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Warhol Wallpaper …

DOrpko

This image from 1966 was titled “Pink Cow”. But close enough!

It is the image on the endpapers of the just-published Andy Warhol Prints, the book accompanying the spectacular show at the Portland Art Museum which closes today.

 

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Rail and Architecture Museum

Via our friends at Williams twitter, this article from The Berkshire Eagle:

Just over a year ago, Thomas Krens was flanked by two former Massachusetts governors as he introduced his proposal to revitalize downtown North Adams.

On Tuesday, Krens’ team detailed the continued work toward opening the Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum at Western Gateway Heritage State Park — which he believes would draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown North Adams — at a North Adams Chamber of Commerce event.

The event, an annual holiday tradition for the chamber, drew plenty of interest from chamber members, who were taken on a tour of the studio where a team of Krens’ employees are designing the museum step by step, including a long and detailed model of the planned model railroad museum.

“It’s a work in progress, so everything is made of foam and held together by tape,” said Andr e Heller, the project’s manager. “It’s a working model, and our posters change and our models change on a daily basis.”

The installation will be rooted in a historical narrative, delving into what moments were important in railroad and architectural history and how they intersect with American history, Heller said.

In addition to the design, the museum’s planners face the challenge of raising funds to actually build it.

“It just came out of knowing my members would love to hear it firsthand from him, and he’s moving right along,” program coordinator Ricco Fruscio said of the event. “[Chamber members] get excited because they realize there are other people that are investing here too.”

Krens, a visionary behind the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and former director of the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation in New York City, announced a proposal for the model train museum last December.

A Williamstown resident, Krens has made creating Route 2 a “cultural corridor” the center of his work. Krens has also detailed plans for a privately owned, 160,000-square-foot contemporary art museum at the Harriman and West Airport in North Adams and a revitalization effort at the Mohawk Theater, which has been closed for 25 years.

If and when it is completed, the museum will be the park’s largest building and feature nearly 10 miles of track for up to 100 precisely scaled model trains.

Fruscio also praised the ongoing progress of private development at the Redwood Motel and Greylock Mill.

“People are very excited, there’s a lot of investment coming into the area,” he said.

Good stuff! The more that Ephs like Krens ’69 can turn the area around the College into a “cultural corridor,” the better for Williams.

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McGuire on Virtually Reality

Via our friends at Williams twitter, this talk by Professor Morgan McGuire “on virtual reality for non-technical audiences.”

Highly recommended.

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Pittsfield Police Chief Wynn ’93 and the Civil Service

From The Berkshire Eagle:

The state Civil Service Commission has rejected a request to allow acting Police Chief Michael Wynn to become the city’s permanent chief.

The commission has denied the request from Mayor Linda M. Tyer, and it advised the city to offer a Civil Service exam for police chief “forthwith.”

The Civil Service process relies on competitive examination rather than political appointment to determine leadership. A mayor can then choose from the top three candidates.

While the city subscribes to the Civil Service process, its mayors long have opted to appoint acting chiefs, circumventing that process.

Wynn was a captain with the department in January 2009 when he was named acting chief by former Mayor James M. Ruberto. He retained that title under Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, whom Tyer defeated in November 2015.

Tyer asked the commission in June to officially appoint Wynn chief based on his Civil Service exam results in June 2009 — the last time it was given — when Wynn and Lt. Jeffrey Bradford took the test. Wynn placed first; Bradford ranked second.

“I felt that it was important that we undertake this administrative appeal, to settle once and for all whether Michael Wynn had any remaining standing to be eligible for the appointment permanently as our chief of police,” Tyer told the Eagle on Thursday.

But in a five-page letter dated Dec. 8, commission Chairman Christopher C. Bowman said Wynn should have appealed to the commission on his own — and more immediately following his 2009 appointment — if he wanted to serve as more than acting chief.

The commission also cited the need to avoid the “appearance” of a conflict of interest: Wynn’s wife served on Tyer’s campaign committee. Bowman acknowledged the commission found no evidence that the request was politically or personally motivated.

The results of the 2009 tests were good through 2012, the letter stated.

Members of the police union, who had opposed Tyer’s request, applauded the commission’s ruling.

“All we asked for was a fair process,” said Pittsfield Police Sgt. Matthew Hill, who represents Local 447S, the union for department supervisors. “We really wanted to see the Civil Service process followed. We’ve been going far too long without a Civil Service chief.”

Hill said having an acting chief leaves the department in limbo and diminishes the point of Civil Service.

The union opposition “has never been about [Wynn] or how he has done the job. It has been about doing the process right,” he said.

The Civil Service exam can take two forms: a written test and what’s known as an “assessment center,” which tests police on real-life scenarios in addition to the written exam.

Historically the city has only offered the written exam.

Tyer said the city will offer another test, though she was unclear on a timetable or which version it will use.

“We are assessing what our options are,” she said. “Within the next week or so will we have a final plan for how to proceed.”

She said Wynn will remain acting chief in the interim.

Wynn directed all questions regarding the commission’s decision to the mayor; he confirmed he will remain with the department.

“I’m proud of my service with the Pittsfield Police Department, and I’m happy to continue my service in my current capacity, or any other capacity that may be requested or required,” he wrote in an email.

Regardless of the type of test, Hill said he knows of at least three officers who are interested. He did not have a time frame in mind but added, “We’d like to have something happen sooner rather than later.”

The city has had an on-again off-again relationship with Civil Service.

In 1981, after 70 years with Civil Service, the city voters opted out of the process. During the 10 years without it, the police department had three different appointed chiefs, a temporary chief and went two years without one.

Civil Service was reinstated by voters in 1991.

The city’s fire department is also led by an acting chief. Tyer said she does not plan to make changes there any time soon.

It is very hard to know what to make of this. PTC: Help us out!

Comments:

1) In the numerous Williams College puff pieces about Wynn (example here), I have never seen him referred to as an acting chief. Politeness, sloppiness or something else?

2) Does race play any role here? Wynn is African-American in a city (and department?) that is overwhelmingly white.

3) What is the deal with the Civil Service in Massachusetts? I am embarrassed to admit I know nothing about it. Does it also play a role in the governance of Williamstown and North Adams?

4) One of the many sad side effects of the destruction of the business model for regional papers is that there is so much less coverage of local events. Any Williams student with an interest in writing/journalism should start by reporting on news in the Williams region. We would be eager to provide hundreds of daily readers for her prose . . .

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Swart ’56 on Brackenridge

Our own Dick Swart ’56 added this comment (two years ago) to the Record article we discussed the other day:

The news as reported in this story is greatly dismaying to me as a parent and as an alumnus. I feel great sympathy for the victim and for her Alumni parents who felt so good as their daughter. entered her freshman year. I see the college attitude and policies as being developed with proper inputs, guarantees of confidentiality, and recently-enhanced and improved methods of investigation.

Yet the criticisms seem valid. In particular:

• The victim’s perception of the college not wanting to ruin the perpetrator’s life at this early stage when as she observes, hers has already been ruined.It is my guess that the perps will almost certainly be male and the victims female. Is the college standing in loco parentis at the final moment of judgement despite the rigorous process of investigation and determination of guilt?

• The parents’ belief as alums that their daughter was going to a safe place and their subsequent disappointment at the eventual steps taken.

• The separate but related question of the sanctity of mens sports, in this case hockey.

From the story cited above:

“She also hopes to bring into question a college culture she sees as too protective of athletes. “On the Williams campus, it should hopefully generate a conversation about this individual case and the fact that a winning team is not worth sexual assault on campus,” Lexie says.

Lexie and her parents believe that a culture of older, experienced hockey players — admitted as freshmen — played a role in her assault. Her alleged assailant was admitted as a 20-year-old after a year in a Canadian league. That same year, the college accepted five other freshmen hockey players, ranging in age from 19 to 22 years old, who had delayed entering college to play hockey.

• The victim’s treatment on campus by fellow students following the rape. If as the story reports, the word “heartless” comes to mind.

I believe that the statements by the college on policies and practices being referred to by different levels of administration will be seen as a screen and a shield for protection of the College rather than the protection of the victim involved.

Perhaps the college’s best course of action in cases like this is to turn the matters over to the proper level of local police and court authority.

“In loco Parentis” may not be a fitting role for a college in these more open times. Particularly in cases in which the punishments more accurately and appropriately are civil matters.

Dick Swart 1956

Would the College’s handling of the Safety Dance case cause Dick to revisit these suggestions? Should it?

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George Michaels. 25th December, 2016.

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WBUR on Brackenridge

brackenridge

From WBUR in May 2014:

Amid increasing scrutiny nationwide of college administrators’ response to sexual assault cases, a former Williams College student and her parents have accused leaders at that college of mishandling her assault case.

Lexie Brackenridge, and her parents, Heidi and Alec Brackenridge, of Boston, also oppose the expected return to campus this fall of the alleged assailant.

(WBUR policy does not identify victims of sexual assault without their permission. In this case, both the woman and her parents agreed to be publicly identified.)

Lexie says the assault happened during her first semester at the private four-year institution in the Berkshires, during a party where alcohol was served.

“In October of 2012, I was sexually assaulted by a member of the men’s hockey team on campus at Williams,” Lexie says.

Lexie says she went to her alleged assailant’s room, and at that point realized how drunk and drugged he seemed to be. She does not want to discuss further details, because, she says, she does not want to re-victimize herself.

The next day, Lexie’s mother picked her up and drove her home to Wayland, where the family lived at the time. Lexie received medical attention. Her parents consulted an attorney. He advised against pressing charges, warning them that a trial would take two years and take their daughter out of college.

After a couple of weeks, Lexie returned to Williams. She met with two deans who, she says, persuaded her to file a complaint in the college’s disciplinary system against her alleged assailant. Originally, she says, she had refused.

“And they encouraged me that it would be very confidential,” Lexie says, “and the direct quote from Sarah Bolton, who is a dean at the college, she said that: ‘We want him off campus by tomorrow.’ ”

(WBUR is not naming the alleged assailant because no criminal charges were filed.)

When interviewed last week by WBUR in her office at Williams, Bolton said the college was unable to comment on the specifics of the case.

Lexie filed a complaint. The dean investigated. But Lexie was frustrated that she was not able to read what witnesses had said. She was also frustrated with the number of witnesses: 30, she says. Word got out that she was accusing a popular hockey player of raping her, and students — even some she had thought were her friends — started to turn against her.

Like other college officials, Bolton is in a tough spot. She can’t talk about the specifics of any case. But she can talk about how the college investigates reports of sexual assaults. And it does involve gathering information from as many witnesses as possible.

Bolton admits that it’s hard to maintain confidentiality at a small college.

“Often, the students know one another really well. They’re parts of the same social circles,” Bolton says. “And in a small community, the social pressures that build around that, and the way that pushes against reporting are things that we’re really concerned with.”

As word leaked out on campus about Lexie’s accusation, some of the witnesses changed their stories — among them, a friend of Lexie’s who started to date one of the hockey players. Lexie says the hockey player who assaulted her and a teammate concocted a false alibi, proved wrong by their ID card swipe records. Lexie says she received a letter from Bolton informing her that the two men had created a false story.

“And that’s why the dean of the college, that was one of the reasons that she was finding him guilty, but the boy who lied with him was never punished,” Lexie says.

The student Lexie says lied to help her alleged assailant concoct an alibi did not respond to a request for comment.

In an exchange on Facebook, the man Lexie accused of sexually assaulting her initially asked why WBUR wanted to talk to him. Informed that the Brackenridges are opposing his return, and that it was important to get his side of the story, he did not respond. That day, he deleted his Facebook page.

In 2012, Bolton was the chief judicial officer in sexual misconduct cases. She would look at the testimony and other evidence, such as patterns of students moving in and out of buildings. She would then decide whether it was more likely than not that the accused student violated the code of conduct, and if so, how. Then she would decide what the appropriate sanction would be.

Bolton found the alleged assailant had violated the code of conduct, and suspended him for three semesters.

“In our old process, both parties have a right of appeal, and they could appeal, under that old process, for any reason, whether they felt that I’d found the facts incorrectly or just simply that the sanction was inappropriate,” Bolton says.

The student appealed to a committee of four students and four members of the faculty, “who would reassess the evidence and decide whether there had been a violation of the code of conduct, and then redetermine what an appropriate sanction would be,” Bolton says.

The disciplinary committee confirmed Bolton’s initial decision in the case.

“My rapist was suspended for three semesters after being found guilty of sexual assault,” Lexie says. She remembers sitting in an office with the dean who had been assigned to her. She asked why her alleged assailant was suspended and not expelled.

“As they said, an expulsion would ruin their life, and they weren’t looking to do that, never mind that my life had been openly ruined by this man,” Lexie says.

Williams College estimates based on a 2011 survey that 50 sexual assaults occur on campus every year. According to the college’s website, the year Lexie reported she was sexually assaulted, she was one of six people; one took legal action; three, including Lexie, pursued disciplinary action; one student was suspended for two semesters; the other student who had been suspended for three semesters appealed, and was expelled.

Lexie says it became clear to her that as long as she was at Williams, it would be hard for her to focus on her academics because of the way she says some of the members of the hockey team kept harassing her.

“And one of the main occurrences, when it really, I would say, hit its peak was when they surrounded me and started throwing beer cans at my head and screamed that I should have kept my mouth shut,” Lexie says. She says the beer cans were full. She says the witnesses were the hockey team and one woman who a week after the incident started dating a hockey player. Neither the woman nor the hockey players responded to requests for comment.

The next morning, Lexie says, she reported the assault to the dean who had been assigned to help her. The college never disciplined the hockey players, Lexie says.

Bolton points out that retaliation is a violation of Williams’ code of conduct.

“We have in place strong policies that forbid people to take revenge on people who have reported,” Bolton says. “But you can have all of those things in place and still, social backlash can happen.”

Lexie says she finally decided to transfer after she found out she and a friend would be assigned housing with the hockey team her sophomore year. She is finishing her sophomore year at Columbia University, in New York.

Again, Bolton says she cannot discuss the specifics of the case, but says the college does make housing accommodations for a student who experiences an assault.

Lexie did not seem to get that message.

“And I think that the way in which the Williams administration handled it, it made it exceedingly clear that I was not welcome on that campus and that I was essentially being used as an example of why people should not come forward on that campus,” Lexie says.

Lexie says three Williams women have told her that after seeing how she was treated, they decided not to report sexual assaults against them.

Last fall, during his suspension, the man Lexie says raped her was arrested for possession of marijuana, according to a local news report. He had also been listed on the roster of a hockey team called the MILF Hunters, which Lexie’s parents say demonstrates that he has no remorse about what he did to their daughter.

Bolton says students must abide by the code of conduct even when they are suspended. But minor violations of the code would not prevent a student from coming back.

“There are things that are not permitted in our code of conduct for which we ordinarily have just a warning conversation with a student,” Bolton says. “Underage drinking is an example of that. So are low-level drug violations.”

Heidi Brackenridge, Lexie’s mother, opposes the alleged assailant’s return to Williams this fall, in part because she’s worried he may assault another student.

“My best friend’s daughter will begin as a freshman in the fall, and it appalls me that they would be willing to take that risk, and I don’t understand why they would,” Heidi says.

The Brackenridges say when the alleged assailant was suspended, they never expected him to be allowed back on campus. But Bolton explains that if she tells a student he is suspended for a fixed period of time, he receives a letter saying he is eligible to return in a particular semester. The letter may contain additional requirements.

“You might say you are required to receive alcohol treatment,” Bolton says. “And if they meet those requirements, then they are eligible to return on the date that we specify in the letter.”

Bolton says the college expects that students it finds have violated its code of sexual conduct may come back.

“Certainly students do return to campus following suspensions and reintegrate and succeed,” Bolton says.

By speaking out, Lexie says she intends to protect the next woman and to prevent anyone else from being placed in her position. She also hopes to bring into question a college culture she sees as too protective of athletes.

“On the Williams campus, it should hopefully generate a conversation about this individual case and the fact that a winning team is not worth sexual assault on campus,” Lexie says.

Lexie and her parents believe that a culture of older, experienced hockey players — admitted as freshmen — played a role in her assault. Her alleged assailant was admitted as a 20-year-old after a year in a Canadian league. That same year, the college accepted five other freshmen hockey players, ranging in age from 19 to 22 years old, who had delayed entering college to play hockey.

“So I think that yes, there’s obviously an athletic component that comes into play here, and I think an entire team mentality was also facilitated and created by their coach and also by that team themselves: ‘Hey, this is our teammate. We have to stick by him no matter what.’ ”

The head coach of men’s ice hockey at Williams, Bill Kangas, did not return a request for comment.

Lexie’s parents say Williams seems to have changed since they were students there in the 1980s.

But the college’s new director of sexual assault prevention and response, Meg Bossong, says sexual assault on college campuses is not something new.

“Those experiences were happening for decades, and we’re just talking about it a lot more publicly now,” Bossong says.

Heidi Brackenridge says she felt good when her daughter decided to attend Williams.

“It was a place that we felt safe,” Heidi says. “And it was a place that we trusted. And I can even remember talking about when Lexie was accepted how nice it was to drop her at a place where we thought, ‘Ah, it’s familiar. We know it. We loved it.’ ”

Alec Brackenridge says he and his wife were naive because they believed that their daughter would be protected by the college’s disciplinary process.

“Instead, I feel like the college was protecting themselves and making it possible for the assailant, the guy who raped our daughter, to get back on campus,” Alec says.

This spring, the college changed the way it investigates and adjudicates accusations of sexual assault. Professionals come in from off campus to conduct the investigations. And a panel from the student affairs staff now decides the cases.

Bolton says the changes are meant to instill confidence in victims of sexual assault so that they will file complaints.

“If students don’t believe that we will take these matters seriously, that we will listen to them carefully and support them through the process, then they simply won’t come forward, and we won’t have an opportunity to support them or to address the issues that may be happening,” Bolton says.

The Brackenridges have written to trustees, a former Williams College president, professors and alumni, many of whom are up in arms about the treatment Lexie received.

Williams College trustees and officials, in correspondence obtained by WBUR, indicate it’s unlikely the school will reverse a judicial decision to allow the accused student to return.

Indeed, the accused student is now a senior, proudly wearing the purple and gold while playing ice hockey for the Ephs.

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Merry Christmas

grading

Merry Christmas to all! EphBlog hopes that the world is looking prettier to Ephs far and wide.

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Ghosts of EphBlog Past

A comment earlier in the month provides me with an excuse to repeat-and-revise this essay from 12 (!) years ago . . .

An anonymous comment in the thread of presidential searches provides occasion for me to give my view on EphBlog’s past, present and future. Come join me in navel study . . . Dickensesque it will not be.

Here are portions of the comment, with my thoughts interspersed.

Alright, permit me to offer another perspective that may clarify Todd’s frustration.

Essentially, DDF has admitted that he’s interested in a particular market anomaly — the relative overcompensation of a specialized type of employee in an extremely complex market. That’s fine, and if this were PresidentialCompensationblog.com, or HigherEducationFinanceblog.com, his perseveration might be suitable or even admirable. But that’s not the case — this is supposed to be a blog about all things Williams, and currently there seems to be a bit of digression.

I have heard this same complaint many times before. Some didn’t like it when EphBlog was too much NigaleianBlog.com or BarnardVistaBlog.com
or MGRHSFunding.Blog or EphBlogBlog.com or DDFsRandomThoughtsBlog.com or whatever. Soon I will be getting complaints about EphBlog being too much CGCLBlog.com.

Now, like any writer, I appreciate feedback. I am curious to know what other people think. I hope that people enjoy EphBlog, both all the postings/comments taken together and my own contributions. But, it should be clear by now that I often become very interested in a small aspect of “all things Eph” and pursue that aspect in mind-numbing detail. Few can compete with me in the category of dead-horse-beating. When I tilt at these windmills, and I plan on tilting for years to come, I try to segregate my posts, clearly stating the topic and leaving much of the commentary below the jump so that only readers truly interested need be bothered. If you don’t want to read any more of my posts about presidential compensation, well, I have a solution: Don’t read them.

Yet the commentator misses the point when he opines about what EphBlog is “supposed to be”. It is not for him alone to define what EphBlog is “supposed to be” — nor is it for me or Eph ’20 or Dick Swart ’56 or Professor Steve Miler or any other author/commentator/reader. EphBlog is a collective effort. It is “supposed to be” whatever we make of it.

Now, of course, we do have an official EphBlog motto — “all things Eph” — which provides a three word summary about how many of us think about EphBlog. The motto should be interpreted as broadly as possible. We are interested in anything and everything related to any Eph. Of course, there is a sense in which this is impossibly broad. Since Ephs are everywhere and involved in everything, it would be hard to come up with a topic that was not Eph-related somehow. But we do try to always have a “hook” — some connection, however tenuous, to something that another Eph has written or done.

The best way to understand what “all things Eph” means in the context of EphBlog is to look at the body of posts over the last year or so. The range of topics that we have covered is representative, I think, of what “all things Eph” means to us as a collective. I predict that 2017 will see a similar collection of posts and comments. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

What is EphBlog “supposed to be”? As the founder of EphBlog, allow me to state authoritatively the answer: EphBlog is supposed to be whatever the community of Eph authors, commentators and readers wants it to be. If you want it to be something else, then join us and contribute. To the extent that you’d like to remain anonymous, we are happy to have anonymous authors, include me. EphBlog is supposed to be whatever you make of it.

Granted, I’m not being completely fair, because DDF has located his interest in the more general question of ‘What were the qualities of the presidential search a few years back, and what can we learn from it?’ Honestly, I don’t find this question especially compelling, and my guess is that many ephblog readers wouldn’t either.

I don’t care. Really.

Now that may seem harsh, and I do value people’s comments and we all have something to add to the conversation and I am a sensitive guy and blah, blah, blah. But . . .

I am not writing for you. I am writing for me. Even more, I am writing for my father, class of ’58. Now the topic of Ephs and their fathers is not one that I want to dwell on today, but I spent about as much time on EphBlog in the summer of 2003 as I do now, even though we had very few readers then. Yet I knew that my dad was one. As long as he reads, I will write. Feel free to join us on the trip.

I would argue that the real problem is that more germaine issues are being ignored. I can name a couple really quickly — the issue of race relations on campus and the paucity of minority faculty; the degree of involvement of Williams students in activist causes and the local community; and, as one studly dude recently posted on the WSO forums, the federal cuts to Pell grants and what Williams’ reaction might be.

As a good economist, DDF might say, if you don’t like what I’m doing, go found EphraimBlog.com and do it your way.

Calling me an economist is like asking me if I was in the Navy: they are fighting words. ;-)

More importantly, this is not what I say. I agree with you that all those topics are interesting. I think that someone should write about them, either at EphBlog or elsewhere. If anyone did write about them, I would be eager to read what she has to say and to comment on it.

But if you think that “more germaine issues are being ignored,” I am afraid that you are missing the point. EphBlog, as a collective effort, doesn’t ignore anything. We don’t have a morning editorial meeting at which agendas are discussed, assignments given and plans made. If you think that that Eph student activism is interesting, then write about it. Whatever you write, I will post. Just don’t tell me what to write about.

That’s fine — but I would argue that as someone who has founded ephblog as a specifically *public* forum, you have a bit of a responsibility to at least attempt to reflect the interests of the larger Eph community, and not pursue your own vanity projects. This isn’t Kaneblog, it’s Ephblog. Kaneblog would be fine, but don’t use Ephblog as a facade for it.

I have zero, zip, zilch “responsibility to at least attempt to reflect the interests of the larger Eph community.” Even thinking about the issue in this way is mostly unhelpful.

  1. Does the “larger Eph community” include the thousands and thousands of Ephs who do not read EphBlog and have no interest in doing so? Morty Schapiro, to cite just one example, does not read blogs (and more power to him). Why should EphBlog attempt to reflect Morty’s interests?
  2. To the extent that the “larger Eph community” means the current (and potential future) readers of EphBlog, I would argue that we are doing a pretty good job of interest-representation. How else would you explain our increased readership? Someone’s “interests” are being represented quite well, thank you very much.
  3. Perhaps you really mean to claim that I should “attempt to reflect” your interests. I am afraid that we are just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.

I don’t mean to be too hard on this anonymous commentator. He (or someone at his IP address) has said many interesting and sensible things in the past. We probably agree about much more than the tenor of my rant might suggest.

But the days before Christmas are a time for summing up and looking forward. The above is my view on what EphBlog has been. Everyone else can decide for themselves what EphBlog will be in 2017. My own hope is that it will be less blog and more discussion, less of my writing and more of everyone else’s. Time will tell all.

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Record Reporting on Brackenridge

This 2014 Record article on the fall 2012 Brackenridge case is excellent. Kudos to Lauren Bender ’15.

A case of sexual assault at the College attracted media attention on Monday when a former student came forward to talk about her experience. Lexie Brackenridge, a current sophomore at Columbia who transferred from the College after she was sexually assaulted in fall 2012, discussed her treatment by the school’s administration and accused the College of mishandling her assault case.

The College responded quickly. President Adam Falk sent an all-campus email, which stated, “No sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, can have a place at Williams. We must all work together diligently to prevent it … Specific cases are confidential to protect the complainant, the respondent, and the students who were spoken to as part of the investigations. The future integrity of these processes depends on student confidence in their remaining confidential. Our commitment to confidentiality is firm, even if one party chooses to go public.” Falk’s email also included a link to his official statement on the matter.

Dean Bolton also sent an email to the student body, offering students the opportunity to gather in Dodd at 8 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss issues around sexual assault. An email was also sent to parents, assuring them that “In the matter raised by the former student and her parents, the College, as always, followed faithfully and fully its established written procedures in both adjudication and support.”

If not for the controversy unleashed by the Brackenridge family, would John Doe ’16 have been granted his degree in June? I don’t know.

The comment thread for this article is off the hook, as the kids say.

Would it be worth a week of commentary to go through the article, with the benefit of knowing some of the details about how Williams policy has evolved in the past four years?

Rest of article below the break: Read more

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Brackenridge in The Record

Lexie Brackenridge wrote in the Record two years ago:

In October 2012, when I was a 17-year-old first-year student, I was raped at Williams College by a 21-year-old freshman hockey player. I reported the assault to the dean’s office, and an investigative panel was appointed. The panel found the perpetrator guilty of sexual assault, suspending him from Williams for three semesters. My rapist appealed the finding, and the second trial once again found him guilty of sexual assault. At the end of the three-month ordeal, my attacker was suspended for three semesters from Williams. At the time, neither my parents nor I focused on his being suspended rather than expelled; it never occurred to us that the suspension was merely administrative and that Williams would readmit a known sexual assailant. By coming forward and sharing my story, my intentions are to encourage the College to take the adequate measures to prevent another student from being put in the position that I was: victimized, threatened and overwhelmingly isolated.

Read the whole thing. Rest of article below the break. Read more

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Amended Complaint in Safety Dance

An Amended Complaint has been filed in the Safety Dance sexual assault case. Most of it is the same as before, but there are some changes, especially at paragraph 174 (a-m) (pages 36ff) and 262 v and vi (page 64).

Highlights:

dance

Swear that I am not making this up! First, are we allowed to comment on the wonderful vibrancy that has come (via affirmative action?) to the Williams campus? Back in the day, if you were in a serious public relationship with girl A, it was considered bad form to rub up against girls B, C and D. Is this less true in Latin culture? Should Williams strive to encourage different behavior among its students?

Dick Swart’s ’56 classic question is, as always, relevant: Where did these people prep?

Second, I claim vindication on naming this scandal Safety Dance. Recall the song lyrics:

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.

Is it time for EphBlog to make a spoof video, changing the words of the song to match more closely the facts of this case?

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Can we get some lawyer input as to whether the Brandeis case will be used as precedent here? John Doe’s attorney certainly hopes so!

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I think that is a good summary of the key points from John Doe’s point of view.

If a female student can have sex with a male student for two years and then, after a vicious personal falling out, accuse him of a one-time assault that happened in the middle of that two year period, provide no contemporary evidence, and cause the College to refuse to give him his degree, I think we are going to see a lot more men spend four years at Williams without a BA to show for the effort.

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Globe on Brackenridge

EphBlog failed to provide sufficient coverage of this high profile sexual assault case from four years ago. Before this history disappears, let’s spend a few days reviewing the record. From The Boston Globe on May 24, 2014:

Williams College roiled by report of rape
Students, alumni outraged, say case was mishandled

Allegations that administrators at Williams College mishandled a student’s report of being raped and subsequently harassed has sparked outcry among students, faculty, parents, and alumni, some of whom have vowed to withhold donations until changes are made.

Hundreds have signed a petition calling for action by the liberal arts school in Western Massachusetts. On Friday, the school’s president issued the latest in a series of statements assuring the community that it takes sexual assault seriously.

“This has gone off like a pack of fireworks in a pack of fireworks,” said Anne Lindsay Fetter, who graduated from Williams in 1985 and is vowing to withhold donations to the college. “I’ve never seen the alumni association so enraged over anything before.”

The uproar began when Lexie Brackenridge, a 19-year-old from Boston, wrote in a student newspaper column last week that she had been raped in October 2012 when she was a 17-year-old freshman.

Administrators, she wrote, persuaded her to not seek legal action against her alleged assailant, a 21-year-old student who played for the men’s hockey team. Instead, school officials had her file a complaint through the school’s judicial system, Brackenridge wrote.

During that three-month process, she said she was repeatedly harassed by other members of the hockey team.

“In one instance, they surrounded me, threw full beer cans at my head and chanted that I should have kept my mouth shut,” she wrote. “When I spoke to the deans about the incident, I was told that everyone was ‘exhausted’ from dealing with the case and that perhaps it would be better if we all just ‘took a little break.’ ”

She said her alleged assailant was ultimately found responsible for the act, and administrators suspended him for three semesters, a punishment she described as “a mere slap on the wrist.”

An attorney for the alleged assailant, who could not be reached Friday night, told WBUR previously that he denies the allegations against him.

Brackenridge has since transferred to Columbia University in New York, where she was a sophomore this year.

Brackenridge and her parents, who are Williams alumni, have launched a campaign to raise awareness about what happened and to try to stop it from occurring again. Hundreds of fellow students and alumni have backed the family’s demand that the school take steps to improve.

An online petition launched this week by Brackenridge calls on the school to change how it investigates sexual assault and disciplines offenders. It has collected more than 650 signatures.

“I was really blown away by the response I received,” Brackenridge said in a phone interview Friday, noting how classmates, alumni, friends, family, faculty, advocates and even strangers have expressed support.

“I was not expecting anything of this magnitude,” she said. “I’ve had so many people say I’m proud you came out and told your story.”

School officials, citing privacy laws, have said they cannot comment in detail about the case. Williams spokesman Jim Kolesar on Friday reiterated previous statements from the college that it feels “very confident” it has followed proper policies and procedures “in every case including this one.”

“The college has been working intensively on this for years,” he said. “It’s urgent work that needs to be done, and we’ll continue to work on this.”

Administrators have issued numerous statements about the topic since Brackenridge’s account was published. College dean Sarah Bolton wrote a lengthy reaction to the petition, responding individually to its demands.

On Friday, the college’s president, Adam Falk, sent a letter to alumni and parents saying that Williams has a “culture of commitment to ending sexual assault.”

“Sexual assault is horribly, devastatingly destructive,” he wrote. “Williams is not immune from this destructive force.”

He assured that battling the problem is a priority.

“Addressing sexual assault at Williams — through prevention, awareness, and education efforts; support and care of survivors; and the strengthening of our disciplinary processes — has been a primary concern of mine since I became president in 2010,” he added. “We want more light on this issue, not less.”

But many said they are not satisfied with the school’s reponse.

“I view it as pure PR spin drafted by a lawyer to skirt any legal problems,” said Fetter, one of the alumni upset with the sexual assault report. She is vowing not to give another penny to her alma mater “until I see some concrete action.”

Fetter said she, too, was a victim of a sexual assault when she attended Williams some three decades ago. She alleged that her complaint was dismissed by school officials.

“I see there’s a clear need to address the issue of social justice, and I think Williams is a premier school and it needs to take the lead on revamping the policies in place,” said Fetter, who now lives in California and is a researcher and teacher at Walden University. “I’m outraged. This is not acceptable.”

Brackenridge said she is “frustrated, offended, and hurt” by the school’s response and that no one from the college has reached out to her directly.

“If the school truly wants to reform their policies they should talk to the victims themselves,” she said.

But, she vowed she and her supporters won’t quit.

“The large amount of support I have backing me — whether it’s in the Williams community or the countless women from across the country backing me — it’s not going to go away,” she said.

Brakenbridge’s father, Alex, said he has been inspired by his daughter coming forward and called the outpouring of support “tremendously heartening.”

He said the school’s response has been cold and lacking respect.

“We want a constructive dialogue and we hope something positive can come from this,” he said.

The controversy comes amid growing activism around the problem of campus sexual assault and three weeks after the White House unveiled new guidelines for schools to follow in their efforts to address the issue.

Federal officials disclosed this month that six schools in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire, and another in Connecticut were among 55 nationwide under investigation for potentially mishandling complaints of sexual violence and harassment.

Since that time, the number of schools being probed has grown from 55 to 60.

The five additional schools under investigation by the US Department of Education for possible Title IX violations are: The University of Alaska, the University of Delaware, Elmira College in New York, The University of Akron in Ohio, and Cisco Junior College in Texas, according to an updated list the US Education Department provided to the Globe Friday.

Meanwhile, in the past several weeks, administrators from at least two other local schools have been accused of failing to address rape reports appropriately.

A former Northeastern University student who said she was raped there filed a federal complaint with the Department of Education two weeks ago against the school alleging that administrators improperly handled her case and violated Title IX, a law that mandates gender equality in campus life.

Another alleged rape victim, a student at Brown University in Providence, this week filed a federal complaint against her school, accusing administrators there of similar violations.

As of Friday, neither of those schools, nor Williams, are under investigation for their alleged violations. But federal officials have said that they review directly filed complaints as well as public allegations before determining whether to launch a probe.

Northeastern spokeswoman Renata Nyul said in a statement that while privacy laws prevent the school from commenting on specific cases, “we take reports of sexual assault very seriously and we investigate every allegation promptly.”

Brown spokeswoman Marisa Quinn said the university has not been formally notified of a complaint, but administrators “recognize the seriousness of our obligations under the Clery Act and Title IX.”

If I were John Doe’s attorney, I would highlight the pressure that Williams is under to demonstrate that it is serious about combating sexual assault. Would Doe be punished as severely if Brackenridge and her parents had not raised such a hue and cry?

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Stepford Eph

Interesting Bethany McLean ’92 essay:

Earlier this fall, I was conducting a bunch of interviews at a conference. After I finished one perfectly pleasant interview, the person I was interviewing, who is a prominent business leader, turned to me and said, “You are such a Stepford Wife.” Shocked, I responded, “Well, I can assure you no one has ever said that about me before!” The person, unfazed, continued to the audience and crew, “She’s really good in bed. All women who are like that on the surface are.” I totally lack the superpower ability to deliver the perfect zinger, and I felt like it would make things worse if I made a fuss, and frankly, I didn’t know what to do. So I tried to laugh it off. The business leader walked away, shouting back to everyone, “Use protection!”

This person wasn’t a man. It was a woman who, for whatever reason, wanted to humiliate me.

Women humiliating other women is not exactly something new under the Purple Mountains. Indeed, from a distance, it always appeared that female Ephs got more grief/criticisms/meanness from other female Ephs than they ever did from male Ephs. Would readers agree?

Read the whole thing. I especially loved the ending . . .

If there’s a moment where you can be a bitch or be gracious, where you can denigrate or congratulate, where you can shoot down or lift up, for heaven’s sake, do the latter. (And if you’re the recipient, please respond in kind.) If you can’t or won’t, then don’t complain about Donald Trump’s attitudes toward women. Because that’s just hypocritical.

By the way, the woman who was so awful to me was a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Quelle surprise!

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Almost 20% Low Income?

This naive and uninteresting article on elite college admissions mentions:

What top colleges and universities really have to do is reach out to students who don’t apply to them in the first place, said Adam Falk, the president of Williams College, almost 20 percent of whose students are low income, and which flies high-achieving low-income prospective applicants to its campus and teams up with a nonprofit called QuestBridge to find them.

The idea of need-blind admission “fits nicely on a bumper sticker,” Falk said. But “simply taking your admission pool and turning off your information about the financial need of students isn’t good enough. You have to go out there and find students. That means going into communities with high financial need and actively recruiting there.”

It also means supporting students from those places when they show up, Falk said.

Anyone who believes that 20% of the students at Williams are low income is a fool. Readers interested in this topic should start with this ten part rant from 2014.

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Bill, interrupting your ‘deets’ …

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…when I heard the sirens coming down our quiet Hood River, OR (pop 7,500) block, I knew the fire department was driving Christmas-decorated equipment through our local streets.

It is a much-anticipated tradition here in the Hood. And greatly appreciated by residents as the Season whitens the town. Another six inches is adding to that on the lawns. And a lot more to the base on Mt Hood!

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

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Latest Documents from Safety Dance

Here (Proposed TRO Order2, Motion and Memo for Ex Parte TRO and 12_8_16 Court Order) are the latest court documents from Safety Dance.

1) Comments from our lawyer readers are welcome! What do these documents mean?

2) New argument is that the College’s refusal to give Doe his degree prevented him from applying to law school early. They are demanding that the College give his degree now so that he can apply via the regular decision process. This strikes me as smart (even if going to law school would probably be a bad idea for Doe.)

3) Is there another college sexual assault case in which the accused has completed all the requirements for a degree but the college refuses to grant it to him? I have not heard of one.

4) Looks to me like Williams has to provide an answer by December 22. Why won’t they just settle and give Doe his degree?

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College Policy Regarding Marijuana

To the Williams Community,

As you may know, voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot question in November that changes state law to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and over. That new law is due to take effect December 15, and it permits the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts by people 21 and over and removes criminal penalties for such activities.

That ballot measure, however, doesn’t change federal law and doesn’t mean that Williams will now permit marijuana.

One might assume that with the new law the college would, in its policies and practices, treat marijuana much the same as alcohol. But we have a long-standing policy against illicit drug use on campus and within the college community, and the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illicit drug. The college must abide by federal laws, including the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. If we fail to comply, the college could become ineligible for federal funding and financial aid programs for students.

Given the scope of those federal laws, the college’s policies must therefore continue to disallow marijuana in our community.

That marijuana is still considered an illegal drug federally means it is prohibited for students entirely by our code of conduct, both on and off campus. That applies to students in off-campus housing, and it applies when students are engaged in college-sponsored activity away from campus. Also, it remains illegal—and against college policy—to send or receive marijuana through the mail.

College policy also prohibits faculty, staff, guests, and visitors from using, possessing, distributing, or being under the influence of marijuana while on campus or during college activities.

Throughout Massachusetts, officials at both the state and local levels are currently wrestling with many questions concerning the implementation of the ballot initiative and the conflict between state and federal laws concerning the legality of marijuana. In addition, we don’t yet know what the incoming administration in Washington might do with respect to federal enforcement policies concerning marijuana. We will keep you informed should any decisions or changes in policies by government agencies have implications for the college. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, I encourage you to reach out to any number of relevant offices, including the Dean’s Office, Campus Safety and Security, and Human Resources.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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Ashe Schow on Safety Dance

Ashe Schow, writing at Watchdog.org, provides a useful timeline of the events associated with Safety Dance. I have put the entire article below the break for posterity. Comments:

1) Would be great to get a shout-out for EphBlog or at least a reference to our name for the scandal: Safety Dance. How about it Ashe? ;-) At the very least, Schow ought to report how the initial version of the filings included both Doe and Smith’s real names. That is interesting!

2) The article is, by far, the best source for a clear timeline of the event associated with the case. Highly recommended.

3) However, is there a mistake in the first paragraph?

A male student from Williams College in Massachusetts accused his ex-girlfriend of sexual assault. A month later, she made a counterclaim against him. Guess whose accusation was taken seriously.

I don’t think (corrections welcome) that Doe ever accused Smith “sexual assault.” He accused her of assault (and/or battery) because she slapped him after the dance from which the scandal takes its name.

4) Given the editorial positioning if the Watchdog, I am surprised that Schow does not use Smith’s real name. Should I be?

Read more

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Welcome to the Class of 2021

Early decision results came out on Friday. Welcome to the class of 2021!

1) If there are any aspiring writers in the class, please contact EphBlog. We would love to host your prose.

2) The College tweeted on December 1: “Welcome to the first 16 members of Class of 2021, admitted through the QuestBridge Match program. #Williams2021″ The dramatic increase in the importance of Questbridge to Williams is one of the biggest admissions stories of the last 15 years. My understanding is that around 10% (200+) of current Williams students are Questbridge. True?

3) There are at least some alums who would be happy to consider pre-frosh for summer internships. One is here. Highly recommended! Don’t hesitate to start to make use of those Williams connections. Contact the Career Center for more info.

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A Deafening Silence

Since war came to the West on September 11, 2001, only a handful of Ephs have read these words. Are you among them?

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My Home Is in the Valley Amid the Hills

Each morning I watch the sunlight drifting down through the pines, scattering the clouds from the mountain sides, driving the mists from the glens.

Each night I see the purple lights as they creep up the slopes of the Dome and the shadows as they fall on wood and stream.

My home is among young men — young men who dream dreams and see visions; young men who will carry my banner out into the world and make the world better because they have lived with me in my valley amid the hills.

Among my sons who have left me, some have caught the poet’s fire, and their words have touched men’s hearts and have bought cheer to a weary world.

And some, in answer to the call of country, have gone out to battle for the common rights of men against the enemy. Some of them will not return to me, for they have given all they had, and now they rest at the foot of a simple cross or lie deep below the waves. But even as they passed, the music of the chimes was in their ears and before their eyes were visions of the quiet walks beneath the elms

Whether apart in solitude or pressing along the crowded highways, all these who have breathed my spirit and touched my hand have played their parts for the better, for

I am ALMA MATER:
I am WILLIAMS.

This 1926 eulogy, written by Professor of Rhetoric Carroll Lewis Maxey, comes from page 136 of Williams College in the World War, a beautifully arranged remembrance of those Ephs who served in freedom’s cause during the Great War. To Williams students today, World War I is as far away as the War of 1812 was to the generation that Professor Maxey sought to inspire. What will the great-grandchildren of today’s Ephs think of us? What will they remember and what will they forget?

1st Lt Nate Krissoff ’03, USMC died ten years ago today. For the first year after his death, we maintained a link at the upper right to our collection of related posts, as sad and inspiring as anything you will ever read at EphBlog. Yet that link came down. Time leaves behind the bravest of our Williams warriors and Nate’s sacrifice now passes from News to History, joining the roll call of honored heroes back to Colonel Ephraim Williams, who died in battle during the Bloody Morning Scout on September 8, 1755.

More than 250 years have marched by from Ephraim’s death to Nate’s. But the traditions of military brotherhood and sacrifice are the same as they ever were, the same as they will ever be as long as Ephs stand willing to do violence against our enemies so that my daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters might sleep safely in their beds at night. Consider this moving ceremony in Iraq for Nate in the week after his death.

Before there was Taps, there was the final symbolic roll-call, unanswered. “Krissoff,” intoned Sergeant Major Kenneth Pickering.

“Lt. Krissoff.”

“1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff.”

By culture and custom, the Marine Corps is given to ritual and none so important as the farewell to comrades who have fallen in battle. And so the memorial service here for 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff, intelligence officer for the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, was both stylized and achingly intimate.

The author, Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times, captures perfectly the ethos of the Marine Corps. During Officer Candidate School, our Platoon Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant Anderson, sang a haunting song of blood and sacrifice. The chorus went:

Let me tell you how I feel.
Why Marines must fight and die?

I can only remember snatches now, three decades later. It was a short song, repeated slowly, with emotion. For years, I have looked for the words to that plaintive melody, the eternal warrior’s lament of pain and suffering. Gunny Anderson only sang it with our platoon a handful of times, only when he felt that we were worthy of inclusion in the brotherhood of arms.

The last of those times was near the end of our training. At OCS, the fun-filled day begins with PT (physical training) at around 0500. Our entire company (200 men) is standing at attention in the humid Virginia morning. Back in July, there had been plenty of light to start exercising that early, but, by August, the later sunrise left us all waiting in darkness.

Gunny Anderson had the “duty” that morning, so he was the only member of the staff present. The others, well aware of the timing of sunrise, would be along shortly. Gunny Andersen, recognizing that graduation day was near and that he had us all to himself, led the entire company in that song, including the other platoons who had never heard it before.

And he did it in a whisper. We all stood there — having survived almost 10 weeks of brutal training, shouting our lungs out day after day — and whispered the song with him, 200 voices joined with the spirits of the Marines who had gone before us. Nate is with those spirits now. When the next Eph Marine is marching on that same parade deck during OCS, Nate will be watching him as well.

I remember the name of my platoon sergeant from 30 years ago. My father still remembers the name of his platoon sergeant from 55 years before. Let none of us forget the sacrifices of Marines like Nate and Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Krissoff, 25, a champion swimmer and kayaker in college, was killed Dec. 9 by a roadside bomb that also injured other Marines. Hundreds of grim-faced Marines who knew Krissoff came to the Chapel of Hope, the converted Iraqi Army auditorium, for the service.

“We have a bond here, we have a family here,” said Staff Sgt. Allan Clemons, his voice breaking as he delivered a eulogy. “Nathan was part of that family.”

There were embraces, but not in the sobbing style one might see at a civilian funeral. The Marines put arms around another and slapped each others’ backs — the sound was like repeated rifle reports in the cavernous hall. Navy Cmdr. Mark Smith, a Presbyterian chaplain, said later he has seen Marines do this at other memorials. “They need to touch each other,” he said. “I’ve heard them talk about ‘hugging it out.’ But they want to do it in a manly way.”

By all accounts, Krissoff was a charismatic leader who had impressed his superiors and earned the trust of his subordinates.

War always takes the best of my Marines.

Civilians may not recognize the meaning of the first person possessive in that last sentence, may attribute its usage to my megalomania. Indeed, to avoid that confusion, my initial instinct was to write “our Marines.”

Yet that is not the way that real Marines think about our Corps. Despite defending an independent, freedom-loving country, the Marines are fundamentally socialist in outlook. Everything belongs to every individual. This is not just my rifle or my uniform, but my tank and my obstacle course. And what is mine is yours. See the bootcamp scenes from Full Metal Jacket for an introduction to an outlook as far away from Williams College as Falluja is from Williamstown.

At OCS, the worst sin is not to be slow or stupid or weak, although all these sins are real enough. The worst sin is to be selfish, to be an “individual,” to care more about what happens to you then what happens to your squad, your platoon, your battalion or your Corps. What happens to you, as an individual, is irrelevant.

When the instructors at OCS are angry with you (and they get angry with everyone), they will scream: “What are you? A freakin’ individual? Is that what you are? A freakin’ individual?”

To get the full effect of this instruction, you need to imagine it being shouted from 5 inches away by the loudest voice you have ever heard.

When they shouted it at me, I was sorely tempted to respond:

Yes! Indeed! I am an individual! Four hundred of years of Enlightenment philosophy have demonstrated that this is true. My degree in philosophy from Williams College has taught me that I, as an individual, have value, that my needs and wants are not subservient to those of the larger society, that I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For once, I kept my mouth shut.

In quieter moments at OCS, I recalled Rousseau’s parable of the Spartan mother from Emile.

A Spartan mother had five sons in the army and awaited news of the battle. A Helot arrived; trembling she asked his news. “Your five sons have been killed.” “Vile slave, was that what I asked you?” “We have won the victory.” She ran to the temple to give thanks to the gods. That was a citizen.

For Rousseau, there are two ways for a man to be free. First, he can live alone, cut off from humankind but self-sufficient. He needs no one. Second, a man can be a citizen and so, like the Spartan mother, unconcerned with his own, and his family’s, well-being. All that matters is the polis.

A Marine is many things, but not a freakin’ individual.

The article continues:

He grew up in Truckee, Nev., graduated from Williams College, majoring in international relations, and hoped someday to work for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Lt. Col. William Seely, the battalion commander, talked of the silence left by death of Krissoff and other Marines. “When we depart these lands, when we deploy home, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the long silence of our friends,” he said. “Nathan…your silence will be deafening.”

If there was mourning, there was also anger that, as the chaplain said, Krissoff “was taken from us by evil men.”

This is true and false. Marines do not sympathize with the insurgents whom they battle but they do empathize with them. “Clifton Chapel” by Sir Henry Newbolt describes this duality in the oath that every warrior takes.

To set the cause above renown,
To love the game beyond the prize,
To honour, while you strike him down,
The foe that comes with fearless eyes;
To count the life of battle good,
And dear the land that gave you birth,
And dearer yet the brotherhood
That binds the brave of all the earth.

Most of those responsible for Krissoff’s death are now themselves dead, killed in battle by Krissoff’s fellow Marines. Do their families remember them with tears, as we remember Nate? Or are their memories fading along with ours? Recall how the Williams honored Nate ten years ago.

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The Ephmen of Williams Swimming and Diving dedicated their 2007 championship season to Nate when they proudly wore their conference shirts emblazoned with the simple words on the back: “Semper Athlete.” (“Semper,” obviously for the Marines, and “Athlete,” one of his favorite terms for any of his teammates.) Nate would be proud of “his boys”: each of the 24 Williams conference team members had a hand in dominating the NESCAC competition.

Yet how quickly these honors pass. I asked a swim team member a few years ago about Nate and he sadly (and unsurprisingly?) had no idea what I was talking about. Will Coaches Kuster and Dow remind the team of those Ephs who have gone before? If Nate’s coach won’t speak of his spirit and sacrifice at Williams, then who will?

Back to Tony Perry’s article:

Among the readings and quotations was the classic from World War I, “In Flanders Fields.” The poem challenges the living to continue the fight and not break faith with the dead: “Take up our quarrel with the foe/To you from failing hands we throw/The torch: be yours to hold it high….”

I did not know, when I first wrote of Nate’s death, that his fellow Marines would also be using “In Flanders Fields” as a way of memorializing his sacrifice. Who will take up the torch thrown by Nate? Are there any Williams students heading to OCS this coming summer? Are there no warriors left among the Ephs?

Williams College in the World War opens with a call for remembrance.

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The text, by Solomon Bulkley Griffin, class of 1872, begins:

The wave of full-hearted devotion that rose in the World War has receded from its crest, as must have been in times more normal. But never will there be forgetfulness of it. Memory of the glory that wave bore aloft is the priceless possession of all the colleges.

The service of Williams men enshrined in this volume is of abiding import. By it the past was made glorious, as the future will be shadowed while it is illumined. Natural it was to go forward when God quickened the souls of men to serve the need of the world, and so they held themselves fortunate.

Indeed. Yet are Griffin’s assurances that we have nothing to fear from “forgetfulness” correct? I worry, and not just because of the contempt with which faculty members like Mark Taylor treat the US military. Consider the College’s official description of the most prestigious prize at Williams, the only award presented on graduation day.

WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER CITIZENSHIP PRIZE. From a fund established in memory of William Bradford Turner, 1914, who was killed in action in France in September, 1918, a cash prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class who, in the judgment of the faculty and of the graduating class, has best fulfilled her or his obligations to the College, to fellow students, and to self. The committee of award, appointed by the President of the College, is composed jointly of faculty members and members of the graduating class.

Was Williams Bradford Turner ’14 just a soldier who was “killed in action in France?” Does this description do justice to Turner or is it an example of the “forgetfulness” that Griffin thought unlikely? Consider:

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He led a small group of men to the attack, under terrific artillery and machinegun fire, after they had become separated from the rest of the company in the darkness. Single-handed he rushed an enemy machinegun which had suddenly opened fire on his group and killed the crew with his pistol. He then pressed forward to another machinegun post 25 yards away and had killed 1 gunner himself by the time the remainder of his detachment arrived and put the gun out of action. With the utmost bravery he continued to lead his men over 3 lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one as they advanced, regardless of the fact that he had been wounded 3 times, and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand encounters. After his pistol ammunition was exhausted, this gallant officer seized the rifle of a dead soldier, bayoneted several members of a machinegun crew, and shot the other. Upon reaching the fourth-line trench, which was his objective, 1st Lt. Turner captured it with the 9 men remaining in his group and resisted a hostile counterattack until he was finally surrounded and killed.

The most important prize awarded by Williams College is named in honor of a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and virtually no one at Williams knows it. If Williams today does not remember that 1st Lt William Bradford Turner ’14 won the Congressional Medal of Honor, then who will remember 1st Lt Nathanial Krissoff ’03 one hundred years from now?

Both died for us, for ALMA MATER, for Williams and the West.

Krissoff’s brothers bade him farewell in Anbar just nine years ago.

When the roll-call and Taps were finished, the Marines came single-file to the altar to kneel in front of an inverted rifle with a helmet placed on the buttstock. Each was alone in his grief.

As are we all.

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College Fix on Safety Dance

They start with a great headline:

College employee falsely accused student of rape so she wouldn’t get fired, lawsuit claims

This is much better than our first effort since it mentions the (obviously false) rape accusation. After reading the material associated with the case, no reasonable person would believe that John Doe sexually assaulted Susan Smith. However, I don’t think that Smith used the false rape accusation to avoid getting fired. The timing does not work out. This is much more likely to be a women-scorned scenario.

Williams College is withholding a former student’s diploma based on transparently false rape accusations by a college employee – his former lover – who believed her job was jeopardized by him, a new lawsuit claims.

The former student accused the once-religious private school of conducting an “inherently flawed” and “fundamentally unfair” rape investigation, in violation of his Title IX rights, and violating federal education privacy law.

1) Again, the most important (and indisputed!) facts of the case are that Smith/Doe were having sex for a year, then something happened one night, then they continued to have sex for another year. Now, obviously, sexual assault can occur in the middle of a long-standing sexual relationship. But there ought to be a fairly high standard of evidence required if you are going to ruin someone’s life in this scenario.

2) Why the College Fix uses the (accurate) description of “once-religious private school” for Williams is a mystery to me. Is this some sort of weird right wing tic?

To investigate the employee’s claims, the college hired the same person named in a lawsuit against nearby Amherst College that said her work was rushed and one-sided in favor of the accuser.

That would be Allyson Kurker, another person who makes money off of the weaponizing of sexual relationships in college. If you are accused of sexual assault, the last thing you want is Kurker to investigate the claim. From KC Johnson:

In the deposition, Kurker made clear that when accusers change their minds about whether they were sexually assaulted, what they previously said about their attack isn’t relevant to her inquiry. She added that she was interested in contemporaneous writings from the accuser only “to the extent that the incident is being described as nonconsensual.” Kurker continued: “The only e-mails that I would have found material” were those in which A.S. had described the incident as nonconsensual. This standard suggests that Kurker sees her job as not searching for—indeed, arguably concealing—potentially exculpatory evidence.

And Williams still hired her! There are dozens of Massachusetts attorneys who would love to get money from the College to investigate sexual assault claims. Why would Williams hire someone like Kurker who is so obviously biased against the accused? The naive answer is that Williams is incompetent, that it did not know about Kurker and did not bother to check out her previous work. The scary answer is that Williams knew all about Kurker, knew that she was biased against the accused and hired her anyway because, after all the complaints over the Lexie Brackenridge case, the College wanted to collect some scalps.

In May [2016], with less than a month before Doe’s graduation, Smith filed a counter-complaint with the Title IX office alleging that he had “displayed abusive behavior towards her during the past two years.”

Smith’s initial complaint provided few details as to the nature of her claim. During the Title IX investigation, which took place over several weeks and included several interviews with witnesses provided by Smith, she made several new allegations.

That timing is the strangest part of the case. It is May 2016. Smith graduated in 2015. Doe is weeks away from graduation. She tried to get him thrown up on trumped up honor code violations and failed to do so. She has been employed by Williams for almost a year but has been (I hope!) told that, given her behavior in striking (!) a student, the College will not be renewing her contract. The relationship between Doe/Smith has been over (really??) for months. So, why file a complaint now?

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First Impressions of Record Coverage of Safety Dance

A week and 2 days after its release, the lawsuit filed against Williams for botching a Title IX case (and violating FERPA, Mass. Privacy Act, etc.) has finally found its space on the Record.

First impressions/issues:

1. Why does the reporter keep using the word “allegedly” to describe materially factual events? For example:

After this event, Smith allegedly emailed former Dean of the College Sarah Bolton, stating that she had written essays for Doe in violation of the College’s Honor Code.

This is not an allegation. This is a material fact that is founded on material evidence, i.e. the actual email. So either there is confusion about the definition of the word “allegedly” or this is sloppy reporting.

2. The only contribution this coverage yields are neutered quotes from the college, but alas, we can only go to war with the army we have. Notably, Dean Sandstrom is quoted saying “Williams is committed to the safety of all its students.” This is logically equivalent to when someone says “I’m not a/an____…” and then later follows with an inevitable “but…” One example that comes to mind (first pointed out by Professor Michael Lewis earlier this year in the Record) is President Falk when he said, in an all campus email, “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” and following with his inevitable “but” of disinviting speakers. Draw your own conclusions, but I see a pattern.

3. Why did it take 9 days from the release of the lawsuit for this to be published if all we get is an “alleged” summary of “alleged” events?

Either way, the article is suggestive of a first in many, since it leaves many crucial questions unanswered, so hopefully, we can anticipate that more substantive reporting will follow.

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Student Commentary on Safety Dance Complaint

Much of our best material comes from our commentators. For example, “wasting his tuition ’17” — who really ought to join us as an author — shared these thoughts:

As I ponder this case, there are two things most immediately clear to me: (1) given that this is John Doe’s lawsuit, the reporting of some details may have inevitably been skewed to his benefit, and as we don’t have the full side of Susan Smith, it is hard to ascertain who did what, and (2) what is factually verifiable by the complaint is the manhandling of the case by the College administration. Although Williams graces us with the luxury of choice with this case, I think that Pandora’s box is what should be investigated. There are many dimensions to this.For example, we can consider the different, colorful ways the Dean’s Office engages in college policy:

52. On the basis of information presented by Bolton behind closed doors and without affording John the opportunity to respond, the Committee said that it had no choice but to recommend expulsion as John’s sanction.


It is interesting that around this time, a group of Williams students were fervently campaigning for student representation in the Honor Code Committee (see: 8+4 Resolution). Was that related?

Another:

63. On March 8, 2016, Dean Johnson admitted to John and John’s sister, Lady Doe, that the disciplinary process is “unfair to students” and that the procedures are deliberately written in a way that allows Williams to maneuver itself in its favor. Johnson also stated that Pelaez should not have been aware of the outcome of the hearing or the likelihood of an appeal.

This knowing, explicit admission by a ranking Dean in Hopkins Hall of a flawed investigatory process suggests either tacit acceptance of this “unfair” process by a longtime administrator, or this longtime administrator’s incompetence at failing to do anything about it. If it is the latter, we ought to remember that Dean Dave’s experience prior to his current role is in coaching tennis, so we surely can’t blame him.

From the complaint that keeps on giving, we have:

The code of conduct, honor hearing procedures, violation reporting procedures, appeal procedures, etc. are ever-changing and continually edited with no notice to the students. The students have no way of knowing what the policies and procedures were at a past time unless they had downloaded the information themselves. A relevant example exists at http://sites.williams.edu/honor-system/suspected-violations/. Sometime at the end of March 2016, Plaintiff’s attorney cited the procedure when preparing this Complaint copying the standard for staff-reported infractions (see above). Since transcribing that information, changed sometime in April or May 2016, the procedure now states, “It is up to the Faculty Chair, in cooperation with the Student Chair and the Dean of the College, to determine whether to proceed with a hearing.” Before, it was solely up to the Faculty Chair and Student Chair to determine whether to proceed with a hearing.

Where are the accountability measures for changing policies? Who makes these changes? I’ve been here for three and a half years, and while I’ve yet to hear of any such procedures, there are many examples of the enforcement of these mystery policies by the Dean’s Office. One such example can be gleaned from our trove:

Also on March 8, 2016, Bolton told John and Lady Doe that John was “not allowed to appeal the sanction,” and that he can only appeal the fact finding portion of the hearing. The Honor Committee Appeals Procedures contain no provision barring students from appealing the sanction.

I’ve tried, and have yet to find any such procedures as well. This issue is not limited to the Honor Code Committee. The Committee on Academic Standing is gaining quite a reputation for making backwards decisions and telling students they are unable to appeal them, and then not saying why. Notably, there is also an athletics coach on that faculty standing committee. Same in the Honor Code Committee.

We further see how this just keeps getting better for Dean Sandstrom in an email she sent to John Doe:

The investigative report carefully lays out the relevant college policies that were in effect in 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and currently (see pages 4-8). While there were some shifts in specific language over time, there was always a code of conduct which prohibited sexual misconduct of any kind.

Who approves these “shifts in specific language”? Do the trustees? Does President Falk? I’ve also never seen these policies on printed paper; most are online, which makes it very easy for Dean Sandstrom slip in a word or two, as she or someone over there at Hopkins Hall clearly had. Again, where is the accountability? Who makes these decisions, and what processes and considerations do theses “shifts in specific language” go through?

For yet another example of curious specific language:

The College’s procedures limit appeals to i) significant procedural lapses or ii) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision. As such, the accused’s right of appeal remains highly circumscribed.

I find the word “lapses” in the phrase “significant procedural lapses” pretty interesting, but seeing as the college prefers to operate with a generous degree of flexibility with its definitions, I think one question we can reasonably ask is, lapses by whom? Since there was no new material evidence and it doesn’t seem like he did anything material in between appeals, did the Dean’s Office explicitly admit to incompetence by way of “significant procedural lapses” on their part by allowing him the opportunity? Is this the reason behind the last day (June 30, 2016) ex-Dean Bolton and Susan Smith shared at Williams?

Last one, I promise:

On October 21, 2016, the Hearing Panel convened. The Panel consisted of Ninah Pretto from the Dean’s Office; Steve Klass, Vice President for Campus Life; and Aaron Gordon, Administrative Director of Divisional Affairs and Vice President for Campus Life.

College policy says that the hearing panel is appointed by the Dean of the College and the three are drawn from a pool of staff who have been trained on such matters. I am curious as to what the policy means by “trained”. Steve Klass, who may warrant the benefit of the doubt given his experience here, and Aaron Gordon have careers built on operational roles and financial matters, it would seem, not sexual abuse cases. See here and here. Ninah Pretto, based on her LinkedIn, spent much of her career prior to Williams on immigration documentation and compliance, which, while valuable, do not constitute training in handling such cases. Why were three individuals inexperienced in these matters appointed to the hearing panel?

Curious to know your thoughts on these, and if you think they’re worth looking into as well. This is what I’m bothering my friends in the Record about right now, since a bunch of them are currently “torn” because they know either both or one of the parties.

The top few are great points that the Record ought to cover in detail. Contrary to some ill-informed commentary earlier, the Record comes out tonight. Perhaps you would join us as an author to provide a detailed analysis of their coverage?

But your later points are less relevant because they are the inevitable result of weaponizing Title IX in order to control the sexual relations among Williams students. Once you try to do this, endless language changes, regardless of who approves them, are unavoidable.

My current position: The College should dial back its sexual assault bureaucracy dramatically and stop using expulsion in such a ham-handed fashion. Give John Doe his degree and call it a day. To continue down this path is to ensure numerous embarrassing law suits — and destroyed lives — for years to come.

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Are Sexual Assault Investigations Biased Against Poor Minority Males?

Will the Record mention some of the sensitive PC issues associated with Safety Dance? For example:

only

True? Probably. Certainly, 90%+ of the cases must be against men. But the Record ought to find out the truth. Williams can’t reveal the students involved in individual cases, but it can discuss the overall statistics. It probably won’t but the Record should push the College to explain why not. If students in category X are much more likely to commit sexual assault, shouldn’t Williams admit fewer of them and/or devote more energy to educating them?

Even if Williams can’t admit fewer men, should it change the mixture of men which it admits?

ecu

I have talked to enough recent students to know that minority men on financial aid are much more likely to be charged with sexual assault at Williams and punished for it. John Doe fits this pattern. (The same is also true of varsity athletes, especially those playing helmet-sports.)

Recall that in the recent Amherst case (investigated by the same attorney (Kurker) who Williams employed on this case), the accused student’s lawyer claimed that:

After the College [Amherst] adopted its new policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct in May 2013, it aggressively began to prosecute alleged perpetrators. On information and belief, in doing so, the College targeted male students of color. In particular, on information and belief, the only students who have been sanctioned with separation from the College (forced leave, suspension, or expulsion) as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct have been male students of color.

My friends on the Alt-Right would claim that, first, minority men are much more likely to commit sexual assault than white men in the general population, so it stands to reason that the same dynamics would apply to elite colleges. Second, they would be perplexed at how often “minority” in this context means “Asian-American,” as in the headline cases at Amherst and Vassar. Asian-Americans are, of course, much less likely to commit sexual assaults than whites. Is sexual assault by Asian-American men on college campuses more likely than we might naively expect or is it that the college justice system is biased against them? Save this debate for another day.

The last PC issues worth pondering concern class and culture. Consider some of the speech/actions that John Doe is accused of:

Susan brought John as her date to her 100 Days Dance. They had an argument, and she told him that she wanted to leave the party because they weren’t enjoying it. John and Susan walked towards the door, but as she walked out of it, he stayed at the door and said something like, “Oh, you can’t come back in now.”

(Susan stated that once a person left the dance, the College did not allow reentry.) At the time that John tricked Susan into leaving the dance without him, he knew that she did not have her phone or ID with her because he was holding them. Without these things, she was forced to sit outside of her dorm (Dodd House) in 19-degree weather, in only a dress and heels, as she waited about an hour for someone to come by to let her in to the building.

This is one of many (not uncontested!) examples of John Doe acting like a cad. But, as the Exploring Diversity Initiative at Williams is designed to teach, cultures differ. In Ecuador, men are expected to treat women in a certain fashion. That particular example of diversity may not be what Williams is interested in having more of. Should the College, therefore, prefer applicants from some cultures over those from others?

Side note: John Doe, on his Linked-In reports that he is Williams College 2011-2015. The first problem, obviously, is that he is implying that he has a Williams degree when, in fact, he does not. The second problem is that this suggests (since he didn’t complete the required course work until the spring of 2016) that he took time off from Williams. There is at least one anonymous suggestion that the College forced him to take time off because of his behavior towards a female student. Any truth to that? Would that explain why Williams has come down so hard on him when the facts of this case, alone, would not justify such an extreme punishment?

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Why we care about wars of the past.

eph and the log copy_zps2dewjps4

The current pick for Secretary of Defense Marine General James Mattis made the following observation on the history of warfare and our current position in it;

For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

Historical monuments are not “problematic in modern context.” These themes have not changed. War has not changed. It’s offensive. Making young men an women consider these issues will never be achieved by denying their current existence by censoring works of art and historical monuments. We are not above this. Remember that when you look at the log mural.

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Notes for Record Reporting on Safety Dance

The leadership of the Record — Matthew Borin, Zoe Harvan and Christian Ruhl — faces some difficult questions in covering “Safety Dance,” the latest sexual assault controversy at Williams. Reader comments are wanted on all the below.

1) Do they mention the real name of the accused, currently called John Doe in the legal filings? We all know his name, both because of anonymous unmaskings at EphBlog and because his attorney was sloppy in her initial legal filings, as pointed out by MRL ’91. I am unaware of any journalistic standard which protects privacy in a case like this. But the Record, out of sympathy for a fellow Eph, may not want to out him for all of Google to see.

2) Do they mention the real name of “Susan Smith,” the student who accused Doe? There is a journalistic standard — as a Williams official has repeatedly told me! — that reputable publications do not publish the names of reported victims of sexual assault. But, in those cases, the reported victim has no other status in the story beyond that of victim. In this case, Smith is an admitted perpetrator. No one contests that she slapped Doe.

Imagine if the Record had gotten a copy of this March 13, 2016 cease-and-desist letter (pdf) from Doe’s attorney to Smith. It accuses a college employee (Smith) of assaulting a student (Doe). Would that be newsworthy? Of course! Would the Record be justified in publishing both Doe and Smith’s real names? Of course! So, Smith’s name would (should) have appeared in the Record back in March. Her actions alone justify a lack of anonymity. But then, two months later, she accuses Doe of a sexual assault that occurred a year prior. Does that after-the-fact accusation mean that the Record is not allowed to publish her name with regard to a different, albeit connected, news event? I don’t know.

3) Should the Record use material that was (incompetently?) redacted from the filings? Consider page 42 from exhibit 13 pdf. In the PDF, it looks like:

redact

Many of the filings feature this sort of heavy redacting (for reasons that are unclear to me). But, if you just copy-and-paste that into a text processor, you get:

Susan’s Third Interview

The alleged incident of non-consensual sex occurred on Labor Day in 2014, on the night that Matias Crespo hosted his first party of the semester. Susan responded to John’s contentions as follows:

o Susan estimates that she and John only attended two parties in Matias’s room that semester.

o Susan maintained that, with the exception of the September incident, she and John never had sex after consuming any alcohol. She disputed John’s contention that on some occasions, they would have sex after drinking between one and three drinks each. She stated that when they went out they would drink to the point of such intoxication that they would throw up together in their room, but they never had sex after drinking.

o With respect to Susan’s level of intoxication that night, she believes that John observed her shot-gunning a beer because he was also shot-gunning beers. She also recalls that she was drinking shots of Fireball.

o Susan’s last recollection before engaging in sexual intercourse was of her leaving Matias’s room. During sex, she recalls that she was “physically trying” to get away from John by attempting to “shift out from under him,” but he was restraining her, using his body weight and strength to “hold [her] down.” NB: Susan described herself to Ms. Kurker as “lying on her stomach.”

And so on. Everything in the filings that has been redacted is actually available. Should the Record use that information in its reporting?

4) Should the Record give EphBlog credit and/or reference our reporting in any way? If it only uses documents that it, on its own, got from PACER, then it probably does not have to, unless the reporter first found out about the case by reading EphBlog. Or maybe it should credit KC Johnson? Either way, if the Record uses filings that we have provided, then it ought to credit EphBlog. Specifically, I bet that if the Record uses the non-redacted (or sloppily redacted) filings — which it almost certainly got from us — it ought to mention EphBlog. It should not pretend that it is using documents from PACER unless it has gotten them from PACER itself.

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Scandal Name: Safety Dance

We need a name for the latest Williams controversy. Let’s go with “Safety Dance.” Why? Recall this detail from the complaint:

On the night of December 5, 2015, John attended a party on the Williams campus. While dancing with another woman, employee Smith confronted him for dancing with someone other than herself as she wanted to dance with him. When John walked away, Smith followed John. The time was sometime between 11:30 pm of December 5, 2015 to midnight of December 6, 2015. Smith followed John all the way to his dormitory. John pointed out Smith’s wrongdoing, that she had violated the terms of her employment by attending a student party, as Smith held the position of Alumni Coordinator at Williams. Smith slapped John. She also grabbed and took away his phone. John retreated to his room. Smith escalated the situation even further afterwards by telephoning John’s sister, Lady Doe.

And the lyrics from the song “Safety Dance”:

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.

I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

Alas, John Doe has discovered that, leaving the real world far behind, is not so easy when it comes to the sexual assault bureaucracy at Williams . . .

PS. Not too late for readers to suggest a better scandal name . . .

UPDATE: Following conversations with both sides, and feedback from the EphBlog community, we have decided not to publish either John Doe’s and Susan Smith’s real names. We ask that commentators abide by this decision, although everyone is free to continue to argue about whether or not this decision is the correct one. Some post-hoc editing of prior posts will now begin. Apologies for any confusion that this causes in making sense of the comment threads.

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[Williams College] Honor the Retirement of Prof. Bill Wootters

Greetings from Williamstown!

Saul Kassin with his memory book

I write to invite you to take part in a Williams initiative that we hope will be of interest to you. This is the second year we’ve invited alumni to share a memory of a retiring faculty member who impacted their Williams experience. Introduced as an important component of a broad engagement initiative calledPurple with Purpose, response to this program has been powerful in all the ways you might expect. Last year, the six retiring members of the Williams faculty each received a hardbound book of well-wishes and memories from alumni (more than 250 submissions to be exact).

This year, twelve Williams faculty members will retire, including William Wootters who has taught Physics at Williams since 1982.  As a former student of Professor Wootters or the Physics department, we invite you to share a specific memory or story of Professor Wootters’s impact on you. You can contribute your memory by submitting this form. Samples from last year are provided below.

Thanks in advance for considering a contribution; it will mean the world to Professor Wootters and your college.

Best wishes,


Brooks Foehl ‘88
Director of Alumni Relations


Here are a few selections from last year’s submissions:

“I still hold Professor Kassin as one of the best, most challenging mentors I’ve had in my life. He pushed me to deliver my very best work, in ways that I hadn’t experienced before (or since). I had so much respect for him… and I am so thankful for the time I got to work with him.” Katharine (Kami Neumann) Reagan ’96

“Professor Morgan was the first mathematics professor that really made me feel mathematics was a major I was capable of pursuing. Professor Morgan made teaching CONFIDENCE, not just mathematical CONTENT, a hallmark of his courses. In effect, he taught me more than my major; he helped mold my life. I’ll forever be grateful that he believed I could be successful and helped me believe in myself.” Kristin Grippi ’00

“I remember fondly [Professor Beaver’s] broad and deep intellect, passion for knowledge, and commitment to teaching. One could discern, behind the glimmer in his eye and barely concealed smirk on his face, that the history of ideas were for him a wellspring that continued to bring contentment and inspiration.” Gilles Heno-Coe ’10


We value your feedback!
Submit your comments here to let us know what you think about this and other Purple with Purpose initiatives.

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Standing with Standing Rock

Dear Ephs,

I hope this email finds you well, in the last weeks before winter break. For many of us, this semester has been an especially long one—I write to both offer encouragement and a last word of solidarity.

As many of you know, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies are currently engaged in a struggle for water rights at Standing Rock, North Dakota. While many of us prepare for impending celebrations of heart and hearth, hundreds of water protectors persist in sub-zero temperatures and waning physical wellbeing, to ask the federal government and the corporate sponsors of the Dakota Access Pipeline to leave Sioux lands alone. This is a fight about water rights and sacred lands near Standing Rock, North Dakota, but more so, this is continuation of a centuries-old indigenous struggle for human rights. The Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted through Standing Rock because Bismarck’s residents, who are 90% white, feared it would poison their drinking water. Indigenous people are being forced at gunpoint to accept ecological risks that North Dakota’s white residents refused. Furthermore, the pipeline cuts through Standing Rock sacred lands and passes over indigenous graves.

Last week, 167 water protectors were injured, including Sophia Wilansky ‘16, a Williams graduate, who is facing potential amputation. The United Nations is currently investigating North Dakota law enforcement for human rights abuses.

Williams students, past and present, have already travelled to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with water protectors. Here on campus, Divest, the Davis Center, and the Zilkha Center (to name just a few) have organized donation drives and made phone calls to elected officials. They—and we—are working to educate each other about the violence occurring in North Dakota right now, as well as the centuries-long history of colonial violence against indigenous people in this country. We cannot forget that our very own Williams College was built on land stolen from the Mohican people.

Now I am asking you to take a stand. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling for influential organizations and individuals to stand with the water protectors, and we want to hear your voices. Please fill out this single question survey to let us know what you think: should Williams stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Your voices matter. These responses will help us better understand the desires of the student body, and serve you accordingly. As the Williams College mission statement reminds us, “an education at Williams should not be regarded as a privilege destined to create further privilege, but as a privilege that creates opportunities to serve society at large, and imposes the responsibility to do so.” The engagement and collective care demonstrated by the Williams student body, faculty, and staff in response to recent events have been vital to our continued thriving together. I hope I speak for many when I say that I am both humbled and grateful to share in this community with you.

Yours truly,

Suiyi Tang

VP of Community and Diversity, 2015-16

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