High among the list of phases that I never expected to see in print: “there are also a ton of right-of-center students at Williams” — but that is what Mike Needham claims. Twenty years ago, the percentage of “right-of center students” — defined as preferring, say, Ronald Reagan to Walter Mondale — at Williams had to be in the single digits, if not the very low single digits.

Not that this is necessarily a good thing, or a bad thing for that matter. Recall the claim, misattributed to Churchill that, “If a man is not a liberal when he is 18, he has no heart. If a man is not a conservative when he is 30, he has no brain.” I would expect that the range of political opinion among the Williams student body to be similar to that of the general population of elite college students in America. That range will change over time and has probably become more conservative (or at least more libertarian in domestic policy and assertive in foreign policy) over the past few decades, especially since 9/11.

The problem at Williams, then as now, is the lack of a range (especially in their public pronouncements) among the faculty. This is something that Williams could fix. For example, it would probably take only a small percentage of Morty’s salary, and tenure, to bring Daniel Drezner ’90 to Williams.

Print  •  Email