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That Nigga Look Just Like Me

Hung on Paresky yesterday:

Our source notes: “Money for this came from somewhere. Who is funding this stuff?” Good question! The Record should find out.

Another view:

Could someone explain the messaging? I know that the line is from “Nikes” by rapper Frank Ocean. Lyrics:

These bitches want Nikes
They looking for a check
Tell ’em it ain’t likely
Said she need a ring like Carmelo
It must be on that white like Othello
All you want is Nikes
But the real ones just like you, just like me
I don’t play, I don’t make time
But if you need dick I got you
And I yam from the line
Pour up for A$AP, R.I.P. Pimp C
RIP Trayvon, that nigga look just like me

But why that line from these lyrics at Williams in 2019? Is what happened to Professors Green and Love akin to what happened to Trayvon Martin? Does that mean that Maud Mandel is George Zimmerman?

I am honestly curious about the meaning. Any ideas?

Or is this a sign that Professor Neil Roberts is more involved in the protests than I would have expected. Background from 2012:

Neil Roberts, assistant professor of Africana studies and faculty affiliate in political science at Williams College, has guest edited a symposium in the journal Theory & Event, published in September by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

The symposium features eight essays on what Roberts calls the Trayvon Martin event. “An event,” Roberts explains, “differs from a tragedy. A tragedy entails a plot, set of actions, and conclusion, often foreclosed and backward-looking. An event is an occurrence mutually reinforced by past actions and future outlooks, conversations, and prognostications on what we must do to decipher its meaning in its wake. The shooting of 17-year-old Martin is no different.”

One of the essays was:

“Stuff White White People Know (or: What We Talk About When We Talk About Trayvon)” by Mark Reinhardt, Williams College Class of 1956 Professor of American Civilization.

“My core assumption in the paper,” says Reinhardt, “is that white supremacy continues to be a fundamental political fact in the U.S., albeit one whose form has mutated in such a way that most white people deny, and probably do not believe, that it continues.”

Is Maud Mandel one of these white people? Just asking! Or perhaps IQ-realist Nate Kornell is
involved? (Probably not.) Professor Green also has views on Trayvon Martin. And here is a cartoon from Chan Lowe ’75.

ABC reporter Matt Gutman ’00 won an award for coverage of the Martin shooting. Claudine Rankin ’86 wrote Citizen: An American Lyric, a book with some connections to the case which are difficult to summarize.

Are there other Eph connections?

Anyway, later yesterday, College employees “temporarily removed” banner and post these signs:

What advice do you have for the protestors and/or for President Mandel?

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39 Comments (Open | Close)

39 Comments To "That Nigga Look Just Like Me"

#1 Comment By anonymous On March 1, 2019 @ 7:52 am

Anniversary of the event (Feb. 26, 2012). Perhaps memorializing the damned requires creating “feast days” to honor the martyrs of the past.

#2 Comment By Dal On March 1, 2019 @ 12:52 pm

I guess when your SAT scores are 300 points below the school average, that’s as close as you’re going to come to articulating a position.

#3 Comment By PTC On March 1, 2019 @ 1:14 pm

Love the banner. Happy to see students practicing their rights. Why take it down?

I agree with the previous exceptions made, but that such exceptions should be viewpoint neutral. An interim policy should be put in place so that speech like this is not censored based on the content or viewpoint.

The rules for speech on campus at this stage are vague and enforcement is arbitrary. President Mandel needs to clarify the campus speech policy now that people are exercising their rights.

The current enforcement is not time, place, and manner neutral.

#4 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 4:32 pm

Isn’t the anniversary Tuesday and this was hung on Thursday?

#5 Comment By abl On March 1, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

But why that line from these lyrics at Williams in 2019? . . .

I am honestly curious about the meaning. Any ideas?

that’s as close as you’re going to come to articulating a position.

Not sure why they didn’t quote the previous line “R.I.P. Pimp C” referring to a rapper who died from overdosing on purple drank.

I’m sorry — are you actually confused about the meaning of this? I find that implausible. What would you say, if you had to venture a guess?

Also, this sort of borderline racism (“IQ-realist”) and racism (“I guess when your SAT scores are 300 points below the school average, that’s as close as you’re going to come to articulating a position”) is entirely uncalled for — and it takes away from any real discussion here.

Finally, I want to point out once again that for the nth time in recent weeks we have an example of the suppression of liberal speech on campus that has been met by a combination of conservative silence/apathy (where’s the outrage?!) and criticism of the speech in question. See above and also the brief discussion in “The Cudgel of ‘White Privilege'” thread.*

*PTC is again the lone exception.

#6 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 4:48 pm

> this sort of borderline racism (“IQ-realist”)

Huh? What definition of “racism” are you using? Nate Kornell, unlike many Williams faculty, believes that IQ is a scientific measure with excellent predictive powers. If you don’t like the term IQ-realist, what (short!) phrase would you use?

#7 Comment By abl On March 1, 2019 @ 5:29 pm

Huh? What definition of “racism” are you using? Nate Kornell, unlike many Williams faculty, believes that IQ is a scientific measure with excellent predictive powers. If you don’t like the term IQ-realist, what (short!) phrase would you use?

Merriam Webster’s first definition of racism is, in full: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

Under this definition, a statement like “Race is a primary determinant of intelligence and White people are of inherently superior intelligence to Black people,” would be racist.

You use the phrase “IQ-realis[m]” in a discussion of race and privilege to respond to claims that Black people suffer certain worse societal outcomes because of “white supremacy.” The implication of this framing is that social disparities between Black people and White people are tied to IQ (and therefore intelligence) rather than “white supremacy.” Inherent to such a claim is the notion that race is a primary determinant of intelligence and White people are of inherently superior intelligence to Black people.

#8 Comment By John Drew On March 1, 2019 @ 6:48 pm

Of course, the real story of Trayvon Martin (No Limit Nigga) is not as pretty or as neat as the campus left likes to pretend. In real life, neither his father, Tracy Martin, nor his father’s girlfriend were even home within the community when Trayvon was killed.

The police had a hard time even figuring out who he was.

Much of the problem was due to his parent’s neglectful behavior. As you may know, the Trayvon was shot at about 7:15 p.m. on February 26. Sadly, his parents were not found and given the news of his death until February 28.

While Trayvon was missing, no one in the Mitchell family was ever described as making any effort to find him. They didn’t even file a missing person report. Maybe the poster pictured above went up on February 28 to commemorate the day Trayvon’s neglectful and out-of-touch parents finally learned he was dead?

#9 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 7:13 pm

You use the phrase “IQ-realis[m]” in a discussion of race and privilege to respond to claims that Black people suffer certain worse societal outcomes because of “white supremacy.”

The world must be a scary place if, everywhere you look, all you see is racism.

This was a post, among other things, about possible connections between Trayvon Martin and Williams College. Googling showed 5 or so faculty (and prominent alums) with connections of various sorts. The words “white supremacy” appear nowhere in my prose.

Turns out that Nate Kornell created a video connected to the Martin case. I provide a link. Do you object?

Nate Kornell, as you might or might not know, is an interesting guy. He is a professor who believes in — and teaches Williams students about — the scientific reality and importance of IQ. If you find that scary or racist, I am sorry. Take your fight to Kornell.

Is any discussion of IQ — or any discussion of tests which (imperfectly!) measure IQ like the SAT — indistinguishable from a belief in “white supremacy?”

#10 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 7:15 pm

racism (“I guess when your SAT scores are 300 points below the school average, that’s as close as you’re going to come to articulating a position”)

Your definition of racism seems to be “True things which I want to ignore.” The average SAT difference between Asian-Americans and African-Americans at Williams is around 250 points. Does reporting this true fact make me a racist?

#11 Comment By abl On March 1, 2019 @ 9:01 pm

The words “white supremacy” appear nowhere in my prose.

What a weak and empty point. The words “white supremacy” appear in your post, in the quote immediately preceding your use of the highly problematic phrase “IQ-realist.” I never said that YOU used the phrase “white supremacy,” nor would anything substantive about my point change if “white supremacy” was your prose rather than Professor Reinhardt’s.

The world must be a scary place if, everywhere you look, all you see is racism.

Great job attacking me rather than addressing my point. How often do I accuse anyone of racism on Ephblog? (I think that this is a first for me, and I didn’t actually accuse you of being a racist.) Regardless, I’m sorry that you’re upset that I described something that you said–I think fairly generously–as “borderline racism.” I’m more sorry that your feelings being hurt is going to prevent you from actually stepping back and considering whether something you said may have been “borderline racis[t],” though.

Turns out that Nate Kornell created a video connected to the Martin case. I provide a link. Do you object?

I was pretty clear about exactly was problematic about your post. The mere fact of you posting a link to a video created by Nate Kornell was not it. Then again, you know that.

Nate Kornell, as you might or might not know, is an interesting guy. He is a professor who believes in — and teaches Williams students about — the scientific reality and importance of IQ. If you find that scary or racist, I am sorry. Take your fight to Kornell.

Again, I don’t think I could have been much more clear about what was problematic in your post. Note: it’s not the substance of the link that you provided. But again, you’re smart enough to know that.

Is any discussion of IQ — or any discussion of tests which (imperfectly!) measure IQ like the SAT — indistinguishable from a belief in “white supremacy?”

Maybe you skimmed quickly and have forgotten that “white supremacy” comes from your post. Do you think I was calling you a white supremacist? Go back and reread your post carefully and reread my reply carefully.

n any event, the answer to this fairly tangential question is obviously no. It is entirely possible to discuss IQ and the SAT and intelligence in a manner that bears no relationship to white supremacy. It is also, obviously, entirely possible to discuss all of the above in a manner that is entirely consistent with white supremacy. (And again, I want to reiterate that I did not call you or your discussion or anything a white supremacist in my post.)

#12 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 9:08 pm

Hmmm.

Confession: I have completely lost the thread of this argument. Sorry!

On to the next topic!

#13 Comment By abl On March 1, 2019 @ 9:20 pm

>>>racism (“I guess when your SAT scores are 300 points below the school average, that’s as close as you’re going to come to articulating a position”)<<<

Your definition of racism seems to be “True things which I want to ignore.” The average SAT difference between Asian-Americans and African-Americans at Williams is around 250 points. Does reporting this true fact make me a racist?

Unless you are “Dal,” the above quoted post wasn’t from you.

In any event, first the only definition of racism I’ve used so far is the one from the dictionary. Merriam-Webster’s definition of racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” On quick googling, this isn’t an outlier, but seems to be roughly the universally accepted dictionary definition of racism.

Second, I’m disappointed that I have to explain why the above is racist. You went to Williams and presumably are capable of applying a fairly basic dictionary definition to a short statement.

In any event, there’s nothing necessarily racist about “reporting” the “true fact” of “average SAT differences between Asian-Americans and African-Americans at Williams” (although it obviously is possible to report such facts in a way that raises the specter of racism). That’s, of course, not what the above quote does.

The above quote addresses African Americans as a group defined by their relatively low SAT scores (“when your SAT scores are 300 points below the school average”) and then accuses that group of being so uniformly unintelligent as to be unable to so much as articulate a position (“that’s as close as you’re going to come to articulating a position”). This isn’t me being ‘woke’ or a ‘SJW’ or anything — this is textbook racism.

#14 Comment By abl On March 1, 2019 @ 9:22 pm

Hmmm.

Confession: I have completely lost the thread of this argument. Sorry!

On to the next topic!

Speech FTW. Bring Moar White Supremacists to Williams!

#15 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 9:25 pm

Do you think someone with a 1520 SAT is more or less likely to be skilled at “articulating a position” than someone with a 1270 SAT? Not every single time on every single issue, but on average.

My experience is that 1520 beats 1270, on average.

#16 Comment By abl On March 1, 2019 @ 9:29 pm

DDF –

Why are you defending, or at least attempting to justify, someone else’s facially racist remark?

#17 Comment By John Drew On March 1, 2019 @ 10:24 pm

I think the real issue here is that abl has been caught bashing an outstanding Williams College professor, Nate Kornell.

He/She is not too subtly suggesting that Nate’s views are racist according to supposedly universally defined standards. Moreover, he/she is saying Nate’s teaching is having the undeniable impact of advancing white supremacist thought. Logically speaking, abl believes that the administration should stop Nate from teaching his vile hate facts all together.

This is, of course, why the debate over academic freedom is so important. A professor should be free to study IQ, race, and social outcomes without having to use the theoretical model that says we live in a white supremacist society.

#18 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 10:31 pm

Why are you defending, or at least attempting to justify, someone else’s facially racist remark?

Because it wasn’t racist, at least by the Webster definition you quoted.

And I am tired of letting people throw around the accusation of racism in such a sloppy manner.

So, back to my question: Do you think someone with a 1520 SAT is more or less likely to be skilled at “articulating a position” than someone with a 1270 SAT?

#19 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 1, 2019 @ 10:32 pm

JCD: It is hardly fair to accuse abl of attacking Kornell when, in fact, he has not done so.

#20 Comment By fendertweed On March 2, 2019 @ 10:30 am

@John Drew, reliable and doggedly pathetic as ever in victim blaming and assorted verbal (written) diarrhea.

#21 Comment By Blah On March 2, 2019 @ 11:35 am

Johnny Drew is so silly!

#22 Comment By Ephtastic On March 2, 2019 @ 11:54 am

Seems to me that the sticking point here is exactly what was claimed. Noticing that there are IQ differences between ethnic groups *on average* is not racist. Using that piece of information to then claim that *individual* people are incapable of articulating a position on a complicated issue is. This is the thorny grove you enter when you start using summary statistics to talk about individual people. By definition, all people have an average IQ of about 100, but that doesn’t mean that Stephen Hawking didn’t exist or that there aren’t brain-dead morons in the world. If only Williams did a better job teaching statistics…

#23 Comment By John Drew On March 2, 2019 @ 12:48 pm

-Ephtastic

True. Remember, however, that projecting group differences on to individuals is treated as OK at Williams as long as the target of the attack is white.

This is why, for example, that all individual whites are seen as racists…no matter how “woke” they are in real life. This is why individual whites are all said to benefit from “white privilege” despite the fact that they have been routinely harmed by affirmative action or unjustly stigmatized as part of some mysterious, impossible to prove white supremacy.

We are in an evil place right now where individual whites are called upon to take responsibility for their ancestors by those who take no responsibility for their own children. People like Trayvon’s parents.

#24 Comment By PTC On March 2, 2019 @ 1:30 pm

I am with abl and ephtastic on this one. This is stereotyping by race to denigrate a group or individual. Not only that,”dal” has no proof that the individuals who hung this sign have lower scores, or make up any particular race. Not that this matters, other than the fact that “dal” just assumes that anyone who might be of a certain race “must have” lower scores, “must have” hung the sign”- which is a ridiculous assertion.

“dal” stereotypes to make a point that is irrelevant, and also unproven, in order to attach race to speech in a way that denigrates members of a race.

This is racist speech. Not a doubt in my mind.

Not only that, but the people who posted the message, no matter what racial makeup, no matter what SAT score (none of which matters unless you are an elitist dick- which “dal” apparently is) did a good enough job to make “dal” look like an idiot.

You can be smart but still be ignorant. I don’t care what his board scores are, “dal’s” post is ignorant- and racist.

#25 Comment By anonymous On March 2, 2019 @ 1:42 pm

Back to the point: this looks like content-based censorship. Maybe the lack of comments is just acceptance that the college simply does what it wants, when it wants, to avoid bad optics. New president, same policy.

#26 Comment By PTC On March 2, 2019 @ 1:56 pm

anon-

I pointed that out above.

Many here, such as abl, do not believe that these students or anyone at Williams should have any speech rights at all.

The college could create a contractual obligation in its handbook that protects speech rights, but then the school would have to allow freedom of expression- a right the college does not respect.

#27 Comment By abl On March 2, 2019 @ 2:53 pm

Many here, such as abl, do not believe that these students or anyone at Williams should have any speech rights at all.

Not true! I think speech is incredibly important, including on a private college campus. My point on this subject has been that the ideal amount of speech regulation at Williams is probably greater than ‘none, whatsoever.’

#28 Comment By PTC On March 2, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

abl- Then I have misunderstood your position. You seem to have always defended the position that Williams can define speech how it sees fit, and can ban any speech for any reason it defines

In this case that Williams does not need to state in specific terms what speech rights students have- because Williams has the right to censor anyone (take down the banner) for any reason.

How can you be for the college being able to censor anyone for any reason while at the same time state that you support speech rights on campus? Perhaps it is “any reason you agree with?”

Can you please articulate your position clearly, expressing exactly what rights students and others should have? What are the time place and manner restrictions? When can the administration not take down a banner like this because it is protected?

If you say that any “insulting speech” or “hate speech” or “fighting words” or “defamation” will not be protected, but then fail to define said categories in a meaningful way- then in fact the administration maintains the power to define speech at will, and can define the above banner as a form of hate speech, and take it down as such.

Do you think the administration was right to censor this banner, for example? If so, why? Would such a banner ever be acceptable regardless of whether or not the administration wanted to take it down? If so, when and where?

It seems to me that the banner was taken down quickly because Williams has the ability to take any banner down at any time for any reason. Indeed to prohibit anyone from hanging a banner at all.

If the banner had said- Beat Amherst- then it would have been left up for a considerable amount of time. In this case, the banner was taken down because it was embarrassing, or made some people uncomfortable.

abl- My question is, when would the administration be forced to let such a banner fly because it is protected? If such speech or similar speech is not protected by rules, then there is no free speech on campus. If you support no clear definition and support the administrations right to ban such speech for any reason “that is correct” then you don’t support free speech on campus.

#29 Comment By abl On March 2, 2019 @ 4:20 pm

PTC —

Williams doesn’t have to do anything. We agree on that.

The question is what they should do. I have never argued that Williams should take a freewheeling and arbitrary approach to speech on campus. Instead, I would be in favor of Williams developing specific guidelines, tied to its core educational purpose, for when and where and how speech on campus should be permitted. I think those guidelines would ideally be developed in consultation with students and faculty, and would be publicized. I also think those guidelines would ideally be enforced by a committee rather than left to the discretion of a single administrator.

I don’t think that this–what should those guidelines be–is an easy question at all, but my gut sense is that if the goal is to make Williams the best college possible, they would not perfectly mirror the Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence. There are certain respects in which the First Amendment allows more speech than is ideal on a college campus (in part because the doctrine is messy and in part because of a legitimate countermajoritarianism concern that does not apply to private colleges) — and potentially certain respects in which it allows less speech than is ideal. The ideal speech guidelines at Williams would, therefore, allow for a greater regulation of speech in some contexts, and potentially a lesser regulation in others.

Even if the First Amendment applied to public campuses was perfect from a speech policy standpoint, and it almost certainly is not, the policy aims to which the First Amendment is tailored differ from the policy aims that should motivate any Williams College guidelines. As such, if your sole goal is to regulate speech in the manner that best promotes the policy goals of speech as applied to a private college campus, First Amendment doctrine provides no more than an imperfect set of guidelines.

Here’s an easy example. The First Amendment probably says that MCLA has to allow literal self-proclaimed Nazi recruiters to come to campus for recruiting purposes. Williams does not have to. The question is whether or not Williams nevertheless should. My point is simply that the answer to this question is no. Williams and MCLA would both be better schools if they prohibited literal self-proclaimed Nazi recruiters from campus. The fact that MCLA has no choice on this matter is a competitive advantage for Williams. We have a choice, and we should exercise that choice. I understand that this is an extreme circumstance unlikely to come to pass. The difference between a Williams policy and First Amendment jurisprudence may only manifest in such extreme circumstances. My point is simply that I think there should be differences.

#30 Comment By PTC On March 3, 2019 @ 10:14 am

Thanks abl.

What about my question on the banner. Do you think the banner should have been so rapidly taken down? Why do you think the administration made the decision to rapidly take the banner down? Notice that there is no explanation. Do they even know why they took it down, or if held to account, will the administration nearly give a carefully crafted PR explanation well after the act of censorship?

Where and when would such a banner be appropriate?

I disagree with your premise that uses the example of Nazis on campus, because that is an argument based on facts that have never occurred- while in fact Williams has censored speech that has nothing to do with your extreme example.

MCLA is much stronger than Williams when it comes to the protection of free speech, which in my opinion is an advantage at MCLA, not a disadvantage. My opinion is that freedom of speech is an important right for any citizen of this country, even when “they happen to be under the control” of a private institution like Williams. Williams should not have the right to silence people under its tutelage.

But in fact, Williams HAS a policy to censor speech at will and without having to give any reason. In this policy, the college reserves the “right” to deny speech without any accounting as to why. That is a draconian policy. It is designed to banish speech to avoid embarrassment. It is designed to ignore speech. Not ok.

You will notice, that this public banner was taken down without any public explanation. It was taken down fast. It was taken down with the hope that it would not be made public “here” or anywhere else. That’s the current policy. It is wrong.

#31 Comment By PTC On March 3, 2019 @ 10:17 am

abl- The powers that be at the college do not have the fire code to rely on this time….

What do you suppose the explanation for this round of EX POST FACTO censorship will be?

“because we have the power, and we can.”

That is FUBAR.

#32 Comment By PTC On March 3, 2019 @ 10:23 am

I tire of the schools ex post facto explanations as to why they banish speakers, cover historical monuments from public view, and destroy dissent by taking down messages like this one.

I wonder if there will be a public accounting ‘this time” and what that accounting might look like- after the power brokers get their heads together to come up with a “good” explanation, long after the fact.

My guess is that there will be no explanation- because there is none.

#33 Comment By abl On March 3, 2019 @ 12:51 pm

PTC —

I think Williams took the banner down because they didn’t want to have the ‘n-word’ displayed in 3′ letters in the center of campus. I also lean towards thinking that Williams probably should have some ability to control what huge banners are hung off of Paresky. If Amherst students hang a “Williams Sucks” banner in the same place, must Williams leave it there? But again, I’ve been open in recognizing that I think that designing a speech code should be a long and careful process.

In any event, re the Nazi example, good regulation design is forward-looking and not backward-looking and must anticipate a wide range of possibilities. Williams is going to be creating its speech regulations from the ground up regardless of whether it models them off of the First Amendment or something else. If Williams simply adopts First Amendment jurisprudence as its regulations, that will (probably) require it to allow literal Nazi recruiters on campus. I don’t know where the policy line is exactly for free speech, but my point is simply that it’s not exactly parallel to the First Amendment — at least when it comes to speech on private college campuses. There are many reasons for that, ranging from different policy concerns that arise with state and private action (that the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized!) to the fact that most doctrines are messy and end up missing the ideal policy mark. If you agree that being able to exclude literal self-proclaimed Nazi recruiters from campus is a good thing, then you agree with me.

Maybe the answer for Williams’ speech regulation is “exactly what the First Amendment says + also no self-described Nazi recruiters.” My point is simply that the ideal regulation for Williams–as shown by the Nazi example–is not “exactly what the First Amendment says, if Williams were a public school.”

You and David have the same problem, in that you’ve both been repeatedly told that the First Amendment is important, and that you’ve fully embraced the notion without similarly understanding why it is. Part of what I’ve been arguing is that if you take the core policy arguments motivating First Amendment jurisprudence and port them over to Williams, the result is not going to be an identical set of regulations to what governs MCLA.

#34 Comment By PTC On March 4, 2019 @ 7:00 am

I think Williams took the banner down because they didn’t want to have the ‘n-word’ displayed in 3′ letters in the center of campus.

First of all, this is not the n-word. It is a modern variation of the n-word adopted by the minority to take ownership of it- but heck, why let that fact get in the way…. the use of the n-word in this fashion is designed to make the majority uncomfortable.

Obviously, that worked! And, that reason you just gave is bogus! But we will probably never know if that was indeed the reason. Perhaps the admin wants a rule that any kind of political speech in this location (a place restriction) is banned??

…. and that is the fundamental issue. Perhaps the first rule that Williams adopts is that administrators have to give the public a reason that speech is being silenced prior to, or as, they are silencing it. No more secret decisions made without explanation.

I understand why 1A is important on a college campus. I also have suggested that Williams has a modified speech code that uses the public school model as a base- just as you have. I have never stated that there could not be variation. Only that when you get away from the law as a base for the model, then you are reinventing the wheel- a very complicated wheel.

Williams can do as it likes, but the longer the college keeps this position where the rules are vague and arbitrarily enforced without explanation it will continue to have real problems with freedom of expression on its campus.

#35 Comment By PTC On March 4, 2019 @ 7:31 am

the note put up in the window by President Mandel and senior staff could have read- The banner has been removed. Williams has a policy against the public display of banners (larger that X if you don’t want it to be absolute) hung on the outdoor of buildings without prior approval of X.

Then they would have explained the rule. Such a rule, (may) also be legally enforceable at MCLA, by the way. But the college would need to explain it if challenged. It is a limited in scope place and manner restriction, and much would depend on the facts surrounding the speech in question.

But Williams can continue to censor speech without explanation. That is a big part of the College’s problem, because it leads to thinking where there are no real rules that protect speech on its campus.

#36 Comment By PTC On March 4, 2019 @ 7:36 am

Here is a snapshot of the current Williams College policy.

“At Williams, we take freedom of expression very seriously. As such we have the following rule:

Prohibited speech on campus is whatever we say or do not say it is. Williams maintains the right to ban speech on its campus for any reason without explanation.

But we really do care deeply about freedom of expression. It is the cornerstone of a college education… bla, bla, bla….”

#37 Comment By abl On March 4, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

First of all, this is not the n-word. It is a modern variation of the n-word adopted by the minority to take ownership of it- but heck, why let that fact get in the way…. the use of the n-word in this fashion is designed to make the majority uncomfortable.

For all extents and purposes, I think it functions similarly. E.g., see how it goes when a white person uses that word to a group of African Americans. In any event, I 100% do believe that “Williams took the banner down because they didn’t want to have the ‘n-word’ displayed in 3′ letters in the center of campus.” Whether that’s a legitimate reason or not is a different question, but, descriptively, that’s the most plausible explanation that I can think of for why they took it down. (That and, potentially, that Williams doesn’t want to start a precedent of allowing any banners up on Paresky.)

In any event, even if the tone of our comments differs significantly, it actually sounds like we mostly agree — Williams should develop some sort of clear and public set of speech guidelines, those guidelines should be largely modeled after the First Amendment (which provides as good a starting place as any), yet those guidelines need not and probably should not adhere perfectly to the First Amendment.

#38 Comment By Current Student On March 4, 2019 @ 5:15 pm

@abl is correct as to why Williams took the banner down. The n-word has a long, negative history associated with it, regardless of modern efforts to reclaim it. It is still often used pejoratively. Other words, say the f-word, would be immediately taken down because its only use is in the pejorative. Of course, the n-word is much more complicated in its historical and modern significance so a decision to take it down ought to be followed by a discussion (which happened, see later in my post). I’m all for public and private universities following free speech guidelines, and this kind of banner falls right into some of the grey areas of what kind of speech is acceptable. This banner is so nuanced with regards to free speech (its message is quite clear) that the intent of the people who put it up, as well as their relationship with the word, must all be taken into account. These students are very intentionally finding and exploiting the grey areas of free speech to take advantage of its limitations and force a no-free speech agenda on Williams, and they’re doing a marvelous job at it too. The fire-hazard display, the potential pejorative at Paresky–all grey areas that produced predictable responses. Also, there are specific regulations pertaining to hanging banners on Paresky, both indoors and out. Because of its role as a center of campus, there is a pre-approval process, etc. There is nothing concrete there–it’s purely subjective–but a process must be followed.

Also, Williams as a 501c(3) restricts specific political speech on campus. There can be no signage promoting specific ballot initiatives or candidates. This is unrelated, but someone (PTC?) brought it up.

In other news, there is now an official display on the windows of Paresky. It is well done and much better than the banner. The quote is attributed, there are a couple pictures, as well as a short blurb about reasoning. I think we can agree the new display is appropriate because it does not break any sensibilities (just like how the ‘new’ memorial in Hollander was well-done after it left any grey areas behind).

In more news, the memorial at Hollander has been very deconstructed, although everything in Baxter remains. The “Crowd of White People” sign, as well as others, has been taken down. Actually, all the “Crowd of White People” signage was taken down around campus, which I thought was weird.

Well, that’s all folks.

#39 Comment By Johnny On March 10, 2019 @ 8:20 am

Williams won’t fix this problem of vague, arbitrary, and capricious regulation of speech. That requires a spine. University presidents were once presumed to be serious, wise, and principled. Those days are over. With few exceptions, they are now presumed to be careerist, expedient, unprincipled, and cowardly in bowing to threats to all that once made higher education worthy of respect.