Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 3.
Threats to life are now commonplace accusations. A black faculty member at Evergreen claimed “My ability to speak and my ability to be heard is a matter of my personal survival, and so, for me, this is about my teaching but also my life.” This is not a figure of speech, for the same faculty member also claimed “This shit is literally going to kill me.” Student graffiti at Williams claims “Nos están matando!” [They are killing us!], and two black Williams professors insist “What we have been doing to fit our bodies in these institutions is killing us.”
Paul does not provide a link to the matando graffiti. Was this reported somewhere? Any photos?
The infamous 2015 incident at Yale University, in which dozens of students argued with Professor Nicholas Christakis on the Silliman College quad in the wake of an unwelcome email from Christakis’s wife regarding Halloween costumes, crystallizes the claim:
Christakis: “So I have a vision of us, as people, as human beings, that actually privileges our common humanity, that is interested not in what is different among us, but what is the same … I believe even though I am not like you in the sense of my superficial appearance, that I can sit down and talk to you and understand your predicament, that I can listen to you. If that’s not true, if you deny that, then what is the reason that you ask to be heard, by me or anyone else?”
Student: “Because we’re dying!”
Did you watch the video of Christakis? It is amazing! Highly recommended. Paul continues:
No surprise then that the language of safety has become ubiquitous among anti-racist protestors: “I feel unsafe” (Williams); “I don’t feel safe here and that’s on you” (Yale); “This school is unsafe for marginalized students and you know it” (Evergreen); only after students “dismantle systematic oppression” will the school “be sustainable or safe for marginalized people” (Sarah Lawrence). Rather than push for greater police presence on campus, however, students instead demand an expansion of mental health services―usually emphasizing cultural competence or, more crudely, racial hiring. This began with the very first protests of the Great Awokening at the University of Missouri in 2014. There, one of seven student demands was “increases [in] funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals; particularly those of color.” Activist students at Sarah Lawrence demand “at least” one new black, Asian and Latino/a therapist, “unlimited therapy sessions” on campus and free transportation for students to attend therapy sessions off campus. Those at Williams demanding the College “hire additional therapists, with a focus on trans therapists and therapists of color” are simply the latest instance of this pattern.
I have two contradictory views on the therapist issue. First, I want more money spent of things that students want/use and less money spent on everything else. If students want/use therapists then, by all means, hire more therapists.
Is there data about the use of therapists? How many Williams students are seen by a therapist in a given year? How many sessions does a typical Williams student in therapy receive? How have those numbers changed in the last decade? Does therapy help?
Keep in mind:
1) Every dollar that we spend on another therapist is a dollar that we are not spending on an additional faculty member. I want more faculty and smaller classes.
2) Williams should focus more on preparing students for life after Williams. I am ready to believe that therapy is helpful and that we should employ some therapists. But is providing a senior with unlimited therapy — with no co-pay! — a good idea if, the day after graduation, she will have no more therapy? I am not sure that it is.