Let’s revisit our September discussion over the (infamous) claim that the mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world and that being the best college requires admitting (and enrolling) more of the best students. Professor Shawn Rosenheim wrote a letter to the editor in response. Day 1 of my 3-day reply.

In his op-ed “What Does It Mean to be the Best?” (Sept. 20, 2017), David Kane ’88 is right to wonder about how to make the College the best that it can be. But his account of what we mean by “best,” and the changes he recommends to achieve that – such as reducing the pursuit of under-represented minority and low-income students – are based on a dangerously abstract notion of how learning actually takes place.

Shouldn’t English professors be better at reading comprehension? How can he plausibly claim that I am in favor of “reducing the pursuit of under-represented minority and low-income students?” I wrote:

Fourth, we need to recruit more seriously. The number of Tyng Scholarships should be increased and their use should be focused on the most desirable applicants, almost all of whom will be African-American. Rather than offering them for incoming first-years, we should use the Summer Science Program and Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program to target high quality poor and URM high school juniors, potential applicants that we currently lose to HYPS. Senior faculty at the College should devote as much effort to attracting excellent students as our coaches do to recruiting excellent student-athletes.

I specifically urge Williams to spend more money and time on recruiting well-qualified under-represented minority and low-income students. I want more “pursuit,” not less. More effort. More money. More time.

How can Rosenheim misread me so blatantly? My suspicion is that anytime you say anything inconsistent with the current Williams godhead — Diversity Über Alles — the Eph bien pensants assume that you are the devil. Since my proposed changes in admission would lead to fewer African-American students, it is inconceivable to Rosenheim that I am in favor of increased efforts to recruit the high quality African-American students we currently lose to Harvard.

Other hypotheses for Rosenheim’s error?

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