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A New Year, A New Era for Williams College

Alumni and Friends of Williams College,

I am pleased to announce that the student representatives of College Council have formally approved the incipient Society for Conservative Thought as a registered student organization. This milestone has been made possible through the tireless and earnest contributions of faculty members and many students, to all of whom I am deeply grateful.

Since my arrival at Williams as a freshman this fall, I have become increasingly alarmed by the extent of the liberal intellectual uniformity of the curriculum and campus community. Fellow students upholding all varieties of political and social beliefs have confided to me their concerns that the explicit liberal bias is inhibitive to the attainment of a well-rounded liberal arts education, and that alternative views are frequently neglected, misrepresented, and ridiculed without basis. This close-mindedness breeds a shallow and hegemonic intellectual environment in which students do not feel able to freely express non-conforming ideas. As asserted by the campus administration during the First Days presentations, it is a mission of the College to promote diversity “in all its forms.” Diversity, however, should not be restricted to classifications of racial, sexual, and socioeconomic identities—at an educational institution, it must include diversity of thought. Though the administration has openly acknowledged the problem of liberal homogeneity in the official 2005 Diversity Initiatives Self-Study, in which students described “a lack of tolerance of diversity of thought” regarding conservative philosophies (pg. 10), the College has taken no meaningful measure to improve the situation and there are no existing student organizations dedicated to the study of conservative beliefs.

The Society for Conservative Thought is the product of the current student movement to broaden the intellectual diversity of the College and establish an academic refuge where students can engage with the rich intellectual tradition of conservatism in the vein of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. As a non-partisan and non-activist organization, we invite students of all varieties of political and social beliefs to expand their academic horizons and study, discuss, and even challenge ideas that are underrepresented in the Williams curriculum. Unlike other student organizations which have attempted to prompt dialogue through spectacle and incendiary controversies, the Society will foster a genuine understanding and appreciation of conservative principles through group readings and discussions, debates, and invited speakers. The Society is sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a prestigious and well-endowed organization founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1953 for the promotion of conservative ideas on college campuses. Through ISI, the Society has access to educational resources, a bureau of distinguished speakers, and special off-campus events, all free of charge.

I understand that there is a strong contingent of alumni who are rightfully disaffected with the intellectual climate of the College. To alumni: may this message inspire you with the knowledge that there are many among the student body who share your concerns and are striving to right the situation. The Society will be a liaison between the student and alumni communities, and we look forward to hearing your advice as we forge lasting bonds of friendship in our joint effort to establish true diversity of thought at the College. Please contact me to learn more and become involved in our mission—Williams needs you.

At this moment the intellectual affairs of the College face a fateful crossroads of critical importance. By the end of this academic year, the two most prominent campus advocates for free thought will have retired and graduated, and a new president will be taking office. For over two centuries, Williams has formed the minds, hearts, and souls of generations of students who have effected incredible and outsized impacts on our nation and the world. Will the College endanger this legacy by continuing to stifle the holistic intellectual growth of its students? Perhaps, but I promise that the Society will do everything within its power to provide Williams students with a refuge for free thought and the unprejudiced study of the true, good, and beautiful.

Society activities will commence during the Winter Study period. We will read selections from William F. Buckley Jr.’s God and Man at Yale, Roger Scruton’s The Meaning of Conservatism, and Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, as well as host a number of speakers drawn from distinguished faculty members and alumni. Those with questions or interest in our efforts may contact me at jjd6@williams.edu.


John J. DiGravio ‘21

President, Williams College Society for Conservative Thought

“Veritas Vos Liberabit”


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Comments Disabled To "A New Year, A New Era for Williams College"

#1 Comment By David Dudley Field ’24 On January 1, 2018 @ 12:09 pm


And welcome to EphBlog! Please keep us updated on your activities. We are eager to help — or at least to offer commentary from the peanut gallery! — in any way that we can.

#2 Comment By JCD On January 1, 2018 @ 3:31 pm

This is wonderful news. It gets my New Year off to a good start. I’m particularly glad to hear that you have ties to an off-campus group, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, founded by William F. Buckley Jr.

I have no doubt that you will be vilified by some of your fellow students for even posting here. When that happens, I expect you will obtain greater strength and courage from knowing that you are not among the first students to notice something desperately wrong due to the lack of intellectual diversity at Williams College.

As the last full-time Republican to ever teach at Williams College, I can report that during my time the school saw an enormous vitality in conservative political thought including the development of numerous outlets for conservative students including a television show, a radio show and our own conservative newspaper.

Former Williams College professor speaks out: Campus hostile toward conservatives for decades

I think it is important to see this sort of vitality once again. After all, it is glaringly obvious that there is a problem when there are no full-time conservative thinkers at Williams College in an era when Republicans dominate national politics controlling all of Congress, the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court.

Finally, if you want to balance the scales and tick off your lefitst faculty and administrators, I urge you to screen the Netflix version of the film, The Enemies Within. See,

The Enemies Within

This film will help you educate your fellow students regarding the ties between elected officials and their radical, anti-American allies including the Communist party and the Muslim Brotherhood. As an added benefit, it stars yours truly, and features my take on young Obama’s commitment to a potentially violent revolution in the United States.

I wish I could be there to serve the popcorn and watch the ensuing blaze.

FYI: I go dark in January to focus on my business. I’ll be back in February.

#3 Comment By abl On January 1, 2018 @ 4:04 pm

As the last full-time Republican to ever teach at Williams College

This is obviously false.

That aside, I’m going to second JCD in saying that this sounds like a nice addition to the campus life/discourse. You sound like you’re approaching this in a thoughtful manner — best of luck!

#4 Comment By frank uible On January 2, 2018 @ 6:43 am

Marquess of Queensberry

#5 Comment By Tom Foolery On January 2, 2018 @ 12:11 pm


#6 Comment By Arch Stanton ’62 On January 2, 2018 @ 12:16 pm

As I started reading this post, I actually thought this was one of those imagined campus communications that appear on Ephblog from time to time. How encouraging that something like this is actually starting at Williams. What an opportunity! What a challenge you have set for yourself! Good luck!

#7 Comment By Arch Stanton ’62 On January 2, 2018 @ 12:25 pm

Honestly curious, abl, why is JCD’s claim obviously false? I have no idea if it is or isn’t, but is there publicly available evidence of full-time professors in the last 30 years who were members of the Republican party? How many?

#8 Comment By ZSD On January 2, 2018 @ 6:14 pm

#9 Comment By abl On January 2, 2018 @ 7:13 pm

Honestly curious, abl, why is JCD’s claim obviously false? I have no idea if it is or isn’t, but is there publicly available evidence of full-time professors in the last 30 years who were members of the Republican party? How many?

There have been previous ephblog posts on the subject (naming specific Republic profs). I’m not a fan of calling out folks, but there are also a number of professors well known around campus for holding conservative beliefs, many of whom I am confident routinely vote Republican. (I also know of a number of more Libertarian or idiosyncratic professors at Williams who routinely vote Republican.)

I suspect that if JCD were pressed, he would define “Republican” in such a way as to exclude most of the likely candidates. And there is, no doubt, some definition of “Republican” that is tailored in such a manner that it does not include any current Williams professors. When I say that JCD’s claim is obviously false, I mean that whether we base “Republican” off of self-identification, official party-registration, voting records, or ideology (as traditionally defined), Williams has had numerous Republican professors over the past 30 years.

There are, no doubt, a far greater number of left-leaning professors at Williams. And there is a reasonable line of discourse about whether this presents a problem–and how much. But I do not think that it is reasonable to assert that there have been literally no Republican tenured (or tenure track) profs at Williams since JCD left. Such a proposition does little for the already dubious quality of debate on these boards.

#10 Comment By 89’er On January 2, 2018 @ 8:23 pm

I would love to see them define what conservativism is and isn’t?

What defines a conservative?

#11 Comment By PTC On January 2, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

Hey look!

It’s a diverse conservative synergy within the inclusive hegemonic fighting paradigm!

#12 Comment By David Dudley Field ’24 On January 3, 2018 @ 12:33 pm

the two most prominent campus advocates for free thought will have retired and graduated

I assume that one of these is Zach Wood ’18. Who is the other?

there are also a number of professors well known around campus for holding conservative beliefs, many of whom I am confident routinely vote Republican

I think (corrections welcome!) that the only professor at Williams who “routinely” votes Republican is Chris Gibson, a former (Republican) Congreesman. Note that Gibson is visiting (neither tenured or tenure track). He will be gone in another year or so.

Of the 250+ tenured/tenure track professors at Williams, I think that there is, at most, only one who “routinely” votes Republican, Steve Miller. But, even in that case, I am unsure.

As best I can tell, there is not a single tenured/tenure track professor who is a registered Republican or who donated money to Republican candidates in the last election cycle.

As always, corrections welcome!

#13 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 12:40 pm

I believe DDF is correct.

I would be willing to bet that less than 5% of the profs at Williams would identify as being a republican/ conservative. Less than 1% openly.

I bet none of them would admit they voted for Trump.

#14 Comment By abl On January 3, 2018 @ 12:53 pm


Again, I will not call out specific professors, especially not here. But I know that there are multiple professors who routinely vote Republican, multiple professors who have donated money to Republican candidates in recent election cycles (I suspect, but do not know for sure, that this includes the most recent cycle), and multiple professors whose political beliefs align most closely with the Republican party official platform of the past ~15 years. Moreover, there are multiple additional libertarian or idiosyncratic professors whose beliefs align much more closely with those of the modern-day Republican party than they do the modern-day Democratic party–and who, as a result, vote/donate more regularly to Republicans than to Democrats.

Are there any professors at Williams who exclusively vote Republican, donate to every big-ticket Republican candidate in every election, and who hold beliefs that perfectly reflect the Trump Republican platform of the last year? That I’m less sure of. But individuals who can check those boxes are plainly a relatively small subset of who should be counted as “Republican.”

Most Williams professors hold their political beliefs relatively close to their chests. It’s of little surprise–and it holds virtually no probative value–that you, a not-recent alum, can’t think of an obvious right-leaning candidate (of the hundreds of possible professors) off of the top of your head. Most Williams professors don’t publish in areas that would reveal their political leanings and most Williams professors don’t, in other ways, publicly tip their hands.

Incidentally, I do think that Williams hosting a prominent former Republican Congressmen as a professor for multiple years “counts” for all extents and purposes — although Chris Gibson wasn’t one of the folks who I had in mind in my previous posts.

#15 Comment By ZSD On January 3, 2018 @ 1:05 pm

Bulldog, Bulldog, Eli Yale …


Here’s hoping the new society will be able to control tempers as historical writings are parsed.

#16 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

abl- I don’t think that is true at all. In fact I know it is not. If there are republican profs they are keeping it quite. Not so for the democrats.

Professors display heavy biases and often wear their political beliefs on their sleeve- if, and only if- they are liberal beliefs!

Professors are free to make derogatory remarks about republican presidents and conservative policies and ideas- and they often do- in class.

I have never once seen a prof take a conservative position in my last five years back in school. I have seen profs take hard left wing positions. Right down to statements like “I hate Ronald Reagan,” and “women in the American military are targeted for rape.” Both things stated by professors in class.

I have seen this personally in over half a dozen classes at Dartmouth and MCLA… even in Law School. I have had to purposefully write papers taking care not to offend liberal sensibilities in order to get decent grades.

This is my direct experience during five years of study in three different institutions since 2012.

I am a unbiased observer- a moderate who voted for Obama twice. I can say with 100% certainly that there is a massive liberal/ democrat/ left wing bias in the academy.

#17 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 2:14 pm

In fact I can say, out of the scores of profs I have had in the last five years, every one of them has been a liberal democrat/ left wing.

Most of them let this be known.

#18 Comment By abl On January 3, 2018 @ 2:56 pm


Well, we seem to have had different professors and different experiences, which is not at all surprising. I had a small number of right-leaning professors at Williams and a larger number of right-leaning professors in grad school. And at both Williams and in grad school, I couldn’t have guessed the political leanings of probably 75% of my professors. As with your experience, my left-leaning professors were far more likely to wear their political beliefs on their sleeves than my right-leaning profs–but most of my professors kept politics out of the classroom and I had only a very small handful of professors who touched on politics with any amount of regularity.

#19 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 3:37 pm

#20 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 3:37 pm

abl- You will find some conservatives in Econ… so assume you went to grad school for that.

#21 Comment By abl On January 3, 2018 @ 3:52 pm


You’re arguing against a straw man. My point has never been that the number of liberal and conservative professors is roughly equal in the academy or at Williams. Instead, I’ve simply been pointing out the obvious: that the number of Republican professors at Williams is greater than zero.

Responding to your post, I suspect that you’re correct that liberal profs outnumber conservative profs in the academy, but I doubt that the 12:1 figure is all that close to being correct. I’m happy to talk about why I don’t think that study is particularly helpful (or why the Washington Times isn’t generally a great source), but I don’t think it makes much of a difference for this thread whether the actual number is 1.5:1 or 3:1 (heck, or 10:1). We all are on the same page regarding the Williams faculty being predominantly comprised of professors who are personally ideologically better aligned with the left than the right.

And I’m not going to reveal much possibly identifying information, but you’re incorrect about econ. And, more broadly, you’re incorrect in assuming that my experience must indicate that my course of study at either Williams or grad school was in a “conservative” subject: it was not.

#22 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:09 pm

Then it was a long time ago…

#23 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:10 pm

Let guess again then…

Gender Studies.

#24 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:11 pm


#25 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:12 pm

sorry.. just joking around.

But seriously… I have been back, I am in the academy right now. I know what it is like- right now.

#26 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

You write with a liberal bias you want decent grades… it’s still good, and learning… but if you write a paper with a conservative point of view- you will not get an A, no matter how good it is.

#27 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:15 pm

that is how it goes right now.

Only a fool would not write to and for liberalism at Williams right now.

#28 Comment By PTC On January 3, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

I mean… look at the language used in this very post.

It’s liberal language that the author is using to define himself. This post is full of liberal buzz words.

#29 Comment By abl On January 3, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

You write with a liberal bias you want decent grades… it’s still good, and learning… but if you write a paper with a conservative point of view- you will not get an A, no matter how good it is.

That’s not been my experience at all. On the other hand, I have noticed many instances of confirmation bias in students’ perspectives on grading — on both the left and the right (and in many ways unrelated to political ideology).

That said, I do think that there are certain conservative viewpoints that are more “acceptable” to liberals than others (and vice versa). For example, a paper advocating for small/big government is far less likely to run into problems with a professor than a paper articulating a pro-life/pro-choice viewpoint.

This discussion, though, is pretty narrowly applicable: relatively few assignments students do in college will touch on ideology in a manner likely to incur any sort of bias.

#30 Comment By anonymous On January 3, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

That “relatively few assignments students do in college will touch on ideology” was one of the points of The Closing of the American Mind.

#31 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On January 4, 2018 @ 2:01 am

multiple professors who have donated money to Republican candidates in recent election cycles

abl: I don’t want you to reveal private conversations with professors. Perhaps several (many?) have told you that they vote for Republican candidates. Fine. But donations are public, duly filed with the FEC. Surely, you can tell us about these . . .

#32 Comment By PTC On January 4, 2018 @ 5:07 am


DDF- Here is the data on that from Harvard.

Could not find anything for Williams…

#33 Comment By PTC On January 4, 2018 @ 5:13 am

its Harvard colleagues in the analysis, the Business School was an outlier. Faculty from the Law School in the data set gave the second-largest amount of money to political campaigns and committees at $692,792. Almost all—98 percent—of these contributions went to Democratic campaigns. Ninety-five faculty members, instructors, and researchers with primary appointments at the Law School in the data set contributed 24 percent of all Harvard faculty campaign donations.

Given that Williams does not have an MBA program, the Kennedy School or Law School… the numbers at Williams are certain to be much more skewed.

Probably closer to this…

Harvard’s flagship faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, manages instruction at the undergraduate College and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. FAS is also one of Harvard’s most left-leaning faculties or schools, according to the data set. From 2011 through October of 2014, the 183 FAS affiliates included in the Crimson analysis contributed $486,452 to federal campaigns and candidates, representing 17 percent of the University’s total.

Of the FAS total, $465,652, or 96 percent, went to Democratic efforts.

#34 Comment By abl On January 4, 2018 @ 10:30 am


I didn’t specify federal donations. But in any event, no, I’m going to maintain the anonymity of my conversations.


Again, nobody is arguing that there are similar numbers of left- and right- leaning professors at Williams. Although there are many reasons to suspect that Williams isn’t as exclusively left-leaning as Harvard FAS, whether Williams is 2:1 or 5:1 left-leaning:right-leaning isn’t material to this conversation.

#35 Comment By PTC On January 4, 2018 @ 10:52 am

abl- You already made that point. I get it… if 95% of Williams profs are liberal, 4% are moderate, and 1% is conservative, you have won this non argument.

I am pointing out to DDF that the numbers are massive at Harvard, and probably similar at Williams- if anyone ever took the time to do the numbers- which a good college newspaper would do, given the political interest in this subject.

#36 Comment By anonymous On January 4, 2018 @ 11:55 am


The analysis has been done:

It’s encouraging to see students working to address the lack of viewpoint diversity. It’s sad that the previous administration was unable or unwilling to recognize the problem.

#37 Comment By PTC On January 4, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

Thanks anon…

abl- I stand corrected! The number is not 95%, but 97.3%!

97.3 percent, went to Democratic and liberal organizations. Of 41 contributors, 40, or 97.6 percent, gave to liberal groups.

I’ll bet most the rest (that one person!) gave to a moderate. Now that is diversity! 40 to 1 ratio! Ha!

The data is not perfect, but it is enough to indicate that there are almost no conservative profs on campus.

Survey says- DDF’s general hypothesis is correct. Conservatives have no voice on campus.

#38 Comment By Jethro On May 15, 2018 @ 11:16 am

Congrats for having the audacity for being a free thinker and voice an unpopular opinion!

Here is some recent DATA to SUPPORT your comments.

From the below, the current ratio of Democrats to Republicans at Williams college is STATISTICALLY NOT DIFFERENT than ZERO.


-Fellow Eph


#39 Comment By Jethro On May 15, 2018 @ 12:32 pm

P.s.: i.e., Number of Republican professors at Williams is not statistically different from zero republicans.

Actual number of democrat:republican professors is 132:1.


#40 Comment By abl On May 15, 2018 @ 2:42 pm

Jethro —

The number of registered Republican professors at Williams /= the number of Republican professors at Williams.

#41 Comment By JAS On May 15, 2018 @ 9:09 pm

As a teacher of statistics, let me just point out that 1 absolutely IS statistically different from zero.

#42 Comment By Jethro On May 16, 2018 @ 10:54 am

Right, right (I know)… The point is that in the above link the author ran t-tests to see which colleges had few enough Republicans that the result would fall within the MARGIN OF ERROR of ZERO.

Basically, it’s hilarious (and a bit disconcerting) that the proportion of Republicans is this low at Williams.

i.e.: 132:1 (D:R)

#43 Comment By Jethro On May 16, 2018 @ 10:54 am

From the above link, “For example, I identified 254 full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors at Williams. Of these, 132 are registered Democratic, and one is registered Republican, so the D:R ratio is 132:1. Since not all colleges offer all fields, the ratios are influenced by the majors offered and by demographic factors, such as the proportion of the faculty that is female.

In order to get a sense of how far away from employing zero Republicans the colleges are, I performed t-tests to determine the number of colleges for which zero falls within the margin of error from the observed proportion of Republicans.13 In other words, I wanted to determine the number of colleges for which the proportion of Republicans is not statistically different from zero. For fifteen of the colleges, zero falls within the margin of error, so the proportion of Republicans can be said to not significantly differ from zero. In an additional five colleges, the lower confidence interval just equals zero at three decimal digits. Thus, for twenty of fifty-one colleges, or 39.2 percent, the proportion of Republicans does not significantly differ from zero.”

#44 Comment By Jethro On May 16, 2018 @ 10:59 am

And, yes, as you point out the data relates to registered republicans and democrats (but I suspect you would be very hard pressed to find a SECOND republican at Williams… out of ALL of the remaining 121 professors.)

#45 Comment By Jethro On May 16, 2018 @ 11:20 am

More troubling, though is the tendency for left-leaning people to view conservatism as deviant.

From the above analysis: “Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant. In the study of gender, Charlotta Stern finds that the ideological presumptions in sociology prevent any but the no-differences-between-genders assumptions of left-leaning sociologists from making serious research inroads.”

#46 Comment By JAS On May 16, 2018 @ 4:36 pm

A t test is absolutely the wrong test. Horribly incorrect stats don’t deserve quotation. You can make your point without them.

#47 Comment By JAS On May 16, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

(The proper margin of error is binomial, and would not include 0 for any case where the count was not 0, unless you posit errors in the data.)

#48 Comment By abl On May 16, 2018 @ 4:47 pm

Also, FYI, a second registered Republican professor at Williams has already outed himself. I think it’s fair to say that this is a pretty crap dataset and analysis. That said, the underlying point — that Williams has few right-leaning faculty members — is almost certainly accurate.

#49 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On May 16, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

> fair to say that this is a pretty crap dataset and analysis


1) It is certainly the best data set that I have ever seen connecting college faculty to party registration.

2) Making these connections is hard! There are a lot of people named “Michael Lewis” in MA. Figuring out the one who teaches at Williams is difficult.

#50 Comment By abl On May 16, 2018 @ 6:17 pm


Best does not necessarily equal good. There are a million reasons why this is a difficult-to-impossible enterprise. I am not arguing that this was done in a lazy way or in bad faith. My point is just that we shouldn’t be placing much stock on the specific numbers listed here (except, maybe, to abstractly and generally illustrate how the Williams faculty is politically lopsided).

You’re overstating your case. I think we all agree that Williams has far more ideologically left-leaning faculty than right-leaning faculty members. I’m not sure whether, for the argument you’re trying to make, it matters if the actual ratio is 132:1, as you originally claimed (it’s not), 61:1 as your revision claims (it’s not), or something more like 5:1 or 10:1. The point is that there are disproportionately–to the US population–few right-leaning faculty members at Williams and at schools like Williams. Let’s cut the obvious hyperbole and focus on whether and why that matters, and, if so, what to do about it.

#51 Comment By Jethro On May 17, 2018 @ 10:44 am

JAS – Yes, people love to argue about stats, and the point here is that the number of republicans who work as professors at Williams is extremely low.

(yes, it’s not actually zero, and, technically, just one republican professor is infinitely larger than actual zero. But the point here is that the number, based on the data we have, is not that far from zero. Let’s face it, based on the data noted above, Williams is fourth on the list as having the most skewed D:R ratio.)

The larger concern (in my mind anyway) is that conservatives seem to be demonized and treated as weirdos. The echo chambers that people exist in these days have consistently dehumanized and demonized people that do not agree with them, so we need to try to find a way for people to find common ground. The fact that conservatives seem to be viewed as deviant seems to be less than ideal.

It’s typically not easy to voice unpopular opinions, or to subject yourself to possible social ridicule (e.g., people not thinking you are cool, making fun of you, etc.) by saying you are a conservative. So my hat is off to DeGravio in this regard.

“Acts of punishment thus designate who is in our community by clearly defining who is not in our community. Social solidarity is purchased through the punishment of deviants.” —Mark Colvin

P.s.:As an aside, the reason I quoted stat test above was to show what the author of the NAS publication actually did (to include strengths and weakness of the approach), rather than weighing in on if some other test might have been better / best way to try to estimate error bars based on data / etc. The take-home message is that the number of republican professors at Williams (whatever the actual number is) appears to be extremely low.

#52 Comment By Jethro On May 17, 2018 @ 10:47 am

abl – I can’t stop laughing at “a second republican professor has already outed himself”… We just doubled our numbers! Wahoo!!! ;-)

[if not clear from the above this comment is intended in a good-natured way. :-) ]

#53 Comment By Jethro On May 17, 2018 @ 10:55 am

p.s.: JAS – point noted re: stats. Wouldn’t have done it this way either, but the general question (“would the number (whatever it is) be within the error bars from zero (even though, obviously, it’s not zero)”) struck me as a pretty funny thought process, nonetheless.

#54 Comment By Jethro On May 17, 2018 @ 11:55 am

And now I will say something truly radical: The conservative perspective is a very *important* perspective that offers many good points, and one that we should carefully consider.

“The ancient idea of Yin and Yang turns out to be the wisest idea of all. We need the perspectives of ancient religion and modern science; of east and west; even of liberal and conservative. Words of wisdom really do flood over us, but only by drawing from many sources can we become wise.”

#55 Comment By abl On May 17, 2018 @ 12:47 pm


Totally! My point, though, wasn’t that there are actually two registered Republicans, twice as many as originally reported (woo woo), but instead that little credence should be given to the specific numbers reported. The actual number of meaningfully right-leaning professors at Williams is definitely greater than one or two. It is also definitely substantially less than the number of meaningfully left-leaning professors.

And now I will say something truly radical: The conservative perspective is a very *important* perspective that offers many good points, and one that we should carefully consider.

My bigger point is that this conversation would be far more interesting if we focused on this rather than on wailing about the (obviously) exaggerated 132:1 conservative:liberal professor ratio. We all agree that Williams has substantially more left-leaning profs than right-leaning profs. I don’t think anyone debates this. The important question is when and why this matters. (I would argue, for example, that the political leaning of the professor is immaterial in many subjects, including in most D3 subjects.)

#56 Comment By Jethro On May 18, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

I agree that the best questions that we can consider here (I think) are: (i) why does this matter? and (ii) what can we do?

So it will be easiest to set aside questions about the actual D:R or right:left ratios.

(As an aside, registered voters are something that you could verify. Thus if we have 132 registered D and 1 or 2 registered R, then this is not hyperbole, but simply data. The 5:1 ratio mentioned above makes me laugh a bit. Pretty sure this hasn’t been true since about 1985.. but setting this all aside…)

(i) why does this matter?

It matters because conservatives are viewed as aliens, or worse, as evil haters. Few liberals even understand conservatives, and most liberals do not even speak the correct language to begin to understand them.

In reality, the vast majority of conservatives are good people — neighbors, family members, police, nurses, people in the military, etc. — often the very people that protect you while you sleep. If liberals want to “change hearts and minds” or just even understand where conservatives are coming from, then they need to be able to get a better understanding of why conservatives believe what they believe.

Talks to address issues relating to conservative topics (e.g., “what is fiscal conservatism?”, “why a strong military helps keep the peace”, “why personal responsibility is a good thing”, “how ‘old fashioned’ values can benefit society”, etc.) could be beneficial.

Liberals have not done a good job at understanding conservatives, and calling them evil, or meth-smoking trailer trash, or deplorable, or whatever, is certainly not a way to win hearts and minds.

So, really, we are talking about building (or at least trying to build) empathy bridges with conservatives, and showing folks that they are, on the whole, entirely decent people.

I suspect that having an empathetic professor or two on their (conservative) side could help. We’re not going to change the D:R ratio (whatever it is) in the near term, but I think key is that the professor just has to really appreciate the conservatives on campus.

Why else does it matter? Because Williams students should be able to show others that they can do better than the spastic diaper babies at Middlebury (sorry Middlebury) who freaked out when a libertarian political scientist gave a talk, and put a professor in a neck brace with a concussion. That is just insane.

Freud, who says that religion is an opiate for the masses, might be pretty offensive for the religious students at Williams… until they realize “OK… but that’s just his opinion, man.” [It’s funnier if you imagine this line being spoken by “the dude” from “The Big Lebowski”]

Thus, liberals should be able to listen to people without freaking out. Obviously, the college should not bring speakers to campus who lack proper academic credentials, but otherwise it’s game on. Uncomfortable learning series has been helpful, I suspect.

IF people can somehow get over things and use their minds rather than have knee-jerk emotional responses, then meaningful dialogue may occur and people will (hopefully) be the better for it. And hopefully we can avoid stories like this one: https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-williams-a-funny-way-of-listening-1510869906
or the “Do you know who I am?” line here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-cudgel-of-white-privilege-1523209416

It should be obvious that not everyone ascribes to the “religion” of progressives, and better to come to grips with that sooner rather than later.

(ii) what can we do?

Talks or any events where people kind of just chill out and get to know each other and slowly learn to empathize with the other side would be exceedingly beneficial, I suspect. The “what is conservatism” and “why do they believe what they believe” talks could be helpful as well.


Good luck John!!

#57 Comment By Jethro On May 18, 2018 @ 4:01 pm

p.s.: Correction: should have phrased sentence above as “infinitely times greater than actual zero” (moot point, but would have been more accurate – haha)

#58 Comment By Jethro On May 18, 2018 @ 4:34 pm

p.p.s: Strike “spastic” above (lest someone believe I am implying that Middlebury students have some physical ailment–which is clearly not the case as they are entirely able to beat up their own professors) and insert “petulant” instead. ;-)