This post continues our month-long seminar about President Adam Falk’s Induction address.


These are the challenges we face entering the second decade of the century. We rise to meet them led by our most fundamental ethical claims. The deep commitment of this faculty, expressed over many generations, always to ask first what is in the best interest of students, is our moral center. It permeates the Williams tradition of faculty governance over what and how we teach – which is a foundational strength of our College. The second great commitment is that no inherited characteristic – neither gender, nor race, nor sexual identity – shall be any barrier to full participation in our community. The third is that, to the fullest extent possible, we will welcome here those born to every circumstance – whether economic background, or national identity, or religious tradition, or social class.


It is impossible for Falk to believe this stirring call to arms, and to be in favor of the current quota for international students, without also being a raging hypocrite.

1) Recall that Williams currently has a quota for international students, originally reported by EphBlog. Five years ago, the quota was 6%. It has risen to 8% in recent years, although the College has not publicly discussed any policy changes.

2) It was plausible (barely) for one to be both in favor of an international quota and to claim that Williams would “welcome here those born to every circumstance – whether economic background, or national identity” because the need-blind policy for international students made things very complicated. It would have been (and still is) financially impossible for Williams to be both need-blind for international students and quota free. There are just too many very poor and very smart international applicants. But now that Williams is need-aware, there is no longer any (financial) excuse for having an international quota.

3) Recall my explanation as to why Williams changed its financial aid policies.

Williams began planning for a major increase in international admissions when it named Adam Falk president a year ago. Because international students are, on average, much poorer than US students, the only way to go to 25% international is to reinstate loans and become need-aware for internationals.

4) All that I ask is that Williams stop discriminating against international applicants in the same way that, 50 years or so ago, it stopped discriminating against Jewish applicants. Does that make me a wild-eyed radical?

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