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Deeply Distressed

Williams students, faculty and staff,

In recent weeks, members of our community have been leaving notes and materials in front of the Hollander Hall offices of Assistant Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kim Love to honor and support them at a difficult time. It has now come to my attention that yesterday afternoon a faculty member removed these materials. I am in the process of gathering information about what happened, as I am deeply distressed by any interference with students freely expressing themselves in a way that is not disruptive. In fact, after senior staff and I confirmed that the materials were not impeding movement through Hollander we had asked custodial, CSS and other staff not to disturb them. I regret that we did not communicate this message more broadly.

I want to make clear that I fully support those who were expressing their thoughts and feelings through the content that was removed. People have now replaced that content and added to it. I and senior staff will work with students and others to find a way that it can remain without creating a safety hazard.

I have come to Williams with the goal of fostering a supportive and inclusive community where all members of a diverse learning community will thrive. I ask you to join me in continuing to strengthen these values going forward.

Sincerely,

Maud

Time for another EphBlog investigation? Recall J’accuse!

UPDATE: Kai Green’s office is Hollander 106 and Hollander 111. Do you think that a professor with a nearby office might have gotten sick of looking at a bunch of junk piled in the hallway?

UPDATE 2: Thanks to a commentator for pointing out this Record article about the display (picture added above). If I were a professor who had no choice but to deal with that every day, I would get pretty annoyed . . .

UPDATE 3: From a comment:

McPartland removed the material in his capacity as Chair of the Hollander/Schapiro Users Committee after consultation with Campus Security and a conversation with them about the fire code.

McPartland’s office in Schapiro has now been decorated/vandalized in turn.

More details, please.

Entire Record article below the break:

Commitment to/with/for The Damned
By Haeon Yoon, Executive Editor
February 13, 2019

Student tributes honor Kai Green ’07 and Kimberly Love, who cited institutional violence in their decisions to take leave from the College

Following the green string that wraps around the first floor of Hollander is a student-organized visual remembrance outside the offices of Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies Kai Green ’07 and Assistant Professor of English Kimberly Love, showing support for the professors and extending their commitment to, with and for The Damned, a black feminist collective.

Students said that their ongoing commemorative effort seeks to convey respect, gratitude and appreciation for Green and Love, who have taken leave for what they characterized as the College’s institutional violence toward black and trans individuals. The hallways are decorated with notes, flowers, poems, artworks and bouquets made of Record copies – some partially torn – and Feminist Wire articles written by The Damned Collective as well as Green and Love.

As cited in Green and Love’s Feminist Wire article, the installation in solidarity drew on the works and writings of The Damned and The Damned Collective, which works to “combat the isolationists tactics of the University structure that prevents people who believe in transformation and freedom from getting to know themselves and each other differently, al(l)ways.”

Additionally, students have also used Facebook and other platforms on social media to draw attention to a petition where individuals can pledge their commitment to, with and for The Damned, under the hashtags #doitfortheDAMNED and #doitfortheDAMMM. There are cards, pens and other art supplies available in Hollander for more members of the College community to continue to show their support and solidarity for Green and Love.

Students characterized the effort as a collective one, declining to give specific names or quotes attributed to individual participants.

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35 Comments (Open | Close)

35 Comments To "Deeply Distressed"

#1 Comment By anonymous On February 14, 2019 @ 8:45 am

#2 Comment By anonymous On February 14, 2019 @ 9:02 am

What’s the difference between “not impeding movement” and “in violation of the fire code”? What is the liability of affirmatively violating the fire code? Does the college have any lawyers at its disposal?

#3 Comment By j’accuse On February 14, 2019 @ 9:38 am

The professor in question is Keith McPartland. His office is Shapiro 105.

#4 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 14, 2019 @ 10:30 am

Haha, wow. Isn’t this the gift that keeps on giving. If that “installation” (a generous word for newspapers strewn across the floor) is indeed what the faculty member removed, Mandel has made an incredible fool of herself.

#5 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On February 14, 2019 @ 10:50 am

Why would McPartland remove something like this if his office is in a different building? Possibilities:

1) This (anonymous!) comment is wrong.

2) McPartland removed the material because he, personally, finds this whole thing ridiculous, even if it does not affect him directly.

3) McPartland removed it because he had an untenured friend/acquaintance who wanted the material removed but who felt (correctly!) that they could not do it themselves, at least without the protection of tenure.

4) McPartland removed it because the material was blocking the path to a classroom, or other facility, which he uses.

#6 Comment By Just Me On February 14, 2019 @ 11:15 am

McPartland removed the material in his capacity as Chair of the Hollander/Schapiro Users Committee after consultation with Campus Security and a conversation with them about the fire code.

McPartland’s office in Schapiro has now been decorated/vandalized in turn. Too bad I can’t post photos here at EphBlog.

#7 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On February 14, 2019 @ 11:32 am

Send photos to daviddudleyfield at gmail.

#8 Comment By falk’s legacy On February 14, 2019 @ 12:49 pm

This is so pathetic. I thought that maybe with Falk gone we would return to something approaching normal. But no, Maud has again shown that Williams has no backbone and will always cave to the far left.

Synopsis…

1. Two loser profs walk off their jobs because of an unfortunate exchange with a tow truck driver.
2. Williams chooses not to fire them for leaving their students with no course.
3. Students leave well wishes because they buy the whiners’ claims.
4. A professor moves the stuff at the instruction of security.
5. Students go ballistic.
6. Maud caves “Falk-style” and sends a pathetic message about it being wrong to move crap out of the hall, even thought the person was instructed by security to do so.
7. People vandalize the professor’s office.

Does no one beyond ephblog see how insane this is?

As long as Williams continued to cave to the outrageous claims and demands of the far left, the institution is at risk of continued intimidation.

And they want alums to support this place financially?!?

#9 Comment By Johnny On February 14, 2019 @ 3:26 pm

Everyone – except Williams’ admin – sees how completely absurd the college has become. Look at the scores of comments at https://www.breitbart.com/education/2019/02/13/williams-college-offers-workshops-so-faculty-can-process-their-whiteness/

#10 Comment By abl On February 14, 2019 @ 3:41 pm

Johnny —

You can’t seriously think that comments on Breitbart are a fair reflection of what “[e]veryone” “sees” or believes. Or do you?

#11 Comment By anonymous On February 14, 2019 @ 4:26 pm

When did creating and handling a public nuisance require a presidential email? And why isn’t she investigating the “violent practices” that precipated the initial student response? Isn’t the display actually an indictment of the administration? Seems like she’s just trying to save face at the expense of people trying to do their job. This seems like a misdirection from Hopkins Hall. What are they not revealing?

#12 Comment By John Drew On February 14, 2019 @ 6:23 pm

That mess of papers and string looks like a fire hazard to me. I would sweep it up and put it all in the trash in a second. It would be part of a new monument. The Kai Green ’07, Preach Naked, dumpster fire.

#13 Comment By PTC On February 14, 2019 @ 7:34 pm

Not sure about fire code, and stepping over what blocks the floor, and just the basic common sense test of whether or not someone could trample on it, or pick it up, without bad intent; but by all appearances if this was an isolated area and it did not cause a disruption then basic freedom of expression calls for it to remain. At the very least it could have been moved to an appropriate location rather than destroyed.

Speech is funny that way…. if you believe in it, it means you believe in it. Kind of like me and burning the flag- I support the right, but do not agree with the manner of expression. That does not mean someone should be able to burn a flag in a dorm… but on the quad- you bet!

In this instance, it would seem that the expression involves blocking a hallway with a floor mural… but those who are fast to say that it should be destroyed should take a step back and think about it a little more- if you think that Williams should adopt something like the Chicago principles, then you should agree that some investigation into whether or not this form of expression caused a substantial disruption as a measure of whether the speech/ expression displayed should remain or go.

If it should go, then the students should have the right to move it to a safe location for public view, rather than destroyed.

Of course, students should also be able to express the view that the faculty broke their duty and should be fired…

That is the way this stuff works…. like it or lump it. Just say no to viewpoint discrimination!

#14 Comment By PTC On February 14, 2019 @ 8:44 pm

Just me,

Define “decorated/vandalized.”

Define “his office”

Did the students trespass into his office, defame him in some way, destroy his property?

Or is did they post bad opinions on his door in a common space in response to his actions?

Geez, these Chicago principles are tough! Next thing you know students will be able to post other “bad opinions” in public spaces!

Imagine!

#15 Comment By Just Me On February 14, 2019 @ 10:36 pm

PTC, David has the photos of Prof. McPartland’s office. Ask him to post them.

The door to one’s office and the threshold to one’s office is not a “common space”. A few years ago at Cal State Northridge, a math professor was convicted of urinating repeatedly on a colleague’s door and threshold to his office. Neither locale was considered a “common space” by the judge. You might look into it.

You also might look into the distinction between the content of expression and the form of expression. You’d probably learn something.

#16 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On February 14, 2019 @ 10:43 pm

They go up tomorrow!

#17 Comment By anonymous On February 14, 2019 @ 10:45 pm

Look up gross negligence. The email clearly admits that the display constituted a safety hazard.

#18 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 15, 2019 @ 12:08 am

This is not an isolated area. It is a hallway with the English Department administrative office and chair’s office (students often line up there), faculty offices, a stairwell and an exit, and a classroom.

Nobody, least of all CSS or McPartland, wants to prevent students from expressing support for Green/Love.

This is a deliberate provocation in the context of the free speech fracas. By framing the issue as one of free expression and the removal of this “installation” as the isolated actions of a “faculty member”(rather than as a decision taken by the College via the responsible committee consulting with concerned staff), Mandel has played directly into the hands of activists and officially sanctioned the narrative that free speech advocates are hypocrites. Almost certainly she has done this deliberately with the advice of senior staff.

Want to go to work in a building without trash lining the hallways? Don’t want your office vandalized? You must not really believe in free speech!

#19 Comment By PTC On February 15, 2019 @ 1:56 am

So, it was his door and not inside his office?

Urinating on a door and posting negative messages on it is not the same thing. Can such messages be abusive and considered harassment- of course. And yes, it is still his door and he has the right to take messages on it down. But is that the same thing as “vandalism”? Is a message on someone’s door the same thing as pissing on it?

No.

So show the messages!

And no one has answered the easy question- if the floor mural was a nuisance- which it probably was- how come the students were not told it was going to be taken down and given a chance to move it to an appropriate location? How come it was not cleaned up, put in a box, and returned to those who own it to find an appropriate place for display? Was it? It was clearly expressive content.

The “fire hazard” bit is reaching. You have a message on a floor blocking foot traffic. It’s not going to magically start a fire. It may break code, but using the fear of imminent danger of a fire to take it down throw it away is disingenuous. It does not pass the smell test (while urinating in the hallway does).

The message was annoying and obstructed use of the hallway. That is why it was taken down. Not because of a fire hazard.

It should have been salvaged for display elsewhere, rather than discarded. It was clearly an expressive display.

This is not the end of th world. Maud’s response is over the top. But the students who created this message have a right to be heard. The (older) adults in the conversation should have thought about it more if indeed the content was discarded.

Look up gross negligence? Dude, please! Newspapers on a floor is not gross negligence.

#20 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 15, 2019 @ 3:33 am

>how come the students were not told it was going to be taken down and given a chance to move it to an appropriate location? How come it was not cleaned up, put in a box, and returned to those who own it to find an appropriate place for display? Was it? It was clearly expressive content.

For all we know they were told. For all we know it was put in a box. More probably the people concerned with clearing the hallway had no idea who the students were. If you honestly think there wouldn’t have been a stink if your recommendations were followed, you’re misjudging the campus climate.

>The message was annoying and obstructed use of the hallway. That is why it was taken down.

Great, so we’re all agreed that nobody wants to prevent students from expressing support for Love and Green.

>Not because of a fire hazard.

Prof. Love’s office, Hollander 111, used to be my office. When I resided there, I and my office neighbors found it occasionally convenient to place a small outside one’s office for waiting students to sit on (or to hold a box as a receptacle for essays). We were promptly admonished by security to put the chairs back in our offices immediately, and fire regulations were cited. The “fire hazard” thing isn’t a special application of the rules to this case. It represents the College’s approach to the hallways as I experienced it and is the reason this stuff was cleared out.

#21 Comment By PTC On February 15, 2019 @ 6:54 am

Eric- Good deal.

“fire hazard” thing isn’t a special application of the rules to this case. It represents the College’s approach to the hallways as I experienced it and is the reason this stuff was cleared out.

Ok. But in this case the college president says that she gave direction not to remove these items. The direction from the college president was to find a way to make it work. These instructions were not followed. Of course, the college president does not trump fire code. But her direction was to find a way to make it work. That direction was not followed.

Not that there should be a pecking order for accepted speech (that is how we got here), but having the President of the school stand by expressive content and going against that design is an interesting way to support the Chicago principles.

Where are we?

(1) College President floats faculty desire for free speech and the Chicago principles.

(2) Some students and faculty freak out, call “free speech” “hatred and violence”, and protest publicly in the media.

(3) Two profs walk out, in part over this push for free speech (I would imagine)?

(4) Students make an expressive display in support of the profs who walked out. This display creates a physical nuisance. Newspaper on a halfway floor.

(5) College president backs students display and states that the students expression trumps the nuisance, and to find a way to make the display work.

(6) Display is taken down without permission of college president, citing fire code.

(7) College president gets pissed her direction was not followed. Writes an email stating that she is pissed.

(8) Some kind of expressive content in protest ends up around the prof who took down the display, on his office door or in his office?

(9) Some “free speech” advocates on Ephblog go against the college president’s call to support this free speech. Claim newspapers on a floor present a clear and present danger/ fire hazard.

(10) I call BS.

(11) Other bloggers call my calls of BS BS.

Seems like free speech in motion to me! Perhaps we are getting somewhere!

None of this is worthy of anyone being punished (have not seen pics of profs space yet). This is what free speech looks like. It is messy. That is why it is difficult. We (free speech advocates) should all strongly support the college president up to this point. The president is advocating for freedom of expression.

Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!

#22 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 15, 2019 @ 8:07 am

>None of this is worthy of anyone being punished

Has anyone called for the students to be punished? How about instead a modicum of upper admin support for the committee chair trying to do his job? And if McPartland is allowed to remove the free speech that in the photos encumbers the entrance to his office, then it is a small step to accepting the removal of this free speech blocking the hallway.

Otherwise, to your points:

3) The profs certainly walked out in light of the Chicago principles nonsense.

5) “Identity Evropa” on a white board was vandalism and a bias incident (to say nothing of a long series of similar cases that decorated my time at the College) but the president descends from on high to lament the violence done to this act of free expression. This is free speech in action! This is messy! OK whateverman.

6) Actually, beyond the fact that Mandel decided to throw her committee chair under the bus, nothing has been established about who knew what when or who gave permission for what with what prior understandings or under what pretexts or with what representations.

7) College president is worried, not pissed, and also implies that her directions were not communicated, in which case it seems odd to call them directions.

9) Williams College doesn’t recognize or support anything like free speech or free expression. Mandel did not, in her message, call for the support of any general right to free expression. She demanded only that certain parties should enjoy the right of free expression.

McPartland is only chair of the Schapiro-Hollander Users Committee because I took a job elsewhere and left the college in December. Otherwise I would’ve been chair and this would’ve been me. Nice to know the free speech advocates would’ve had my back.

#23 Comment By PTC On February 15, 2019 @ 10:30 am

(5)

“Identity Evropa” on a white board was vandalism and a bias incident (to say nothing of a long series of similar cases that decorated my time at the College) but the president descends from on high to lament the violence done to this act of free expression. This is free speech in action! This is messy! OK whateverman.

Isn’t the “id evopra” official hysteria the exact kind of thing you are advocating against?

If so, what is your point? That we fight fire with fire- FIRE HAZARD!

(6 & 9 generally)The critique of the president is fair given the limited context. I have no idea what her position could be. The president needs to work through this. This is an opportunity to display tolerance of expression and then ask for tolerance- rather than playing dumb.

The opposition is winning. By creating this reaction to their expression they are winning this debate. They re proving that those who are for “free speech” have some serious holes in their ability to let expression they do not like stand. Like it or not- you are playing the role of suckers.

Take it from an expert in propaganda and unconventional tactics- me. You are losing this debate by taking this issue into the realm of “safety.”

#24 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 15, 2019 @ 10:58 am

>If so, what is your point?

That presidential paeans to free expression are disingenuous and have to be interpreted in light of the broader strategies employed by the administration to control campus discourse. Williams does not allow free expression and it never will.

This is how it goes: Some people propose a modicum of free expression, opponents of this proposal attack it as constituting literally violence, they escalate until they violate some rule or regulation that has to be reluctantly enforced, then they complain that THEIR rights to free expression are being violated, that free speech advocates are hypocrites, and we’re back at the beginning of the cycle.

When people like Mandel dance in time to this farce and fill the sails of the activists with official wind, and you’re still standing five miles back in the dust advocating for free expression, it’s fair to say you missed a beat or two.

#25 Comment By PTC On February 15, 2019 @ 11:37 am

I did not miss anything.

This was an opportunity for free speech advocates to not play along and attempt to create a mechanism to open the dialogue.

Instead people yelled “FIRE.” “FIRE” in the face of the presidents direction- unless she is lying?

“reluctantly enforced”… There is no evidence of that. Nor is there any valid critique of President Mandel’s leadership as “disingenuous.”

She’s been leading Williams for what, two months now? Your problem is a projection of proven previous leadership failures, and you cannot honesty attribute those to someone who is this early in their tenure as a leader.

In fact, to the contrary, the evidence could just as easily suggest that President Mandel tried to use this as an opportunity to create a narrative, to open the floor to increased expression for all, and that the door was slammed in her face.

#26 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 15, 2019 @ 11:59 am

In the four-stage cycle I described, which by now has played out at many places, we are at stage 4, the one in which activists, after having escalated and finally, after much effort, provoked a response, lament that their speech rights have been abridged. This is an invitation to advocates for free expression to shoot themselves in the foot by agreeing that yes, we advocates of free expression are in favor of your expression, please continue to throw trash all over the hallway. Then of course they and their allies in the administration, who never even pretended to support anything like free expression, will get back to controlling discourse like they did before.

#27 Comment By Eric Knibbs On February 15, 2019 @ 12:01 pm

Oh, and I served on that very committee. I guarantee you that nobody wanted to remove that stuff or come within forty miles of this dumpster fire. They acted because they felt compelled to by regulations.

#28 Comment By PTC On February 15, 2019 @ 12:50 pm

‘they felt compelled by regulations…”

Ok… this is the part where my eyes glaze over.

Good luck getting some kind of valid free speech policy. You guys seem doomed.

Seriously, I wish you all the best. I’d like to have a school as of the old days when we could watch cool rock/ rap/comedy shows and hear a wide variety of perspectives. Four billion- that’s a lot of money to waste on empty debate. The fun police are definitely winning!

Nice blogging with you. I am sorry for your predicament, especially because it impacts good times.

In the meantime. Keep good watch. Take charge of your post and all College property in view. And by god, sound the alarm in case of fire and disorder.

#29 Comment By Fragesteller On February 15, 2019 @ 4:30 pm

So this Knobbs bloke is sort of John Drew 2.0?

#30 Comment By Current Student On February 15, 2019 @ 5:08 pm

Good day all! Always nice to hear from you, Professor Knibbs! I’ve just read through the comment conversation between Knibbs and PTC, and I must say I have gotten lost about what they were talking about. But my two cents (and hopefully it pertains slightly to PTC’s comments about regulations):

The College take Regulations, especially those pertaining to the fire code, Very Seriously. Very, Very Seriously. I cannot tell you how many times I have been yelled at (nicely!) by custodians and security for my negligence. I can also say that this display constitutes a fire hazard. Not even the slightest doubt. It won’t cause a fire, but I would trip over it in a rush, and suddenly there’s a blockage in the hallway, etc. etc. Sure, there probably isn’t going to be a fire, but even I know this is a bad idea to keep it there.

Also, while I do think some posts are betraying the hypocrisy of right-learning free speech advocates, I really must say there is valid criticism about this particular display because of safety concerns.

Finally, who would McPartland have contacted? Grass-roots things like this have no clear leader, and such an action would have to have been taken unilaterally by him without consulting students.

Questions? Concerns? Always happy to talk more about student’s responses here on campus!

#31 Comment By anonymous On February 17, 2019 @ 1:41 pm

Eric Knibbs is a brilliant academic who left Williams (after receiving tenure) for an extraordinary job opportunity. John Drew is an embarrassment. The comparison is not an apt one.

#32 Comment By John Drew On February 17, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

– Anonymous

Objectively, I was a brilliant academic too. My prize winning doctoral dissertation morphed into a book and is still being cited by scholars today. The only problem with me is that I was a white, male Republican who opposed affirmative action. I still resent the Williams College folks who disparaged the quality of my work or the barriers I overcame to produce it. For more on my story, check out this article.

Forgiveness and the Shack: Remembering My Old Antagonist, The Late Timothy E. Cook

If there is any professor whose mistreatment while at Williams College is still in the news 30 years later, I’d sure like to know who they are. It would be fun to compare notes.

#33 Comment By abl On February 17, 2019 @ 2:10 pm

Congrats to Professor Knibbs! — what is he doing now?

#34 Comment By anonymous On February 17, 2019 @ 11:02 pm

Any man who must assert that he is “objectively brilliant” is far from such.

#35 Comment By Fendertweed On February 18, 2019 @ 10:41 am

@John Drew,

So reliable in continuing to illustrate why things happened as they did even as thou doth protest too much.

Your real skill is comedy, whether or not yembrace it.