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College Council Has No Power Over Invited Speakers

An alum tried to get this letter published in the Record:

To the editor,

Skylar Smith’s ’18 February 22 article “CC Approves Uncomfortable Learning as an RSO” (and the comments therein from Lizzy Hibbard ’19) demonstrated a misunderstanding of the College’s new policy with regard to outside funding for invited speakers. Any Registered Student Organization may invite someone to speak at Williams even if the funding for that speaker comes from an alumnus or some other non-Williams organization. The RSO must, of course, abide by the new rules, specifically by revealing the source of the funding to Williams and by providing at least two weeks notice before the event. But, as Director of Media Relations Mary Dettloff confirmed to me, neither CC nor any other student organization can prevent an RSO from inviting a speaker. Only Williams itself may ban a speaker, as it did last year in the case of John Derbyshire.

Annoyingly, the Record refused to publish this letter, choosing instead to issue this correction:


This matters because it is bad enough that Williams empowers Adam Falk to ban speakers with whom he disagrees. If College Council could ban student-invited (faculty-invited?) speakers, madness would follow. One Eph censor is enough!

UPDATE: The headline of the physical Record last week was “CC passes free speech resolution 16-3-1.” There was also this photo caption: “Kevin Mercadante ’17 introduces a resolution intended to enshrine speech and protect individual rights to disagree and protest.” Alas, there is no associated news story that I can find, either on-line or in the paper itself. Can anyone provide details? The College Council website does not allow outsides to see the current year’s agenda or minutes. Sad!

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Comments Disabled To "College Council Has No Power Over Invited Speakers"

#1 Comment By CV On April 26, 2017 @ 10:44 am

Agreed. Students sadly have to resort to ephblog (no offense intended) for accurate information and coverage of important issues at the college. There seems to be a suppressive culture of censorship pervading the campus unlike anything I have ever witnessed at an educational institution. The Record is nothing but a shill for the administration.

Some relevant quotes:

The test of democracy is freedom of criticism. ~David Ben-Gurion

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. ~John F. Kennedy

Censorship: protecting you from reality. ~Author unknown

Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly. ~Albert Einstein

The populist authoritarianism that is the downside of political correctness means that anyone, sometimes it seems like everyone, can proclaim their grief and have it acknowledged. The victim culture, every sufferer grasping for their own Holocaust, ensures that anyone who feels offended can call for moderation, for dilution, and in the end, as is all too often the case, for censorship. And censorship, that by-product of fear — stemming as it does not from some positive agenda, but from the desire to escape our own terrors and superstitions by imposing them on others — must surely be resisted. ~Jonathon Green

#2 Comment By anonymous On April 26, 2017 @ 3:02 pm





Here is the text of the resolution:

Williams College Council 2017
Resolution: 01-1718
Introduced on 18 April, 2017
Author(s): Kevin Mercadante and Hanson Koota
Co-Sponsor(s): Michael Ludwig
A Resolution in Support of Free, Open, and Honest Dialogue at Williams College

WHEREAS the Williams College Council rejects and refuses to provide a platform for all forms of speech inciteful of violence or prejudice against any members of the
community, especially individuals of marginalized identities;

WHEREAS the Preamble of the College Council Constitution establishes a mission of creating “a community to which every student belongs and in which every student participates;”

WHEREAS a well-rounded liberal arts education is contingent upon the free exchange of ideas to promote critical and creative thinking through thoughtful and thought-provoking dialogue;

WHEREAS Williams College and the College Council welcome open and honest dialogue, a dialogue that both recognizes the value that a multitude of ideas offers and facilitates the exchange of oppositional views;

WHEREAS the Council values students’ right to question and protest the expression of views of other community members and visitors to campus;

WHEREAS the Council rejects the use of violence or threats of violence to discourage speech;

LET IT BE RESOLVED Williams College Council affirms its commitment to protecting every individual’s rights to speech and protest, rights at the core of the liberal arts

#3 Comment By JCD On April 26, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

Looks like the cause of freedom of speech is being championed by two football players (Koota and Ludwig) and one soccer player (Mercadante). They should all be encouraged to contribute to Ephblog.

#4 Comment By eloquence On April 26, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

“Speech is essentially what has allowed groups to speak,” Ludwig said.

Please bring this person on as an author. Their contributions seem worthwhile.

#5 Comment By eloquence On April 26, 2017 @ 7:31 pm

#6 Comment By JCD On April 26, 2017 @ 11:08 pm

– eloquence

From your comments, I can tell that you do not have much empathy or experience in dealing with the press.

Ludwig is actually quite charismatic, a true leader recognized by his peers. From the context, it is perfectly clear that he is saying that it is short-sighted for leftists to be hostile to freedom of speech if only because so many of the left-wing groups on campus would not exist under regimes that did not allow freedom of speech, say places that still practice Communism like Cuba and North Korea.

Since you have probably never been important enough in your life to be interviewed by a reporter, I can understand that you may not appreciate the extent to which reporters screw up quotes and report them out of context.

FYI: I have no doubt Ludwig could knock you out both intellectually and face-to-face.