Kudos to College Council for devoting tonight’s meeting to Mary Jane Hitler. The more discussion, the better. Perhaps someone will live-blog it. Better would be a podcast by WCFM. I certainly hope that the secretary (Remington Shepard ’08) takes Landsmanian quality minutes. (Alas, there seem to be no minutes posted since 2005. Or am I looking in the wrong place?)

Most productive, I suspect would be a review of current College policies and suggestions for changes. More below:

First, what is the policy about posting things on students doors? Rahul has argued persuasively that it is not allowed. Is he right? (I hope so.) And, if he is, can we expect security to take down the Holocaust Remembrance Day (HRD) posters next year?

Second, it is important to address the fact that some students did not like the HRD posters. Examples:

Jonaya Kemper

I found the HRD posters just as offensive. Saying they were not religious posters is bull. Saying that you were trying to call attention to all the atrocity in the world is backpeddling at best. There were no African children or Bosnian children on those posters. Only Jewish children. Not even the children of gypsies or any of the mixed race children that were experimented on and sterilized. Not a single one. There was a Star of David on the poster, and the way a small child died horribly. I take offense at ANYONE posting the methods of cruelty measured on any child, on my door.

Fiona Worcester:

The Hitler posters were completely out of line.

The Holocaust Rememberence Day posters, however, were also out of line, and especially insensitive just a couple weeks after the recent death of a Williams Student, while so many of us are still engaged in the greiving process.

I am not applauding the person who put up the Hitler posters, as it is utterly innappropriate. I am also not saying that there should be rules against posting things on student doors, but, rather, that students should exercise empathy and common sense when considering such an action.

The Holocaust Rememberence Day posters were intentionally crude, stating the exact manner of death of each of the victims. I found them confrontational and uncessary. Would it seem appropriate to put such posters up door to door in North Adams? The door to my room here at school is the door to the only personal space I have here on campus; it is my home, and I feel violated.

It would have been more appropriate to have displayed the Holocaust Rememberence Day posters in public areas only.

Elizabeth Campbell:

Personally, I was more offended by the Holocaust Rememberence poster on my door than by the Hitler poster that showed up a day later. Just the way I want to start my morning…a dead child on my door.

My point here is not to judge whether the students who found either set of posters (or both sets) offensive are right or wrong, reasonable or overly sensitive. I take them at their words. The point is to figure out a way to balance the ability of student activists to raise an issue with the rights of students not to feel threatened or harassed.

Third, I have a solution to this problem: my Eph Style Guide! Had we such a guide already, you can bet that it would have included references to Hitler, thereby providing a rationale for why security should take down posters featuring Hitler but not those about HRD.

My suggestion is to leave College policy the way it is with regard to widespread posting on student doors. It isn’t “allowed” but it isn’t punished either. Write an Eph Style Guide and use it to decide what posters Security will automatically remove. HRD posters would be left up. Hitler posters would be removed.

I realize that there will be dozens of edge cases, that no style guide can cover every eventuality, that the Julias of the world will always find a way to make trouble. That’s OK! The point is not to end controversy. The point is to channel it and make the resulting discussion and debate more productive.

Again, the focus of the meeting should be on college policy going forward. Have fun!

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