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When a person embodies a nations heart …

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At the request of DDF …

https://events.williams.edu/event/unmasking_empathy_we_are_proud_to_present

 Narcissism through the ages: What happens when narcissists grow older?
Includes references to empathy
https://communications.williams.edu/news-releases/3_24_2014_cramer/
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Winter Study 99, Roche Fellowship and Winter Study Travel Courses

FRIENDLY REMINDER!

 

The deadline to submit a Winter Study 99 proposal, apply for a Roche Fellowship or Winter Study Travel Course is Thursday, 28 September. All pertinent forms can be found online.

 

Winter Study 99s

(Note: there will be a 99 Workshop at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, September 12th in Hopkins Hall 002.)

 

Roche Fellowship for Winter Study 99 Research Projects and Theses

For Winter Study, any upper class student who is pursuing independent research either through a Winter Study 99 research project, or through a thesis, is eligible to apply.

 

Preference will be given to juniors for whom a proposed Winter Study 99 research project will catalyze a full-year honors thesis and to seniors doing a thesis or for whom a proposed Winter Study 99 research project will be their last opportunity to undertake advanced independent research at Williams. Sophomores for whom the project might catalyze an independent study on the same or related topic are also eligible. Proposals are not limited to any specific academic discipline.

 

Winter Study Travel Courses

 

Financial Aid is provided for 10-100% of the travel course costs based on the student’s level of financial need. Students receive notification of the percentage of their eligibility via email in late September.
(Note: Most travel course instructors will be holding informational meetings before the registration deadline. If you are on leave for fall semester, you should contact the instructor directly as soon as possible to express interest in his/her course. If you plan to be on leave FALL and SPRING semesters, you are not eligible to participate in a travel course.)

 

IMPORTANT: you can only apply for 1 travel course OR 1 99. If you apply for a travel course and are not admitted, you will be expected to register for a regular winter study course. YOU CANNOT APPLY FOR A LATE 99. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding the registration process for Winter Study 99’s, the Roche Fellowship, and/or Winter Study Travel Courses.

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Information for Returning Students

Dear Students,
I hope you are having a wonderful summer.  We are busy planning for fall – just a few more weeks until the Class of 2021 arrives – and I’m very much looking forward to your return to campus and to our community.  There are many questions you may have brewing at this point – about keys and cars and transportation and room openings and many other things.  We have a website which we hope will offer most of the answers, here.  Of course, if none of the links there answer your questions, we are here and happy to talk and figure things out.
I’m wishing you a joyful remainder of your summer and safe travel back to Williamstown.
All best,
Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
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Grade Distribution 2016-2017, 3

A source sent us the official registrar’s report (pdf) on the distribution of grades in 2016-2017. (Relevant background: data for 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, recent Record coverage, and prior EphBlog discussion.) Day 3.

The most embarrassing section of the report:

germ

I suspect that the professors in the German Department (we still have a German department?!) are feeling under some pressure to increase enrollment. One way to respond to that pressure is to give everyone an A!

Which professors in the department are most guilty? Tough to tell.

But not impossible! Here are the German courses offered last year:

germ2

There were 44 students in the beginning and intermediate 100-level language courses, taught by a mixture of professors in the department. Giving half the students A’s and the other half A-‘s is one way to encourage students to take more German classes!

Much worse, however, is the 4.12 (!) average grade for the 20 students who took either German 201 or 202. The only way to get such a high average is for 1/3 of the students to get an A+ (while everyone else got an A). Who is guilty of such absurd grading? Professor Mandt has finished up her one year visiting position. Professor Kone, on the other hand, is on the tenure track. He is teaching Germ 202 again this spring. How many A+ grades do you think he will award?

The best way for serious faculty members to fight the trend toward awarding too many A+ grades is, perhaps counter-intuitively, to celebrate such exceptional achievement. (Recall that Williams gives this grade hundreds of times each year.) The Administration could require that any faculty member who wanted to award an A+ would be required to schedule a 30 minute public presentation at which the student would present her excellent work and the professor would explain why he judged the work to be among the very best he has ever seen from an undergraduate.

There would still be — I hope there will be! — 10 or so A+ grades awarded each year. On occasion, Williams students do produce some amazing work. We should celebrate their achievements! But handing out 200 such grades each year devalues such truly exceptional work.

Trivia Question: Which Williams faculty member in the last decade was most (in)famous for handing out A+ grades?

Answer: Bernard Moore, affirmative action poster hire for the Political Science department — thanks Cathy Johnson! — and convicted felon.

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Townie

 

FastTimes_104PuxurzSean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High . This 1982 movie was based on Claremont HS in San Diego, a few years before my daughter was Class  President.

Yes, this is another very thin Williams link to give you a shot at my summer reading list. I met Andre Dubus III at a book reading in Boston in May. He knocked me out. His reading was a torrent of words and images taking place at different times and locales yet all taking place in a space of five minutes in the narrative of the book. I had to read more.

 

I read four: two novels, a book of novellas, and a memoir. The first novel was his first big success,  House of Sand and Fog.

cover_townieThe memoir is Townie. It is an accounting of his growing up in Haverhill where his father, the writer Andre Bubus, is a college professor. It is dirty, gritty, violent, touching, and written in a language in which the truth is found with out embellishment other than the writers own self-searching. Townie was written after the other three. And in it are the backgrounds for happenings and characters in the first three books.

The truth he finds in this memoir is the same truth you see being developed in the first three books of fiction. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flimsy link:

Anthropology professor David Edwards and journalist Christopher Marcisz have teamed up this semester (2015) to teach a course about different ways of understanding the relationship between Williams College and Williamstown.

To prepare for their final projects, each of the 13 students—sophomores, juniors and seniors, some of them anthropology and sociology majors—will pitch several ideas about the intersection between the town and the college, just as they would to a magazine editor, and select the one with the most potential. They’ll spend the rest of the semester conducting research and interviews and then writing an anthropological study that reads like creative nonfiction.

https://magazine.williams.edu/2015/fall/study/new-course-explores-town-and-gown/

All the profs really had to do was to assign Townie.

 

 

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Williams presidential search news

To the Williams Community,

I hope you are all enjoying the last days of summer, and looking forward, as I am, to the new academic year.

As you know, President Adam Falk recently announced that he will leave Williams at the end of December to become president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In my role as chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, I have been asked by the Board to lead our search for Adam’s successor. I am writing today to inform you of our considerable progress in organizing the process, and to share with you our plan for interim college leadership beginning in January of 2018, which was approved by the Board of Trustees yesterday.

First, I am pleased to inform you that Protik (Tiku) Majumder, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of the Science Center, has graciously agreed to serve as interim president, starting January 1, 2018, and continuing until the new president is in place. Tiku has an outstanding record as a Williams teacher and mentor, scientist, and faculty leader, and just as importantly has earned wide trust and respect across the Williams community. Our objective was to find an interim president with a keen understanding of our institution; a love of Williams, of its students, and of its faculty; enormous patience, tact, and insight; and an ability to respond with intelligence, compassion, and calm to the inevitable challenges that will arise from time to time. Tiku has each of these qualities, and many more. He will do a superb job of keeping Williams on track, and I ask you to join me in thanking him and supporting his leadership.

Second, we have formed a Presidential Search Committee whose charge will be to present to the Board of Trustees one or more exceptional and thoroughly vetted candidates to become our next president, and to ensure that every member of the Williams community has an opportunity to give input with respect to qualities that we should be seeking, as well as to offer nominations. The Search Committee includes representatives from every sector of our community: students, staff, alumni, faculty, and trustees. Several members are also Williams parents. As their backgrounds indicate, each brings deep involvement with the College. Service on the committee will require significant time and effort, and I am personally grateful to the members for their dedication to Williams and their willingness to take on this essential task.

The members of the committee are:

Michael Eisenson ’77, Trustee and Chair of the Search Committee
O. Andreas Halvorsen ’86, Trustee
Clarence Otis, Jr. ’77, Trustee
Kate L. Queeney ’92, Trustee
Liz Robinson ’90, Trustee
Martha Williamson ’77, Trustee

Ngonidzashe Munemo, Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity and Associate Professor of Political Science
Peter Murphy, John Hawley Roberts Professor of English
Lucie Schmidt, Professor of Economics
Tom Smith ’88, Professor of Chemistry
Safa Zaki, Professor of Psychology

Chris Winters ’95, Associate Provost

Jordan G. Hampton ’87, President, Society of Alumni
Yvonne Hao ’95, alumna and Trustee Emerita

Ben Gips ’19, student representative
Sarah Hollinger ’19, student representative

Keli Gail, Secretary of the Board of Trustees and principal staff to the committee

Third, the board has retained the firm Spencer Stuart as consultant, to help manage the search process. Spencer Stuart has been involved in numerous recent and successful academic searches at the highest levels, and is very well positioned to help the committee in its work. Searches like this are complex and sensitive, and we expect to benefit greatly from their expertise, specialized resources, and pool of outstanding candidates.

The Search Committee will begin its work shortly, and we will announce opportunities for community input as these are developed. As a first step, we have created a website where you can find information and materials related to the search. We will add to the site as additional materials are available, as further process steps are scheduled, and as we have news to share. Our future email updates will link back to this site as the place of record for search news.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to again thank the members of the Presidential Search Committee for the work they are about to do, and Tiku Majumder for his service as interim president. I also want to convey to our entire community our enthusiasm and optimism as we set out to find the 18th president of Williams College.

Sincerely,

Michael Eisenson ’77
Chair, Williams College Board of Trustees

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Grade Distribution 2016-2017, 2

A source sent us the official registrar’s report (pdf) on the distribution of grades in 2016-2017. (Relevant background: data for 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, recent Record coverage, and prior EphBlog discussion.) Day 2.

grades1

1) Grade inflation is still a problem. The average grade at Williams in 2008-2009 was 3.39. It was 3.41 in 2013-2014. Last year, it was 3.45. So, in the last 8 years, the average has increased by 0.06. In the last 3 years, by 0.04. If the average grade continues to increase at the rate of about 0.01 per year, then, by 2072-2073, we will reach Nirvana! The average GPA at Williams will be 4.0.

2) Grade inflation may be decreasing in severity, perhaps as a natural result of bumping up against the 4.0 ceiling. The average GPA in 2015-2016 was also 3.45. The faculty seem concerned about the problem. Perhaps things are getting under control?

3) Which faculty are most concerned about the problem of grade inflation? My prior (prejudice?) would be that older (male?) faculty are more concerned. This Record article from 1998 has some interesting background.

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Grade Distribution 2016-2017, 1

A source sent us the official registrar’s report (pdf) on the distribution of grades in 2016-2017. (Relevant background: data for 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, recent Record coverage, and prior EphBlog discussion.) Day 1.

1) Someone needs to write a thesis about grade inflation at Williams, an update, 20 years later, to “When A=average : the origins and economic implications of grade inflation at Williams College and other elite institutions,” by Peter Siniawer ’97. (And why isn’t this thesis available on-line?)

2) We need more transparency about grading at Williams. Recall my (unsuccessful) efforts to get the registrar to provide this data. Almost anything that is distributed to hundreds of faculty at Williams ought to be made public. Interested alumni/students/parents should not have to depend on EphBlog’s sources . . .

3) Division 1 should be called out for not holding the line on grades:

grades

The most distressing aspect of the differences across Divisions (and across departments) is the bad signals that it sends to students. If a student gets a B+ in an intro Computer Science class but an A in Theater, she might thing that this means she is “better” at theater than computer science. Isn’t this one way that Williams guides her on choosing a major that matches her abilities? But, of course, the College is lying to her. She is an average student in computer science and in theater. Lax grading by the latter is misleading her.

Of course, if the Theater Department, and Division 1 departments more generally, want more students, then misleading them about their actual talents may be just what the ticket . . .

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Houston

Other than good wishes from Ephs far and wide, I can’t come up with a Williams connection to the on-going flooding in Houston. Are there any Ephs in government in Texas? Ephs involved in relief work? Ephs associated with storm forecasting?

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JCD is Right!* Hitler is a cliche …

Il Dunce

With the pardon of the sheriff, with the order to the military Re: transgenderpeople in the  service, I’d have slapped up a shot of Der Fuhrer faster than lightning. But JCD is right, I’ve been over-using Hitler as an easy allusion for Drumph and Fascism.

So here is a new simulacrum that I’ll use. It’s a little lighter with a touch of humor. Although the situations grow less and less humorous.

Thanks JCD!

          * see JCD comment, 3rd comment under ‘Very Nice People’ post **

 

**  Granted, this is a meta reference to Williams. However, one that may be familiar to constant readers.

Addenda items …

At David’s good suggestion to search harder for a Williams College reference, I am adding this more direct beat-back.

This article in the blog of Christian Thorne, Associate Professor of English on 27 February, 2017:

https://sites.williams.edu/cthorne/articles/fulfilling-the-fascist-lie/

Mussolini’s government, unlike Hitler’s, did not attempt to monopolize the entire sphere of thought and culture. Historians are keen to point out that there was no Italian Gleichschaltung—no effort to bring everyone into line. Within certain parameters, independent intellectuals continued to publish in Italy, which means not that there were still socialists or communists or liberals expressing themselves freely in Florence and Rome—those people really were shut down—but that there remained an outer circle of freelance fascists, the half-fascists or the merely unenrolled, the shirts not of black, but of charcoal and onyx and taupe,

Added by DDF:

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The Houses of Williamstown: St. Anthony Hall (Delta Psi) … (Reissue)

(The 12th in a series of 16 posts)   This post was originally made Nov 12, 2009. Click COMMENT to see full post
St A Top copy
Continues under the fold Read more

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Jews at Williams, 13

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 13.

In this, at least, he exaggerates, for Williams was not as inhospitable to the most clubbable Jews as Candlestick makes it seem. Herbert H. Lehman (Williams 1899) was the first Jew to join a fraternity, namely Alpha Zeta Alpha, then a local organization but which later became the national Phi Gamma Delta. His sons and nephews would follow him into the organization decades later.

Again, just how antisemitic could Williams have been if Herbert H. Lehman’s wealthy family would choose to send him and if he, after thriving for four years, would choose to be such a generous donor?

It is curious that the Class of 1914 contributed so much to the establishment of multi-generational Jewish legacies at Williams. Almost half of the Jews of the Class of 1914 sent their sons on to Williams; as mentioned earlier, the Stone family became a truly prolific Williams legacy, with 10 members attending the college over the generations down to the graduating class of 2005.

This means that something of a mystery hovers over the 1910–14 period at Williams. The college was the site of one of the earliest anti-Jewish demonstrations, effectively anticipating far more effective attempts to diminish Jewish involvement in higher education in the decades to come—and yet the Jews of the Classes of 1913 and 1914, present for that protest, nevertheless produced legacies. Students who understood they were part of a group targeted for exclusion nevertheless managed to stick it out, remaining at the college and ultimately flourishing through their association with it.

I do not think that words like “curious” and “mystery” mean what Wurgaft thinks they mean. He keeps assuming that Williams was horribly antisemitic and is then surprised by how loyal Jewish alumni are. He needs to re-examine his assumptions. If Williams was, in fact, among the least antisemitic locations in the world from, say, 1900 to 1950, then the loyalty/generosity of Jewish Ephs from this era makes perfect sense.

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Jews at Williams, 12

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 12.

Gabriel wrote a study of the problem of being Jewish at Williams, thinly veiled as a coming-of-age novel: The Seven-Branched Candlestick: The Schooldays of a Young American Jew, a tale told in the first person. Truth be told, Candlestick is slight, didactic, and so moralizing in tone that one can almost miss the central social conflict Gabriel took as his focus: the meeting between more assimilated German Jews and their more recently arrived East European Jewish counterparts at American institutions of higher learning. This conflict evidently had at least as much impact on Gabriel’s years at Williams as the conflict between Jew and non-Jew.

Emphasis added. Let me revisit two of my favorite themes: First, the conflict of German Jews and Russian Jews at Williams would make for a great Williams senior thesis. Wurgaft covers some of that conflict, but he (purposely?) seemed to leave lots out. To note that German Jews were some of the most powerful and persuasive opponents of admitting Russian Jews is not a theme to gladden the heart of today’s social justice Ephs. Second, Steve Sailer covers this topic here and here.

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Grandparents of Student Make Gift of West African Art

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Drs Carolyn and Eli Newberger have made a gift of their 340 object collection of art from the Ashanti, Bamana, Baule, Bobo, Dogon, Igbo, Mossi, Peul, Senufo, and Yoruba people.

“This generous gift greatly expands WCMA’s collection of African art and will be incredibly valuable not only in teaching but also in showing art that is politically, socially, and culturally relevant,” said Class of 1956 Director Christina Olsen. “ We are grateful to Carolyn and Eli for their vision and generosity.”

https://wcma.williams.edu/news-item/williams-college-museum-of-art-to-receive-landmark-gift-of-african-art-from-drs-carolyn-and-eli-newberger/

This is another recognition of the WCMA. Of particular interest to me personally is this description  of the museum: “A defining feature of this institution is its unique exhibition style; presenting art within its cultural and historical context to incite thought-provoking experiences.”

     http://www.collegerank.net/best-art-museums/

Isn’t this, after all, how art should be understood? And , in fact, isn’t this thought the basis for a liberal arts education?

JCD: Comment?

Re: JCD

“This is just post-modern drivel. Art should be valued and displayed because it is beautiful. Museum directors are only amateurs in politics, sociology or cultural anthropology. Only in a world without standards of beauty would a dorky looking pot ever become a part of an art exhibit.”

10438ceabf502fa8174817ace186608clargerOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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All Campus Email: Mattresses and Box Springs from Home

Hello all,

Welcome back for another great year at Williams College. I want to take a minute to make you all aware of an existing Bed Bug Policy here at Williams and how it may impact you.

The following guidelines were developed in collaboration between Williams and a professional pest control company. Student Life and Facilities offices consistently observe these guideline and partner closely with students in detection and remediation.

The most important role you, as a student, can play is in preventing bed bug infestation in the first place, and the principal means of prevention is to leave your own mattress at home. The mattresses that Williams provides are bed-bug free: most of them are made of tightly woven material that has no exposed standing seams and therefore no place for beg bugs to hide, and all of them will be similarly covered shortly. They do not contain any chemicals or pesticides. Mattresses from home carry no such guarantees and therefore are no longer allowed in campus residences.

Thank you for your continued help in keeping Williams College a healthy environment to live and learn in.

Best,

Dan


Dan Levering, Assistant Director of Custodial Services and Special Events
Williams College
60 Latham Street
Williamstown MA, 01267
(413) 597-4466

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Jews at Williams, 11

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 11.

Jews at Williams, like their counterparts at other institutions, were subject to anti-Semitic treatment during this period, ranging from verbal abuse to exclusion from fraternities and clubs. However, the label “anti-Semitic treatment” may obscure more than it clarifies.

Indeed. Like many of the comments/observations that are labelled as “racist” at Williams today, some of these comments/observations are just simply the truth. Consider:

praise for the imagined business sense of the Jewish people,

What PC nonsense! Is Wurgaft seriously suggesting that “Jewish people” aren’t more successful in business than non-Jewish people?

Imagine that you were a 1950s Eph, perhaps minding your own business, hanging out at the Deke House, and you happened to mention that Jewish people seem fairly successful in business. Perhaps you even dared to praise Jews and/or Jewish culture for this achievement. Then the Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft of the era comes by and attacks you for antisemitism! That would be fairly annoying!

Especially when, today, you notice that the last 50 years have proved that your (allegedly!) antisemitic observation was spot on. Around 1/3 of the member of the Forbe 400 are Jewish, the vast majority of whom made their fortunes over this time period. Sure seems like “Jewish people” might have better than average “business sense.”

The same PC nonsense, of course, happens at Williams today to any student who happens to notice, much less publicly comment on, much less actually praise, the strong performance of Asian-Americans on the SAT.

This is a war — not so much against antisemitism or against racism — but against noticing true facts about the world.

The exclusion of Jews from upper-class social facilities, for example, was prompted by proprietors’ (not entirely unreasonable) fears that a marked Jewish presence would drive out their traditional WASP clientele.

I am, in theory, sympathetic to this argument. Perhaps one reason that Harvard/Yale/Princeton are more successful than Columbia today is that the former discriminated much more heavily against Jews than the latter? I don’t know but the case could be made. Is Williams smart to discriminate against international students for similar reasons? Recall Jim Kolesar’s ’72 argument more than a decade ago:

But a college that gave itself over to educating mainly international students, which is eventually what would happen given the numbers, would have a significantly different mission, very different standing with U.S. prospective students, and greatly altered relationship with government, donors, etc.

Is Williams smart to have a quota for international students?

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8 Students Chosen for the Expedition to the August 21 Solar Eclipse/ The view from Hood River …

https://astronomy.williams.edu/news/8-students-chosen-for-the-expedition-to-the-august-21-solar-eclipse/

https://twitter.com/EphSports/status/899729980103553024/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fephblog.com%2F

Your first-hand reporter comments on the eclipse as he saw it.

I know the Williams expedition must have been in a better position than I was. Hood River is 60 miles due east of Portland on the Columbia River. I sat on the deck facing east and could see the sun.

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 10.56.16 AM

I would say that (as you can see by the map) by 10:20 am there was a hint of darkness, rather like the time for a sun-downer. I turned my chair due north. Buffy the wonder dog was disinterested. The neighbors cats, Atticus and Coco, stopped by for a stretch and a meow, but they always do. Birds seem to go about their business with no hint of retiring for the night. The river was placid, no wind, no kite surfers or paddle boarders. Snowy Mt Adams kept steady shadows over the Yakima Nation.

In a few minutes, the sun shine was bright again. If I were a Druid living in Hood River, I would be questioning my religion.

Hey, Just Now!

 A Trump speech actually with a beginning, middle, and end. I bring to your attention my prediction on 11 August:

 In one of those hidden in the comments statements that will probably not be read, this “Mark My Words” revelation I have just received while enjoying a Pimm’s Cup.

Trump will become a War President and as such will be able to put aside all the “follow the money” investigations being pursued by Special Investigator Mueller.

Well, Forget it!

The Phoenix display may set up the continuing positioning:

The President Who Is Preserving Our History And Heritage!

 Here are some other suggestions from The New Yorker:

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/trump-2020-potential-campaign-slogans?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%20-%20With%20Photo%20(200)&CNDID=20210401&spMailingID=1176

 

 

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Jews at Williams, 10

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 10.

Williams was simply an unusual choice for Jews at this point, and not because it presented insuperable barriers to Jews but simply because most had not heard of it. It was off the map for American Jews unless their families had already become acquainted with the social groups from which Williams drew most of its students, or unless some stroke of luck—a chance encounter with an alumnus, for example—informed them about Williams and led them to believe admission was possible.

Williams was “protected,” as it were, from Jewish attentions during the gentlemen’s era by the social networks it served. They in turn served it by providing new students and loyal alumni.

My hypothesis is that this is exactly the dynamic which drives the lack of discrimination against Asian-Americans at Williams. There is no doubt that Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford discriminate against Asian-Americans, just as HYP discriminated against Jewish-Americans almost a century ago. One current mystery is whether or not Williams (and schools like Williams) employ the same policy. I don’t think we do, not because we are any more moral/non-discriminatory than HYPS, but because proportionally fewer Asian-Americans (relative to non-Asian-Americans) apply to and/or enroll at Williams.

But reasonable people differ on the claim about Asian-Americans and Williams admissions. Recall this discussion from more than a decade ago. I miss HWC!

Between 1880 and 1920, no other New England liberal arts college was as closely connected to the Social Register families of New York and Boston, a group that, with a few exceptions, emphatically did not include Jews. As Robert Farnum explains, it was the only liberal arts college in the “top five” schools (Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia are the others) to which the majority of “social registrants” flocked, particularly from the 1880s to the 1920s. It was in fact the fourth most popular destination for registrants from Boston and the fifth for New Yorkers. It was thus part of a tiny cluster of schools serving a social network that crystallized out of the East Coast’s Protestant elite families in the 1880s and 1890s; the first edition of the Social Register was published in New York in 1888.

Hmmm. This would make an great topic for a Williams senior thesis in history. Who will write it?

Related questions: How much does Williams status today as the #1 liberal arts college go back to enrollment decisions made 100+ years ago by the Social Register? How much were those decisions driven by geography? (My understanding is that the Berkshires were a common summer time retreat for the Social Register folks. Imagine what New York City and Boston were like in the era before air conditioning.) If so, did that familiarity give Williams an advantage over, say, Amherst and Wesleyan?

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the Houses of Williamstown: Psi Upsilon … (Reissue)

(This is the 11th in a series of 16 posts) Originally published October 2009.   Click CONTENT to see entire post
Psi u Top copy

Read more

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Jews at Williams, 9

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 9.

However, what is remarkable about the early Jews at Williams (it would be too much to speak of “Jewish life” when only one, or two, or at most nine, Jews were present in a single entering class) is how loyal many remained to the college.

Furthermore the first Jewish “legacy families” donned purple during this period. One should not look for conflict between the Jewish identities of these students and their identities as Williams men, for many would not have experienced the unavoidable dissonance between those identities as an incompatibility. If they had, legacies would not have been the result.

Indeed. Perhaps the most interesting observation in the book — one that Wurgaft hints at only obliquely in passages like this — is how little antisemitism there was at Williams. Indeed, was any elite institution in the United States less antisemitic than Williams prior to 1960? Reader suggestions welcome. In many ways, this debate is similar to the one about how “racist” Williams is today. Of course, there are people at Williams today who say/believe racist things. (Let he who is without sin . . . .) But such claims are only intelligible in context. There are few places on Earth less marred by racism that Williams today, just as there were few places less marred by antisemitism than the Williams of 75 years ago.

Two years after Boas’ address, an increase in the number of Jewish students in the Williams freshman class (the Class of 1914), which included a few students of Eastern European background, would occasion one of America’s first student-led demonstrations against Jewish enrollment at a college or university. German Jews, present in small numbers, never received such a welcome. While no firsthand accounts of the demonstration have been found, President Harry Garfield described it, in a letter, in a secondhand fashion by saying that, afterward, he felt it necessary to take the pulpit in chapel to remonstrate with the students for their bad behavior.

Note the leap here. There is no real evidence for the claim that “America’s first student-led demonstrations against Jewish enrollment” happened at Williams. This is an attempt, I think, by Wurgaft to find more antisemitism than actually existed. (Note how he never found “firsthand accounts of the demonstration.”) Instead, there seems to have been a hazing-type tradition of an annual forced parade, featuring all the freshmen, which included heavy doses of upperclassmen mockery/”humor,” much of it involving ethnic/racial/religious themes. In 1910, this parade included antisemitic elements. Not very nice! But that is a far cry from a “demonstrations against Jewish enrollment.”

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Class of 2021 Letter on Charlottesville

The Williams class of 2021 wrote this letter:

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From the Washington Post:

“In such a divided world, we must cherish unity without uniformity,” the Dartmouth class of 2021 wrote to U-Va. first-years. “Show the world that you — UVA 2021, an economically, racially religiously diverse class — are stronger for it.”

From one class of 2021 to another, they urged U-Va.’ s new students not to let fear overshadow optimism.

Other first-years followed — members of the class of 2021 at Columbia University, Yale University, Williams College, Pomona College, and Vassar College — wrote letters of support to U-Va.’ s new students, too.

Polanco and Luiza Odhiambo, who met this summer at an orientation program for first-generation college students at Dartmouth, were both stunned by the violence in Charlottesville. They talked and agreed that it was essential to speak out. They asked members of the incoming class if they wanted to send a group message to U-Va. The answer was immediate.

1) Does anyone know which members of the Williams class of 2021 led the effort?

2) I think it is inappropriate to imply that this letter is from (the entire?) Williams class of 2021. You shouldn’t claim to speak for Group X unless the members of Group X have given you permission to do so. (It would be OK for a similar letter to be sent in October if it came from the Frosh Council, for example.) Presumably, there are members of the class who disagree with at least some aspects of the letter.

3) Any interest from our readers in a close reading/critique? Recall this fun exercise. My initial impression is that this effort is of much higher quality than the MinCo letter from two years ago. Further evidence that Williams students are getting smarter?! And, partially for that reason, this letter is much scarier. How will these students react when, for example, Zach Wood ’18 invites Richard Spencer to speak at Williams?

4) Recall this discussion from a decade ago:

Back in the day, it was taken for granted that the benefits of affirmative action went to students who a) Did not grow up rich and b) Did not attend prep schools and c) Had 4 US-born grandparents who had suffered under the legacy of discrimination. It appears that this would now only be true for a (small?) minority of the beneficiaries of affirmative action at Williams today.

Are readers surprised that the two leaders of the Dartmouth effort were born outside the US?

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” … not a good war-time consigliere …

Donald-Trump-Steve-Bannon-Stephen-K-Bannon-White-House-Jan-2017-Swearing-in-Getty-640x480

… we are going to the mattresses”.

The Godfather was included in a Williams class two years ago.

https://catalog.williams.edu/1516/catalog.php?&strm=1161&subj=COMP&cn=221

Michael Beschloss is analyzing the Banner Bannon departure right now on MSNBC.

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Freedom of Speech Is Not Enough

Zach Wood ’18 writes in the Wall Street Journal:

North Carolina last week became the latest state to enact a law protecting free speech on college campuses. The Restore Campus Free Speech Act requires schools to discipline students and faculty who substantially disrupt or interfere “with the protected free expression rights of others.”

Such legislation, sensibly enforced, should bolster efforts to increase viewpoint diversity and send a clear message that heckler’s vetoes will not be condoned. But leaders in higher education need to do more than protect free speech. Their greater challenge is to teach students how to discuss controversial topics thoughtfully and see the value of understanding those with whom they disagree.

I agree. But does the Williams faculty? Professor Sam Crane, for example, sees no value in “understanding” the views of John Derbyshire.

The need for such understanding became clear to me while serving as president of Uncomfortable Learning, a club at Williams College that tries to broaden the range of dialogue on campus by hosting controversial speakers. After I invited conservative commentator John Derbyshire in 2016 to speak about race and national identity, one student angrily told me that if the speech wasn’t canceled, Mr. Derbyshire wouldn’t make it through the door in one piece.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “You can’t be serious.”

The student paused, leaned over the table and looked me in the eye: “Whatever it takes, he will not make it through that door.”

Whoa! I would have doubted this story in the past. But, after the physical attacks on Charles Murray at Middlebury, I believe it. I certainly hope that Eph antifa are as serious and organized as Middlebury antifa!

Read more

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Jews at Williams, 8

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 8.

Are readers concerned that, eights days into our “book review,” we are only now hitting Chapter 1? Reader feedback welcome!
At our current rate, we have another 30+ days to go . . .

One seemingly minor but important detail is notable when contrasting Harvard and Williams during this period. Harvard, like so many other elite schools, abandoned its strict Greek and Latin requirement for admissions in 1900, whereas Williams clung to a strenuous set of language requirements into the 1930s, the result being that few students from public high schools could attend. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt, along with 18 of his 22 classmates from Groton, arrived at Harvard in September 1900, 40 percent of their freshman class had attended public schools. Harvard’s demographic river was, in this period, fed by Hotchkiss, Groton, and other prominent preparatory schools (the “St. Grottlesex” schools, as they are often known), and by many public institutions as well. Williams’ river was fed more exclusively by St. Grottlesex, and relatively few Jews—and precious few from more recently arrived Eastern European families—made it from the flood of immigration to the narrower stream of private preparatory education.

1) Wurgaft should have told us more about why Williams required Latin/Greek for 30 years longer than Harvard. Does anyone know? My guess would be that this decision had nothing to do with Jewish enrollment pressures since that came a decade or more later at Harvard.

2) Are there any current Williams admissions policies which analogous to the old Latin/Greek requirements? Not that I can see. Elite schools are very similar nowadays. Williams is a bit different from some of its NESCAC peers in that it requires the SAT/ACT and they do not. But all of its actual peers (Amherst/Pomona/Ivy/Chicago) require those exams so, again, Williams is less of an outlier than it once was.

3) Are there any policies which Williams should implement that would serve a similar function to Greek/Latin requirements? To some extent, the the quota for international students — or, rather, the pseudo-requirement to have a US passport/green card — is similar. Yet, I am more interested in positive changes that Williams could make which would change the mix of students that apply/enroll. Adding a finance major is one obvious example. More emphasis on the Williams College Equestrian Team might bring in more students from families who could become major donors.

Many would know President Harry Garfield (1908–34), who was thought by many other college and university presidents to possess a secret formula for keeping Jewish numbers at Williams low. Some would attend classes along with James Phinney Baxter III (Williams 1914), who would, as president, hire the college’s first Jewish faculty members, and who also championed the fraternity system at Williams, which by the mid-twentieth century was a stronghold of anti-Semitic sentiment. It was also during this period that Jewish students from non-German backgrounds began to arrive at the college, and this catalyzed a startling series of conflicts, not only between Jews and non-Jews but also between different kinds of Jews.

Calling the fraternities a “stronghold of anti-Semitic sentiment” is a misuse of the term “stronghold.” First, many (half? more?) fraternities had Jewish members! Just how anti-Semitic were they? Of course, there were people at Williams — just as there are now! — who expressed anti-Semitic opinions, or at least opinions that many Jews view/viewed as anti-Semitic. But those people were both in fraternities and outside of fraternities. They were both students and faculty, staff and local residents. Second, there is no evidence that the abolition of fraternities decreased antisemitism at Williams, relative to other schools like Amherst that kept fraternities. Of course, antisemitism was decreasing everywhere in the twenty years from 1950 to 1970. It is unsurprising that it decreased at Williams, as Wurgaft documents. But, if the fraternities were really a “stronghold,” then there abolition would have caused antisemitism to decrease more at Williams than at Amherst. It didn’t, so they weren’t.

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Very Fine People

Not all Ephs were impressed with President Trump’s press conference.

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I also disliked parts of the press conference. (Steve Bannon is definitely a very fine person!)

What did you think?

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Jews at Williams, 7

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 7.

Stephen Birmingham ’55 contributed a chapter entitled “A Knock on the Door.” As with most of the other Eph stories in the book, it is an engaging read. However, it tells the story of conversations from 1949. I, at least, have trouble remembering conversations from last week, much less 60+ years ago. Birmingham notes:

The great irony of the story told in this book is that in the course of the twentieth century Williams itself became more like the Jewish students it had once excluded.

Indeed. The elite evolve, a theme that Wurgaft fails to explore with much nuance. On the surface, this book is a conflict between two categories of Ephs: Jews and those who would exclude them. On a deeper level, it is the story of Williams College as an organism, a institution dedicated to maintaining its position among the elite. When treating Jews unfairly was a necessary part — or at least considered necessary by the men in charge — of what “elite” meant, Williams treated Jews unfairly. When maintaining elite status required treating Jews fairly, Williams started doing that. The driving force was never — is never — some abstract committment to justice. The driving force is the need to maintain status.

Want to predict what Williams will do tomorrow? Don’t ask what Adam Falk thinks. What Adam thinks doesn’t matter much. Ask what actions are necessary — or at least viewed as necessary — to maintain the College’s status. That is what Williams will do.

In the Gilded Age of New York Society, the closed circle of WASP wealth was often referred to as The Four Hundred, which was the supposed capacity of Mrs. William Astor’s ballroom. The wealthy German-Jewish families, who were excluded from this perfumed realm, made a joke of it, and called themselves The One Hundred, and referred to the others as “the butterflies.”

Indeed. We hear a lot about Gentile prejudice against Jews. We hear little — because Wurgaft writes little — about Jewish prejudice against Gentiles. As Steve Sailer points out, there isn’t even a thought category for anti-Gentilism.

We Betas, meanwhile, considered ourselves a rather special breed. Scholastically, we were at the top. In terms of grade averages, we nearly always came out first among all the campus fraternities. We had the most Phi Beta Kappa keys per capita of any house. We looked with disdain at our neighbors down the street, the Dekes, the Animal House, the jocks whose academic scores were in the cellar.

Any Deke house members from the 1950s among our readers? Please chime in!

I explained that we’d rejected the Choate School because the Choate application at the time contained the question, “Is the boy in any part Hebraic?” My parents had found the question socially offensive and semantically ridiculous.

Any more ridiculous than Common App’s insistence today that applicants answer whether or not they are “Asian?” You can’t apply to Williams without answering that question. But, sure, the people who ran Choate back then are moral monsters . . .

[T]he president of Phi Gamma Delta took Bobby aside and said, “Look, we were happy to take you into Phi Gam, and we were happy to take your uncle and your cousins in. But this has just got to stop somewhere. We just can’t keep on taking more and more of your people in. We’d be overrun by you people before we knew it.

1) Does anyone know who the president of Phi Gamma Delta from 1950? It would be nice to hear his side of the story.

2) This is exactly the current Williams policy with regard to international students. Recall this brilliant Record op-ed from 11 years ago. If concerns about too many Jews were offensive/ridiculous 60 years ago, then why are concerns about too many non-US citizens acceptable today?

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Do the right thing …

ein volk:reich:fuhrerwilliams-college-civil-war-monument-statue-union-soldier-williamstown-D11AM1

The Williams campus is in another idyllic town with a statue to the Civil War.

Equivalency?

 http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMH1E5_The_Soldiers_Monument_Williamstown_MA

The Union soldier statue in front of Griffin Hall was commissioned by the Society of Alumni of Williams College to commemorate Williams College students who died in the Civil War. The monument was dedicated on July 28, 1868. The front of the base is simply inscribed: 1861  1865 .

This statue to the Williams men who died in the Civil War and placed in 1868, three years after the end of the war. A monument to the dead is quite a different statue than one glorifying a specific leader of the Confederacy and erected in the wave of White Supremacy in the 1920’s. These later statues were not to mourn the men killed in the horrific Civil War. but to build the legend of “The Lost Cause”.

A foreboding of things to happen here :

The Recent Neo-Nazi Murder Spree in Context

On April 3, 2013 in Griffin Hall, a talk by Freya Klier, “known for her criticism of communism and fascism, spends a good part of every year traveling to schools to teach the young generation about the GDR, and she also represents incarcerated writers for PEN. In 2012, Klier received the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany’s highest honor for civil service.”

https://events.williams.edu/event/the_recent_neo-nazi_murder_spree_in_context

This post has been up-dated 0n 19 August per the excellent observations of DDF and alum-anon.

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Jews at Williams, 6

Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft is both an interesting read and a source for dozens of fascinating anecdotes. Let’s spend a month or so going through it. Today is Day 6.

[P]art of a larger shift, only complete after the end of WWII, from a system in which private boarding schools supplied Williams with its students, to one in which students were drawn equally from public high schools.

A central theme at EphBlog: Williams has changed much less over the last 50 years than most people claim. The College is guilty of feeding this belief with its recurrent claims that Williams is much more wonderful today than it has ever been before. The implication, of course, is that the folks who run Williams today are much smarter and/or less prejudiced than folks like Jack Sawyer ’39, much less Harry Garfield ‘1885. That is an ego-stroking story with, however, little basis in reality. The clearest place to see this trend is in admissions, where, to the extent there have been changes, those changes have been driven by outside forces. We started taking more students from public high schools 50 years ago, not because we started hating (private) Deerfield or liking (public) Scarsdale but because we started getting more interest from high quality applicants from public high schools than we used to get.

Williams does not seem to have experienced the dramatic shift in admissions policies seen at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton in the 1920s . . .

Correct. Now, we would like to believe the Williams administration was more enlightened and so never would have considered the Jewish quotas — and the rigamarole of “character” assessments associated with them — that HYP implemented. But it is even more likely that Williams was simply lucky. So few Jews applied that we felt no impetus to discriminate against them.

Ironically the very term “meritocracy” only came into widespread use long after the quota system was imposed at the Ivies. Conversations about access to elite institutions such as Williams in the 1870s, the 1920s, or the 1940s were not couched in terms of establishing a meritocracy. It was in 1958 that Michael Young published his satire The Rise of the Meritocracy, which playfully attacked the premise that meritocracy could thwart an unjust distribution of wealth and power by presenting a world in which the “best” of the oppressed classes are promoted into the ruling classes—thereby decimating the leadership pool of the former groups, which might have helped to create structural changes that erased inequality at its root. Young’s satire gave great currency to “meritocracy” despite its critique of meritocratic dreams, and it was during the turbulent 1960s that the idea of meritocracy was linked to the goal of making American higher education more diverse.

Young’s book is amazing. Highly recommended.

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* “Blood and Soil”/ A footnote to Charlottesville

*  “Blood and Soil” has a great appeal… the uniting power of native nationality and the native land. This slogan was chanted at the deadly terrorist demonstration in         Charlottsville.

       http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi-germany/blood-and-soil/

While I usually work hard for the Williams topicality, the series currently running provides a natural background.

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Blut und Boden = Blood and Soil

Ortsbauernfuhrer = Leader of the Landed Farmers. See above link for difficulty in defining and applying.

Reischsnahrstand = The Nazi governing group determining land needed to meet nutritional needs of the German people

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-unite-the-right-rally/index.html

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Falk on Dallas

EphBlog has fallen down in terms of commenting on President Falk’s letters. Apologies! Let’s start to catch up today by revisiting this July 18, 2016 letter about the Dallas police office shootings.

Standing with Dallas, and against violence
July 18, 2016

To the Williams Community,

As many of you know, this weekend violence erupted in Dallas, Texas, at a “Black Lives Matter” rally. Many people were injured and five police officers were murdered. The violence occurred on and near a college campus.

The events in Dallas were horrible. Violence has no place in American life. By why is Adam Falk lecturing us? Doesn’t he have a job to do? Is he under the impression that there are any Ephs who are in favor of murder?

This is the most annoying sort of virtue signalling. Falk picks a topic on which every Eph agrees, and then wastes our time with his perfectly pedestrian prose. I no more need/want the president of Williams to “educate” me about current events (unrelated to Williams) then I need/want his advice about breakfast cereals.

The events in Dallas were an assault by organized forces of racism and bigotry — a vile and vicious attack on all Americans. That attack is antithetical to everything Williams stands for, and to the values I personally hold most dear. We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America.

Isn’t this a bit over the top? (Perhaps I should cut Falk some slack since he was writing just two days after the violence.) It is true that the shooter, Micah Johnson, had some ugly views and was associated with some horrible (in my view) organizations. But Falk seems to cast a very wide net here. Black Lives Matter, like all political movements, has its own set of crazies and extremists. But that reality does not mean that its fundamental point — that too many innocent blacks are killed by police — isn’t worthy of consideration.

This is not about partisan politics: Republicans, Democrats, and independents from across the political spectrum, and throughout our entire community, are united in opposition to such foul acts. We express our support for and solidarity with the people of Dallas, and with all who are the targets of bigotry and hatred.

True and trite.

Let me be clear. There is no moral equivalence between racists and those who oppose them. Hatred is immoral, undemocratic, and wrong. It has no place at Williams, nor should it be allowed a footing on any campus, nor in our society as a whole.

I agree that Micah Johnson was a racist and that part of his motivation in killing those police officers was anti-white animist. I also admit that other people (no more than a tiny percentage) associated with Black Lives Matter are racist and/or overly sympathetic to some fairly odious views. (I am most annoyed by Communist paraphernalia at these events.) I agree that “foul acts,” including violence (much less murder) are beyond the pale. But Falk seems to be saying more than this. He seems to be implying that, not just Micah Johnson, but also everyone else on that “side” of the debate has “no place at Williams.”

Indeed, Falk seems to be going even further, suggesting that racist views — at least views that Adam Falk deems “racist” — have no place in America. Does he really propose banning free speech for all Black Lives Matter activists? Jailing Communist sympathizers? Removing the protection of the First Amendment for “racists?” That seems a dangerous path to me . . .

Oh, wait a second! Adam Falk never sent out a letter about the violence in Dallas. (That was only five police officers killed by a black man! No reason for a Williams president to involve himself in a local tragedy, hundreds of miles away from Williamstown.) But Falk did write a letter about the violence in Charlottesville. I have made minimal changes in his letter to make it apply to Dallas last year (and added, as a special bonus, a Trump Easter Egg).

Do you think the President of Williams should sent out letters like this one? If so, do you think that he should have sent out a similar letter about the murders in Dallas?

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