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Conservative Privilege

Loved this Onion article about “conservative privilege” at places like Williams, even funnier than the one about colleges which encourage “a lively exchange of one idea.” Highlights:

This whole affair has been driven by a group, one that involves Williams students but is not a formal Williams student organization, that has privileged access to tens of thousands of dollars from conservative alumni, allowing them to transgress established college fund-raising rules that all other students and faculty must follow. The rest of us cannot, by rule, raise money from alumni or foundations without going through College channels. Yet one group gets money, unavailable to the rest of the community, and that money lends them power to transgress other rules regarding political activity on campus.

Those wily conservatives are so transgressive that they “transgress” twice in the same paragraph!

Hilarious! Or . . . Wait a second . . . This isn’t an article from the Onion. This is Political Science Professor Sam Crane arguing, in all seriousness, that there is “conservative privilege” at Williams. I will need a week to thoroughly critique this nonsense. In the meantime, recall how Williams Professor Kris Kirby described what it was like to be a non-Democratic/liberal junior faculty member:

I did keep my views entirely to myself, but not because I was advised to do so. I had seen (on separate occasions) a senior faculty member make positive comments about a leftist job candidate and disparaging comments about a Republican student in department meetings, and these comments yielded assent from other faculty members. As a non-tenured libertarian these and other subtle signals scared me. I thought it prudent to keep quiet.

Conservative/libertarian junior faculty members (and students) have so much “privilege” at Williams that they keep their views to themselves. Sounds healthy! And, obviously, a big reason is faculty members like Sam Crane! If you were untenured, would you feel comfortable talking about your conservative/libertarian politics with faculty like Crane? Kris Kirby wouldn’t, and he is much smarter than you! Now imagine how conservative students feel . . .

There is something going on at Williams, but “conservative privilege” is not the best phrase to describe it.

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#1 Comment By student On November 4, 2015 @ 9:01 am

If uncomfortable learning was a left leaning group it wouldn’t need outside funding because they could get everything they needed from CC and departments on campus.

#2 Comment By ephalum On November 4, 2015 @ 9:24 am

On the other hand, this article from Jane Swift suggests a less-unwelcoming campus climate than what is portrayed here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-swift/free-speech-not-always-un_b_8452050.html

That being said, I do believe that Williams would benefit from more professors / visiting faculty with political perspectives akin to Swift’s, and more speakers like the ones she brings to campus for her class. More diversity of serious thought on campus is always better (I add “serious” because not all speakers of ANY stripe, conservative or liberal, are equally valuable, of course).

#3 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On November 5, 2015 @ 2:55 am

I don’t think it is accurate to label Swift a conservative. After all, she is basically a pro-choice moderate. As you may remember, she was on the cutting edge of liberal Republicanism when she picked the openly gay Patrick Guerriero as her running mate for lieutenant governor. Given Swift’s political history, we shouldn’t pretend she is the MA version of Sarah Palin.

#4 Comment By frank uible On November 5, 2015 @ 4:32 am

One can always find others with superior financial conditions. Why whine about it?

#5 Comment By ephalum On November 5, 2015 @ 9:56 am

On the one hand, we have the views of Jane Swift, a former Republican Governor of Massachusetts, who hails from a neighboring town, who is intimately acquainted with current Williams culture by, you know, actually teaching actual current Williams students on multiple occasions and actually being employed by Williams, and who has successfully brought many strong conservative speakers (such as Dave Kensinger, who no one would call a moderate conservative and who actually founded a notorious right-wing publication while a Williams student) without incident. Someone who is objective, informed, and actually has a clue.

On the other, we have the views of a disgruntled former employee who couldn’t cut it at Williams due to his incredibly thin publishing record, who has had no personal contact with the Williams community or campus in THREE DECADES, knows zilch about the current campus climate, who was unable to EVER secure a tenure-track academic job at ANY academic institution after departing Williams, and who has never met a single personal failing — such as his failure to publish a SINGLE academic article or book after his graduate thesis — that he couldn’t blame on one of his three personal bogeymen — Barack Obama, Williams College, or his oppressed status as a white male in America. Whine whine whine, blame blame blame, never once looking in the mirror and recognizing that there are literally MILLIONS of conservative white males who have managed to succeed in America (including in academia), and somehow claiming to be oppressed despite being born into the most privileged caste of people — 20th century white American males — in the history of humanity. It’s really quite sad. If you didn’t reach your goals as an academic, at Williams or anywhere else, maybe you should have actually, you know, published something noteworthy every once in awhile …

I’ll leave it to the readers to judge who has more credibility.

#6 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On November 6, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

Campus Reform just published an opinion piece I wrote regarding the long-standing lack of intellectual diversity at Williams College. See, http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6956