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MinCo Replies to Falk III

The Minority Coaltion has responded to President Falk’s e-mail about The Merrill Committee that is charged with examining problematic decorations/monuments/images at Williams. Let’s spend three days mocking this madness. Today is Day 3.

President Falk responded in the Record. Worst part:

How can we be the inclusive, welcoming place we want to be – and increasingly are – if the images and stories that surround our students, faculty and staff are largely from a time when so many of them wouldn’t have been welcome here?

I dislike the trope of “Williams was an evil nasty place until me and my friends showed up.” Is that really true? My importantly, will Ephs 50 years from now judge the Williams of 2015 as more welcoming than the Williams of 1985 or 1955 or 1925? I have my doubts. Read “Black Williams: A Written History.” Some students (and faculty?) feel disaffected from Williams today. The same has always been true. The same will always be true.

Most interesting part:

Here’s what I imagine to be a logical set of outcomes: The committee may determine that some historical representations on campus ought to be left as they are, that some ought to be removed or altered or that some ought to be added to, perhaps with historical context or commentary.

Where can we find a list of “historical representations” that the Merrill Committee is likely to consider? In all honesty, other than the painting at The Log, I have trouble coming up with anything even remotely controversial. Ideas from our readers?

Best part:

At Williams, committees are often the places where ideas are born and where decisions are made. It was the alumni-and-student Angevine Committee appointed by President Jack Sawyer that spent a year considering fraternities and in 1962 came to the conclusion that they needed to go. And it was the Committee on Coordinate Education that recommended enrolling women, a recommendation adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1969.

Exactly right, and exactly what EphBlog told you yesterday. EphBlog and Adam Falk, in agreement once again! However:

1) The Committee on Coordinate Education is a lousy example because it was never going to decide anything other than to admit women. Every elite school did the same. Any elite school that didn’t would have become unpopular.

2) The Angevine Committee is a great example (read the details on Wikipedia) because eliminating fraternities was a radical choice that most peer schools refused to do. That was real change.

3) Another good recent example is the MacDonald Report which led to a significant decline in the admissions preferences given to athletes.

4) Anchor Housing (the Dudley Committee?) is an example of major change coming out of the committee system. Alas, it was a total failure, as EphBlog predicted.

Big picture: Falk is correct to claim that change comes via committee. MinCo is foolish to pass on this opportunity to put its fellow travelers in positions of (some) power. Getting a seat at the table is the first step in social change at Williams.

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#1 Comment By HC On December 11, 2015 @ 6:43 am

I disagree.

The “big picture” is that this current generation of Ephs “can know better” than past and future generations of Ephs “if it is done right.” That contemporary Eph work can banish past work. That the present should control what the future sees.

Covering art? Altering monuments? I am shocked that any Eph could get behind such a damaging legacy.

#2 Comment By HC On December 11, 2015 @ 7:21 am

“I have trouble coming up with anything even remotely controversial. Ideas from our readers?”

They could cover up or move/ destroy other war memorials. Anything that could be associated with “hegemony” will be considered.

1) All other works in the log that have depictions of Native Americans; including the historic football centerpiece, as well as the lampshades.
2) The soldier monument. – Anything that depicts service in war.
3) Haystack Monument – Birthplace of American Missions.
4) Anything involving a historic figure.

#3 Comment By To the Editor- Herb Allen On December 11, 2015 @ 12:30 pm

#4 Comment By ephalum On December 11, 2015 @ 2:26 pm

Even in this climate, there is no way that the Haystack Monument or the Solider Monument could possibly be affected. Simply no way. I’d bet on that. Even if there were, indeed, some problematic aspects to the missionary movement.

I am struggling to think of anything, either, outside of The Log (or maybe some works of art in the WCMA which, again, I hope would be immune from critique, but the Amherst College Art Museum has some pieces that students have attacked, so perhaps not). But hopefully all of the the Log paintings will remain as they create so much of the atmosphere and tie to history there. Maybe some stuff in some of the old row houses? I’ve heard that some goats are not happy at all with their association with the old Goat Room.

#5 Comment By Aidan On December 12, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

I’m sure ISIL would like WCMA to destroy the Sumerian art it has in its collection. We need to take the cultural appropriation of other culture’s art seriously, and destroy these pieces immediately.

#6 Comment By HC On December 13, 2015 @ 8:01 am

ephalum- “Even in this climate, there is no way that the Haystack Monument or the Solider Monument could possibly be affected.”

I doubt they will be moved or destroyed, but there is a good chance they could be fenced in so that they are not seen without entering “an area.” Removed from “public sight”.

The name “Mission Park” will probably be considered. Perhaps changed?

Many other monuments and names as well.

Remember, Williams is considering the censorship of anything that displays what Falk describes as “images… from a time when so many of them wouldn’t have been welcome here.”

This is not lip service. I know it is hard to imagine, but we need to take what is being said seriously. These words will lead to action.

From the Williams Record Editorial Board- “The issue that this committee pledges to address is one deeply entrenched in systemic institutions of power… the structure of the committee’s operation must be crafted with careful thought to the existence of toxic, alienating and disenfranchising hegemonic institutions alive and well in our world and even at the College today.”

With language like that, if you do not think that Haystack and The Soldier are in play, you do not believe what is being written by people in positions of influence. I know it is dumbfounding to believe it, but you have to trust the voice of the President and the College Paper on this.

Yes, Mission Park and The Soldier are in play. Also, anything that represents the spread of a “western enlightened principles” and capitalism will also be considered.

Look at the language. It is the language of the new far left. They have been influenced by theorists such as Marx, Edward Said, Fernando Cardoso, Joseph Stiglitz etc. Absent from their language are balancing ideas from Adam Smith, Hayek, Friedman etc.

This is language that describes Western principles as fundamentally evil: any symbol of globalization and development should be banished. Capitalism is a dirty word that means exploitation.

Believe what they are saying. Action will be taken if this “committee” is not opposed with a strong voice from others in the Williams Community. You guys need to do more than blog about it- if you care?

I doubt enough people care to challenge the voices of this narrative. That or people are scared of the backlash. So far, very few have challenged this censorship. This needs to be challenged publically if you want to stop it.

Apathy and fear will lead to the alteration and destruction of many monuments. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Believe it.