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Tell The Truth

Schapiro Hall at 9:00 AM today.

There is a report of a similar sign on Spring Street. Comments:

1) Can you imagine the convulsions that Williams would undergo if the sign said “How do you tell the truth to a crowd of black people?”

2) Do we need to separate out these two controversies? The debate about McPartland’s actions, and the responses thereto, are important enough to justify a new category. What name shall we use? I like “White Male Vigilantes.” Reader comments welcome.

3) How should I interpret the image at the bottom? Where does it come from?

4) Who is paying for these displays? A big poster board like that is not free, nor, I suspect, is it sold on Spring Street . . .

5) Thanks to our readers for these great photos!

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47 Comments To "Tell The Truth"

#1 Comment By Jim Jones On February 21, 2019 @ 9:42 am

There is a ten-foot high version in Hollander as well.

#2 Comment By Dear White People On February 21, 2019 @ 10:29 am

To your first point: the difference, which should be obvious to anyone who has set foot on this campus in the last, say, 225 years, is that Williams is not and has never been a crowd of black people. The mass of ill-informed, listless, and downright uncomprehending spectators on this campus and on this blog are white people who cannot seem to grasp the truth of the black experience on this campus. It is that truth to which this poster refers.

How do you tell the truth to a crowd of black people at Williams? Well, assuming you could scrounge up a group which even qualified as such relative to this demographic cream pie… you’d quickly find out that they know the truth well, and have been trying desperately to communicate it to an apathetic majority.

#3 Comment By anonymous On February 21, 2019 @ 10:31 am

Honestly, this seems very scary. I hope the administration has some plans. I won’t hold my breath.

#4 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On February 21, 2019 @ 10:34 am

DWP:

Would love to have you as an author, anonymous or otherwise, at EphBlog. Then you could post directly on the main page.

Your perspective is one that our readers — mainly parents and alums — would like to know more about.

And “Dear White People” would be almost as good a nom-du-blog as “David Dudley Field!”

#5 Comment By Ambrosius Aurelianus On February 21, 2019 @ 11:09 am

Of 1060 American students admitted to the class of 2022, 187 (or 16%) were African Americans (who currently constitute ca. 12% of the US population). White students comprised 36% of the admitted students, while comprising 60-75+% of the US population (depending on how white-identifying Latinos are counted).
How many white people should be admitted to Williams?

#6 Comment By Jon Serviam On February 21, 2019 @ 11:12 am

DDF:

A provocative pseudonym maybe, but not original in the slightest. “Dear White People” is ripped verbatim from the title of an acclaimed 2015 film and subsequent Netflix series about race relations.

#7 Comment By John Drew On February 21, 2019 @ 11:34 am

Whatever. After a lifetime of being harmed by affirmative action programs, my little tank of white guilt is empty.

#8 Comment By Jim Jones On February 21, 2019 @ 12:17 pm

According to the Office of the Provost, in Fall 2016 Williams had 153 non-Hispanic African-American undergraduate students out of 2076 total undergraduates, i.e. 7.4% of the student body. Another 123 reported being non-Hispanic of two or more races, many of which might be considered “black”. 253 were Hispanic, which includes black Hispanics, while 177 were non-resident aliens, some of those being black (from the Caribbean, Africa, etc.). So I would guess that at least 200 Williams students are black.

I would also say that a group of 200 people can indeed constitute a “crowd”.

Will 200 black students turn out for the march today?

#9 Comment By Dear White People On February 21, 2019 @ 1:13 pm

Jon Serviam:

Deeply astute. I’m amazed you picked up on the reference.

#10 Comment By anon On February 21, 2019 @ 2:40 pm

The start of any progress at Williams is through (actually, really, thoughtfully) listening. DWP, in that sense, makes an extremely important point.

#11 Comment By ’11 On February 21, 2019 @ 3:20 pm

i hope we see a sit-in at the president’s office with a list of demands on behalf of poc and other disenfranchised identity groups. i would have liked to see the college offer more african american cuisine at the dining halls.

#12 Comment By Doug On February 21, 2019 @ 3:58 pm

I’m one of the white readers of this blog, overall strongly left leaning, and after much searching I still have no real understanding of what the “violent practices” are that these professors were talking about. There’s that strange and cryptic facebook post from one of them apparently talking about a psychotic break. There’s another article about them having a negative experience at a local mechanic. There’s something about one of them being asked if someone could touch their hair. But I haven’t heard anything about institutional racism at Williams that would warrant someone being even slightly upset. Williams is one of the more egalitarian institutions I’ve ever been part of, devoting enormous time, thought, and resources into creating an inclusive environment.

I legitimately don’t understand what they’re upset about, that is, in the context that they’re so upset that they’d abandon their students on short notice. We all put up with bullshit, and we all perceive slights and insults where they may not actually exist.

The article about the negative experience at the mechanic (on feminist wire, I think) really made me question what lens these professors view their world through. I’ve also had negative experiences at a local mechanic. If I was black, maybe I’d assume that it was because the mechanic was racist, but I can instead just conclude that the mechanic was a dick in general.

There’s so much emphasis on “lived experience” at Williams, but I think it’s equally important to recognize that your perception of the world isn’t always accurate, that your experiences don’t necessarily have more worth than the people who experience things alongside you. This is a lesson most people go through when they’re around five years old.

#13 Comment By Eph Prof On February 21, 2019 @ 4:23 pm

This could be from a single student. My guess is that it is from not more than a handful of students. The campus should not be distracted from what is likely to be an extremely small number and small percentage of students who are experimenting with activism.

#14 Comment By Future Williams Dad On February 21, 2019 @ 5:23 pm

Eph Prof:

I take offense to your last comment:

This could be from a single student.

There’s nothing wrong with being single. I’m single after my wife left me last week because I was too upset about the Love/Green controversy to focus on her. Although I miss her and think about her all the time, my son, my daughter, and I are all doing great.

#15 Comment By Just Me On February 21, 2019 @ 7:14 pm

Doug, these faculty don’t have the time to teach you. Your demands on faculty of color to continually prove their pain are, in a word, exhausting. You need to educate yourself.

#16 Comment By anon On February 21, 2019 @ 7:43 pm

Eph prof-

A poster like that does not just magically appear.

I would guess that this is a coordinated effort from a sophisticated source, not “a small group of students experimenting.”

#17 Comment By abl On February 21, 2019 @ 9:00 pm

this is a coordinated effort from a sophisticated source, not “a small group of students experimenting.”

There’s this somewhat odd fixation, mostly on the far right, with labeling left-wing activism as being well-funded, well-organized, well-coordinated, etc. (“Professional protestors” and the like.) Spend 20 seconds in activists circles and you’ll see that you couldn’t be much further from the truth. These sorts of efforts tend to be about as grassroots and ad hoc as they come, for better or for worse. Even remarkably well-coordinated efforts, like the Standing Rock camps–which were essentially functioning cities built overnight and off-the-grid in rural North Dakota–get that way through a lot of trial and error and scrapping rather than through the assistance of a sophisticated Liberal Protest Machine.

My guess here, consistent with Eph Prof, is that the group of students who are actively involved in making and hanging these posters is smaller than most on this board would think. That is not to say that few students on campus feel this way or at least sympathize to a significant extent — just that relatively few students are actually responsible for the tangible and outwardly-visible actions discussed on this board. (And no, I don’t think that there’s a “sophisticated source” behind this, at least insofar you are not including Williams students among the sophisticated.)

#18 Comment By Anon On February 21, 2019 @ 9:25 pm

Right, like anytown for gun safety, or the million mom march.

Sophisticated source in this case as in other adults at Williams who support these efforts. Faculty and Staff. I would imagine the Davis Center is showing support for these protests that is both direct and indirect.

Not a conspiracy theory. It is part of the Davis Center mission.

https://davis-center.williams.edu/mission/

If the Davis Center is not involved, then it is not doing its job.

#19 Comment By John Drew On February 21, 2019 @ 9:35 pm

– Doug

It takes a lot of energy to maintain a fictitious point of view.

This is especially true when your intention is to persuade young white people that their common sense is dead wrong.

It becomes particularly exhausting when you are trying to teach young white people that they are — in a bizarre and impossible to measure fashion — secretly the cause of the irresponsible, unprofessional behavior of a black, trans, queer professor who is suffering from chronic delusional disorder.

There is no plausible reaction to this nonsense that will ever please the loony left.

#20 Comment By PTC On February 21, 2019 @ 10:04 pm

God knows the local mechanic has never had a bad experience with an elite professor.

Those local mechanics!! Damn them!!

Anyone at Williams ever take the time? Know what it is like to be a local mechanic? Who is the elite in such a situation? An elite professor at the local four billion dollar powerhouse, who was raised in elite academies, or the local mechanic? The guy turning wrenches for 25 bucks an hour, 50 hours a week.

Think he can drop that wrench when he feels offended?

Power. Around here, the local mechanic has it all.

There is race, and there is class. Those two thing are not always the same.

#21 Comment By frank uible On February 22, 2019 @ 12:40 am

Nobody is interested in truth. Pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s advantage their after.

#22 Comment By frank uible On February 22, 2019 @ 12:49 am

they are after

#23 Comment By John Drew On February 22, 2019 @ 1:50 am

– PTC

I think you are right. As a professor at Williams College in the late 1980s, my single worst experience with a resident was with a fellow who ran a local auto body shop. It was my first car and I had run it off the road taking a sharp curve up in Vermont. (Ironically, I was driving too fast after attending a silent, contemplative Quaker meeting.)

I could tell that the fellow treated me with suspicion as soon as he learned that I was with the college. Maybe my California accent gave me away. His contempt was obvious and I was startled by it. After he repaired my car, I thought everything was okay and I forgot all about him.

He didn’t let up, however. I remember when I ran for the state assembly seat in MA in 1988, he actually took the time to call into a radio talk show I appeared on as a candidate to ask hostile not so subtle questions about how elitist professors mistreat the workers at his auto body shop.

All in all, I don’t have any fond memories of the shopkeepers of Williamstown. I remember I ended up doing most of my shopping in North Adams. I liked the new mall in Pittsfield…which, as a free market Republican, I had endorsed and supported politically. I adored my vocal coach. She had sung with Joni Mitchell and gave me my first voice lessons.

In sharp contrast, however, the support staff at the college were extremely kind to me.

I remember that they looked after my every need and treated me with great courtesy. I was working one evening in my office in Stetson Hall and one of the support staff noticed that my office was too cold. He brought over a special electric heater that made it a lot more comfortable.

I should mention that the only Williamstown merchants who were especially nice to me were the guys that ran the liquor shops. Those guys were cool.

#24 Comment By PTC On February 22, 2019 @ 2:05 am

frank-

Yes indeed. Last time I checked, we lived in a capitalist society.

Not that in a communist/ socialist society, they are looking for the truth over advantage either.

Or in cultural communism, since economic communism is for the moment a backwater.

#25 Comment By Johnny On February 22, 2019 @ 8:13 am

Doug,

The reason you cannot find any evidence of “violent practices” is that there is no violence against these lunatics.

The link that “just me” provided contains no facts supporting the psychotic claims. If the professors of color who mentor Tyler Tsay have had their “bodies attacked” by colleagues, then an investigation of the offending multiple “colleagues” is warranted. I highly doubt that any such physical attack ever occurred, however, because mere words are violence among the social justice warriors. The chips on the shoulders of these snowflakes are so heavy that a glance constitutes “eye rape.” The more hysterical the claim, the better.

#26 Comment By Doug On February 22, 2019 @ 10:33 am

Just Me: was that article supposed to be enlightening? It just proved how nebulous the grievances against the college are. The most tangible issue put forth in that op-ed was that tenure decisions *might* be biased against faculty of color, with no meaningful evidence to support this blind and harmful assertion. Williams does a great job recruiting and retaining faculty of color considering its status as a small, extremely rural college, and the numbers support this.

That article also neatly sums up one of my biggest problems with the way the community reacts to issues like Green/Love: “Accept the grievances of faculty of color without question.” I think that’s a dangerous proposition that would be ridiculed almost anywhere else. Just like with white faculty, some minority faculty are prone to being upset over trivial matters. It’s concerning that students would be endorsing some kind of hegemony ascribed based on race, especially at one of the most liberal and accommodating institutions in the world.

#27 Comment By Just Me On February 22, 2019 @ 10:52 am

Doug, I hate to break it to you, but at Williams numbers are racist. So are data. Only feelings are non-racist.

#28 Comment By PTC On February 22, 2019 @ 12:46 pm

Just me-

Correlation is not causation. You have not given one shed of proof that the low numbers correlate to Williams College practices.

These numbers are easily explained because of the general climate in Berkshire County, as Doug points out in his post. Berkshire County is rural, and almost entirely white. Also elderly. There are no young people here. It really is a county full of old white people. Not only does it lack diversity, it is boring. It lacks sophistication.

A good minority professor who gets solid chops at Williams will be able to move on to another location that is much more accommodating to people of color. That is a reality the College needs to deal with.

The best way to deal with this would be to offer more money, or some kind of a bonus. Otherwise, a lot of the better minority professors are going to move on to places that are much more diverse. Places like UNC Chapel Hill, or Harvard, for example.

#29 Comment By PTC On February 22, 2019 @ 12:49 pm

#30 Comment By PTC On February 22, 2019 @ 12:58 pm

https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bbj_research_alert/2014/05/the-fastest-growing-towns-and-cities-in.html

Place is shrinking too. Shrinking after being cut almost in half. North Adams in its day had about 20k residents, it’s at about 12k now. Some years, Williamstown is the fastest shrinking town in the state.

This is even more pronounced when considering youth/ vibrance.

When I went to Greylock in the 80s, the HS had over 1000 students. It has just over 500 now.

This place has become dismal for young people. That’s just fact. Very few people stay here for their mid 20s and 30s.

#31 Comment By Doug On February 22, 2019 @ 1:56 pm

On second thought, I’m thinking Just Me is being satirical. It’s crazy how hard it can be to tell the difference sometimes.

#32 Comment By PTC On February 22, 2019 @ 2:03 pm

Doug- Yeah, you are correct.

#33 Comment By Current Student On February 22, 2019 @ 7:36 pm

It’s sad I didn’t realize the satire in Just Me’s comments until I read your comments @Doug and @PTC.

#34 Comment By Just Me On February 22, 2019 @ 9:44 pm

You guys make me laugh.

#35 Comment By Williamstown Resident On February 23, 2019 @ 6:44 am

Those demographic trends make Williams even more important to the local economy. College jobs are among the only good jobs in the area. Without Williams, we are West Adams; picture tumbleweeds blowing across a desolate Spring Street if it weren’t for the college. Which is why the college needs to figure out this intersectional, PC, identity politics BS and fast.

#36 Comment By fendertweed On February 23, 2019 @ 10:16 am

@John Drew –

“It takes a lot of energy to maintain a fictitious point of view.”

This may be the single most [perhaps unintentionally] self-aware post you’ve made in the history of EphBlog.

#37 Comment By John Drew On February 23, 2019 @ 8:39 pm

– fendertweed

So, does this mean you are my newly appointed, unhinged, on-line stalker?

#38 Comment By Williams On February 24, 2019 @ 11:44 am

-Professor McPartland believes in free speech and free expression.
-Professor McPartland also imposes limits to free expression, i.e the fire code. This lead him to desecrate an amiable display of support made by loving students towards their professors.

-Conclusion: Even the vehement supporters of free expression see free expression has its limits. The fear for the people of color is that both free expression and its limits are weapons used against them over and over again.

#39 Comment By abl On February 24, 2019 @ 11:51 am

@Williams — exactly! And this blog reveals that there is at least some truth behind that fear.

The same folks* here who have repeatedly insisted that Williams has some sort of moral obligation to allow white supremacists speak in Chapin have also been quick to criticize not only this display, but the entirely peaceful march that followed.

*Not PTC

#40 Comment By abl On February 24, 2019 @ 11:53 am

I want to add that Professor McPartland may be great and well-meaning and not even a little bit bigoted. It’s the reaction to his decision that is telling, and not his decision itself. (Administrators are going to sometimes make mistakes, even when acting in good faith.)

#41 Comment By John Drew On February 24, 2019 @ 12:20 pm

I think it is a stretch for anyone to suggest that John Derbyshire is a white supremacist. As always, it is best to read his thoughts directly.

John Derbyshire: White Supremacy, The Anglosphere, And CANZUK (CANZUKUS?)

#42 Comment By Current Student On February 24, 2019 @ 7:55 pm

@abl:

Who’s criticized what? I do tend to skim, so perhaps I’ve missed it, but it looks to me as soon as hallways were cleared everything was fine and dandy. Same with the march/protest–haven’t seen a negative thing written about it yet. Maybe someone’s criticized the content, but I haven’t seen anyone say we should take down the large posters, or break up the march. We can agree to disagree about whether fire code is a good reason to limit speech or not, but beyond that it seems to me that your comment that people:

“have also been quick to criticize not only this display, but the entirely peaceful march that followed”

is completely unfounded.

#43 Comment By abl On February 25, 2019 @ 1:32 pm

Current Student –

There are numerous comments by numerous authors throughout the various threads on this that explicitly and non-substantively criticize the speech in question (as a fire hazard, as messy looking, as defamatory, etc) and plenty of comments where the tone clearly indicates a disapproval of the manner of speaking chosen.

#44 Comment By Current Student On February 25, 2019 @ 4:23 pm

@abl-

Examples, please. Not of fire hazards, because it seems as though there is an intractable disagreement over that singular issue (i.e. whether speech that explicitly breaks laws should be allowed), but of the messy/defamatory complaints. Also, tone is notoriously difficult to grasp in the written word; perhaps you and I are reading the same posts completely differently. I do recall posting with @PTC about the invective against McPartland, but by my recollection our conversation revolved around that it is allowed to happen, but it’s just a shame it is. Also, I thought David Dudley was rather (too?) effusive in his support for the memorial/displays; I do sincerely agree that I think most of it has been rather well done, and the “How do you talk to…” posters are very professional looking.

#45 Comment By abl On February 25, 2019 @ 5:49 pm

Current Student –

I don’t have time for that right now (maybe someone else can help me?). At the very least, there are plenty of readily available examples of people calling the speech defamatory throughout these threads.

Most crucially, though, this may well be a legitimate exercise of authority re fire (although speech suppression will often be based off of pretext). A big part of my point was to highlight how quickly right-wing “speech” supporters looked for some excuse for this suppression of speech (whether that was fire safety or defamation or something else). If you search actively and aggressively for reasons to justify suppressing speech with which you disagree while searching actively and aggressively for reasons against suppressing speech with which you agree, it stops looking like it’s some hifalutin ideal of ‘speech’ that matters to you so much as the content of that speech.

And it’s worth noting that even if there maybe is some public safety legitimacy to the ‘fire’ point, there is no legitimacy regarding the defamatory nature of these comments, at least as a legal matter.

#46 Comment By John Drew On February 25, 2019 @ 7:15 pm

The real issue is that leftist at Williams are allowed to spew racist hatred against innocent whites, and the innocent whites aren’t given a fair opportunity to fight back against leftist nonsense. We have an “EverPurple” situation on campus. We have a leftist community that routinely attacks liberals and conservatives and never suffers the slightest punishment for their unending calumny and verbal abuse.

#47 Comment By Current Student On February 26, 2019 @ 7:47 pm

Took me a while to find this thread again.

Thanks, @abl, for the reply. To begin, I must say I agree completely with your second and third paragraphs. Hypocrisy is rife amongst the right-wing free speechers. My problem is, I still haven’t seen anything like that here. Maybe I missed it, but I was scrolling through and reading some of the comments more thoroughly and I still didn’t get the feeling of a large number of people crusading for everything to be shut down (although I did get a tad more of the defamatory point, which I think the merits or lack thereof should be discussed more fully). I completely understand not having time to scroll through hundreds of comments looking for things, but without what you view as evidence I must unfortunately remained unconvinced. Crucially, I am concerned that you and I are viewing/reading comments differently, which is giving rise to different understandings. Of course, there’s no pressure to come up with something, and I look forward to seeing you in the comments in the future!