A message from incoming President Falk:
Dear Tracey and Michael,
Thank you for including me in the conversation about this terrible incident and the campus’s response to it. The vandalism was a hateful and horrible thing, and I am so sorry that the students in the entry, as well as the entire campus, have had to endure it. To say that such behavior is unacceptable is simply to scratch the surface of the outrage that I feel.
I agree completely that, especially in the aftermath of this incident, students and administration must come together around the critical purpose of eliminating from the Williams campus homophobia and other forms of discrimination against the many varieties of sexual expression. As it is with all expressions of bigotry, this is neither an easy task nor a quick one. I understand that you have started a productive conversation with the current College leadership about steps that could be taken in pursuit of this goal. I support that process fully, and look forward to becoming engaged in the dialog myself when I arrive on campus in April.
For now, let me just say again how appalled I am at what happened in Mills-Dennett 1 last weekend. I know that this is hardly representative of the views, or behavior, of the marvelous Williams student body. But as true as that may be, it does not diminish the importance of taking this opportunity to acknowledge and address the very real homophobia that does exist on campus. And to do so now.
I look forward to meeting you and your colleagues in the spring, hopefully under somewhat happier circumstances.
With my best regards,
Adam F. Falk
1) Seems like a reasonable statement, if a little overwrought for my tastes. Good to see that Falk is already involving himself in Williams affairs. (My total guess is that the College wanted him to start on January 1 but that Falk’s family would have preferred June 30, and so we ended with an April 1 compromise.)
2) Is it officially “Adam F. Falk?” The College had some sort of standard for referring to Morty which always include, in official communications, his middle name and/or initial. Does Falk want us to not forget the “F”? If I were President of Willams, I would want a cool, friendly e-mail address like firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe someday if I suck up enough to my friend in OIT enough!
3) I think that framing this as mainly an issue of “homophobia” is absurd. Would these actions be any less objectionable if the same vandalism occurred but the word “fags” was replaced by “losers” or “mother-f**kers?” No. Is there any evidence that the vandals were actually motivated by anti-homosexual feeling? No. In fact, all the evidence we have suggests that this event was caused by personality conflicts with no connection to anyone’s sexuality.
Perhaps it would be better if Williams vandals were taught to use “mother-f**kers” instead of “fags” since the later makes more people more upset than the former. But, keep in mind that the vandals wanted to make more people more upset! The more that the Williams Administration makes a big deal of this event, the more likely future vandals will draw the (in)correct lesson about word choice.
4) Are the grammar pendants among our readers going to mock Falk’s use of “hopefully?” Give him a break! He is a physicist . . .