WILLIAMSTOWN – Maud Mandel has formally recognized Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) according to an addendum to an existing article at Forbes.com. Moving forward, WIFI will hold the status of a recognized student organization (RSO). Forbes reports staff identified an alternative pathway for recognizing WIFI which involved a team of administrators and a single representative from the Williams College Council.

This action took place after Maud’s initial, tepid response which said WIFI would receive almost the same advantages as RSOs on campus. It was foreshadowed by a stronger, revised presidential statement which asserted WIFI would be receiving all benefits given to RSOs and that it would be treated equally. The statement from the Williams College Director of Media Relations appears after the break.

At the May 14 meeting, the committee decided to give WIFI formal RSO status. The Williams College Director of Media Relations issued a statement regarding this process and the final decision.

After Williams’ College Council (CC) voted last month to deny a proposal from Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) to become a CC-approved RSO, college administrators discussed the fact that the college’s Student Handbook described a parallel path to RSO status that had not been engaged in this case. This involved a committee made up of administrators and CC reps . . . We notified College Council of the process described in the Handbook, and asked them to designate a representative for the committee. On Tuesday, May 14, the committee considered WIFI’s request, as required by law, and voted to grant RSO status to WIFI. WIFI is now an RSO with the full rights, privileges and responsibilities that label entails.

As far as I can tell, Maud and her administration are not done with the College Council yet. The Director of Media Relations – who up to now has been missing in action – further reported that

This experience has pointed to the value of a discussion with Williams students about student governance. As we move forward, we will continue to support students in thinking about the kind of governance they want and deserve. In addition, we will be working alongside the current Council to identify best practices relative to bylaw creation and support, managing meetings effectively, and any other structural issues that will be helpful for good student governance.

As I have noted previously, there are many irregularities in the procedures of the College Council.

  • A visiting guest was allowed to make a motion that was seconded by an elected member and then approved by the body.
  • The parliamentarian, instead of the secretary, is charged with keeping the minutes.
  • The minutes themselves are better described as a word-for-word transcript of the meeting and not the normal record of discussion items, motions, and votes. (Anti-Semitic comments, according to the parliamentarian, were observed, but not included in the transcripts of the April 23 meeting that decided the fate of WIFI.)
  • The parliamentarian provides his minutes to the full College Council on a “take it or leave it” basis.
  • The body lacks a sergeant-at-arms to maintain order.
  • Guests are allowed to viciously verbally abuse individual student representatives in highly racial, vulgar, profane and derogatory terms.
  • Visitors are allowed to interrupt the meeting and speak as long as they want.
  • Guests are named proxies to take the place of absent representatives so that the College Council can bypass the thresholds needed to achieve a quorum.
  • These proxies are established  without the knowledge or the consent of the representatives that they will be voting on behalf of during the meeting.

The whole thing, at least what I observed, is a complete mess. The conduct of the College Council is so far beyond the normal workings of a genuine deliberative body that I can state, with full confidence, that it is not a proper learning experience for the students.

Thankfully, Maud realized the gravity of the out-of-control, potentially illegal situation and has taken action to protect the college from a Title VI investigation and a negative finding which would have put all of the schools federal funding at risk. She slapped down leftist identity politics at Williams College yesterday. Good for her.

Hat tip: KC Johnson.



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