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Adam Falk has decided to keep the log mural.

Last semester, I convened a committee to consider historical representations on campus, chaired by Professor of History Karen Merrill. I asked the group to bring recommendations about what principles should guide us as we think about portrayals of our history and, more specifically, what, if anything, should be done about particular pieces that may be of concern.

As you all know, the first task undertaken by the committee has been to consider the mural in the Black Room of the Log that I had temporarily covered back in the fall. I’m pleased to write now with the news that I am accepting the recommendations of the committee, which were shared with me at the end of last week and are available in full on the committee’s website. Those recommendations call for the mural to remain in place at the Log, accompanied by a caption describing the historical event depicted in the mural. The committee also recommended adding contextual information in the Black Room about the campus conversation that has taken place this year about the mural and related issues and questions. Working with its members and others on campus with relevant expertise, the committee will be responsible for producing the caption and contextual content, and we expect that content to be in place in the Log by the end of the summer.

Kudos to Falk, Merrill and the rest of the committee. The decision — and the process which led to it — is an example of Williams at its best.

There are lots of details to work through. Should we spend a week on it?

Entire e-mail below the break.

To the Williams Community,

Last semester, I convened a committee to consider historical representations on campus, chaired by Professor of History Karen Merrill. I asked the group to bring recommendations about what principles should guide us as we think about portrayals of our history and, more specifically, what, if anything, should be done about particular pieces that may be of concern.

As you all know, the first task undertaken by the committee has been to consider the mural in the Black Room of the Log that I had temporarily covered back in the fall. I’m pleased to write now with the news that I am accepting the recommendations of the committee, which were shared with me at the end of last week and are available in full on the committee’s website. Those recommendations call for the mural to remain in place at the Log, accompanied by a caption describing the historical event depicted in the mural. The committee also recommended adding contextual information in the Black Room about the campus conversation that has taken place this year about the mural and related issues and questions. Working with its members and others on campus with relevant expertise, the committee will be responsible for producing the caption and contextual content, and we expect that content to be in place in the Log by the end of the summer.

I cannot express deeply enough my gratitude and admiration for the Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History, and in particular the six students who continue to serve with such commitment and passion. The public forum they led earlier this semester was a model for informed, engaged, and respectful discourse, and the recommendations that follow reflect the thoughtfulness and care with which the committee has addressed this important community issue.

The committee’s work isn’t done, of course. In the fall, the committee will widen its focus to consider other historical representations on campus. In addition, I will work with the committee to reach out to others within the college community to encourage further contextualization of and engagement with the Log and its interior decoration. I look forward to a continuation of what’s been a highly productive, inclusive conversation. My sincere thanks go to the committee, as well as to all those within the community who’ve taken the time to share their perspectives.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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