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New report on Campus Space and Institutional History

To the Williams community,

I’m pleased to announce that the final report from the Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History (CSIH) is available on the president’s office website.

As you may recall, in convening the Committee we wanted to engage the entire community in a consideration of the historical images, monuments and decorations from earlier eras and their implications in a contemporary context. I asked that the Committee offer recommendations on principles that should guide us in such consideration generally, as well as identifying specific images or pieces in particular (starting with the Log mural). With this report the group has ably fulfilled their charge, and their work is now concluded.

The Committee notes that many campuses are confronting similar questions. I think Williams stands out for the thoughtful and inclusive way we approached our effort, especially the intense discussions that the committee’s students led in Goodrich in April 2016. I’m deeply grateful to Committee chair Karen Merrill, Frederick Rudolph ’42 Class of 1965 Professor of American Culture, and all the faculty, staff, students and alumni who served on the group or advised its work. You’ve moved Williams an important step forward.

The report sets out broad principles for considering our institutional history. It also explores three examples in detail. Neither the Committee nor I would suggest focusing solely on the three. But I highlight them here and encourage you to read the report because its thoughtful discussion of the examples illustrates just how complex the issues are, and how requiring of care any decisions about them need to be.

Faculty House: Originally a club reserved almost exclusively for faculty, today the Faculty House has evolved into a space for faculty, students, alumni and staff. But its decor hasn’t evolved meaningfully. This fall we’ll convene an ad hoc working group, drawn from the constituencies that use the Faculty House most, to consider whether and how the decor could be updated to reflect the diverse community that uses it today.

The Herman Rosse painting in the ‘62 Center: The ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance is home to two important academic departments, whose faculty, staff and students spend time in the building every day. We’ll confer with these people, as the building’s primary occupants, about their preferences regarding decoration broadly, including this painting, about some in our community have expressed concern for its portrayals of women and African Americans, and also for its overall quality. We may also consult others who use the building significantly.

Haystack: The Haystack Monument presents a different sort of opportunity. As the Committee observes in their report, the monument commemorates an event in the summer of 1806 that helped launch the American foreign missions movement. The site is visited and appreciated by people from around the world, most of whom have no connection to Williams. We want to respect their interest while recognizing that other groups experience or view the marker very differently. We will not remove the Monument. But as an academic and inclusive community we need to make its variety of meanings visible for consideration and discussion. We’ll develop a process for that work in the fall.

There’s much more to the report, and I urge you to read it for yourself and consider especially the general principles it elucidates. While the report will be housed on the president’s web page for now, we’ll soon create a permanent location on williams.edu for the Committee’s work and other, related information, to foster continued discussion about the college’s history.

This is an important and complicated endeavor. It has at its heart the very question of the community we aspire to be. We’ll never seek to erase Williams’ history, nor to rewrite it. But we must continue to evolve as a community, and that evolution has to include the voices and perspectives of all those whom we’ve invited here as full members. I’m lifted by the extraordinary efforts of the Committee and the thoughtful participation of our entire campus.

As the Committee notes in the conclusion of their report,

We do believe that Williams can negotiate change without effacing the past; that it has done so at other times in its history and grown as an institution; and that it most successfully negotiates change through processes that encourage the diffusion of information, community-wide reflection and discussion, and a clear understanding of how decisions are made at the college.

I encourage you all to help us advance this project, and I look forward to our next steps together in the fall.


Adam Falk

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#1 Comment By anonymous On May 5, 2017 @ 6:57 pm

Yet another rebuke of student protestors! On Divestment, Transparency, Horn Hall, and now History, Falk is looking decidedly conservative, or at least, anti-progressive.

#2 Comment By JCD On May 5, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

The Haystack Monument is extremely important to the Christian community. When I taught at Williams, I remember being shocked that such a highly significant monument was all but ignored by the leftist folks who ran Williams College. That being said, I cannot imagine anything more insensitive than using that site as the location for anti-Christian, anti-missionary propaganda.

#3 Comment By JCD On May 6, 2017 @ 12:09 am

Here’s a better idea. Let’s identify the monuments or special places on campus of great significance to socialists, atheists, and Communists.

Maybe we could identify the faculty office of a long ago Marxist college professor who taught at Williams.

Next to the plaque honoring his memory, we should have a display discussing the 100 million people killed by atheist, Communist governments in the last century.

This way, we would make the campus friendlier to those of us whose family members were murdered by Communist regimes, or, as they say provide a “variety of meanings visible for consideration and discussion.”

#4 Comment By 89’er On May 6, 2017 @ 10:05 am

Can we agree that we will refer to conservatives as fascists and liberals as communists?

Seriously, your labeling is juvenile and counter productive.

#5 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 6, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

And sadly it is among the least juvenile and counterproductive stuff that he posts.

As for comment #2, three uses of “I” in three sentences, but not enough self-aggrandizement. Only earns one JCD.

#6 Comment By anonymous-one On May 6, 2017 @ 5:23 pm

89’er—are you saying I should refer to Falk as a fascist?

#7 Comment By JCD On May 6, 2017 @ 7:22 pm

– Anonymoustoo

Maybe this will be worth two JCD’s? I’m waiting to see if my take on young Obama was included in David J. Garrow’s new Obama biography, Rising Star.

See, http://www.wnd.com/2017/05/who-was-interviewed-for-latest-obama-biography/

#8 Comment By FreeSpeech On May 6, 2017 @ 11:41 pm

I’m sure you are. By most accounts that book is really, really bad. It would not surprise me if he took the word of someone who met Obama briefly and has been dining out on it on the alt-right for years. But yes, we’ll add another two JCD’s.

#9 Comment By FreeSpeech On May 6, 2017 @ 11:44 pm

Oh Jesus, that link sends you into the depths of the absurd.

#10 Comment By Dick Swart ’56 On May 7, 2017 @ 12:05 am

I’ll see your three JCDs and raise you two DDFs …

#11 Comment By JCD On May 7, 2017 @ 12:38 am

David Garrow, at least, deserves credit for taking the time to record an interview with me.

Neither Remnick or Maraniss contacted me even though my story was published by Ronald Kessler in 2010 — long before either of them published their presidential biographies.

For my take on what it is like to be interviewed by a presidential historian, see:


#12 Comment By FreeSpeech On May 8, 2017 @ 12:09 pm

Remnick and Maraniss did not interview because you had no reason to be interviewed. Your experience with Obama was laughably brief, your assertions about him nearly impossible to validate, your memories of him shocckingly clear, and your impressions cartoonish. Garrow did his due diligence by interviewing someone who is not part of the story who has done everything in his power to make himself part of the story.

There is no need to write an article about every time you are interviewed. Many of us are interviewed regularly. It would be seen as embarrassing if we all wrote an article every time someone called us up for an interview.

#13 Comment By JCD On May 8, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

– FreeSpeech

For what it is worth, I do not think that Garrow used much of my story to shape his interpretation of the young Barack Obama. I wrote an article on this topic which was published in American Thinker this morning.

See, http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/05/waiting_for_garrow_new_obama_biography_due_this_week.html

I’ll have more comments on Garrow’s new book, Rising Star, after I have had a chance to read it.

At the very least, I do feel vindicated that Garrow writes that young Obama “considered gayness” as a lifestyle. I got attacked mercilessly for simply relaying my first impression of young Obama; I thought he was gay.

I can’t wait to see what else Garrow has to say.

#14 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 8, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

My name is John Drew, and let me talk some more about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

“‘considered gayness’ as a lifestyle”? Goodness.

Now, let’s keep in mind that one of the deep sources for Garrow’s book is an ex-girlfriend (and of course THOSE are always reliable) from the 80s and 90s. And that he has a longstanding successful marriage with Michelle with two beautiful daughters. Apparently JCD’s “impressions” and noted serial sexual harasser Garrow’s assertions (you are quoting him — have you, or have you nor read a version of the ms?) matter more than Obama’s lived history.

Of course this is the whole deal with the extreme opposition to Obama that you travel in. Your impressions matter more than all of the evidence that we have. Your impressions that he is gay matter more than the clear fact that he is not (and of couse why would it matter if he were gay, or Muslim for that matter?) It was the same thing with the birther nonsense, and the Ayers wrote Obama’s books nonsense, and the social security number nonsense and so on and so forth.

#15 Comment By JCD On May 8, 2017 @ 5:28 pm

– anonymoustoo

Please. I was torn up by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC for even daring to share my first impression of young Obama.

Garrow got the information that Obama “considered gayness” from a letter that Obama wrote. No one is making stuff up. These are Obama’s own words.

See, http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/26/new-biography-young-obama-considered-gayness-amazon1/

The main issue here is that Obama’s life story is a pack of lies. If you look at the gap between where we are today and what Obama said about himself in Dreams from My Father it is perfectly obvious that my observations have been rock solid and that Obama misrepresented himself…bigly.

When it comes to the truth, as it is in national politics, my side is definitely winning. Stay tuned to more from David Garrow, it will be fun.

#16 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 8, 2017 @ 8:27 pm

Yes, yes, yes. You you you you you.

That piece does not quote Obama’s own words — it quotes Garrow’s words. We’ll see his sourcing, but again, here is the evidence: An ex-girlfriend and a wife with two daughters, and no evidence that Obama is or was gay. Not that it should matter if it were true, but I’ve seen some of the fever swamps where you are taken seriously. And I know that there it very much matters.

I have no idea what you mean about “the gap between where we are today and what Obama said about himself in Dreams from My Father.” Obama predicted the future in “Dreams From My Father”? Where? When?

Your side is winning inasmuch as in national elections it gets fewer votes despite massive efforts to suppress voter turnout. Democratic candidates have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. Even in several of the years when Democrats lost the midterms they had the most voters supporting them. Yes, our political system is structured in such a way that sometimes majority does not rule, but to argue that your side is winning categorically, well, tere is always a midterm around the corner. And so far Trump is an utter disaster.

#17 Comment By JCD On May 8, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

– anonymoustoo

Wow. You live in a bizarre fantasy world. The pathetic Democrats are now at their weakest point since the 1920s.

They could not win the presidency despite outspending Republicans two to one while running against one of the most unpopular candidates in modern history. On top of that, the whole mainstream media – including some of the folks who post here – tried to discourage Republican voting by claiming – based on biased state polls – that Hillary’s chances of winning where close to 100%.

I don’t think you get it. Those of us who count think the Democrat party is trying to turn us into another Venezuela and we are more than happy to watch it die off.

Meanwhile, I am on the record saying young Obama was white, was closer to the Muslim students than the African American students, that my first impression was that he was gay, and that I’m convinced Bill Ayers helped write Dreams from My Father. I also assert young Obama was a typical Marxist revolutionary looking forward to a Communist style revolution.

Based on the historic research done by Garrow and others, there is no doubt that my take on young Obama has been vindicated.

Clearly, the only reason Obama was elected in the first place is that he was allowed by the leftists in mainstream media to get away with lying about himself. Thankfully, future generations will have a better understanding of this unrepentant conman than the citizens who voted for him. Moreover, I expect that future voters will be more aware of the bias of the mainstream media and more skeptical of its independence in the future.

Thank God, I’ve had channels available to me to get out the truth about Obama including books, websites, and documentary films.

See, http://www.wnd.com/2016/10/new-film-tells-of-my-old-friend-bho-marxist-revolutionary/

#18 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 9, 2017 @ 8:46 pm

The “pathetic” Democrats, again, have won the popular vote in six of the least seven presidential elections and even in some midterms where the GOP has won the House and Senate the democrats received more votes.

You spew vile lies about Obama and then pat yourself on the back for the fact that sewers reproduce your garbage. You think you have succeeded upward. You’ve really failed sideways. Pathetic.

#19 Comment By JCD On May 9, 2017 @ 9:50 pm

Trust me. If political power depended on winning the popular vote, at the presidential or congressional level, then Republicans would be winning that instead.

The truth is that the Democrats are intellectually, morally, and spiritually bankrupt. In the real world, we don’t give a damn about your identity politics, bathroom bills, affirmative action, multi-cultural globalism or pseudo-science weather predictions.

The fact that you are suggesting my lying about anything at all is direct evidence of how out of touch with reality you are right now.

#20 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 11, 2017 @ 12:01 am

YOU were the one who, in his only prediction about the election here at Ephblog, not only was explicit about rejecting but was dismissive toward those who suggested the very possibility that the person who won the Electoral College could posisbly lose the popular vote.

I love the factual assertion about an interpretive matter. We are all “intellectually, morally, and spiritually bankrupt”. Yet it is YOU who argues that he did not get tenure because he was white (No publications at all notwithstanding). It seems to me that YOU traffic in identity politics more than literally anyone else who posts here.

Oh, and Republicans would be winning the popular vote rather than the Electoral College vote if they just cared enough about it? You mean like in 2012? Or 2008? (Or 1996? Or 1992?)

The Democrats get more votes. That’s why voter suppression is so important to you. You NEED to remove a million voters from the rolls for every one instance of alleged voter fraud you find (often by Republicans). You need to gerrymander. You need to lie and manipulate. And if you do that, and everything turns out just right, 80,000 votes (or 536 or so) will make the difference against 3,000,000 who want the other candidate.

#21 Comment By i dont know why i come back.. On May 11, 2017 @ 2:44 am

This is all a useless waste of my time and energy but my econ pset can wait anyways…

identity politics, bathroom bills, affirmative action, multi-cultural globalism or pseudo-science weather predictions.

1. Identity politics are just plain politics. You just posted on another thread about whites and Asians vs. black folks. Identity clearly constitutes a substantive part of modern politics, even if you restrict it to racial identity. If you think this is purely the provenance of Democrats, explain Steve King (R-IA) and his recent comments. You can defend King (I’m sure you already do) but don’t mention identity politics as a purely Democratic problem.

2. The bathroom bill (HB2) in NC was passed by the GOP. You know who is most directly interested in regulating bathrooms by inserting government into them? Your party.

3. Affirmative action has resulted in Williams losing its best professor ever back in the late 80’s, so I’m with you here. A true shame for Middle American white folks/Cornell PhDs everywhere.

4. Multi-cultural globalism is not creating economic precarity and the gig economy, or depriving people of healthcare. It is remarkably successful at bothering old white dudes, so there is that.

5. This comment is going to be misconstrued or ignored, but can you look at your inconsistencies? You argue you deserved tenure because your academic work was high-quality and recognized as high-quality by objective observers in your field (read: peer-reviewed and won minor APSA award). in doing so, you inject a confidence in the academic publishing process (over, say, the tenure process) into each and every mindless iteration of the JCD-breathlessly-defends-his-honor-against-the-soulless-liberal-horde game. And yet, published scientific material outside your field is something you can referee, refute, and ignore? I’m lost.

The more coherent argument is that people don’t like being told that they need to cut back, that people ignore environmental warnings because they heavily discount the future (see our savings rates), and environmentalism is presumed to be a tradeoff between growth or the world and we fetishize growth.

You are right in that the Dems are failing right now. But your odd choices for reasons why suggests that you are not concerned with using this as a reason to do anything other than crush the dead horses you had completely bludgeoned by 2010.

#22 Comment By JCD On May 11, 2017 @ 10:26 am


What can I say? I used to be a hopeless liberal too. After you graduate, I suspect your views will change and you will be grateful to me for doing what I could to encourage conservative students and Republicans as Williams College.

In a number of ways, I still have fond memories of my time as a professor at Williams College. Despite unprecedented abuse and discrimination, I think it is fair to say I did some extremely good work while I was there, in the classroom, in the community and in my research.


Today, I’m focused on tearing down the legacy of Barack Obama so that future generations will be less likely to turn the U.S. into another Cuba, North Korea or Venezuela.


Trust me, in a number of years, you will wake up and feel shock and remorse that you ever sincerely believed and acted on the leftist nonsense you were taught by your ideologically non-diverse faculty at Williams College.

#23 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 11, 2017 @ 11:19 pm

Wow. You are assuming a whole lot about a poster who just handed your ass to you. You really think thay have not yet graduated? Why?

It doesn’t matter how often it comes up and how much of a dead horse it is — it is essential to point out that you published nothing at Williams and nothing substantial in your name after Williams. Your dissertation (or parts of it) appeared in a book with someone else’s name on te cover and it was not reviewed anywhere important. Again: You contribited chapters to a book that bears someone else’s name that got no significant reviews even in the journals in your field.

Obama and North Korea? We still await you telling us a single policy of Obama’s that was at all socialist, never mind Communist.

But please, continue to post links to your own writing at little garbage dumps. It is not at all surprising that literally the most ideologically driven poster at Ephblog is always deflecting idoelogical motives onto everyone else.

#24 Comment By Williams Alum On May 12, 2017 @ 5:37 am

What are your three least favorite things Trump has done in office?

#25 Comment By i dont know why i come back..2 On May 12, 2017 @ 11:52 am

And I screwed up the formatting…

Wow. You are assuming a whole lot about a poster who just handed your ass to you. You really think thay have not yet graduated? Why?

#26 Comment By JCD On May 14, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

I’m still reading through David J. Garrow’s new presidential biography, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. Already, however, I can report that he cited a number – but not all – of my American Thinker articles. Garrow recommends reading them in chronological order.

Meeting Young Obama
Even Republicans Rejected Info About Obama’s Past
My White Girlfriend Inspired Obama’s Big, Dark Regina in Dreams from My Father
White Like Me: Thoughts on Young Obama’s Prom Photos

He also reports that I completed my Ph.D. and taught at Williams College. I have to think the late James MacGregor Burns would be proud of me today.