Apologies! We have been working on a new version of Eph Planet which would be integrated with WordPress. For reasons unclear to us, this effort just caused several recent posts from the last three days to disappear. Sorry! We are madly looking to understand what caused this and to retrieve the data. We will keep you posted.

UPDATE: I have rescued some of the data and post it below in a totally hacked fashion.

UPDATE II: I believe that I have determined the 4 posts that were lost. Here are there links.
http://www.ephblog.com/2008/02/02/slurs-2/
http://www.ephblog.com/2008/02/03/teach-in-defined/
http://www.ephblog.com/2008/02/03/all-campus-email
http://www.ephblog.com/2008/02/03/teach-in-details

The unformatted material for these posts is below. We are in the process of putting them back in place, either by hand or via our backup tables. Apologies to all for the inconvenience.

UPDATE III: It appears that our backup system worked and we were able to replace all the posts, with no lost material or comments. Hooray! If anyone sees anything wrong or missing, please leave a comment.

Sun 3 Feb 2008
Teach-in Details

Posted by mgoodwin under 1, Faculty, Politics on Campus, Sustainability (edit this)
Posted at 8:58 pm

I think its worth responding to David’s thoughtful speculations about the nature of the upcoming Focus the Nation teach-in on Tuesday.

Will the teach-in on global warming on Tuesday be any different? I doubt it, but I respect Morgan Goodwin a great deal. If any of the presenters argue that a) global warming isn’t that serious a concern or that, b) however serious, there isn’t much that we can do about carbon emissions via government fiat or c) that the most important human value is freedom and that you have no more right to control my carbon emissions than my speech or d) that Williams, as an institution, should have no more involvement with the political issues surrounding global warming than it does with those involved with fighting malaria, then I will be proved wrong. Perhaps TNG will surprise me with their open-mindedness and commitment to free-wheeling debate.

First, the numbers: Currently 92 professors are ‘participating’ in Focus the Nation. That means 15 professors will spend the entire class period on Monday or Tuesday discussing climate change. Another 9 will spend part of class time doing so. The majority will spend at least 5 minutes discussing why climate change is relevant, interesting or concerning to their discipline, and a final 12-15 have agree to make an announcement to their class about the day’s events and encourage students to attend panel discussions or the talk by Christopher Flavin. These numbers aren’t final, and we expect to cross the 100 mark tomorrow.

We typically approached professors we knew, occasionally making an appointment with someone we didn’t know, and would drop by an office to chat for 5 minutes or an hour about what the event was and why it was important. Much more often than not, we didn’t have to suggest how climate change was relevant to the professors field of study, but rather listened when they told us of something they had read recently, or some inspiration of their own.

Some people have speculated that this might be an elaborate plan to somehow hoodwink the campus and perpetuate a nasty liberal hoax on honorable and free people everywhere. (if there is such a conspiracy, please tell me where so I can start making some money doing this stuff). I really have no idea what professors intend to talk about in class. But I suspect these will be some of them, based on what I’ve heard so far: a) cap and auction vs. carbon tax, b) whether some groups are responsible for causing harm to other groups via climate change, c) what we can do to mediate the effects of climate change on human populations (or non-human for that matter), d) do we as ephs, Americans, the global north, etc. have a responsibility to act, e) does our dependence on oil further political instability in the middle east, or f) what areas of physics promise advances in solar technology.

A number of professors turned us down. I don’t have as exact numbers on that, but a quick glance shows about a dozen that said no. Some said they don’t like to bring politics into the classroom, and others said it wasn’t relevant and not worth class time. Of course a lot never returned our emails, or we just never got to, because after all, we’re a bunch of busy students working on top of classes and finals, and then so many professors are hard to find during winter study when we actually have time. Oh well.

Regardless of how the day goes, the students who have worked on this have impressed me with their enthusiasm, energy, creativity and commitment. To Meredith, Elizabeth, Caroline, George, Sasha, Kendell, Martin, Nathan, Mike, Melina and all the others who have pitched in as we’ve approached the big day, thank you. I am confident that this will be the biggest student-organized event in the recent history of the school.
1 Comment

Sun 3 Feb 2008
All-campus email

Posted by mgoodwin under 1 (edit this)
Posted at 3:35 pm

Hello Campus,

College Council was shocked and dismayed to learn of the use of racial slurs in Williams Hall this weekend and we are personally and deeply offended. We want to update you a little on the details of this incident and lay out a plan for what we’ll be doing in the near future to strengthen our community and deal with this incident and others like it.

What happened?

Over Friday night, ‘nigger’ was written on three posters in Willy E. Since the writing was found, two deans and Campus Safety have been working hard to find out as much about the incident as possible. When and if the students who did this are found, discipline will be at the discretion of the dean’s office. Any help that anyone can give on this matter should be directed to the anonymous tip line, either online or on the phone. (x4444 or http://www.williams.edu/admin/security) In addition, you are encouraged to seek out any trusted faculty or staff member and your information will be forwarded on.

What can you do?

We are also shocked to learn that there have been other incidents in Williams hall this year, as well as anecdotal evidence that says this type of incident is not rare. We want to raise this point now to show that there are many incidents that are not reported, but are still viewed by students as hurtful and malicious. We are asking you for your stories about things like this that you have experienced. If you have any stories to share, and don’t feel comfortable posting them on WSO or sharing them with your friends (or even if you do) please email me (08mjg) or Kim (08kmd). These stories will not be
made public, but will be read by a few all-campus leaders to help us address broader issues of community.

What will we do?

This incident is hurtful and alarming, but it is also an opportunity. We can focus the community around issues of respect, student citizenship and residential life, and have those late-night discussions with friends. We can think about how the college should deal with incidents like this and what sort of community we want Williams to be. There will always be those who take advantage of events like this to be divisive, but I can assure you that College Council will not allow this to create more conflict, and I encourage you all to help us work together for a positive solution.

Many schools have student run discipline boards, others have social honor codes. We want to engage the campus and ask, what can we do, both structurally and on a very informal level to foster respect and protect our community against harm.

College Council will address this type of process during the second half of our meeting on Wednesday night. Please come and share your views for a way forward. We will meet at 8:30 in the Henze Lounge (upstairs in Paresky).

Thank you for your concern,

Morgan Goodwin and Kim Dacres
College Council Co-presidents

[4] Comments

Sun 3 Feb 2008
Teach-In Defined

Posted by dkane under 1 (edit this)
Posted at 6:34 am

Consider this exchange on WSO about the “Largest Teach-in in History.”

Morgan Goodwin: Focus the Nation is happening on 1750 campuses, high schools, churches and businesses in all 50 states, TODAY.

www.focusthenationorg

We decided the first day of spring semester wasn’t the best day to hold this thing, so we’re doing the Williams event on Tuesday. The same day as super tuesday (when over 20 states hold primary elections).

Rahul: Wait, what’s a teach-in?

Good question!

A “teach-in” is when one side of a complex debate is presented as the The Truth. Alternate viewpoints are suppressed or ignored. Real teachers rarely participate in “teach-ins.” Ideologues rule. Recent teach-ins at Williams covered the Iraq War and the Jena Six. Although I was present for neither, dollars to grilled honeybuns that both exercises were embarrassments. You think that faculty like Shanti Singham or Alex Willingham presented all sides of these important debates? You think that they sought to present alternate points of view? Hah! Although I am sure (read: hope) that these professors are more professional within a Williams classroom, there is little doubt that their teach-ins have nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with preaching to the faithful.

Think that, the Iraq War was, on balance, a good idea or that the Jena Six were thugs who got, more or less, what they deserved? You are not welcome to “teach” at these events. Disagree with those views but want to see them presented by intelligent proponents? Williams is not the place for you.

Will the teach-in on global warming on Tuesday be any different? I doubt it, but I respect Morgan Goodwin a great deal. If any of the presenters argue that a) global warming isn’t that serious a concern or that, b) however serious, there isn’t much that we can do about carbon emissions via government fiat or c) that the most important human value is freedom and that you have no more right to control my carbon emissions than my speech or d) that Williams, as an institution, should have no more involvement with the political issues surrounding global warming than it does with those involved with fighting malaria, then I will be proved wrong. Perhaps TNG will surprise me with their open-mindedness and commitment to free-wheeling debate.

Breath-holding is not recommended.

[2] Comments

Sat 2 Feb 2008
Slurs

Posted by dkane under 1 (edit this)
Posted at 8:11 pm

Can someone provide details on this?

Racism on this campus won’t be tolerated. If you have any information about the racial slurs posted in Williams Hall please come forward. And, if you feel uncomfortable and want to talk about this or other instances please contact me at 08kmd or x. -Kim Dacres ‘08, College Council Co-President

The announcement is entitled “Racism WON’T be tolerated!” I have edited out Dacre’s phone number. Comments:

1) What slurs were posted and when were they discovered? EphBlog has hundreds of alumni and parent readers who would like to know the details.

2) If you did this, be very careful. The Administration will leave no card-entry date unchecked to find you, and the punishment is unlikely to be light. Will you be caught? It depends on how careful you were. Williams Hall has enough traffic that the exact timing of the slur-writing will not be hard to determine. Only X number of people entered and exited the dorm around that time. Many/most/all swiped their card keys. All will be interviewed. Your best defense if caught? Free speech and the Mary Jane Hitler precedent.

3) There is a good chance (50%?) that this is a hoax, that the slurs were posted by a member of the very group which they purport to “attack,” all in a well-intentioned (?) effort to raise awareness about racism at Williams. In fact, the last (?) such slur in Williams Hall was in the 1990’s (?) and was a hoax of exactly that type. Can anyone tell us the details of that story?

UPDATE: There was an all-campus e-mail from Dean Merrill. Could someone post it? Students seem confused.

As usual, the e-mail mostly just left me confused, as it offered virtually no information other than “a racial slur happened in Williams Hall.” Nothing about exactly what was said, the manner in which it was presented / who (not specifically, but generally) it was directed at, etc. Although I agree that it isn’t really necessary to know what they were, like Morgan I would like to learn more about the details, and it frustrates me that details so often get left out of any sort of notification about things like this.

Hmmm. An interesting mystery. There is a chance that this is a bit of PC-run-amokness (calling, say, anti-affirmative action opinions a “racial slur”) or a misunderstanding (harmless use of a racial term by a member of that group, not as a hoax but just to be funny or whatever); but I like to think that Merrill has better sense than to use a term like “racial slur” for anything but the real thing.

Why doesn’t the Administration publish all the details that it has? Doing so can only help in identifying the guilty party. (An EphBlog specialty!) A student who saw something “weird” last night might provide a clue if she knew the details. If the Administration does not tell us till next week, or ever, then the student can’t know that what she saw would help identify the perp.

Note that these sorts of suspicions made me doubt the last big-time racial slur at Williams. Perhaps the famous Rondelle Trinidad will provide further commentary.

[Isn’t “amok” a racial slur? — ed. Caught that one, huh? Time for my monthly sensitivity training!]

[34] Comments

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