Williams has raised more than $374 million in its capital campaign. Professor Sam Crane has an interesting proposal.

A list of donors and the amounts of money they have given would be helpful in understanding the ideological intentions and effects of the program. I suspect rather significant amounts of money are necessary to bring in some of the speakers, but we have no idea where that money is coming from and what the providers of the money are trying to get for their investment. Follow the money.

Williams, like every US non-profit, is not required to provide a list of donors and the amounts each has given. Of course, Williams could still choose to do so, presumably after informing potential donors. The major problem, obviously, is that lots of donors prefer to give anonymously and, so, such a policy would hurt the campaign. The College, of course, is happy to publicize major donations from donors who don’t mind the press.

Sam feels very strongly about this idea, so much so that I read it as a demand rather than a suggestion. He has posted versions of it to the Williams Record, Inside Higher Ed, and the Williams Alternative.

Wait a second! I have this all wrong! Sam does not believe that Williams College should make public its donors and the amount they give. He thinks that Uncomfortable Learning (UL) a student group at Williams should make public its donors and the amount they give. Secrecy is fine for Sam and the people he agrees with, obviously. Secrecy is only a problem for people that Sam disagrees with, like the students who run UL.

That makes sense! /sarcasm

Here is a clearer statement of Sam’s views:

Who funds the “Uncomfortable Learning” series? I imagine it takes a lot of cash to bring in some of the people (Jonah Goldberg?) they have brought. Who is paying? A list of donors and the amounts they have given might help clarify the ideological context of the program.

Perhaps. But, as always, note the question that Sam does not ask:

Who funds the Dively Committee series? I imagine it takes a lot of cash to bring in some of the people (Jiz Lee?) they have brought. Who is paying? A list of donors and the amounts they have given might help clarify the ideological context of the program.

Excellent Record reporter Francesca Paris should follow up with Professor Crane, exploring his views on which Williams events require donor transparency and which do not. I guarantee that the supporters of Uncomfortable Learning would provide her with some juicy quotes . . .

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