A recent comment:

Claiming Williams has, alas, become a bit of a parody of itself, at least based on these descriptions. If there is going to be an event like this, it could be so much more interesting / intellectually-engaging / provocative / informative. For example, why not have one unifying theme surrounding each year’s Claiming Williams, and bring in provocative speakers, from various disciplines, and holding various perspectives, who will engage in a series of debates (ideally engaging students and faculty as well) on the issue. One year the theme could be, for example, the role of religion in campus and public life — topics like, where is the line between permissible religious expression and violation of others’ rights, or where religion and free speech potentially conflict (issues such as laws prohibiting burkas, publication of defamatory cartoons offensive to a particular religious groups, laws regarding private citizens relying upon religion as justification for discrimination against gays, all hot-button current issues that could spark real campus discourse).

Or another year, the theme could be campus sexual assault — where students are not just told via platitudinous speechifying the importance of respecting women’s choices about sexuality (that apparently hasn’t worked across the country) but instead are challenge to collaboratively engage to come up with model proposals for BETTER campus sexual assault policies, both preventative and adjudicative, at Williams, and for campuses at large. That would be a REALLY interesting use of a day, and would engage the talents of Williams students to potentially make a difference, while building awareness at the same time. Given how busy Williams is, an entire day devoted to anything is a REALLY big deal, and I feel like the administration could by far more creative and proactive in crafting something meaningful.

This event is now basically preaching to the converted, and those disinclined to feel the same way, or in particular, those who might engage in potentially problematic behaviors, are just going to laugh this off as an exercise in mandated political correctness; if anything, it could be counter-productive, only serving to convince conservatives (and I’m far from one of them) that there is a PC thought police dominating the campus. Kind of embarrassing that this has become institutionalized as a full-day even without really embracing the opportunity to spark some deeper, more thought-provoking discourse worthy of Williams. (And I’m someone who agrees with the ultimate goals of tolerance, inclusion, and making Williams a place that embraces students from every walk of life — I just don’t see who an event like this in any meaningful way fulfills that goal, I’d like to see people’s buttons really pushed via more substantive, interactive, engaging, and challenging programming).

Highlights added. I am not certain that Claiming Williams has descended as far down the PC rabbit hole as this alum believes, but I doubt that any faculty member who agrees with this view — and there are some — would be willing to say this in public.

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