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Professor Gibson on Fox

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Dylan Barbour ’16 on The Bachelorette


Should we be proud or embarrassed?

With so many studs to choose from, who is Dylan on The Bachelorette — and why should you care?

Dylan is a man with many layers. His ABC bio states, “the majority of his friends are female,” which could mean he’s sensitive, a good listener, and compassionate. He’s a basketball fan who enjoys scuba diving, driving his boat, and cooking (I’m free for dinner, thanks). The cutie also has a couple of sentimental tattoos including a palm tree on his ankle and a heart with roses on his chest for his mom and dad.

EphBlog also has many layers, but no tattoos.

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A New EphBlog for 2019-2020

We are running a new experiment at EphBlog. Four Ephs — Whitney Wilson ’90, recentgrad, purple & gold and The Good Son — have each agreed to write one entry per week for EphBlog from July 22, 2019 through July 31, 2020. In conjunction with this experiment, JCD has kindly agreed to a one year vacation from posting and commenting. My thoughts:

1) EphBlog discussions over the last year have not been as productive as they might be. Perhaps this experiment will help!

2) Many thanks to our volunteers, some of whom have been around EphBlog for years and some of whom are brand new to our community. In fact, they cover a 34-year range of classes.

3) Three of the four prefer to maintain their anonymity. Attempts to dox them, or any member of our community, will result in banning.

4) Our preliminary plan is for each of us to be responsible for a morning post one day a week, Monday through Friday. Of course, we (especially me) can/will post on other days as well. Because of travel plans, the experiment will start slowly but should be full operational in a few weeks.

5) Suggestions to our new authors would be much appreciated! What do you want to read more of at EphBlog?

Comments related to JCD will be deleted from this thread.

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Advice for EphBlog Authors

Do you want to write for EphBlog? You would be welcome!

E-mail daviddudleyfield@gmail.com (or, of you know it, my personal e-mail) with two pieces of information: the email you want to use (must work but does not need to be the email you are writing me from) and your preferred login id (which can not have spaces nor punctuation marks).

Note that the login id is visible on the site because that is how WordPress organizes all your posts. Mine is “ddf” and you can see all my posts here. So, if you want to post anonymously, don’t choose a login which identifies you.

WordPress will send a temporary password to that e-mail address along with a link to the login location, which is here and is also available at the bottom of the right-hand column, below Recent Comments. Login, change your password and create your “Display Name.” This is what will show up under your posts. Mine is “David Dudley Field ’24.” If you don’t do this, your login id will be displayed.

You are also welcome to preserve your anonymity even with me. (In fact, you can do this even if we know each other and/or you have written for EphBlog before.) Just follow the above instructions from an anonymous e-mail account. That way, even I won’t know your name, which is fine by me.

Here is some advice about where to find topics which fall under the rubric of All Things Eph.

1) The are dozens of Record articles which we fail to cover. A link to an article, along with a quotation, and perhaps some questions or comments, is a great post. Our coverage of editorials and op-eds over the last year has been especially weak.

2) The Record archives are now hosted by the College. Just type in a word or phrase in the search box. Lots of great stuff from history to post about!

3) Follow Williams College or Williams Athletics or various Williams professors on Twitter and other social media. Lots of good material almost everyday.

4) Posts about current events are welcome, but you must take the trouble to find an Eph connection. “All Things Eph” includes, for example, every tweet or public statement by prominent Ephs like Senator Chris Murphy ’96, Erin Burnett ’98 and Mika Brzezinski ’89. Post about, say, the Presidential election race if you like, but you have to “hang” your post on a comment by an Eph.

5) Post about past EphBlog topics. We now have 16+ years of archives to mine. There is a lot of good stuff there! And note that, each year, a big chunk of our readership turns over as 500 Ephs graduate and 500 first years (and their parents) arrive. Indeed, my own posting is more and more a collection of annual essays, improved over time and modeled on Professor Whit Stoddard’s ’35 legendary September lecture to first years titled “A Sense of Where You Are.”

6) Sign up for Google Alerts or a similar service. I use “Williams College” as my alert phrase. This gives me a once-a-day e-mail with virtually every mention of Williams in the press. Very handy!

Other items:

1) You are free to manage the comments in your own posts as you see fit. Authors “own” the comment threads which follow their posts and can do whatever they like there. Options include:

a) No management! You are a busy person and it is not your job to monitor EphBlog comments. This is what I do 99% of the time.

b) No (more) comments. Either at the start of the post or after the discussion has come off the rails, you can uncheck the “Allow comments” box. This does not affect comments that have already been made. It just prevents more comments.

c) Hit the “Trash” button. This removes a comment from your post and places it in the Trash. We occasionally post all the Trash comments so that folks can see what was removed.

d) Edit in place. I often just put “Deleted. — DDF” so that people can see that there was a comment (and who wrote it) and that I have deleted it. One could also put a reason, but life is short and I am usually too busy to explain myself to trolls.

2) Instead of leaving a long comment on one of my posts, I encourage you to create a new post with that comment and a link to my post. First, people don’t read the comments that much, so you wonderful prose is more likely to be seen in a new post. Second, it often helps the quality of the discussion to re-start it elsewhere.

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Latest Safety Dance Filings

Here are the latest filings in the Safety Dance sexual assault case:
163-main, 163-1 and 163-2. Followed up by this and that. Any comments?

Reminder:

Why do I call this case “Safety Dance?”

And the lyrics from the song “Safety Dance”:

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.

I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

Alas, John Doe has discovered that, leaving the real world far behind, is not so easy when it comes to the sexual assault bureaucracy at Williams . . .

Key facts:

This is nuts! Does anyone disagree? Read the full document for details, but it is not disputed that Smith only complained about the alleged assault after her attempts to get Doe thrown out for a never-happened honor code violation failed.

I am honestly curious to know if there are readers who agree with the College’s decision to throw Doe out, denying him his degree even though he has completed all the requirements for graduation.

Maud: Settle this case! It is a sure loser for the College. You have had enough bad press already in 2019.

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Advice on Applying to Windows on Williams

Did you read Eph ’20’s excellent four part series on Windows on Williams (WOW)? You should! Part I, II, III and IV. Here is the application, which is due August 1. In recent years, there have been around 2,000 applicants, with 200 or so students accepted.

My advice for those who want to get in (and who recognize the morally suspect nature of the college admissions process):

1) Make your family as poor as possible. (Nothing here is meant to encourage you to “lie,” per se, but you should understand what Williams is looking for and adjust your application accordingly.) income
Whatever you think your family income is, chop that estimate in half. After all, you don’t really know, do you? Also, if there is any reason to think that income is variable, tell Williams the story. Also, keep in mind that Williams cares a lot about whether or not you will be eligible for a Pell Grant.

The maximum Federal Pell Grant for the 2019–20 award year (July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020) is $6,195.

Williams doesn’t care about that $6,195, and it doesn’t really care about exactly how poor you are. But it loves to brag about how many students qualify for Pell Grants. And Williams is also rated by other elites (here and here) on this criteria. So, I bet that applicants who report family incomes below $50,000 are much more likely to be accepted at WOW.

2) Make yourself as diverse as possible.race URM admissions at Williams is a fascinating topic. The two most relevant posts are probably here and here. Slightly modifying what I wrote 13 (!) years ago:

Note that the WOW application form gives you almost complete latitude in what boxes you check. It asks you to “indicate how you identify yourself.” In other words, there is no requirement that you “look” African-American or that other people identify you as African-America, you just have to “identify yourself” as African-American, just as, when she applied for a faculty position at Harvard, Elizabeth Warren identified herself as Native American.

Now, one hopes, that there isn’t too much truth-stretching going on currently. The Admissions Department only wants to give preferences to students who really are African-American, who add to the diversity of Williams because their experiences provide them with a very different outlook than their non-African-American peers. But those experiences can only come from some identification — by society toward you and/or by you to yourself — over the course of, at least, your high school years. How can you bring any meaningful diversity if you never thought of yourself as African-American (or were so thought of by others) until the fall of senior year?

The point here is not that the current admissions policy for WoW is bad or good. It is what it is. The point is that there are significant preferences given to those who check certain boxes and that cheap genetic testing will provide many people with a plausible excuse to check boxes that, a few years ago, they did not have.

Checking one of those boxes (other than white or Asian, of course!) will dramatically increase your odds of acceptance to WOW. Similar reasoning applies to the other diversity-lite questions, like first language spoken and language spoken at home.

3) Make your parents as uneducated as possible. (Relevant discussion here.) Back in the day, Williams measured socio-economic diversity on the basis of whether or not either parent had a four year college degree. I suspect that this matters much less now, but there is certainly no reason to exaggerate their educational credentials or, for that matter, socioeconomic status.

Good luck to all the applicants!

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Reading the Declaration

One of my favorite Williams summer traditions:

The Chapin Library of rare books at Williams College will host the annual July 4 reading of the Declaration of Independence by actors from the Williamstown Theatre Festival at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Actors will read from the second floor outside balcony of Sawyer Library. Visitors should gather on the library quad west of Sawyer Library and between Schapiro and Hollander halls. In case of inclement weather, the event will take place inside Sawyer Library.

Since 1987, Williams College and the Williamstown Theatre Festival have made it an annual tradition to celebrate Independence Day by reading the Declaration of Independence, the British reply of September 1776, and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

The annual event happens this afternoon. If you attend, send us some photos!

This year (for the first time?) the “reading will also include a selection from “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July,” a speech by Frederick Douglass.”

It is a sign of my wrong-think that this passage from Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities comes to mind. The [white] mayor of New York City is talking with Sheldon Lennart, his press flunky.

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Montalbano ’10 on Sixty Minutes

Hank Montalbano ’10 appeared in a 60 Minutes story:

We begin with a cautionary tale we first reported nearly two years ago: how five U.S. soldiers, including two Green Berets, died in Afghanistan on the night of June 9th, 2014.

The Pentagon concluded the deaths were an “avoidable” accident, known by the contradictory phrase “friendly fire.” It was the deadliest such incident involving U.S. fatalities in 18 long years of ongoing war in Afghanistan. It wasn’t gunfire that killed the U.S. soldiers. It was a pair of 500-pound bombs dropped right on top of them by a U.S. warplane.

You’re about to hear what happened that day from three of the soldiers who were there-including the Green Beret commander. They dispute the official version of events and warn it’s going to happen again. It started just after sundown on a sweltering night with a fierce fire-fight.

Brandon Branch: Bullets whizzing by, kickin up all around you.

Henry “Hank” Montalbano: At certain points it would die down, but it was unrelenting at other points.

I can’t figure out how to embed the video. Worth a watch.

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Sawicki Report, 6

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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Democratic Debates

Some of our commentators like to discuss politics. If you have views of the Democratic Debates this past week, share them with us.

My concern, as always, is: How do we get more Ephs in (or closer to) the Presidency.

There are (only?) two major Eph connections among the 20 candidates in the debates. First, Beto O’Rourke is married to Amy Sanders O’Rourke ’03. Second, Cory Booker is an actual (honorary) Eph, having been awarded a degree in 2011. Both are in serious trouble, with a less than 7% chance (combined) of winning the nomination, according to the betting markets.

Are there other Eph connections to the other candidates? Family? Advisers?

What advice to our readers have for O’Rourke and Booker?

Booker’s best hope is to get most of the African-American vote in South Carolina. Kamala Harris is his main obstacle. He should attack her forcefully in the next debate (assuming they are on the same stage, and even if they are not).

My advice: Pick a fight over whether or not affirmative action (and reparations) should be restricted to #ADOS — American Descendants of Slaves. Should a recent immigrant from Nigeria — or the daughter of an immigrant from Jamaica — be eligible for the same benefits as someone whose ancestors were enslaved in the US?

I bet the vast majority of South Carolina African-Americans (and whites?!) think not . . .

Beto’s best bet is . . . uh . . . drop out and run for the Senate?

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Invitation Mystery

Charles Osgood invited Agnes Crossman to the 1904 Williams Commencement.

Are you an aspiring fiction writer? Craft the story of Charles and Agnes. We could serialize at EphBlog. Surely you recall the first book which started out as an EphBlog post series 15 years ago!

Which events from that graduation celebration should Maud Mandel bring back?

Let’s start by writing “base ball” instead of “baseball.”

By the way, there is a great Williams senior thesis to be written about the Cuban Giants and their time in Williamstown. Who will write it?

[Thanks to a family friend for passing this along.]

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Sawicki Report, 5

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 5.

This isn’t over until John Derbyshire speaks at Williams.

Consider this a public service message to the Williams administration. I, and the thousands (?) of other Ephs who value academic freedom and “uncomfortable learning” are pleased that Mandel has fixed Falk’s failure. But we are concerned. Has Williams really turned the corner on this disaster? Is the College really committed to this old/new policy? We hope so. But we can’t be sure until the policy is tested, until John Derbyshire, or someone just as “extreme” comes to Williams.

Why? Because I don’t want to fight this battle again in five or ten years. I want to ensure the supremacy of academic freedom at Williams for a generation. Some smart observers, like abl, believe that insisting on Derbyshire’s return is more likely than not to hurt the cause of academic freedom at Williams. Perhaps. But I have a more Marine Corps view of the world . . .

John Derbyshire speaking at Williams will shut down the speaker-banners for years. If Derbyshire can come to Williams — and somehow the College continues to thrive — then there is no reason why person X can’t come.

Given that fact — that Derbyshire is coming, one way or another — what should Williams do? Invite him, of course! It is much better that Derbyshire’s speech be organized (and controlled) by Williams than that it occur as a half-assed student-run disaster. There are many options:

1) Invite Derbyshire to give a stand-alone speech, ideally the same speech he was planning to give three years ago. (Derbyshire’s opinions about immigration are among his least problematic.)

2) Arrange a debate, perhaps using the format of the old Williams College Debate Union, between Derbyshire and a member of the Williams faculty, each partnered with a student. If Williams is smart, it would make the topic of the debate be something like: Trump should be re-elected. This will focus the discussion on topics on which Derbyshire’s opinions are positively mainstream. (A majority of white Americans will probably vote for Trump.)

3) Schedule a week-long conference on a broad topic, like “American Populism,” perhaps looking to Darel Paul’s course PSCI 360 Right-Wing Populism for guidance on topics and speakers. Derbyshire would speak, but he would just be one voice among many. There would be just as many critics of populism as supporters.

Again, it is not for me to pick the format. My only promise is that Derbyshire is coming to Williams, one way or the other. Better that the College embrace this latest bit of uncomfortable learning. Make Gaudino proud!

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Sawicki Report, 4

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 4.

One key message from the Sawicki Report: The kids are not alright. From the student survey:

20% supported speaker disinvitation

22% consider themselves or others to be disrespected or hurt when certainoutside speakers are brought to campus

19% responded that, by inviting a speaker to campus, Williams is implicitlyagreeing with that speaker’s beliefs.

It gets worse:

Is nonsense like “foolish white liberal thought” the result of poor high school educations or the fault of poisoning from social justice left Williams professors?

Maud makes the point that students today are different than students 30, perhaps even 10, years ago. They are much less committed to academic freedom. True! And shouldn’t that make us worried, both for the future of Williams and the future of the West? How long before we lose the traditional rights of every Englishman?

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Sawicki Report, 3

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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Sawicki Report, 2

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 2.

The two biggest failures of the report — given their recommendation that Williams, in essence, adopt the Chicago Principles — were to not discuss a) Mark Hopkins’ decision to ban Ralph Waldo Emerson from speaking on campus, and b) Robert Gaudino’s claims about the importance of “uncomfortable learning.”

1) The Report, while well-written in places, was disjointed, clearly the result of a committee, perhaps a committee which was not as united as it ought to have been. A better chair than Sawicki might have recognized this and used her power as chair to, at least, write an Introduction which told the story of Mark Hopkins and Ralpha Waldo Emerson.

That is from page 162 of ​Mark Hopkins and the Log by Professor Frederick Rudolph ’39. The Report cites this book, but did anyone actually read it? I have my doubts. How about?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most important thinkers of the 19th century, was banned from speaking at Williams in November 1865, by Mark Hopkins, legendary president and occupant of one half of the proverbial Log. For more than 150 years afterwards, Williams upheld the highest standards of academic freedom, never banning a book, an idea or a speaker. Are we a College which bans or are we not?

OK, OK. This is not so good. But it isn’t bad! And the basic idea — that a well-written description of the most important example of speaker-banning in Williams history is the best way to start the Report — is spot on. Indeed, whatever committee is charged with writing “a statement on expression and inclusion” should steal this idea. You’re welcome!

2) Robert Gaudino is the one of the most important faculty members of the last 100 years. But don’t believe me! Recall Adam Falk’s (?!) Induction Address:

Liberal education strengthens the mind and spirit so that a human being may more fully engage the world. Since Mark Hopkins’ time a string of Williams educators has further developed this idea. In the middle of the last century Professor Robert Gaudino pushed his charges to learn uncomfortably, in India, in rural America, in situations within the classroom and without that challenged the safe and familiar worlds they’d brought with them. If Mark Hopkins was the first professor to ask his students, “What do you think?” then Gaudino and others, including faculty of today, have raised the asking of that question, with all its implicit challenge, to a form of art.

Our faculty walk in the footsteps of Hopkins, Gaudino, and so many others.

Falk recognized, correctly, that Gaudino was one of the most important figures in recent Williams history, second only to Mark Hopkins in his influence on how Ephs think about themselves and about the education they receive. Gaudino’s notion of “uncomfortable learning” is central to the debate about free speech. This excellent article (pdf) from the Alumni Review provides a sense of what Robert Gaudino would do if a controversial speaker were invited to campus.

gaud1

And yet the Committee seemed not to know about this! There are no (meaningful) mentions of Robert Gaudino in the report, no acknowledgment that the very name of the student group — “Uncomfortable Learning” — that invited Derbyshire was a direct reference to his vision of a Williams liberal arts education.

What a missed opportunity!

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Jerry Coyne is a Fool

My co-blogger JCD approvingly quotes from this pile of nonsense from University of Chicago Professor Jerry Coyne. Sadly, our new experiment means that I can’t comment on JCD’s post. So, I need to post here.

Note that Coyne and I are on the same side of the barricade when it comes to free speech at Williams and Chicago. Yet his comments are too ignorant to let stand.

The committee’s statement does not constitute a policy.

This is simply false, as I explained in detail this morning. Williams has accepted the AAUP/PEN recommendation of allowing any Williams student/professor to invite any speaker. Admittedly, there is plenty of turgid prose and SJW verbosity in much of the report but such sins do not provide Coyne with free rein to mislead his readers.

Associate Professor of Biology Luana Maroja wrote a post calling for Williams to adopt the Chicago Principles of Free Expression, which have already been endorsed by 64 American colleges and universities.

This is highly misleading. I realize that Chicagoans, like Coyne, think that their “Principles” are super-duper cool but — News Flash! — schools believed in academic freedom before the Chicago faculty whipped up a poorly worded statement in 2014. Trying to claim credit for changing/strengthening/affecting the views of every other school is nonsense. The list that Coyne links to includes Amherst, and yet a search of the Amherst website reveals zero hits for “Chicago Principles”. How can then be if Amherst has “endorsed” it? Answer: It hasn’t! Amherst has its own statement. In fact, its statement references the AAUP, just like Williams’.

On some dimensions, it is a small thing for Coyne to not know which schools have approved the Chicago Principles and which have not. But he is holding himself out as someone with a clue about this topic, someone qualified to opine on what is happening at Williams. He isn’t.

The 13-person committee appointed by Mandel included just five faculty, as well as four undergraduates, a rabbi, a librarian, a staff therapist, and, bizarrely, the director of the 50th reunion program.

Don’t you just love Coyne’s snottiness? Jerry Coyne is an intellectual, a man with ideas. Mark Roberston ’02 (the director of the 50th reunion program) is a . . . what, exactly?

I happen to know Mark. He is every bit as smart, every bit as thoughtful as Coyne (appears) to (sometimes) be. In fact, I would much more trust Mark to get the facts correct. Coyne is, at least in this post, absurdly sloppy.

But the report isn’t great, as it simply won’t unqualifiedly endorse the Chicago Principles.

As if the Chicago Principles are so wonderful? As if the first page of ass-kissing quotes of former/current Chicago Presidents isn’t an embarrassment? Consider:

What folderol! What would it even mean to “endorse” such trivialities? Think that I am cherry-picking the worst paragraph in a two (!) page report? How about:

Of course, College presidents spout a lot of feel-good nonsense. It is a part of the job. But for Coyne to pretend that the “Chicago Principles of Free Expression” are some sort of magical tablet, brought down from the Mountain by the intellectual giants on the Chicago Faculty is just absurd. Mark Roberts ’02, despite (because of?!) his lack of a Ph.D., could come up with something much more impressive.

There are another half-dozen mistakes/misunderstandings/stupidities in Coyne’s post. Shall I go through them? Let me know!

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Sawicki Report, 1

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 1.

I agree with 90% of the report. Read it and you’ll know what I think. But that’s not why you come to EphBlog! What follows are all the usual quibbles, complaints, idle speculations and endzone dances . . .

The Sawicki Report recommends that Williams “[a]dhere to policies and principles regarding campus speakers articulated by AAUP and PEN America.” This is the most (only?) important recommendation. Once you have tied your policies to the free speech absolutists at AAUP and PEN, everything else is boring details.

May I take a victory lap?

1) Maud has done exactly what I advised Falk to do three years ago:

Smart presidents use committees! With luck, Falk has already learned that lesson in the debate over the log mural. He should follow the same strategy in dealing with free speech. Create a “Committee on Freedom of Expression at Williams.” Appoint a cross-section of faculty/students/alumni, but with a sotto voce emphasis on free speech. Charge the Committee with reviewing the history of free speech debates at Williams, meeting with members of the College community, and recommending policy going forward. Best person to put in charge? Philosophy Professor Joe Cruz ’91.

This is precisely what Maud did, although she used a different professor of philosophy (Sawicki instead of Cruz) and a different committee name. (The key sotto voce free speechers on the committee were Strauch, Shanks and (maybe?) Nelson and Sawicki herself.)

2) I predicted this outcome last fall. Maud wanted to move Williams back to free speech. She followed EphBlog’s advice — actually the same advice would have been given by any knowledgeable observer of elite education — and, unsurprisingly, succeeded. Well done!

3) Kudos to abl who wrote:

If I were trying to engineer a committee to achieve my desired result, I would stack it with faculty members who I know agree with my position and students who don’t (but aren’t so entrenched to be unpersuadable–like students who have signed the petition but not taken more of a public role in the issue), and hope to get to a “bipartisan” proposal that relies on persuading the students in question.

Which is exactly what happened. (I was, incorrectly, much less sanguine about the Committee’s likelihood of success.) Although student members Michael Crisci ’21 and Rachel Porter ’21 had signed the student/alumni position against the Chicago Principles, Shanks/Strauch/others were able to bring them around.

4) Note that reliance on AAUP, first (?) suggested by EphBlog in February.

The best way to solve the controversy over “free speech” (and controversial speakers) at Williams is to reframe the discussion around one of our core values: academic freedom.

First, every Williams faculty member will agree that every Williams professor deserves untrammeled “academic freedom.”

Second, every Williams faculty member will agree that the best definer and defender of “academic freedom” is the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Academic Freedom -> AAUP -> All Invited Speakers Welcome

And so on. Did Sawicki get this idea from EphBlog? I don’t know. Great minds think alike, after all. But I did send it in via the Committee’s handy submission form . . . and note this line from the Report:

Given that no one has written more words, read by more students/alumni/faculty, about free speech at Williams over the last three years, at least one footnote to EphBlog would have been nice. But we will take what we can get!

4) Apologies for the navel-celebration. But this has worked out exactly how we wanted, in exactly the manner we forecast.

And that is why — I hope! — you read EpgBlog . . .

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Free Speech Wins at Williams

John Derbyshire will be coming to Williams.

BREAKING NEWS: Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, free speech has returned to Williams.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion — chaired by Professor of Philosophy Jana Sawicki — has issued (pdf) their final report. Key paragraph:

In the absence of an institutional statement on the foundational values of intellectual and academic freedom, the College has aimed to follow the guidelines of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). These hold that academic freedom affords faculty members unfettered discretion in inviting speakers to campus, and that students, too, should be able to “invite and hear anyone of their own choosing,” as long as the events are “conducted in a manner appropriate to an academic community.” Current Williams policies for speaker invitations are consistent with these guidelines.

There is a lot of material here. Should I spend one, two or three weeks going through it? Reader preferences sought!

Td;dr: Hooray, Maud! The old policy at Williams — the Falk Rule — was that the Williams College president could ban speakers. The new policy — the Mandel Rule? — is that any Eph (including staff?) may invite any speaker.

And that is just what EphBlog has always recommended.

UPDATE: See below for Maud’s message.

For branding purposes, I vote that we go with “The Sawicki Report.” This is a nice parallel to the two other most important documents out of Williams in the last twenty years: The MacDonald Report and The Dudley Report.

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A Six Month Experiment

EphBlog is like a keg party at Perry.

And I am the host.

What do I want? A fun party for everyone, with intellectual conversation, a little music, a lot of dancing and the moderate consumption of adult beverages.

But parties are tricky! I want everyone to be (and feel!) welcome, to have a good time, to come back next week. Yet, conflicts will arise. Some people want the music louder. Some want it quieter. Some want no music at all. The balancing act falls to me, as it has for last 6,013 or so days.

Which bring us to my co-blogger, former Williams professor John Drew (JCD). His contributions to EphBlog, while enjoyed by me and others, have caused great consternation among many people who I very much want at my Perry kegger. What to do?

With JCD’s kind indulgence, we will be running an experiment for the rest of 2019.

1) JCD will continue as a valued author at EphBlog, posting content directly related to “All Things Eph,” just as he has done for many years. Indeed, I think his last 20 or so posts have been exactly what EphBlog needs more of.

2) JCD will turn comments off on his posts. (Any author can turn off comments at any time on their own posts. It just seems to me that the comment threads in JCD’s posts have . . . uh . . . not always been very productive.)

3) JCD will not comment on any other posts. As much as I enjoy most of JCD’s posts over the last few months, his comments have . . . uh . . . not always captured the spirit of a good Perry party.

4) Comments about JCD will be deleted. There is nothing new that anyone could possible say on this topic that has not already been said before. Good parties are never boring.

What if JCD posts something that either a) you want to talk about or b) you think is wrong/misleading? You have three options. First, you can join EphBlog as an author! Authors write about whatever they want. Second, you can make a comment in another thread. Third, you can ask me to create a new post about the topic on which all might comment, as I did here, in reaction to this comment. But don’t forget Rule 4 above!

Comments on this (and predictions about) this experiment are welcome! But don’t forget Rule 4 above!

Picture from the Williams Record of September 13, 1988.

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KC Johnson on Oberlin

As a follow up to JCD’s post below (and to WW’s interest in a discussion location), here is a snippet from former Williams professor KC Johnson’s article about Oberlin:

The story, by now, is well-known. A few days after Donald Trump’s election, an underage black Oberlin student attempted to purchase a bottle of wine. The white proprietor of a local store, Gibson’s, refused to sell the wine, prompting the student to try and shoplift it. He and two friends fled the store with the proprietor in pursuit. The arrests of the students prompted protests by other Oberlin students suggesting that the shoplifters were innocent (they weren’t) and that Gibson was racist (it wasn’t).

A senior Oberlin administrator, Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, joined in the protests. The college ceased purchasing goods and services from Gibson’s—causing the victims of a crime economic harm. And after the college refused to apologize or release a statement denying Gibson’s racist intent, the store, and its owners sued.

Both sides presented mounds of evidence in the 11-day trial. But three items especially stood out.

First: Raimondo maintained that she was a neutral observer at the protest, acting in her official capacity as an Oberlin administrator and only seeking to safeguard the First Amendment rights of the student extremists. But testimony at the trial showed Raimondo handing out flyers denouncing Gibson’s as racist, indicating that she (and through her, the college) endorsed the protesters’ message. Raimondo was also subjected to a brutal cross-examination in which she refused to concede that it was harmful to a business to be falsely accused of racist behavior.

Should we worry? Probably not.

1) Williams has such a strangle-hold on Spring Street that there are very few non-College owned properties for students to protest at. And students are not engaged enough to protest someplace further away.

2) Williams is a much more “conservative” institution than Oberlin, so this SJW nonsense is less a part of the administrative culture.

3) Steve Klass is about a million times smarter than Meredith Raimondo.

4) With Oberlin as an abject example, schools will learn their lesson.

5) Williams students are not nearly as left-wing as Oberlin students.

Or am a too sanguine?

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EphBlog Loves Love

EphBlog’s favorite member of the administration, Provost Dukes Love, continues his admirable commitment to transparency by posting all his presentation materials. The latest was “Opportunities for Impact: Supporting our Students (April 2019)” (pdf). Should we go through this report, or any of his others, in detail?

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Therapy at Williams

Being prejudiced against almost all non-faculty hiring at Williams, I was concerned that having 15 therapists on staff (as compared to, I think, only 5 a few years ago) was a bad thing, a sign of our ever-increasing college bureacracy. I was wrong, as this excellent student comment makes clear.

Assuming the questions about mental health services were asked in good faith:

-I believe a figure I’ve seen on IWS (Integrative Wellbeing Services, the official name for Williams’ mental health services) is that 1/3 of students make use of their services.

-I have no idea what is included in this. IWS offers a whole host of different opportunities to engage with their therapists: there’s regular scheduled therapy, as well as psychiatry, but also walk-in hours where you might go to discuss a one-off problem, as well as group therapy. I would imagine all these various types of engagement would be included in the engagement figure, but I don’t know.

-Regardless, it’s very much a significant portion of campus that engages with IWS.

-Getting anecdotal here and for the rest of the post: we are not, in my opinion, at the level of comfort on campus that I’d necessarily know if a given friend or acquaintance of mine had scheduled appointments with a therapist. What I can say is that, when awkwardly sitting in the waiting room for my therapist appointments, I’d always be rather surprised by who I’d see there; it was truly a cross-section of campus.

-A large number of the therapists employed by Williams are post-graduate fellows here for only two years. I imagine this is a pretty big cost-saving factor; it’s also the case that these fellows tend to make up more of the therapists of color and, of course, younger therapists, which are sometimes factors that students specifically request in being scheduled with a therapist.

-I truly may be misremembering, and this is again something where I don’t know what goes into the figure. But I believe, at my first meeting with my therapist, he told me that on average students who have recurring therapy sessions will end up using about 10 sessions of therapy. Theoretically, however, therapy sessions are unlimited. This is very much not the case at other schools; at several of my friends’ Ivy League institutions, students will get something like 6 sessions during their entire time at the school, before they’re forced to seek off-campus care. I personally have very much benefitted from knowing that I had access to as many sessions as I needed during my entire time at Williams. I went through semesters of seeing and not seeing a therapist, dealing with different issues, switching therapists as needed. I was incredibly grateful that I didn’t have to also worry about budgeting out my therapy.

-The argument that students won’t have this level of therapy in the “real world” and thus shouldn’t at Williams, is absolutely absurd. First–isn’t a frequent selling point of Williams that, here, students have easy access to things they won’t have such easy access to for the rest of their lives, such things being not only academic (easy access to professors, libraries, etc) but also social (easy access to all friends living within five minutes of you, etc)? Second–therapy isn’t some rare and impossible thing to find in the “real world.” It can be hard based on price, insurance, all that. But here’s the thing–because of the easy access to therapists I had at Williams, I realized how important regularly seeing a therapist is to my well being. As such, I’m going to make it a part of my life after Williams, moreso than I would have had I not had such access; I’ll set aside money, perhaps choose my health insurance plan, based on making sure I can see a therapist. I’ve also learned what I benefit from in a therapist (what styles of therapy, what traits I look for in a therapist in a way for me), because I could see as many different therapists as many times as I wanted. This is going to save me a lot of money that I otherwise would have wasted out there in that “real world” trying out therapists for several sessions only to realize they aren’t as beneficial as they could be.

1) Thanks to this student for taking the time to make this thorough comment. Do other readers have first hand experiences, good or bad, with IWS? Tell us about them!

2) You have convinced me! I am now comfortable with Williams having 15 therapists on staff.

3) As always, more transparency would be good. The Record ought to write about IWS and how it has changed over the last decade, and Williams ought to provide enough data to tell that story accurately.

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Erased from the Retelling

From the testimonies associated with the student/alumni letter to President Mandel about the English Department:

In 2008, I was harassed for a month by my entrymate and her friends who thought I called security one night during one of their parties. Following that night, each time they would have parties, they would repeatedly deface my white board hanging on my dorm door. This ultimately led to Nigger being written on the wall on my dorm with my marker and a penis drawn on the wall as well, with a matching penis being drawn on my whiteboard. Knowledge of this incident later sparked the campus-wide movement called Stand with Us, which led to what is now Claiming Williams. Despite the College “celebrating” Claiming Williams each year, my name, as well as the name of the known perpetrators has been erased from the retelling on the narrative, perpetuating the idea that this incident is part of the College’s past—a distant memory of less-inclusive times, used to demonstrate the College’s growth and current commitment to diversity. During my time at Williams, I was literally silenced—being told by the administration that I could not talk about the incident due to the “investigation.” I was later asked by the Williams newspaper to write an article about it, but was told that it had to be an op-Ed since the school wasn’t able to identify exactly who wrote Nigger on the wall. Co-opting my story to use it for its pedestal of “progress” and removing my name and the names of those who built the Stand with Us Movement is plagiarism. Removing the names of the perpetrators from the narrative gives them anonymity and protection and is yet another way the College demonstrates its commitment to protect the oppressor rather than expose and address the oppression. The power of the Stand with Us Movement was that knowledge of what happened to me sparked others to tell their stories. There were countless stories like mine because the issues lie not just with problematic students, but with a problematic system that reinforces the idea that behavior like that is allowed here. During my remaining years there, similar incidents continued to happened with both students and faculty of color. It baffles me how an institution filled with the brightest minds and experts in their fields can’t seem to figure out how to hold white people accountable and create larger, effective systems of accountability.

This note is unsigned, but it purports to be from Jacquelin Magby ’11 and to describe events which we have collected under the Willy E. N-word category. In terms of its impact on Williams, this was one of the most important events of the last 15 years. Worth reviewing in detail?

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Great Awokening, 10

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Last day.

In ages past, administrators and academics believed the mission of higher education to be the pursuit of knowledge (University of Chicago: “Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched”; University of Cambridge: “Hinc lucem et pocula sacra”) or even truth (Harvard University: “Veritas”; Yale University: “Lux et Veritas”). Today, they pursue Social Justice. Under that banner, anti-racist activists hope to do to higher education what Soviet communism did to fine art, literature and music. Under officially approved socialist realism, art was judged first and foremost by how well it depicted Soviet ideals, parroted Communist Party doctrine, and cultivated loyalty to the Soviet system. Not even science was exempted from serving a primarily ideological purpose during the thirty-year reign of Lysenkoism over Soviet biology and agronomy. Substitute critical race theory for Marxism–Leninism, whiteness for capitalism, and racial justice for dictatorship of the proletariat, and you will understand much of what the Great Awokening truly offers.

Would the Awoke of Williams disagree?

Just as critical race theory can destroy knowledge, it can likewise destroy institutions premised upon the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Thanks in large part to the influence of critical race theory, Evergreen State College melted down in Spring 2017. The concrete results of that meltdown included numerous faculty resignations, a catastrophic collapse in enrollments, layoffs, budget cuts and worldwide humiliation. Every institution of higher education should learn the lessons of Evergreen, for history is wont to repeat itself―the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Does this argument apply to Williams? I chatted with a Williams faculty member (not Paul) last week about the Evergreen comparison. I made the case that, however similar the woke rhetoric, Williams was unlikely to end up like Evergreen.

First, wokeness is affecting all of elite higher education. A student less interested in this attitude won’t find respite at Swarthmore.

Second, Williams is less woke than most of its peers. Indeed, we have always been among the most “conservative” institutions in elite education. (One could argue that the last 8 months show that this is changing. I bet not.) To the extent that there will be market movement away from the woke, we will benefit.

Third, wokeness has been with us for years, if not decades. The demands of the students who took over Hopkins Hall in 1969 were very similar to the ones that CARE Now made this year. Williams has been fine throughout.

Fourth, I have a great deal of (naive?) faith in the “hard men” of Williams, the ones who would step forward and prevent SJW nonsense from permanently hurting the institution. Ephs like Greg Avis ’80, Michael Eisenson ’77 and Andreas Halvorsen ’86 have a lifetimes worth of making tough decisions. They would not shirk from doing what needs to be done. I have the same (naive?) faith in the two hard women who now run Williams: President Maud Mandel and incoming Trustee Chair Liz Robinson ’90.

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Great Awokening, 9

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 9.

Sensoy and DiAngelo identify whiteness as the primary barrier to hiring non-white faculty in North American higher education. They use the term whiteness as a label for “a range of unnamed and exclusionary institutional practices” that are “intrinsically linked to dynamic relations of white racial domination.” Never mind that whites make up the same percentage of US college and university professors as they are a percentage of the general population, while persons of Asian descent make up 11% of all professors, despite being only 5% of the country’s population.

1) Again, this article (pdf) is not just (only!) some random SJW nonsense. It was distributed by Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell to Williams professors.

2) Imagine that Buell distributed an article entitled ““We Are All for Diversity, but . . .”: How Faculty Hiring Committees Reproduce Jewishness and Practical Suggestions for How They Can Change.” That might lead to some interesting conversations!

3) My sense is that the Williams faculty is at least 11% Asian, although I can’t find the latest data.

Paul continues:

Sensoy and DiAngelo are nonetheless intent to “unsettle whiteness” and disturb, not only in order to promote the hiring of job candidates of color but to radically transform the university itself. Practices of whiteness they seek to unsettle include:

“research in the form of peer-reviewed journal publications and the acquisition of grant monies … [as] barometers of the most-valued work driving salary and career progression”;

“White European enlightenment epistemology … the privileging of particular forms of knowledge over others (e.g. written over oral, history over memory, rationalism over wisdom)”;

“a call for a general position in any field … [this] reinforces the idea that some aspects of the job are core, foundational, and thus presumed neutral, while other aspects are additional, extra, and specialized”;

“counting only candidates’ output (the number of publications) and not input (the time it takes to build the relationships that grant access) … such as relationships with communities and activism/advocacy work”;

“the discourse of merit”;

“bas[ing] quality solely on factors such as the tier of publication … Might we instead consider research that does not further the cause of racial justice to be, in fact, lesser quality research?”

In the view of Sensoy and DiAngelo, none of these practices seek out academic quality on fair and objective, if debatable, grounds. They are instead the socially constructed racist values of white culture and, for that reason, must at minimum be unsettled and at maximum abolished. Sensoy and DiAngelo want “traditional fields” with their “old classifications” to be swept up into “forward thinking” through “an interrogation of … disciplinary fields and their borders.” As they “decolonize predominantly white university campuses”―aka “white/settler–colonial institutions”―and pursue the “decolonization of the academy,” Sensoy and DiAngelo call for a transvaluation of all academic values. Their aim is to eradicate the traditional mission of academia and the nature of the academic life. Their goal is to turn the decolonized university into a radical fundamentalist sect.

Would Denise Buell be willing to engage Darel Paul in a public debate?

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Great Awokening, 8

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 1.

Whiteness and the Violence of Critical Race Theory

Decolonization intends to uproot Western academia’s supposed foundational characteristic: whiteness. According to critical race theory, whiteness is the social construction of white culture as socially normative. White supremacy, an unequal race-based distribution of power and resources, naturally follows. In the words of well-known activist-scholar of Whiteness Studies Robin DiAngelo, whiteness is a “racist worldview” into which all white people are socialized and effects “an unequal distribution of basically everything between people of color as a whole and white people as a whole.” The evil of whiteness animates the views of anti-racist student activists: “Whiteness is the most violent fuckin’ system to ever breathe!” (Evergreen); “I charge the white man with being the greatest murderer on earth” (Williams);

Paul does not provide a link, but this is a famous quote from Malcolm X. Was it included as part of one of Kyle Scadlock’s ’19 guerilla art projects?

“We demand that the College offer classes that embody intersectionality, as defined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and address the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community instead of centering whiteness” (Sarah Lawrence). Never mind the superior performance of Asian students on white standardized tests, the strong overrepresentation of Asians in white supremacist higher education, that fact that Indians are the United States’ highest income ethnic group or that Nigerians are one of the most successful new immigrant groups in the country.

Exactly right. The average SAT score of Asian-American students at Williams is 1520, higher than white students. I also suspect that Asian-Amnericans have higher GPAs at Williams, but I have not seen any data.

College administrators, too, have taken up the task of decentering whiteness, helping their white faculty and staff in “processing whiteness” (Williams),

The link which Paul provides does not work. I suspect he is referencing this:

Processing Whiteness

Organizers: Ruby Solomon, Integrative Wellbeing Services; Seth Wax, Chaplain’s Office; Gail Newman, Professor of German

The Processing Whiteness group will provide opportunities for faculty and staff to analyze and understand white identity, white privilege, and racism in a supportive environment that focuses on the experiences of the participants. Through a series of facilitated discussions, the group aims to help participants learn to speak about the historical and contemporary implications of white identity, examine race and racism, identify implicit bias and feelings of shame, and explore and practice allyship and interrupting racism.

Is that a parody I just made up of Williams wokeness? Or reality? You make the call!

Paul continues:

“unpacking whiteness” (University of New Hampshire), conducting “conversations in whiteness” (University of Michigan), “understanding your whiteness” (University of Iowa) and “understanding and unlearning whiteness” (Evergreen). In a 2017 article in Harvard Educational Review, DiAngelo and her co-author Özlem Sensoy (both PhDs in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington) lay out what in their view whiteness is and how it operates in US and Canadian academia. The focus of their article is how whiteness is supposedly reproduced through faculty hiring and how that process may be interrupted. Thanks to its anti-racist frame, this article has, not surprisingly, become quite popular among American college administrators. In fact, it came to my attention because my own Dean of Faculty distributed it for my edification when I recently served as chair of a departmental hiring committee.

Denise Buell might be the most woke Dean of the Faculty in NESCAC. And I bet that she would consider that a compliment!

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Great Awokening, 7

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 7.

Racist violence on campus is said to go deeper still. Anti-racist activists claim its foundation is the very curriculum and pedagogy of the university: “the question of what counts as ‘good literature’ or ‘good art’ is not easily separable from feelings of exclusion from a majority culture of privilege and ‘value’” (Williams);

Check out that link! It goes to the Faculty-Staff Initiative Final Report of 2009 (pdf). These claims are not just made by some radical student fringe. They are core beliefs of many (most? almost all?) Williams faculty and administrators.

And maybe they are right! Certainly, if teachers have been telling non-white students (for their entire lives!) that Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dante are “white” and can’t really speak to the experiences and hopes of non-white people, it would hardly be surprising if those students came to Williams with “feelings of exclusion” toward Western classics. That does not strike me as a good thing.

How long until those names are sand-blasted off the front of Stetson/Sawyer?

Maybe we can keep Homer (brownish?) and Cervantes (Hispanic?) . . .

Side note: Had a conversation with some faculty about the Katie Kent ’88 and Dorothy Wang dust-up. Their comment was that if Katie had not been the one accused of racism, she would have been leading the charge against whomever was accused. Fair?

More from Paul below, and you really ought to read the whole thing!

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Great Awokening, 6

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 6.

Speaking with anti-racists and engaging terms such as racism and violence involves entering an interpretative thicket. When the boundaries of racism expand to include the statements Make America Great Again (Skidmore College) and It’s OK to be white (Bates College, the latest of dozens of examples of this form of trolling) and the dictates of cultural appropriation forbid white people from teaching yoga (University of Ottawa) and performing Indian dance (American University), one despairs of ever extricating oneself from the entanglements of meaning.

Indeed. Again, if I wanted to make trouble at Williams, I would first put up a bunch of posters “It’s OK to be black.” Nothing bad would happen! Then, in the same locations, I would put up posters “It’s OK to be white.” Williams would melt down, as Northwestern has under former Williams President Morty Schapiro’s leadership.

Also, recall the saga of The Taco Six.

Sadly, I don’t know nearly as many of the details of the Taco Six (fall 2014) as I should. (See here for excellent discussion and debate.) I think that the students were never “punished” by the College except to the extent that they were threatened/tortured by the Dean’s Office. (In many of these cases, the process itself is the punishment.)

Woke culture came to Williams before the Fall of 2014, but the Taco Six is still one of its earliest and clearest manifestations.

More from Paul below:

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Great Awokening, 5

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 5.

Thankfully, this seems to still be a minority response to requests for evidence. A more common one is that campus racial violence skeptics listen. Both at Yale and Evergreen, white male professors at the center of the campus storm were repeatedly told to listen and repeatedly accused of failing to listen. At Williams, all faculty have been encouraged to “be listeners. Talk less, listen more.” This is an exceedingly reasonable request. Before skeptics, in particular, speak, they should indeed first spend time listening to protesters. But many do listen. Nicholas Christakis spent hours on the Silliman College quad at Yale listening to (and speaking with) student protestors, and many more hours in structured listening sessions. Bret Weinstein attended hours upon hours of meetings of both faculty and students in which he mostly listened―and during which he was openly pilloried as a racist. So what exactly does listen mean in the context of the Great Awokening?

Via Steve Sailer, I think this photo captures what CARE Now has in mind for professors like Darel Paul.

From listening to a great deal of anti-racist discourse, my strong sense is that listen means two rather different things. Its first meaning is eminently fair and consistent with the everyday meaning of the word: to listen means to hear my story. Minority students and faculty are keen for white students and faculty to listen as they describe their experiences. Experiences are not only external and material but also, and even more so, internal and mental, and thus involve both actions and emotional reactions. Both together make up the story being told. To listen also includes doing so attentively with neither defensiveness nor interruption. I submit that every person of goodwill should do as much.

Agreed. But listening is a two-way street. I am happy to listen to you for X minutes, in precisely this manner, as long as you are willing to listen to me for X minutes. If you think that only your views are worth listening to, then . . .

Listen does not end there, however. A second meaning is attached to the first and follows in its wake. One heard this clearly on the Silliman College quad at Yale University in 2015. Students who were upset over Christakis’s defense of the position that students should police their own Halloween costume choices through “self-censure” and “social norming,” rather than submit to “bureaucratic and administrative” control asked for—and received—an apology for hurting their feelings and causing them pain. This was not enough. Students further demanded an admission from Christakis that both his wife’s original email and his own defense of that email were violent and racist. “Let us tell you if you’re being racist,” said one student. Another insisted, “Empathy is not necessary for you to understand that you’re wrong. Even if you don’t feel what I feel ever, even if nobody’s ever been racist to you―’cause they can’t be racist to you―that doesn’t mean that you can just act like you’re not being racist.” If Christakis had truly listened to those students at Yale, he would have accepted their definitions of racist and violent. He would have endorsed their interpretation of the world as socially normative. Because he refused to do so, one student concluded “all I see from you is arrogance and ego … You are not listening! You are disgusting! I don’t think you understand that.”

Exactly right. The way that CARE Now can be sure that you have really — truly and with empathy — “listened” to them is if you agree with them. If you don’t agree with them, then, by definition, you never really listened.

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Great Awokening, 4

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 4.

The Evidence of Racist Violence

Charges of violence are the most serious that can be leveled against an institution and a community. Therefore they should be supported by the most clear and compelling evidence possible. It is precisely here that anti-racist campus activists fall woefully short. Former Evergreen State College biologist Heather Heying observes “we keep on hearing that we are an incredibly racist institution and we have yet to hear any credible evidence for racism here on campus.” This gulf between personal experience and publicly available evidence is at the heart of the disagreements over racism on campus today.

This is a recurring theme at EphBlog. A large percentage of the “racists” incidents at Williams over the last 20 years — perhaps even a majority — have been “hate hoaxes,” incidents in which an Eph sympathetic to leftwing and anti-racists views stages an attack to appear to have been committed by a racist. The most dramatic of these was the 2011 “All Niggers Must Die” graffiti in Prospect House by African-American/Hispanic student Jess Torres ’12. The Record has never reported on this fraud and the College, to this day, continues to insist that this was an actual hate crime.

Adam Falk’s pathetic response to that nonsense was the first clear evidence that he was dramatically out of his depth as Williams president.

Part of the communication problem is rooted in anti-racist discourse. Activists often speak in emotionally charged generalizations: “we want to dismantle anti-blackness campus-wide” (Evergreen); “injustices [are] imposed on people of color by this institution on a daily basis” (Sarah Lawrence); “We, however, simply ask that our existences not be invalidated on campus” (Yale); “We charge this man with the destruction of black existence on this campus” (Williams). When asked what evidence supports these judgments, an increasingly popular response is to rule such questions out of bounds on the grounds of racism: “To ask marginalized students to throw away their enjoyment of a holiday, in order to expend emotional, mental, and physical energy to explain why something is offensive, is — offensive” (Yale); “We hold the truth of discursive and institutional violence to be self-evident.” (Williams); “accept the grievances of faculty of color without question” (Williams). According to former Evergreen State College biology professor Bret Weinstein, he was told by one of the most radical faculty of color at the college “to ask for evidence of racism is racism with a capital R.” Why? “We must stop asking them because we are inflicting harm on them asking for evidence.” Philosopher Nora Berenstain has invented a name for such evidentiary requests: “epistemic exploitation.” From such a perspective, blind faith is the only acceptable response.

Exactly right.

Darel Paul is the most prominent critic of this trend on the Williams faculty. Who are its most prominent/eloquent proponents? Which faculty members should we be reading to get the other side of the debate?

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