I was, in fact, trying to restrain my anger at the immediate presumption that Williams faculty routinely censor student speech. Such a serious assertion should be accompanied by concrete evidence, not snide guesses about our favorite caffeine drinks.
What more concrete evidence can we offer besides Professor Crane’s own comments? Critics claim that Williams faculty/administrators don’t want students to invite speakers like Venker to campus. (I hope that Sam won’t rely on weasel words like “routinely” and “student.”) Isn’t that exactly what Sam wants, to deprive Uncomfortable Learning of funding so that they can’t afford to bring speakers to campus? If this isn’t what he wants, then just what is his complaint?
But that is not today’s deliciousness. Sam has been spewing invective about the students (and alumni) behind Uncomfortable Learning, suggesting that they have broken all sorts of college policies. Fortunately, random political science professors are not responsible for enforcing the rules. That honor goes to Dean of the College Sarah Bolton. So, all Sam needs to do is to inform Bolton about his concerns. She will surely jump in to bring the right wing rabble to heal!
Not so fast! Dean Bolton was asked about the Venker Cancellation during a conference call with class agents last week. You can listen to the entire call here. Go to the 16:40 mark to here the question and Bolton’s reply.
Too lazy to listen? Allow me to summarize: Dean Sarah Bolton likes Uncomfortable Learning! She had (almost) nothing negative to say about them. She seemed to share none of Sam’s concerns about their lack of registration, their shadowy sources of funding or their contact with alumni. In fact, she was sad that Venker did not come! “There is no need to rescind that invitation.” She wants Williams to “be there for them,” i.e., for the student leaders of Uncomfortable Learning. She wishes that they had reached out to her before cancelling. She is interested in “How we can bring conversations that might be difficult or uncomfortable to campus, and have that go well.”
So, sleep well Professor Crane! Dean Bolton is firmly on Team Uncomfortable Learning. You have nothing to worry about when it comes to rules and regulations. If Dean Bolton has no objections, then why would you?
UPDATE: Post changed to provide link to Williams’ page with the call audio.