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BSU Town Hall, 2

“BSU holds town hall exploring affinity housing” is an excellent Record article by Kristen Bayrakdarian ’19. Let’s discuss! Day 2.

One of the final topics addressed was the College’s potential adoption of “The Chicago Statement On Free Speech,” also known as the “Chicago principles.”

Hooray! EphBlog votes Yes! This is the perfect way to close the chapter on Adam Falk and his stupid decision to ban John Derbyshire.

President Maud Mandel spoke about a petition that has been circulating amongst faculty requesting that Williams sign the Chicago Principles.

Mandel is smart enough that she would not have brought up this topic if she were not in favor of it, and if she did not expect it to happen. Hooray for Maud Mandel!

Who is circulating this petition? What, exactly, does it say? Details, please!

But note also the counter-petition we mentioned last night.

Though she encouraged students to look up the Chicago principles themselves to get a better understanding of what they are, Mandel described them as “a kind of high-level set of principles encouraging the university to have a stance towards speakers; [that is,] anybody should be allowed to be invited to the campus that anyone in the campus community wants to have come.” According to Forbes, since February 2018, at least 35 universities have adopted the Chicago principles.

For related discussion, read about the Woodward Report.

This brought up questions among attendees about the role of Uncomfortable Learning, a group that frequently brings controversial speakers on campus.

Uncomfortable Learning is dead and buried, after 5 years of excellent work. Zach Wood ’18 has many strengths, but he never had much (any?) interest in what happened to UL after he left Williams. It had served his purposes, and served them well.

Much of the discussion was centered around students’ qualms with the lack of academic value of many of these speakers. Some worried about the effects of people spouting hateful or even false rhetoric and refusing to engage with students or faculty in non-combative ways, in contrast to the legitimacy that an appearance at the College might lend these views.

Good stuff! Let’s debate those views. Invite me to campus Maud Mandel! You will seem like a reasonable centrist — even if you sign the Chicago Principles — as long as you can contrast yourself against someone like me.

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#1 Comment By Arch Stanton ’62 On November 27, 2018 @ 9:32 am

I would enjoy reading more about the topic. So, that’s one vote for ‘yes’. I had decided already to inform my class representative that I will not be donating to the college again until Williams adopts the Chicago principles or a substantially similar policy, and I encourage other alumni who support the adoption of such a policy to do the same. The petition is welcome news to me, and I hope the college acts promptly enough that I will not break my long streak of donating each year since graduation.

#2 Comment By Seth On November 27, 2018 @ 1:10 pm

I stopped donating to the college when I learned details about the John Doe case. After all the speech repression then that, the college had gone too far in my eyes. Williams won’t see another dime from me unless it makes amends with that student it treated so horribly.

#3 Comment By frank uible On November 27, 2018 @ 2:01 pm

Williams plays politics we all know. But apparently not always well.

#4 Comment By PTC On November 27, 2018 @ 5:47 pm

Maude, does this mean Ann-Margaret’s not coming?- Private Joker.

#5 Comment By Snowed In On November 27, 2018 @ 10:40 pm

“Students at Williams College Demand Freedom *from* Speech” by Greg Lukianoff:


#6 Comment By anon On November 28, 2018 @ 1:20 am

From the ‘In Response’ petition, “CSS has a history of racist actions…”.

What the hell?!!

It would help if there was documentation of what such actions were. Officers can (and will be) fired, reprimanded, etc.

(1) What are the actions? Be specific. Document cases of CSS discrimination. Film encounters etc.

(2) Are there any suggestions as to how to stop these racist actions? For example, Williams could simply order CSS not to enter dorms unless called. Williams could set protocol for student interactions. “Speak only when spoken to. Follow students directions unless there is direct threat to life or property.”

CSS only has the authority that the college grants it. If college security has become an entity that students feel is invasive and discriminatory rather than helpful then Williams can (and should) stop that; up to and including disbanding CSS altogether. But without specifics, it is hard to judge what should be done.

“CSS has a history of racism” is a serious charge, and it should be taken seriously.

Williams owns CSS. It does not have to accept CSS policy or actions that threaten any member of the community. In fact, Williams makes such policies.