Assume that you are advising students interested in removing the quota for international applicants. How would you advise them to take advantage of Claiming Williams tomorrow? Summary: Stage a protest at the opening event. Chant “No More Quotas! No More Quotas” or something better. Bang a drum. Then ask Adam Falk to read a question about quotas that you want each member of the faculty panel to answer. Sit down and listen politely. Further details below. But surely the experienced rabble-rousers in our audience have better ideas . . .

1) Numbers don’t matter much. Even three students is enough, assuming that they have the courage of their convictions. But more are better. There are over 100 international students at Williams. Surely dozens would be willing to support the effort. Chanting and protests are fun, a little slice of American college life. It would also be easy (?) to recruit sympathetic students. One or two entries might be willing to come as a group. Talk to some JAs. Ideal would be student groups like BSU and the Jewish Association. Tell them how the Williams of 75 years ago discriminated against their ancestors. They might be willing to join your fight.

2) Whatever your numbers, you need to prepare a bit. Make at least one big sign. Come up with a couple of chants. “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Global quotas need to go!” Or whatever. (Reader suggestions?) A musical instrument is always fun. A drum can keep time. The loud portion of the protest will only last a few minutes, but you want those few minutes to be effective.

3) Gather ahead of time somewhere near Main Stage. Greylock or Paresky are obvious choices. You want to get organized, and excited, before the event starts. Even just 30 minutes of prep time would be enough to get the chants down.

4) Have a spy or two at Main Stage. She has three main jobs. First, reserve enough seats for your entire group at the front of the auditorium. (She probably needs to arrive by 8:30, with some tape to mark off the seats.) Second, she will call the main group as soon as Adam Falk starts to speak. You don’t want to arrive with your chants and music until the event is underway, but not too far along. Ideally, you interrupt the president himself. Third, she should take pictures of the march as you enter the room, parade around, speak on stage and hand your statement to President Falk.

5) Tell Record editor Austin Davis about your plans. He may send a Record photographer. He will certainly cover the event. With luck, you will be the lead story in next week’s paper: “Students Protest International Quotas” would make for a great article title, with you handing your statement to President Falk as the perfect photograph. Trustees read the Record.

6) Prepare a statement/question for presentation to Falk. This needs to be written out ahead of time. It should be fairly moderate. It should outline the basic facts. It should ask each of the panelists, including Falk to address the issue. You should ask Falk to read the statement out loud after you have all sat down to listen to the discussion. Something like:

Seventy five years ago, Williams maintained severe quotas against Jewish and African-American applicants. We are all ashamed of that history. And yet, today, Williams has a quota against international applicants — even international applicants able to pay full tuition — that is, in many respects, as binding as the the quotas of old. How can Williams justify discriminating against students who come from different countries while celebrating the end of discrimination against students of different races and religions? We ask that President Falk, and each of the panelists today answer a simple question: How do you justify the current quota against applicants unlucky enough to be born outside the US?

A statement like this has several advantages:

a) It is brief. You can’t expect Falk to read a page of text.
b) It forces the panel to discuss your topic.
c) It frames the debate in the most favorable way for your side. If discriminating against Jews was wrong 75 years ago, then discriminating against non-US citizens is wrong today.
d) It deals with the most common (and reasonable) counter-argument: that international applicants require too much financial aid. This is a difficult issue with many complex details. Avoid them! Focus on the existence of the quota itself. Don’t let Falk and other panelists get away with pleading poverty. There are dozens of (rich) international applicants who are just as qualified as US Ephs but who are rejected because they were born elsewhere. They make the perfect test case. How can Williams reject them? At some later date, we can tackle the much more difficult problem of allocating financial aid between US and international applicants. Now that Williams is need-aware for international students, defenders of the quota can’t not claim financial reasons in their defense.

7) So, Falk starts speaking. You march in, chant loudly and interrupt him. You make a scene, but only for a few minutes. (People will get bored quickly.) You end the march at the foot of the stage. (Check out the space and plan this out ahead of time.) One member of the group mounts the stage. (Practice this. Where are the stairs?) She quiets the crowd and then says something like this (loudly):

We can here today as the heirs of the Williams students who have come before us, the students who started the American Missionary movement in the 1880s, who led the fight against fraternities in the 1950s and who took over Hopkins Hall in 1969. We seek change. We seek to claim Williams, not just for students who were born in the United States, but for students from all over the world. Our only request today is that President Falk read this brief statement and that this distinguish panel address our concerns. Thanks you.

If you are cool, you will memorize this speech and practice it 20 times. (You will be more nervous than you expect.) The advantages of a speech like this include:

a) It is brief. You don’t want to bore people.
b) It establishes your place in Williams history. You seek to change Williams because you love it, not because you hate it.
c) It leaves Falk no choice but to read your statement.
d) It makes it likely that the entire session will focus on international admissions. (If the panelists don’t answer your question, your entire group should jump to the front of the question queue and ask each individual for his opinion.)

8) After the speech, you hand Falk the statement and sit down quietly, ideally as a group in the front row seats that your spy has reserved. You listen politely. You don’t boo or hiss. You have made your statement and now you are ready to hear the other side.

Is any of this easy? No. But it really isn’t that hard. Two hours would be more than enough time to organize everything. Even three Ephs acting alone could do all of this, if they really have the courage of their convictions.

Well, do you?

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