At this moment I enter the tragicomedy briefly. I left Williams two months before all of this took off. Before I knew I’d be departing, I chaired a committee responsible for managing Hollander Hall, the very building afflicted by this outrage. After I left, Prof. Keith McPartland took charge in my place. This landed him in a hard spot, because it turns out that that pile of nonsense violates state fire safety regulations, and is probably also contrary to accessibility standards. Staff, however, were presumably too terrified to touch any of it, lest they get fired. So McPartland did what I hope to god I would’ve had the courage to do, had it been me. Because he enjoyed some measure of protection as a tenured professor, he consulted with campus security and then boxed up the offending portions of the memorial himself. As he did this, students confronted him, but he carried on. That night, faculty offices were papered with posters denouncing McPartland as a racist for his trouble.

Maud Mandel, the weak and indecisive president that Williams so richly deserves, then did exactly what you might expect. She took to her email and promptly denounced her committee chair for doing his job.

 

Does anyone else see the major flaw in this critique of Mandel’s performance on this issue? It jumps off the page. Knibbs’ should be challenged on this particular point, as well as the logic (critical of Mandel) that follows.

McPartland had an obligation to tell President Mandel what he was doing so she was not blindsided by his action. The climate was such that this decision he had to make was going to get to the president’s desk. Going rogue on it was a mistake.

That’s not to say McPartland deserved what happened afterwards, but middle managers should understand structure and issues enough to know when to inform higher managers of something controversial.

 

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