My question for Angela Schaeffer, the College’s most excellent Chief Communications Officer:

The Record reports that the students behind Uncomfortable Learning solicit funding from alumni to pay for the talks that they arrange on campus. Is this against College policy? (If you can’t comment on the actions of specific students, could you at least address a hypothetical question along the same lines?)

Her answer (reprinted with her permission):

I don’t know what fundraising activity UL students engage in. I can say that students in general are not meant to solicit funding from alumni without permission from the college. We might not always know, of course, when students are soliciting such support, but hypothetically if we learned of it we’d arrange for students to be in contact with the relevant Williams offices to see whether that solicitation could happen or needed to stop.

Probably relevant is this section from the Williams Student Handbook:

Students who wish to raise money for any campus activity by soliciting alumni, foundations, or other sources of funds must receive advance approval. Students interested in fundraising should contact the Assistant Director for Student Involvement in the Office of Student Life at least two weeks in advance. Most fundraising requires approval from the Dean’s Office, the Provost, and the Vice President for College Relations.


1) Uncomfortable Learning may be OK (which explain Dean Bolton’s supportive attitude) because they don’t “raise money” directly. That is, they don’t ask alumni to send them checks. Instead, they ask alumni to sponsor speakers and pay those speakers (and their expenses) directly. Does the College object to this strategy? I will try to find out.

2) The history behind this section of the Handbook would be interesting to explore. I do not think it existed 10 years ago. If Sarah Bolton were smart, she would just delete it. It serves no useful purpose, other than to suggest that the College is unfairly stymieing the efforts of non-liberal students. Students raised money for all sorts of things for 200 years without any ill effects.

3) Is this section of the Handbook being applied today (against students outside of Uncomfortable Learning by people like Professor Sam Crane)? I have my doubts. Students raise money all the time for all sorts of causes. Recent examples include: hoops for hunger, relief for Nepal, and the crew team selling carnations. Does John Malcolm ’86, Vice President for College Relations, approve them all? I doubt it. And, if he has, then he ought to have a long list that he can show to a Record reporter. But, if Williams has not been enforcing this regulation for years, it had better not start by enforcing it against Uncomfortable Learning. Nothing would be quickly demonstrate a bias against non-liberal students.

4) Former Williams Professor KC Johnson is speaking tonight, brought to campus by the Uncomfortable Learning. If it were not for those students (and the generous alumni who support them), that speech would not happen.

Professor Sam Crane wants to prevent those students and alumni from bringing speakers like KC Johnson (registered Democrat and Obama voter) to campus. What would Bob Gaudino say to that?

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