President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 3.

The smartest thing that the Committee did was to pretend that there wasn’t a problem:

Very clever! But also a little dishonest . . .

The “official policy” at Williams for the last three years is that the Williams President reserves the right to ban speakers. Then-President Adam Falk began this disaster in 2016 with:

We [Williams College] have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it. We’ve found the line.

Then-Interim-President Tiku Majumder re-affirmed this policy in 2018 — just last year! — insisting that Williams would ban speakers who “provide no benefit in moving forward the conversation we are interested in fostering.”

This policy, consistent over the last two Williams presidencies, was never changed. Sawicki et al (conveniently!) pretend that it has changed or (even better?) pretend that it never existed in the first place. “Majumder” does not appear in the 75 (!) page Report. The body of the Report mentions Falk exactly once, never quotes him and fails to provide a single citation to anything he said or wrote.

Falk was airbrushed out of the history of free speech at Williams. And that was pretty clever! Why bother meeting your intellectual opponents on the field of battle when you can just pretend they don’t exist? Declare victory and move on.

Again, given its goals, this was a politically adroit decision by the Committee. But I would still like to see the College have a wide open discussion. How about a debate between Majumder and Shanks? How about inviting Falk back to campus?

That is what Gaudino would do . . .

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