Let’s spend a week going through this Three Pillars nonsense, the most absurd student reform movement in a generation. Disbanding College Council is a perfect example Chesteron’s Fence — a change to be made only by those who understand the reasons for College Council in the first place. Day 3.

Competent social engineers know that:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

Is there any evidence that Three Pillars has done this? Not that I can see. (Contrary evidence welcome!) Maybe (maybe!) there were discussions about the recent performance of College Council. But I doubt that those discussions involved any testimony about CC before the arrival of these students on campus. I see no evidence that they wrote down anything that they found. Did these naifs know the first thing about the history of CC, the changes that were been made over the last 15 years, the reasons for those changes? Can they tell us about the amendments in 2016, the new constitution of 2012, the debates about CC in the decade before that? No. They are ignorant of that history.

They found a fence and they have no idea why the fence is there.

However, an ignorance of history might be (partly!) redeemed by a knowledge of the present. How much do the Three Pillars crowd know about how student government is handled at peer schools? Has Pomona gone through similar debates? Has Swarthmore made dramatic changes? How different is the current CC from student government at other NESCAC schools? Again, they had the time and the resources to display competence. They could have investigated these issues, wrote a report and educated the Williams community. They did none of that.

Laziness, incompetence and subterfuge are my three favorite explanations for these failures. What are yours?

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