In February 2016, the (now defunct) student group Uncomfortable Learning invited Dissident Right author John Derbyshire to speak at Williams. Then-president Adam Falk cancelled Derbyshire’s talk, causing a public relations black eye for the College. Current President Maud Mandel seeks to undo the damage associated with that decision. We have named the associated controversy Self-CARE Now. This week, I will review Mandel’s latest e-mail and her draft charge to the Ad hoc committee on speakers, inquiry and inclusion. Day 5.
Once the committee presents its recommendations in May, I will share this information with the community, and we will organize next steps for when people return in the fall. It will be helpful if the report identifies the historical, philosophical and other considerations that influenced their recommendations. The report should also identify likely costs and benefits of any proposals.
Some people have looked at the current “free speech” debate in this country with dismay. I believe, in contrast, that this is an important step toward building the most vibrant educational community possible. I am deeply grateful to the committee members, and to Williams, for taking on this challenge.
How can Maud be “deeply grateful to the committee members” if she doesn’t yet know who they are?
1) Sure looks like a draft of this statement was written when Maud (and/or Jim Reische?) expected that the committee would have been named by now. If it had been, then thanking them would be the natural way of ending this statement. But the committee has not been named — presumably because of extensive infighting behind the scenes — leaving us with a mistimed expression of gratefulness.
2) Glad to see that Maud, the historian, wants the committee to dive into some history. Start with the time that Mark Hopkins banned Ralph Waldo Emerson from speaking at Williams.
3) But, again, note the incoherence of telling the committee to only provide her with “a set of speaker invitation guidelines” while, at the same time, encouraging them to provide “the historical, philosophical and other considerations that influenced their recommendations.” Just how complex is the history or philosophy associated with such guidelines?
If, however, Maud wrote this draft a few weeks ago — back when she expected this committee to have a large focus and when she expected to have the membership settled by the “end of the calendar year,” everything fits together . . .
except that Jim Reische should have raised these concerns before the e-mail went out . . . ;-)
I am excessively proud of my reasoning on this one, although not quite J’accuse proud. Feel free to disabuse me in the comments.