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Sam Crane Demands Transparency on Alumni Donations

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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Comments Disabled To "Sam Crane Demands Transparency on Alumni Donations"

#1 Comment By Sam Crane On October 22, 2015 @ 8:19 am

Dear David Kane,

I demand that you delete the falsehoods you attach to my name here. They tarnish my reputation and undermine the work of the college. I do not want to be associated with your efforts to damage the college’s fund-raising project.

Indeed, you are quite aware of the kind of harm these sorts of falsehoods can cause: David Kane hides behind a pseudonym, no doubt to keep web searches at bay. But you are quite willing to attach my name to falsehoods in full knowledge that they will circulate on the internet detached from the intention of sarcasm. You are, quite simply, a coward, David Kane, crouching behind a false name to circulate false statements about me by name. You do not have the courage of your convictions.

And why do you hide? Because David Kane has a history of racially insensitive statements that he wants to shield from the light of day. Years ago, I participated in the discussions on this blog, until your repeated verbal assaults on Williams students and faculty, especially students and faculty of color, drove me away. You attempted to atone for the transgressions (see here: http://ephblog.com/2010/11/03/apology/) but your irresponsibility continues: you assert falsehoods and damaging statements first, and think about the consequences later, as per this execrable post.

As to the point you were trying to make here, I do not have to inquire about the funding and purpose of the Dively Committee because they are stated quite clearly on their web page: http://lgbt.williams.edu/programs/the-dively-committee/

Indeed, that strikes me as an admirable standard of transparency, one that your organization should aspire to.

By now it is obvious, the “uncomfortable learning” series is a David Kane production. So, let me ask you directly:

– who funds “uncomfortable learning” and how much money is involved

– is it a 501c3 entity and are there plans to solicit money from conservative foundations, as suggested by recent participant in your program, Richard Vedder, here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ccap/2015/10/21/getting-intellectual-diversity-on-campus/

I again demand that you remove the falsehoods in this post that do harm to me and the college.

I will not respond here again because I do not trust you.

#2 Comment By esoskin On October 22, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

In the comments thread at the Williams Record, linked in the post above, an interesting set of further exchanges among Prof. Crane, Andy Grewal ’02, and an apparent member of the Class of ’17.

Apropos the discussion here, Grewal ’02 (now a law professor at Iowa) observes:

I do not see why it’s terribly relevant that an outside group may have funded the speaker’s travel. You are concerned about the potential “ideological context,” but I thought the group made its ideological context very clear — provide a forum for minority views so that the majority can better “understand how someone who is just as sure as you are in their beliefs can think something completely different.” There’s nothing hidden about the ideological context — in fact, the group is refreshingly clear regarding its stated goals. If only all professors were so explicit about their goals, at Williams or elsewhere.

#3 Comment By ephalum On October 22, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

Without getting into the back-and-forth between Crane and Kane, I too see no reason for the source of funding to be disclosed, either generally or in this specific case, and I worry about the chilling effect of any such policy. Speakers should be evaluated on their own merits, not who is bringing them. If someone (say, a virulent and outward racist) is truly outside the pale of civil discourse (and while I’m certainly not a fan of several of the speakers this group has brought, I don’t think any remotely qualify under that criteria), then they shouldn’t be on campus. Otherwise, they should, and let people counteract their views in whatever way they choose. Regardless of funding sources, either way.

#4 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On October 22, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

I was intrigued to learn about the Uncomfortable Learning series at Williams. During my brief time at Williams, I was perhaps the only faculty member on campus providing a conservative perspective on political matters in the late 1980s.

The way I and my young conservative students were treated at that time still enrages me after all these years.

As conservative policies and politics have come to dominate the public landscape, I feel sorry for the Williams students who never had an opportunity to be challenged by conservative thought. Here’s my take on what it was like to be a conservative at Williams.


#5 Comment By frank uible On October 23, 2015 @ 10:08 pm

It is believed that the name, David Kane,used here is not a pseudonym.

#6 Comment By Publius On October 24, 2015 @ 1:27 am



“The first thing you do is look …
… you can check out the profile of the OP and look for biases. You can also check to see if the OP has also answered his or her own question, as the infamous John C. Drew used to do before he was permanently banned from Quora.”

#7 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On October 25, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

Professor Crane writes:

I demand that you delete the falsehoods you attach to my name here.

There are no “falsehoods” here. I quoted your accurately. I provided links to three places in which you make, more or less, the same demands. (If those comments were written by someone impersonating you then just let us know. We will delete them.)

I am guilty of, perhaps, a rhetorical flourish in implying, for a few lines, that you are intellectually consistent, that you would only demand the same transparency from Williams College that you demand from the students behind Uncomfortable Learning.

Alas, it appears that one set of rules applies to those whose politics you agree with and another, more restrictive, set of rules applies to those whose politics you disagree with.

Bob Gaudino would get a chuckle over that hypocrisy . . .

#8 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On October 25, 2015 @ 7:07 pm


I am sad that you did not use the obvious line:

“I am David Kane!”