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 6.

What follows are many small comments. If you think I should expand this into another week(s) of posts, speak now. Otherwise, this series ends today. It is possible that the free speechers on the Committee would agree with many of these but were forced by committee dynamics to pull their punches in order to reach consensus on the AAUP/PEN standards. If so, I withdraw my criticism.

1) Including PEN as part of the discussion with AAUP was a mistake. AAUP is, by far, the most important US organization concerned with academic freedom. It will be fighting this fight, and on the right side, 100 years from now. Will PEN? I have my doubts.

2) Why was PEN’s work so prominent in the Report? Presumably because committee member Eli Miller ’21 worked there last summer. Or maybe Miller was picked because his work at PEN suggested he would be a free-speecher?

3) Note how often the Report references and quotes from the College’s ​2017 Accreditation Self-Study (pdf). Key line: “Williams starts from a presumption of absolute intellectual and academic freedom as one of our foundational values.” Who put that there? And was it intended to set the stage for the repudiation of Falk’s decision? If so, well played Steve Fix!

4) I appreciate that the Report includes an extensive appendix. Future historians will thank you! But that makes it all the more desirable/possible that the main body of the Report be concise. Put all the extra stuff — Maud’s charge to the Committee, the list of groups met with — in the appendix.

5) How does a well-written report start?

That is from the Self-Study. I hope that the authors of the forthcoming “statement on expression and inclusion” can be as eloquent.

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