of the highway, when an officer began firing foam or plastic bullets at her and another person.

“She was backing away as they were shooting her,” Mr. Wilansky said, adding that someone from the police lines then threw a device, which he called a grenade, that hit her in the forearm and exploded.

Lt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol offered a different version of the episode, which he said was being investigated by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Around the time of the explosion, Lieutenant Iverson said, officers fired sponge and beanbag rounds at three people who had shielded themselves behind a length of plywood near a burned vehicle on the bridge. The three were thought to be acting suspiciously and refused orders to emerge, he said.

Officers saw someone roll metal cylinders to the protesters by the burned vehicle, Lieutenant Iverson said, and then heard an explosion. Afterward, he said, several protesters ran up, pulled a woman from under the vehicle and ran off. Three propane canisters were recovered from the vicinity of the explosion early Tuesday, he said.

Lieutenant Iverson said that officers did not use concussion or flash grenades at any time. Instead, officers used tear gas, pepper spray canisters and what are known as stinger balls, round grenadelike objects that spread tiny rubber pellets to try to disperse protesters, he said.

Mr. Wilansky said that doctors in Minnesota had removed fragments from his daughter’s arm that he hoped could be used to find out what caused the injury and to hold someone responsible.

Be careful what you wish for. The truth is that Wilansky was almost surely injured by an IED that the protestors (including she?) were constructing themselves. From Bearing Arms:

There were actually several 1-pound propane canisters recovered from the site of the explosion by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). You’ll note that the more severely damaged of the two canisters, shown in two different angles in the second and third photos above, seem to have coagulated blood and tissue upon them.

If testing does confirm that the material on the propane cylinder is blood and tissue, then there is clearly enough to get a DNA match to the person who left that genetic material behind.

While the ATF was cataloging the apparent components of a faulty improvised explosive device (IED, a kind of bomb) that domestic terrorists/protestors attempted to deploy against police lines, agents with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) went to the hospital to acquire Sophia Wilansky’s clothes, and they confiscated it into evidence.

A reasonable person would be forced to ask themselves a simple question: “Why would the FBI and ATF focus like a laser on the propane canisters and Sophia Wilansky, if there is plausible evidence that Wilansky was so grievously injured by a concussion grenade?”

The answer is glaringly obvious: both the ATF and FBI know precisely what less-lethal crowd-control munitions MCSO and NDHP have to deploy, and these federal agencies tasked with the investigation know that nothing that law enforcement agencies have could cause plausibly cause Sophia Wilansky’s injuries.

Exactly right.

Back to The Times:

Friends said they were not surprised that Ms. Wilansky would gravitate to the North Dakota protest.

She had also protested the construction by Spectra Energy of a natural gas pipeline in New York. In June, she locked herself to an excavator at a natural gas pipeline dig in Vermont. About three weeks later, she was arrested in Massachusetts after lying down in a trench dug for the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline.

“Every time I talked with her she was doing something new, going to a rally,” said Rebecca Berlin, 23, from Yorktown Heights, N.Y. “She was really plugged in, really passionate.”

The FBI is not impressed with rap sheets that look like this, no matter how “passionate” their creators.

We all pray for Sophia Wilansky and hope that the authorities can see that she has been punished enough.

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12309797_962168667176144_7024881113740672411_o

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How were the students caught? Details, please! I assume that they were smart enough not to use their own swipe cards to enter Griffin. (The news reports suggest that the building was “open,” which I assume means that no cards were required.) Old timers will recall that the Tuft’s vandals — who wrote JUMBOS in big letters on the columns of Chapin 30 years ago — were caught by tracing their purchase of the paint. Where did these vandals get the substance (paint?) that they used? I would guess that this wasn’t how they were caught since it happened so quickly . . .

I am especially curious to know if the vandals had any connection to the anti-Trump protest that occurred that Saturday:

Baladine Pierce, a freshman at Williams College, holds a sign during a protest of the election of Donald Trump in Williamstown on Saturday. The safety pin has become a symbol that communicates protection to anyone who is a victim of bigotry.

More than 400 people appeared at Field Park on Saturday morning to demonstrate their support for minorities in the wake of the election of Republican Donald Trump to the presidency.

The event was organized by North Berkshires for Racial Justice, a group formed a few months ago in Williamstown that hosts regular monthly meetings.

“We’re here because we are concerned about the safety of our black, brown, Latino, gay, lesbian and immigrant brothers and sisters,” said Margeret “Peggy” Kern, one of the organizers of Saturday’s event. “We’re concerned this recent election has validated white supremacy, racism, sexism and transgenderphobia.”

Saturday’s event attracted a multi-generational crowd. And the crowd showed up almost all at once. At 10:53, Kern arrived with several posters. At 11:01, there were almost 180 people in the park. By 11:15, the number had swell to at least 300. By 11:20, that number was up to about 400.

There were dozens of hand-made signs. Some reading “Love Trumps Hate,” “Black Lives Matter,” “You Cannot Unify With Hate” and many other slogans.

The demonstration was suffused with good will. Although some of the demonstrators chanted slogans, many just held up signs. Passing cars honked in support.

Neal Sardona of Williamstown, another organizer said “for me, the election results were shocking. A lot of people are really scared.

“There is a feeling among the minority community that we’re not wanted,” he said.

“We wanted to show that we won’t accept racism, homophobia, xenophobia,” said Jane Burger of Williamstown.

“I think the election has made many people feel that white supremacy will protect them in a way that policy would not have,” said Meg Bossong, director of Sexual Assault and Response at Williams College. “”I’m here for people who are afraid for their safety. I don’t think we can be silent. we have to speak up.”

At least two anti-Trump students did a lot more than “speak up.”

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Happy Thanksgiving to Ephs far and wide. On this day, we give thanks to our student readers:

thanks

EphBlog would be a sadder place without you!

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​To the Williams community,

By now, many of us have learned the dreadful news that Sophia Wilansky, class of 2016, was severely injured ​while demonstrating as a water protector ​on Sunday night ​in connection to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota. Sophia is now undergoing a battery of surgeries on her left arm.

We invite you to join us tonight at 7:30pm as we gather in reflection and prayer for Sophia, her family, friends, and all those affected. As we focus our thoughts and prayers on her recovery and healing, our space this evening aims to link up with the wider circle of vigils being convened elsewhere nationally for Sophia during this period of intensive surgeries.

​We will assemble at the Matt Cole Reading Room, located on the first floor of the Class of 1966 ​Environmental Center (home to the Zilkha Center and CES).

​In peace and prayer, ​


Sharif A. Rosen
Muslim Chaplain /
Asst. Dir. for Community Engagement, Center for Learning in Action (CLiA)

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11-12-16-Griffin-Hall-stairs-going-up-to-rooms-6-and-7-pic-8 Kudos to Record reporter Ryan Kelley for a solid article about the Griffin Hall hate hoax. (By the way, any ideas for catchy names for the scandal? I miss that EphBlog tradition!) Kudos, also, to the Record for publishing (and the Office of Communications for providing) crime scene photos like the one to the left. What questions should Kelley and other reporters answer for the next issue?

1) Why haven’t the criminals been arrested? The College claimed that it was a crime, hence the need for local police, Mass State Police and the FBI. Now that they knew who did it, have they informed Williamstown police about their identities. If not, why not? I suspect that the College has either declined to inform the police or (better?), it has informed them but also reported that no charges would be pressed, so no arrests were necessary. Either way, there is a cover up in progress. The Record ought to get to the bottom.

11-12-16-Griffin-Hall-main-entrance-landing-near-room-4-pic-112) Mary Detloff claimed in the Globe that identifying the students would violate Federal law. This is utter gibberish. The College is no more prevented from reporting the identity of these students than it is from telling us who scored a goal in the last soccer game. (Comments from lawyers welcome!) Federal law prevents the disclosure of certain student records. The College can’t hand out your transcript, nor can it (probably?) report that you were suspended for cheating (or sexual assault?). But a student’s confession? Or the fact that the College determined, on its own, who the guilty students are? The College can report that all day long. The Record should push Detloff hard on this untruthful claim, perhaps by insisting on an interview with the college’s in-house lawyer: Jeff Jones.

3) Follow the money. What is the total cost of fixing the physical damage? What is the cost of overtime for security officers involved in the investigation? Will the guilty students be expected to pay those costs? If not, why not? If a student breaks a living room window in Carter, he is expected to pay for it. (And, if the College can’t identify him, all the students in Carter pay.) Shouldn’t the same apply in this case?

The Record has done a solid job covering these events. But there is much more to investigate. Will they?

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11-12-16-Griffin-Hall-pic-15-1

Background reading on the Griffin Hall Hate Hoax in the Record, the Eagle (here and here), and the Boston Globe. Reporter Dylan McGuinness comes off looking like a fool.

First, consider the article’s title: “Two students take responsibility for ‘AMKKK KILL’ message at Williams.” Usually, when someone confesses to a criminal act, we say that he “confessed,” not that he took “responsibility.” Moreover, there was lots more vandalism in Griffin than just one “message.”

Before you argue that McGuinness is not responsible for his article’s title (which might be true), consider his opening sentence:

Two students at Williams College have claimed responsibility for a cryptic message that was painted on a wall in one of the school’s buildings, officials said.

The purpose here is to portray the students as idealistic political protestors who are (bravely!) taking “responsibility” for their “message.” You can be certain that McGuinness’s portrayal would be less generous if he/Williams disagreed with the political views of these vandals.

The students who stepped forward told officials they were going to write “AMERIKKKA” but “for whatever reason” didn’t, Dettloff said. The students said they didn’t do it with racist intent; instead, “they said they wanted to draw attention to what they felt was racism in the election of Donald Trump,” Dettloff said.

[S]tepped forward?” Is McGuinness just relying on a conversation with Dettloff? Did he bother to read Falk’s message? Recall:

We write to inform you that Campus Safety and Security has identified the people responsible for the vandalism in Griffin Hall that occurred over the weekend. Two students were identified and interviewed, and during interviews they admitted that they alone were responsible.

Security identified the students before the interview! They knew who the perps were! (And, yes, we are still working on the story about how they knew. Perhaps an anonymous security person could tell us the backstory in the comments. PTC: Don’t you have some contacts to help us out?)

When the cops arrest someone for a crime and bring them in for interrogation, we don’t say that the criminals “stepped forward” even if they admit the deed. We say that they “confessed.”

The students were not identified because it would violate federal law, Dettloff said.

This is the part where McGuinness should turn in his reporting credentials. There is no federal law which prevents Williams from reporting these students to the local police. They committed a crime! They caused hundreds (thousands?) of dollars worth of damages. They terrified (?) scores of students. No federal law protects them.

Which raises the key question: Why has the College not reported these students to the local police? Why haven’t they been arrested and charged? Consider how former president Morty Schapiro has handled a similar situation at Northwestern: here, here and here. Summary: Two students who vandalized a campus building with Trump-related slurs were arrested and are now enjoying the gentle ministrations of the US justice system.

Possible explanations: First, the vandals are related to insiders (either faculty or powerful alumni) and the College wants to protect them. Second, the vandals are minorities are the College does not want to go through the embarrassment of seeing minority students punished. Third, the Administration agrees with the political views of the vandals and is, therefore, treating them more leniently than it would pro-Trump vandals. Fourth, the College always protects students from local law enforcement, even white Republican students with no connections. What do readers think?

UPDATE: Thanks to the Record and the Office of Communication for the photo. (And to Bill for reminding me below to give credit.)

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Five years ago someone wrote “All Niggers Must Die” on the door of a bathroom on the fourth floor of Prospect House. (Record coverage here, here, and here.) That someone was almost certainly student of color and campus activist Jess Torres ’12. Evidence here: pdf. Let’s spend 5 days reviewing the case. Today is Day 5.

The discussion between David Michael ’13 and Parker McClelland ’13 concludes:

Michael: Is change possible? Even if these hate crimes go unsolved? I asked Parker what he thought about the investigation.

Parker: I don’t think there’s any excuse to be brushing things under the rug when it’s that serious, and I don’t think anyone should be receiving preferential treatment or harsher treatment than someone else who committed an act like this. I think it’s a horrible thing to do.

Michael: How do you feel about the fact that people don’t know who did it?

Parker: Well I think a lot of people have the same belief, hold the same belief, that I do. But, yeah it makes me angry to think that someone, who I’ve seen commit a lot of very selfish acts, can get away with something like that because a lot of other people wouldn’t have gotten away with it and I don’t think that’s fair.

Michael: And so the pattern repeats itself, like clockwork. Some graffiti is discovered, then the president emails the text to the entire student body, the relative identity group mobilizes and releases its list of demands in response to the incident. Depending on the amount of political capital they have, some of those demands will be met, in a never ending cycle of Claiming Williams, piece by piece. It’s happened before and it’s going to happen again. David Michael, class of 2013.

“Claiming Williams, piece by piece” is perfect phrasing. It captures the inevitable tension which, rightly or wrongly, surrounds campus activism. Has any single student done more harm to Williams in the last decade than Jess Torres ’12? Not that I can see.

Have you listened to the audio? You really should! David Michael ’13 did an amazing job. I doubt, alas, that Williams will thanking him any time soon.

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To the Williams Community,

Caring for everyone in our community is what defines us at Williams. So it’s no surprise that in recent days a great many faculty, students, staff, and alumni have expressed worry about the possible effects of the incoming presidential administration on our most vulnerable populations, especially our undocumented students. Our community has come together to ask Williams and me, in particular, to do all we can to protect and support our undocumented students.

I assure you we will. The concern is a serious and well-founded one, given that we heard from the president-elect throughout the campaign that among his first actions as president would be to rescind many of the executive orders enacted by President Obama, including the one that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program grants certain undocumented immigrants who arrived as children renewable two-year work permits and exemption from deportation.

At Williams, as at colleges and universities across the country, we are working to do all we can to support DACA students and prepare for what might come. The many petitions to create “sanctuary campuses,” including the one I received this week, reflect this broadly shared commitment to care for our students. The petitions vary in what they seek, but they are inspired by sanctuary cities, where local laws prevent police from asking about people’s immigration status and generally don’t use local resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

How that concept might apply to a private college isn’t clear, and how such a declaration might inadvertently harm our undocumented students is a deep concern of mine. This concern is shared by immigration law experts with whom we’re consulting, as well as by many other college presidents with whom I’ve spoken this week. We worry, for instance, about the possibility that the new administration might seek to deport first those students at campuses that announce publicly that they intend to shield their students in some way from federal authorities.

What we reaffirm now is that we will not release information about students’ immigration status unless compelled to do so by a court order or legal action. That’s our current practice, and we adhere to it strictly. Indeed, all confidential student information is similarly protected, as we abide faithfully by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Some of the sanctuary petitions and related activism have called on institutions to prevent federal authorities from entering campuses to enforce immigration policy. Legal counsel tells our peers and us that private colleges and universities do not have the ability to offer such absolute protection, and it would be a disservice to our students to promise what we can’t actually provide.

There are many things we’ve already been doing to protect and support our undocumented students. Indeed, many of the measures articulated in sanctuary petitions are standard practice at Williams. We welcome undocumented students, and we evaluate their applications in the domestic applicant pool under our need-blind admission policy. And we meet 100 percent of their demonstrated financial need—as we do for all students—providing them with additional grant money if they are not permitted to work in the U.S. (and therefore couldn’t fulfill a work-study requirement). We will continue to do all of this.

A number of staff members in the Dean’s Office and elsewhere provide support and guidance to undocumented and DACA students, including: Rosanna Reyes, who serves as the advisor to undocumented and DACA students; Ninah Pretto, who provides support and guidance on seeking legal advice and immigration assistance and helps students navigate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and other resources; Tina Breakell, who supports and advises undocumented and DACA students interested in study-away opportunities; Michelle Shaw, who serves as the primary Career Center contact for undocumented and DACA students; Gary Caster, their primary contact for emotional and spiritual support through the Chaplain’s Office; and Molly Magavern and the entire Davis Center staff, who offer myriad support and resources to help all students, especially those from historically underrepresented and underserved groups, thrive at Williams.

Our most immediate concern is for our undocumented students. We also are worried about others in our community who may face an uncertain future with regard to immigration law, as well as those with undocumented family members. Staff in the Dean’s Office are caring for our undocumented and international students, and we are working with immigration law experts, peer institutions, and higher education associations not only to understand any potential policy changes and their effects, but also to do everything we can to prevent policy changes that would bring harm to our students and to promote policies that protect everyone in our community.

We are deeply committed to this work, and we ask you to do what you can as citizens to demand from our government that it continue to uphold our country’s fundamental values of equality and freedom.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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sanctuary

Thanks to Martin Kohout’s ’81 excellent Twitter feed, we know about today’s class walkout. Comments:

1) I have been trying to cajole Martin into posting his daily Williamstown photos to EphBlog. They are amazing! No luck so far . . .

2) How many “undocumented” students are there at Williams? I have expressed skepticism on this topic in the past. I would bet that there are less than 5 and, quite possibly, there are zero. But, ultimately, this is an empirical question that the College should be willing to answer . . .

3) How many students (and professors?) will participate in this protest? I assume that lots (scores? hundreds?) would attend a rally/protest at Paresky. I would be surprised if many walked out of their 11:00 AM Division III class to do so. Predictions from our readers?

4) Note that the College allows chalkings, as it has the in the past. Nothing wrong with that! How long have these chalkings been there? But, having set that standard, it had better be viewpoint neutral. If I were one of the 200 (?) students on campus that supported Trump, I would chalk some pro-Trump (but non-offensive!) slogans around campus. What would the College do? What would anti-Trump students do?

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Five years ago someone wrote “All Niggers Must Die” on the door of a bathroom on the fourth floor of Prospect House. (Record coverage here, here, and here.) That someone was almost certainly student of color and campus activist Jess Torres ’12. Evidence here: pdf. Let’s spend 5 days reviewing the case. Today is Day 4.

The following dialog is between David Michael ’13 and Tim Kiely ’11:

Kiely: All I did was write a simple statement which at its core was a criticism of the Office of the Deans for taking unilateral and unjustified action against a single student, in favor of another student. And then I was convicted of a rule that didn’t exist, I was placed on academic probation with no justification. After I appealed that case, later on, I was found to have all charges dropped.

Michael: I asked Kiely that if she did it, what might have motivated the student he spoke out against.

Kiely: If I were to guess, she was the type of personality that wanted to take radical action, to see, to get what she saw as positive change pushed through what she saw as an oppressive environment. At the end of the day though, she began to feel that, or she was encouraged to feel that, by elements within the administration within her mentors and whatnot, that if she made big enough lies and emotional enough lies, that she could pretty much convince anyone of anything she wanted. And one lie just fed into the next lie, and she thought she could get away with something as drastic as that, as committing a hate crime in order to get more attention.

Michael: He was similarly cynical about the quality of the investigation.

Kiely: I mean we sort of knew that didn’t we, when we, when the investigations were called off when the evidence was squashed, when we had inspectors and security officers telling us that they had to “run things up the flagpole” before they pursued legitimate leads. I mean we knew what that meant. So it doesn’t surprise me.

Me either.

Where is the Record on this story? Note their 2012 follow up article:

Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the hate crime in Prospect that shocked the College on Nov. 12, 2011. Last year, a student found the words “All n****ers must die” inscribed on a bathroom wall in Prospect. Two YouTube videos describing last year’s events and students’ reactions were sent to all students last Thursday to kickstart a week’s worth of discussion and reflection leading up to the anniversary of the hate crime on Sunday.

By 2012, suspicions about the “racist” vandalism were widespread on campus and Jess Torres ’12 was the primary suspect, with much discussion on Yik Yak and elsewhere. The Record, however, reported none of that. Perhaps that is excusable given the evidence they had at the time. But now we have three alumni willing to publicly claim that the event was hoax, including one who was an eyewitness. How can the Record avoid the story and still claim to be a real newspaper?

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Five years ago someone wrote “All Niggers Must Die” on the door of a bathroom on the fourth floor of Prospect House. (Record coverage here, here, and here.) That someone was almost certainly student of color and campus activist Jess Torres ’12. Evidence here: pdf. Let’s spend 5 days reviewing the case. Today is Day 3.

The discussion between David Michael ’13 and Parker McClelland ’13 continues:

Michael: While we do not know for certain what happened that night, we still do know a few facts that can paint a picture of what might have happened. This student was seen drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana with her friends earlier that evening. Then, after being placed at the scene of the crime by Parker, she was seen at the nearby Red Herring bar shortly before 1:00am. The investigators interviewed residents extensively. They examined door opening and card access logs and even WiFi access points cell phones connected to. They concluded that there was “a narrow window of time” which leaves either this student or “a lone gunman” who unaffiliated with the college, entered and exited the building completely unseen.

Michael: Ultimately, says Parker.

Parker: Because of everything I saw that night and the fact that I know that she lied to security in her statement about ever coming above the basement of Prospect dorm that night, I believe that she did it, there’s no other reason I can imagine for her being up on that floor at that time, and it struck me as very odd that she didn’t approach me and exchange some sort of greeting that night when we saw each other.

Michael: As for why.

Parker: I think she wanted everyone to see her as part of a victimized group, in which she considers herself a powerful person. It puts everyone else in the position of sympathy for people in marginalized groups, and that benefits her.

Exactly right! This is precisely the motivation for “hate hoaxes” around the country. (The term comes originally, I think, from Steve Sailer):

Orwell’s version of what later came to be known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis emphasizes that human beings are better at noticing patterns for which they have been told names. The term “hate hoax” is a catchy name for a common pattern of events that have taken up a lot of space in the media since, say, Al Sharpton promoted Tawana Brawley’s hoax in 1987, but the term “hate hoax” isn’t really a thing you are supposed to know. So, the media is constantly surprised by each dreary repetition of hate hoaxes.

As is the Williams community.

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