The Record editorialized in favor of “affinity housing,” one of the demands made by CARE Now to both President Mandel (pdf) and the trustees. This means, more or less, reserving/restricting specific houses for/to black/Hispanic/Asian students. No one knows more about the history/politics/propaganda of Williams housing than I do, so let’s dive in. Day 1.

Start with the Record:

Affinity housing, the third of CARE Now’s 12 demands, has been advocated for by students as early as 1969, when the Afro-American Society, which occupied Hopkins Hall in demonstration, named affinity housing as one of its demands.

Has anyone at the Record talked to someone who could explain this history? I doubt it! Although I occasionally hold out hope for individual reporters, like Arrington Luck, the Record, as an organization, is positively amateurish in its refusal to seek out knowledgeable sources. It is true that, for 50 years, students have wanted racial segregation in housing and the College has refused to provide it. Does that tell you something? It should!

The College did not respond to the Afro-American Society’s demands and has continually ignored such demands.

How stupid is the Record? The College has “respond[ed]” to these demands over and over and over again. The answer is always the same: No! If you choose to come to Williams, you are going to live in a building with students of a different race. Don’t want that? Go elsewhere.

We at the Record wholeheartedly support establishing affinity housing at the College.

Doesn’t the Record understand how Williams works? If you want actual change — as opposed to the childish pleasure of virtue-signalling on the front page — you support the creation of a high-profile committee.

[W]e must recognize that the College is a predominantly white institution in which students of color often feel tokenized, both in their residences and more broadly on campus.

Is the College really a “predominantly white institution” and, if so, how long will this continue? Whites, in the latest class at Harvard, are a minority. There are more Asian-Americans than whites, in raw numbers, at the highest levels of high school academic achievement. An actual news organization might, you know, do some reporting on this topic, might point out that, in the Williams class of 2022 (pdf), only 263 of the 533 students are white, non-Hispanic Americans. That is only 49%. White Americans are already a numerical minority among Williams first years.

The reason that black/Hispanic students “often feel tokenized” is, first, because the people that run Williams are, on this dimension at least, not very good at their jobs and, second, because these students often are, precisely, “tokens.” At least 50% (probably closer to 90%) of the black/Hispanic students at Williams would not have been accepted if they did not check that box.

Complete Record editorial and CARE Now demands below:

On the need for affinity housing
By Editorial Board

Creating space for minoritized students

On Friday, the Coalition Against Racist Education (CARE) Now released an open letter to the Board of Trustees with a list of 12 demands calling upon the College’s trustees to fulfill their “obligation to the well-being and safety of its students, faculty and staff.” A group of student activists seeking to continue “in the legacy of Black-led organizing efforts on the Williams College campus,” CARE Now was formed last year, its name recognizing the original CARE movement that occupied Jenness House in 1988. CARE Now’s letter indicates ways in which students believe the College can work toward making the College a less harmful place for those of marginalized identities and to take steps toward becoming a more inclusive institution. Each of CARE Now’s demands deserves serious consideration and a thorough response from the Board of Trustees. We at the Record, while acknowledging that we do not hold any form of moral authority on the matter, look to CARE Now’s leadership as we collectively examine how to combat institutional violence at the College.

A failure by the Board to respond would be indicative of the very institutional negligence to which CARE Now draws attention. Affinity housing, the third of CARE Now’s 12 demands, has been advocated for by students as early as 1969, when the Afro-American Society, which occupied Hopkins Hall in demonstration, named affinity housing as one of its demands. The College did not respond to the Afro-American Society’s demands and has continually ignored such demands. In the past year alone, a discussion at a Black Student Union (BSU) town hall meeting in November, as well as an op-ed by Alia Richardson ’19 (“A case for affinity housing: Why the College should reconsider the housing system,” Nov. 14, 2018), discussed the organization of student housing around common identities. The longevity of this issue demonstrates that the call for affinity housing will not extinguish over time, so long as the College fails to address the residential needs of the marginalized members of its community.

We at the Record wholeheartedly support establishing affinity housing at the College. As a community, we must recognize that the College is a predominantly white institution in which students of color often feel tokenized, both in their residences and more broadly on campus. Establishing affinity housing will not singlehandedly solve this problem, but it will assist in making the College a more welcoming, supportive and safe community for minoritized students.

Some say affinity housing reinforces division, arguing that having minoritized students cluster in one space would be harmful to the broader campus community. We believe, however, that allowing for a space where students can express their identities without fear of tokenization or marginalization will encourage students to exist more freely in the broader campus community, rather than recede from it.

It should also be noted that there currently exists a de facto system of affinity housing among the predominantly white, upper-class athletes who reside on Spring Street and Hoxsey Street during their senior years. This point was brought to our attention Richardson’s op-ed: While these off-campus homes are rented on the private market and not a part of the housing lottery system, the fact that they serve as a place where teams can congregate while people of minoritized identities do not have an equivalent space is a cause for concern that can be resolved with affinity housing.

Furthermore, affinity housing has successfully been implemented by many of the College’s peer institutions, including Amherst, Bates and Wesleyan. For those who believe that the College is too small to successfully implement affinity housing, or that it would lead to community disarray, the endurance of such houses at these similarly small, predominantly white schools is an important counterexample.

We look forward to hearing from the Board of Trustees regarding affinity housing and CARE Now’s other demands. The bedrock of a healthy campus is a willingness of all members to center the most minoritized voices, and the action items raised by CARE deserve acknowledgement and a considered response from the Board.

An Open Letter to the Trustees of Williams
By Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now)
April 17, 2019

We are the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), an active and growing collective of student activists born out of resistance to the 2018 faculty petition on free speech. We garnered over 300 student and alumni signatures in protest of predatory and hate speech. We organized a 200-strong March for the Damned on February 25th after the departures of Professors Kai Green and Kimberly Love due to the violent practices of the College.

We hold the truth of discursive and institutional violence to be self-evident. This year alone, there has been a mass exodus of faculty of color. Many junior faculty of color are considering medical leave due to the unmitigating stress of living in an unsupportive and callous environment; staff are similarly under supported by the institution with a lack of growth opportunities or access to basic living necessities; and too many students are admitted to the Jones 2 Psychiatric Ward each year.

Dozens of faculty of color leave campus each weekend to avoid the emotional detriment of existing here at the College. The College has proven incompetent in fulfilling its fundamental mission “to provide the finest possible liberal arts education” by failing to support those responsible for educating, mentoring, and supporting students. College administrators have sat on a ‘Faculty-Staff Initiative Report’ from the last mass exodus of faculty of color in 2009, and yet the administration has not adequately addressed the findings of this report over the past decade:

“We understand that improving the professional quality of life for staff and faculty of color, and thus the institutional culture at large, would only improve the experience of Williams students. We have witnessed how departures of staff and faculty of color or their absence in particular fields/sectors impact negatively upon the lives of students—both students of color and white students who turn to staff and faculty members of color for curricular and/or extracurricular support. This negative impact ranges from the disruption/suspension of research projects to an increased sense of isolation. We, therefore, hold that a sizable and long-term community of staff and faculty of color is vital to the studies and lives of students across the College” (Faculty-Staff Initiative, 2009).

We remind the Trustees of their obligation to the well-being and safety of its students, faculty, and staff. The present moment demonstrates a managerial and fiduciary failure to provide a safe, respectful, and livable school community. The Trustees must respond thoroughly and with haste to this failure with tangible, monetary investment.

Therefore, we compel the Trustees to accomplish the following:

1. Commit to a complete process of reparation and reconciliation to Indigenous peoples including the increased hiring and admittance of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students as well as the reallocation of property back to Nations impacted by the College’s ongoing settler occupation.

2. Approve the pending request for $34,000 additional funding to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity in full for the purpose of supporting student-led Heritage Month events, as well as the increase of $15,000 additional funding for incoming Minority Coalition groups.

a. Establish mechanisms that increase funding to OIDE biennially in direct proportion to the growing number of minoritized bodies on this campus.

3. Improve community spaces and establish affinity housing for Black, queer, and all other minoritized students.

4. Create permanent and unmitigated networks of support for faculty of color, including, but not limited to:

a. Community space for faculty of color and additional housing resources.

b. Free weekend faculty-staff shuttles to New York and Boston.

c. Benefits for single and/or queer faculty like those offered to heteronormative, nuclear family units.

d. An external, third party tenure review process and a formal defense in the appeals process for tenure candidates.

e. More robust grievance process beyond the OIDE with stronger support for faculty.

5. Immediately approve and fund the two requested hiring lines for Asian American Studies. Additionally, immediately use opportunity hires to fill critical gaps left by departing faculty of color.

a. Expand Ethnic Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies through the hiring of new open-rank faculty and the establishment of new fellowships.

b. Hire specialized open-rank faculty by the 2020-2021 academic year to teach courses in Indigenous Studies, Trans* Studies, Disability Studies, and Fat Studies under the umbrella of INTR.

c. Hire open-rank faculty in Africana Studies and Latinx Studies, including an Africanist.

d. Expand Bolin Fellowship to 4 positions each year, with at least one under INTR.

6. Recognize that the Davis Center is currently operating with only two full-time underpaid and overworked staff members. As such, immediately hire sufficient staff members to ensure the efficient operation of the Davis Center.

7. Hire additional therapists, with a focus on trans therapists and therapists of color.

a. Introduce trauma-informed survivor support training for IWS therapists (see Stonewall Center).

8. Increase hiring and pay for staff at the Office of Accessible Education and streamline support for students, staff, and faculty who take medical leave and/or time off.

a. Increased admission and hiring of students, staff, and faculty with diverse abilities. Peer universities, like UC Berkeley, are recognizing the value and importance of having nonverbal, neurodiverse, deaf, blind, and other crip students in the classroom.

b. Ensure all college buildings are in compliance with ADA guidelines within 5 years.

9. Fund a thorough external independent investigation into the practices and interactions CSS has with students, namely minority students.

a. Such an investigation should be accompanied by mandatory Anti-bias training and Suicide prevention training for all officers.

10. Increase pay to a living wage and eliminate pay inequality for staff in Dining Services and Facilities.

11. Hire an independent advocate specialized in survivor support, effectively removing the no-contact order (NCOs) investigation responsibilities from Dean Marlene Sandstrom.

12. Hire three more Title IX coordinators who will meet the demonstrated needs of survivors.

Print  •  Email