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Supporting Each Other in the Midst of Tragic National Events – Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 PM in Hardy House

Dear Members of the Williams Community,

During the past few weeks our nation has again experienced a wave of tragic and disturbing events – events which are having a significant impact on our campus community.

Tomorrow evening, members of our community are invited to gather in a safe space where we can reflect, listen, speak and support each other.

Members of the Davis Center, Chaplains’ Office, Dean’s Office and other supportive staff are available – today, tomorrow evening as we gather, and in days ahead.

Those offices are open; students are always welcome to reach out. After hours, Campus Safety and Security can always help you connect with any of these supportive resources if you call 597-4444.

Best,

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes
Vice President
Institutional Diversity and Equity

Molly Magavern
Interim Director
The Davis Center

Rick Spalding
Chaplain to the College

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Comments Disabled To "Supporting Each Other in the Midst of Tragic National Events – Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 PM in Hardy House"

#1 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 11:49 am

What makes a “safe space” on a college campus? A label? An email? Locked doors? What does such a label mean?

All views are not welcome?

Is a reenforced bunker mentality in the academy a good thing?

#2 Comment By frank uible On September 28, 2016 @ 12:50 pm

Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?

#3 Comment By Alum On September 28, 2016 @ 12:53 pm

Why is there an institutional interpretation of national events??? The email is based on the premise of a specific interpretation of national events. They don’t even say “some feel”

#4 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On September 28, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

What is sad is they didn’t think to do anything when five Dallas officers were assassinated by a BLM activist.

#5 Comment By sigh On September 28, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

A specific interpretation? what interpretation? that “events which are having a significant impact on our campus community.” That’s vague as all hell (and i’d like to know more, but i don’t trust this site to provide that information in a remotely objective or even-keeled way). That shootings–by police, by terrorists (both nazi-sympathizing and islamicist-sympathizing) are tragic and disturbing?

i liked JCD better when he was complaining about williams’ weather not being a factor in USNWR rankings.

and a “safe space” is one in which supporting and reaffirming each other is the fundamental mission of that space and that any other mission for the space must not interfere that mission. What’s the harm in having a space like that for a few hours? reinforced bunker? cmon.

#6 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

sigh-

“and a “safe space” is one in which supporting and reaffirming each other is the fundamental mission of that space and that any other mission for the space must not interfere that mission..”

How is that “inclusion and diversity?” How is that “equity?”

#7 Comment By Williams Alum On September 28, 2016 @ 2:30 pm

PTC –
I believe we all strive for many goals, not all of which perfectly align. That’s an understandable thing on a personal, and institutional level. I can have a stated goal of being as fit as possible, but not just work out all the time, because I also have another goal of being able to support my family. That’s ok.

Also, safe spaces seem inclusive to me. It’s the same as having a club, essentially. If you don’t want to be there, don’t. If you do, do. Safe space is about affirming people; I don’t go into the fencing club and complain there is no dodgeball (and if people do, I think they are dumb). The school has plenty of resources to, in certain times and places, be focusing some of those on supporting students who are struggling with national events. If other students aren’t struggling, or disagree with their interpretation of those events, they don’t have to be present in that space at that time. They also seem fairly equitable; we are giving support systems to students that may not feel they have them in other spots.

$0.02.
WA

#8 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 3:06 pm

Alum- That is fair. There is a time and a place for everything.

That said, it seems to me that this kind of event is largely about supporting a singular view in a discussion that is much more important than “talking about fencing.”

Police killings, the killing of police officers etc. is obviously one of the things that is going to be relevant in this “safe space.” Having a discussion about such a thing, without a diversity of viewpoints, is very different than your dodgeball analogy.

Is it ok to have such a forum? Of course it is. But in some context, perhaps not this venue but another- you have to include police officers in these kinds of discussions.

You have an alum who happens to be the Chief of Police in Pittsfield. I am sure he would participate in some kind of forum, to give the perspective of law enforcement. That also has practical application, because officers can talk about real life experiences, and what to do in the event you are stopped by police. You could also have lawyers brief from prosecutorial and defense perspectives (there are plenty of eph lawyers).

My critique on “the academy” (not just Williams) when it comes to these kinds of issues is that the venue of “a college” should be used to build bridges rather than reenforce walls.

We are never going to solve these problems “talking about others.” We must get together, and at least attempt to form true diversity and understanding.

That means including police officers in some kind of forum… this or another.

There is nothing good going on at the other end of a 911 call…

#9 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 3:08 pm

I suspect that police are not invited to this kind of an event or another forum because there is a lack of understanding….

That is all the more reason to reach out and include “blue voices” in this kind of discussion.

#10 Comment By Williams Alum On September 28, 2016 @ 3:18 pm

PTC –
Agree, generally. I find no need for police presence at this event.

That said, I think a forum or discussion centering around police brutality, killing of police, institutional racism or lack thereof, and related topics sounds fascinating. If I were in charge, and I could convince him, I would love to recruit an alum Chief of Police to come talk at such an event. I think Williams should host such an event.

Do I think they are going to? No. Do I think this is a problem? Yes. Do I think hosting a safe space for students that don’t feel so to feel supported tonight precludes that? No.

WA

#11 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 3:34 pm

Alum-

I agree.

#12 Comment By frank uible On September 28, 2016 @ 4:10 pm

What’s the chance that any current Williams student becomes a victim of homicide or major mayhem on or near the campus in the not unforeseeable future? One in 500,000? C’mon, screw up your courage and intrepidly walk forward!

#13 Comment By Williams Alum On September 28, 2016 @ 4:24 pm

fu –
I don’t like snakes, despite the fact that the odds I get bit by one and die in my life is very, very, very, small. Don’t even like pictures of them. And heck, I don’t even know anyone that has been bitten by a snake, much less a poisonous one. (I am not very snake-proximity-diverse, I apologize). What’s the chance that a current Williams student knows someone who they feel was incarcerated on baloney charges (rightfully or not) or harassed by a cop? Non-trivial.

Imperfect analogy, like all my analogies.

WA

#14 Comment By Williams Alum On September 28, 2016 @ 4:25 pm

fu –
But I think all students are screwing up their courage and intrepidly walking forward! These people are not just wallowing in their dorm rooms. They are actively succeeding! In classes, on the field, in social relationships! Soon to be in their fields of choice, Williams is still graduating excellent members of the world at large!

In my opinion.

WA

#15 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

Williams Alum,

Why is it that elite schools do not invite “others” into these kinds of conversations?

If you are going to have a discussion about police brutality, why not invite the police? How much are you going to really gain talking about police without inviting them?

For “insular” support and therapy- ok, I buy that. There is a safe space for that, since that is the current buzz word.

But as a mechanism to truly address the problem, it seems like such a forum without cops would normally dissolve into an echo chamber.

And then there is the matter of exclusion. Private colleges are under no obligation to support free press, or free speech. Such is not the case at public schools.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kVGtqp7usw

Is this inclusion?

#16 Comment By PTC On September 28, 2016 @ 5:48 pm

… and the obvious criticism of the video I posted is that this is a single instance, a severe instance, as related to the whole in a way that is fundamentally unfair.

That’s true. It is a severe example.

Do sanctioned university events that afford “safe spaces” really allow for the inclusion necessary to break past the rhetoric and into some better sense of understanding?

If other events are not provided to address the fundamental issues with alternative experts (such as police who live this daily), then there is something missing.

#17 Comment By sigh On September 28, 2016 @ 6:15 pm

it’s not a discussion! IT’S NOT A DISCUSSION! IT’S NOT A F*CKING DISCUSSION!

Discussions can be good. So can some time to step away and collect one’s thoughts and emotions and feel welcomed and safe so that you can have a discussion later. But you know what ruins that? OTHER PEOPLE DEMANDING THAT IT BE A F*CKING DISCUSSION.

People are rubbed raw and on edge around the country. That’s not the time to demand that people sit down with others and disagree. That’s when you acknowledge their pain and frustration, confirm its value and importance and only after healing begins–true whether the aggrieved party is white or not, rich or poor, liberal or conservative, atheist or conservative christian. when people feel targeted and attacked, that ruins the potential for discussion. Safe spaces aren’t for people to never discuss things with people they disagree with. It’s to enable that discussion, a discussion that certain groups are required to do far more regularly and at far greater risk of harm than other groups.

start with empathy. stay there for a moment and stop demanding a discussion every damn time. After that, a productive discussion is far more likely to happen than if people barge into any attempt to provide a safe space and demand discussion.

Nowhere in that email did they talk about “solving” a problem. You foisted that on one attempt to help people deal with their pain and confusion. stop doing that. there are plenty of discussions that are happening with police. Great ones. See the work by the Center for Policing Equity, for example. ffs.

#18 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On September 28, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

1. Thanks to an Anonynous Senior for posting these messages! As you can see, there is a lot of interest in campus events . . .

2) “it’s not a discussion!”

Honest question: The notice reports that:

… members of our community are invited to gather in a safe space where we can reflect, listen, speak …

If person A speaks, and then person B speaks and then person C, reflecting on something that A says, and after listening to B, responds to A and B, aren’t they having a “discussion”?

What word would be better for an event at which lots of different people “speak”?

#19 Comment By sigh On September 28, 2016 @ 6:43 pm

SHARING. THEY’RE F*CKING SHARING. or unburdening. or emoting. or whatever. Is take back the night (where person A shares their experiences of assault, then person B does, then C, etc.) a discussion? NO. IT’S FUCKING NOT.

discussion: “the action or process of talking about something, typically in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.”

there’s no decision or exchange of ideas. there is sharing of pain and empathy and caring.

this thread can act as an example. I’m clearly angered at how this thread has gone. David’s reaction is to ask a question about how to define a discussion. It’s not to sympathize with the anger. Now, that’s fine in a blog comment thread (i’d say it’s not ideal, but my ideals and blogs–especially this blog differ wildly), but that’s trying to have a discussion (“let’s figure a thing out”) as opposed to a safe space (“I hear you’re frustrated with the idea that this needs to be a discussion with police. Thank you for sharing”).

In many facilitated group settings, it’s explicitly forbidden to respond to what others say because a discussion is only ONE WAY OF SPEAKING IN A GROUP SETTING and it leads to different outcomes than other forms of sharing or talking.

On monday, three people spoke for an hour and a half on TV in front of 81 million people. Was that a discussion? NO IT WASN’T.

wow.

#20 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On September 28, 2016 @ 7:02 pm

sigh:

That makes perfect sense. And, indeed, the explicit use of the phrase “safe space” is a strong hint that the purpose of the gathering is not to have a discussion.

But perhaps it would be useful for the College to organize two events. One (this one) would be, as you say, sharing, unburdening, emoting and so on. I am certainly in favor of such an event, assume that some Ephs find it valuable. But the second event would be different. It would (explicitly) not a “safe space” but a location at which discussion/debate would be welcome and encouraged.

Would you object if a student group were to organize such an event and advertise it with an all-campus e-mail?

#21 Comment By PTC On September 29, 2016 @ 1:22 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/opinion/sunday/judith-shulevitz-hiding-from-scary-ideas.html?_r=0

the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer.

Wednesday, Northwestern’s president, Morton O. Schapiro, wrote an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal affirming his commitment to academic freedom. But plenty of others at universities are willing to dignify students’ fears, citing threats to their stability as reasons to cancel debates, disinvite commencement speakers and apologize for so-called mistakes.

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2014/12/15/essay-importance-not-trying-protect-students-everything-may-upset-them

Here, then, are the questions that must frame a president’s response when one of those increasingly common eruptions breaks out on campus: How high does this measure on the Richter scale of crises? How can I respond in a way that plays to my students’ strengths as opposed to their weaknesses? How can this serve as an occasion to increase their wisdom and self-confidence? How will I help them to grow up?

#22 Comment By sigh On September 29, 2016 @ 10:17 am

can you post the defenses/reactions to those pieces? There are many and can provide the discussion you seem to crave that I do not have the emotional energy to persist in offering yet again. If not, why not? what does that say? If you can, why not do so before?

#23 Comment By PTC On September 29, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

Sigh-

My point is that concerns about censorship in the academy are not fringe, they are quite common among many prominent educators.

I don’t have a problem with therapeutic meetings.

My general critique is about the insular nature of elite institutions. If you want to have a discourse about police brutality, then you should include police officers at some stage. Formally. It’s one practical way to try to save lives. To what extent are elite academic institutions involved with the Center for Policing Equity? The partners list for that organization is small. Very few universities appear to be involved.

Why not include police at places like Williams? Directly.

I do not see how we are respecting the tough job police have when we marginalize them. That does not mean you cannot protest, or have separate discourse- petition for policy changes- that is all fine and good.

But police are human beings. They make mistakes, and they have brutal jobs. They will be the first one at the car accident. The first one at the domestic dispute. The first one at the stabbing or shooting. The first one at the robbery. The first one at the scene of suicide.

That cannot be lost in all this.

#24 Comment By PTC On September 29, 2016 @ 12:35 pm

http://policingequity.org/police-endorsement-trump-shows-black-lives-dont-matter/

And this is a political endorsement. It has political objectives. Partisanship does not help build a bridge.

Hillary does not have the best record with civil liberties either…

Do you think that a Chief of Police cares who his officers vote for? You can vote for Trump and still be an ethical cop, or soldier, or human being.

There are people who vote for various candidates for a wide variety of reasons. I’d never label any of my men for how they voted. Ever- and I certainly would not respect anyone who labeled me.

#25 Comment By sigh On September 29, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

well, then let me put it this way: by taking a single action in response to tragic events as indicative of some other concern you have about something else, you’ve concern trolled with the best of them. And in doing so, reproven the value of safe spaces–people want to simply be heard and their worth affirmed and instead, a political point is made/scored.

NO ONE IS LOSING SHIT ABOUT POLICE. IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM. IT’S ABOUT CARING FOR THE STUDENTS CURRENTLY ON CAMPUS.

the center for policing equity can have an opinion about politics and a slant AND STILL HAS CONVERSATIONS WITH POLICE. see, for example: http://policingequity.org/national-justice-database/. That database exists only with the support and effort of police. Or, more broadly: http://policingequity.org/law-enforcement/. The CPE can have a political slant and still be an ethical group working with police. and endorsing trump as a union is different from individual acts. AND ANOTHER FUCKING TANGENT.

why not include police at williams? NO ONE HAS SAID DON’T. NO ONE HAS SAID DON’T. THEY JUST WANT A FEW FUCKING HOURS TO EMOTE WITHOUT BEING TOLD WHY THEY SHOULD DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

#26 Comment By PTC On September 29, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

Sigh-

But no one has said they will, either. I am not seeing that kind of inclusion in this.

And being partisan to the point that you are willing to label people on who they advocate for in politics pretty much disqualifies a person from reasonable discourse in my opinion.

That simply is not how to lead others in a productive way. Not in my experienced professional opinion. I never met an effective leader who held politics in such a regard that they were willing to label others using it.

I am not trying to troll or agitate you, and I am sorry you feel that way.

#27 Comment By sigh On September 29, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

you don’t see that inclusion in this because THIS IS NOT THE TIME OR PLACE FOR THAT INCLUSION. it’s not. to ask for it or to criticize it for lacking that inclusion is to not accept and appreciate what it is.

and this one time and place gets castigated for that lack of inclusion. not the countless other times. that’s telling. it’s also wrong. unless the police want to come to the open meeting and share and grieve and listen and respect as individual members of the community. They’re welcome in that role there. and would could do great good for themselves and others if they came in that ethos, possibly.

i won’t get into the trump crap because it’s yet another absurdist tangent and gaslighting i’m not falling for again. the simple reality is that the CPE has fruitful, effective, and growing partnerships with police officers and departments around the country…even at the same time that they wrote an op-ed about how damaging to relationships with communities the FOP support of trump is.

#28 Comment By PTC On September 30, 2016 @ 7:13 am

“THIS IS NOT THE TIME OR PLACE FOR THAT INCLUSION.”

Sigh- and if you actually read what I am writing I acknowledge that a number of times.

You keep debating me about a topic that has already been acknowledged.

Please go back and read what I have actually written in this thread. You are debating me on a false premise. I already acknowledged that a “safe space” may not be the place for broader discourse that includes police officer- multiple times in this thread.

People have a right to gather with whom they please for purposes they desire. That is freedom of association. It is a protected right.

#29 Comment By anon-liberal On September 30, 2016 @ 8:09 am

“People have a right to gather with whom they please for purposes they desire. That is freedom of association. It is a protected right.”

Freedom of association doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. And, as a private institution, Williams can choose who has the platform to associate with whom, and subject such association to restrictions of time, manner, and place. Oh wait, I thought you were talking about something else…

I believe there is a misunderstanding about what diversity and inclusion really mean. It is my understanding that It does not mean intellectual diversity or the inclusion of all students’ opinions. Rather, it means providing opportunities for underprivileged and minority students to enjoy the same privileges as the majority, in the pursuit of equality.

#30 Comment By PTC On September 30, 2016 @ 8:18 am

anon- That is a fair critique. You are right.

#31 Comment By Dick Swart ’56 On September 30, 2016 @ 12:51 pm

PTC, help me out, please,

There is too much vituperation and wordswordswords on this series of comments for me to get the picture.

Here is what I assume, without regard to rightwronginclusionexclusion.

Safe Place – a location set for a given time during which a group of like people can get together to discuss/vent whatever seems to be a common problem. They can do this without fear of interruption by others of an un-like mind. Perhaps they will in the course of sharing their common problems, discover an opportunity in which some of the problems might be eased.

Please give me a Safe Place-for-Dummies answer.

Your pal,

Dick

#32 Comment By PTC On September 30, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

Dick-

Sigh has the right definition.

sigh-
“and a “safe space” is one in which supporting and reaffirming each other is the fundamental mission of that space and that any other mission for the space must not interfere that mission..”

and anon-liberal has the correct extrapolation.

“It does not mean intellectual diversity or the inclusion of all students’ opinions. Rather, it means providing opportunities for underprivileged and minority students to enjoy the same privileges as the majority, in the pursuit of equality.”

And that is fine.

As for the obvious major theme of police brutality, I think academics have a particularly monolithic view because almost none of them have ever been a police officer. I honestly believe that part ofthe framework of this dehumanizes police officers, and fails to take into consideration what it might be like to be one.

In general, I don’t think we address any of these issues without engaging directly with police- and in a non-partisan way that looks at policy, as well as the practical application of force. That means we include their point of view. We include them in a discussion which is largely about them.

That does not mean they or any other “outsiders” need to be included in a “safe space.” What it does mean, in my opinion, is that police should be engaged in the discussion and we should attempt to understand their perspective.

#33 Comment By Dick Swart On September 30, 2016 @ 2:58 pm

PTC …

Thank you!

From PTC

Sigh has the right definition.

“and a “safe space” is one in which supporting and reaffirming each other is the fundamental mission of that space and that any other mission for the space must not interfere with that mission..”

and anon-liberal has the correct extrapolation.

“It does not mean intellectual diversity or the inclusion of all students’ opinions. Rather, it means providing opportunities for underprivileged and minority students to enjoy the same privileges as the majority, in the pursuit of equality.”
And that is fine.

From me

I am comfortable with my understanding being congruent with sigh and anon liberal. I can see why the extended discussion occurred here on the blog. However, I don’t understand the level of personal attacks that take place during these exchanges.

#34 Comment By PTC On September 30, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

Dick,

A discourse that includes a wide variety of perspectives on the police and use of force would be a good winter study.

You could put together a forum that addresses specific cases from a variety of perspectives, as well as the more general aspects of the current social movements. Speak about the practical application of violence by the state. Policy, as well as enforcement.

But the focus of current tragic events is no doubt on enforcement. Police are at the center of this debate.

I don’t think we move the needle by yelling at each other in quads or libraries. And then yelling about the yelling.

We are too hard on each other right now. Its a tense climate. A lot of strong feelings; grief, fear and anger, for sure.

#35 Comment By Dick Swart On September 30, 2016 @ 8:08 pm

We are too hard on each other right now. Its a tense climate. A lot of strong feelings; grief, fear and anger, for sure.

PTC (above)

A sad but too true observation. PTC!