abl, who really ought to put these excellent comments on the main page, writes about the membership of the new Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion:

For a committee like this to have perceived legitimacy, it has to include viewpoints on both sides of this issue.

Untrue. The CUL, when it implemented the Dudley Report which gave us Neighborhood Housing, had no proponents of free agency. The Ad Hoc Committee on Athletics, when it produced the MacDonald Report, had no public supporters of the status quo with regard to admissions preferences for athletes. Those committees were stacked with people who would go along with Morty Schapiro’s preferences. And so they did, with more than enough “legitimacy” to make the two biggest changes at Williams in the last 20 years.

I don’t know whether this committee will do much of consequence, or if Mandel is even thinking along these strategic lines, but by including several publicly identifiable left-leaning students and right-leaning faculty on the committee, Mandel increases the likelihood that any recommendation that is perceived to lean one way or another is nevertheless accepted.

I actually see the inclusion of right-leaning faculty members to be much more notable here. I have no doubt in my mind that Mandel is more confident about being able to persuade left-leaning students than she is right-leaning faculty members. If I were trying to engineer a committee to achieve my desired result, I would stack it with faculty members who I know agree with my position and students who don’t (but aren’t so entrenched to be unpersuadable–like students who have signed the petition but not taken more of a public role in the issue), and hope to get to a “bipartisan” proposal that relies on persuading the students in question.

All of this said, my honest guess is that Mandel is open to a range of possible outcomes from this committee and isn’t playing these sorts of strategic games. My bet is the reason why you see a diversity of viewpoints represented on the committee is that Mandel genuinely wants to reach some sort of compromise that will generally placate most people. And the reason why she’s limited the reach of the committee is because that also limits the risk of delegating this much responsibility — it becomes easier for her to rein in any proposal that she doesn’t like based on ‘exceeding the scope of the committee’ or some other seemingly non-ideological grounds.

Agreed! (Emphasis added.)

I would bet, however, that Michael Crisci ’21 and Rachel Porter ’21 are much closer to the unpersuadable side of the ledger. Yes, it is true that they are not leaders of CARE Now. But signing the statement puts them at the most extreme 15% of the student populations. And then they applied for this committee! My prior is that, of the students who signed, only the most committed would apply. Hope that I am wrong! Or that I have underestimated the persuasive abilities of Cheryl Shanks and Fred Strauch . . .

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