Students moving into the Horn Residence Hall should ask themselves if they feel at peace living in a building named for a pair of criminals, Joey Horn ’87 and Ragnar Horn ’85.  The Horns recently served a 75 day sentence in prison as punishment for exploiting and abusing four young Filipino au pairs. As a consequence of this scandal, Joey resigned from the Board of Trustees after eight years of service.

Working as an au pair is supposed to be a cultural exchange program. Joey and Ragnar, however, broke the regulations by using their au pairs as low paid housekeepers. They worked their Filipino au pairs 11 hours a day and then four hours on both Saturday and Sunday. In Norway, an au pair is supposed to work no more that five hours a day and no more than 30 hours per week.

The Horns also gave false information to the immigration administration in Norway, failing to report they would have more than one au pair at a time. At the trial in 2017, two of the au pairs reported that they felt like “slaves” and “in prison” in the Horns’ home. Evidence showed Joey Horn ’87 referred to her au pairs in derogatory terms and threatened to send one of them back to her “straw mats in Manila.”

It looks like one of the first things the Horns did after being in prison was to participate in a tour of St. Petersburg led by Williams College faculty member, Michael J. Lewis. According to a tweet containing the above picture, Lewis guided the Williams tour group through neoclassical palaces, the tombs of the Russian czars and the summer palace of Catherine the Great.

According to Norway Today, the Horns might have missed visiting that glorious summer palace if the courts had kept in place the Horn’s original punishment. Initially, Joey and Ragnar were sentenced to five months in prison. The Borgarting Court of Appeal, however, reduced that sentence to 90 days. In the end, the Norway Supreme Court mercifully reduced the Horn’s sentence by another 15 days.

Perhaps the most shameful thing about naming a residence hall after the Horns is that the president, Adam Falk, knew the Horns were in trouble for their au pair abuse prior to accepting their gift. As Falk told the Manchester Journal,

“Ragnar and Joey Horn are loyal alumni, deeply committed to Williams,” he said in a statement. “Sometimes they’ve provided support publicly, through their philanthropy; other times they’ve helped quietly, by personally mentoring students and encouraging individual faculty in their work. Every one of us has benefited from their love of the college, whether we realize it or not. Board Chairman Mike Eisenson told the Williams Record [newspaper] he saw nothing in the court’s verdict that warranted a reconsideration of the decision to name Horn Hall. While the board reserves authority to decide such matters, I personally agree.”

Adam Falk, of course, is long gone. Mike Eisenson ’77, however, is still serving as the board chair. Ironically, the au pair investigation was launched in December 2014 which is the same year Eisenson was elected board chair. This is puzzling to me. It would seem to me that Eisenson should lose his board chair position for failing to understand the continuing public relations crisis caused by naming a building after a person who used the threat of straw mats to punish their au pairs.

Normally, I would think the college and its SJWs would see – perhaps correctly – that the Horn’s abuse of their au pairs was an egregious example of racism, sexism, capitalist exploitation and even unfettered colonial oppression.

At the very least, I would think campus divest activists would spread straw mats throughout the residence hall to remind us that the Horn’s $10 million gift to Williams came, in part, from money they gained by exploiting their unfortunate au pairs.

In the meantime, we should be grateful that whoever arranged the picture above was sensitive enough to not have the Horns hold up the purple and gold banner.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He received the William Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association for the best doctoral dissertation in the nation in his field in 1989. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. 

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