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The new Williams Inn

The new Williams Inn had opened a little over 2 weeks ago. According to the above article:

The new Williams Inn is set to open with fewer rooms — the old inn had 125 rooms, the new one has 64 rooms — and more amenities, including 55-inch flat-screen televisions and Euro top beds in rooms that sport brilliant views of Spring Street and the surrounding hills. Each room also sports an assortment of energy-saving technology.

After more than a year of work, the $32 million steel and concrete structure now stands three stories tall, with about 58,000 square feet of interior space.

The structure is designed in three sections: the main house, bunk house and barn. The main house section includes the main check-in and greeting area on the ground floor with guest rooms above. The bunk house includes event space on the first floor and rooms above. The barn includes the bar/restaurant on the ground floor and guest rooms on floors two and three. The three sections can be distinguished with three different architectural styles and different siding, with red barnwood-style siding for the restaurant. There will be 64 rooms, including four suites on the top floor.

Connection with the outdoors figures prominently in the hotel’s aesthetic:

Scenic views are available from any window, and expansive windows are featured in the restaurant and event space. Panoramic views of the Spring Street corridor and much of the Williams College campus grace most of the guest rooms, which are all on the second and third floors.

Hurley said there was a fine focus on tying the interior into the exterior landscape with expansive windows and interior design and artwork.

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“A Victory for Free Speech…” (Commentary Magazine)

Reason Shall Prevail

The magazine Commentary has published an article about Williams titled “A Victory for Free Speech at a Liberal College”. Commentary is a very conservative news source, and the author of this article seems to be a free speech absolutist. The article itself is an interesting read. The author seems to view the committee report in a favorable light. What are people’s thoughts on it?

The full text is below:

Read more

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New Garfield House Residence Hall

Williams College Hosts Tour of New Residence Hall

Garfield House One of Two Passive Houses in State

The construction of the new Garfield House, replacing the old one, is complete. This was the rationale for replacing the old Garfield House:

The original Garfield House was built in 1850 and purchased by the college in 1924. In 2016, a nine-person committee convened by the college determined it would be too costly and inefficient to renovate that structure for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the college’s sustainability goals.

This is the nine-person committee’s full report (an interesting read):

https://facilities.williams.edu/files/2016/11/Recommendation-of-the-Committee-MD-edit-1.pdf

The report describes the old Garfield House as being “the least desirable residence hall on campus”.

When it opens, the new Garfield House “will be one of only two residence halls in Massachusetts to meet the energy-efficiency standards of the Passive House Institute US”. Additionally, the new Garfield House “is built to LEED Gold standards and reflects Williams’ commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse emissions”.

 

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“Privacy in the Digital Age” (Williams Magazine)

Privacy in the Digital Age

A cool article in the latest issue of the Williams Magazine that discusses how “four alumni are leading efforts to make sure new technologies don’t infringe on our civil and constitutional rights”.

Four Williams alumni are wrestling with these kinds of questions, raising awareness and holding public officials and purveyors of big data accountable. Jameel Jaffer ’94, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, focuses on freedom of speech and of the press in the digital age. Rachel Levinson-Waldman ’95, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, studies issues related to government and law enforcement’s use of surveillance. Andrew Guthrie Ferguson ’94, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, researches predictive policing and whether Fourth Amendment protections include the data on our devices. And Jay Stanley ’89, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), works to uncover emerging technologies that have the potential to prey on personal privacy.

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In Defense of the DPE Requirement

(First off, sorry I didn’t post yesterday! I was traveling. I’m posting today to make up for it.)

Jerry Coyne recently wrote about the “Difference, Power, and Equity” (DPE) course requirement at Williams. Predictably, he used it as an example of excessive “wokeness”. While I still strongly question his motives in continually targeting the College and its students with hyperbolic language, I don’t think there’s much of a point in discussing them. He’s already banned Ephblog on his site and engaged in name-calling, after all. Rather, his blog post on DPE drew the course requirement to my attention and I thought it would be interesting to discuss and debate.

DPE requirements are not unique to Williams. I did some research on schools similar to Williams found that the following institutions all had some variation of the DPE requirement:

– Dartmouth College (Culture and Identity)
– Bowdoin College (Exploring Social Difference)
– Pomona College (Analyzing Difference)
– Colgate University (Communities and Identities)
– Hamilton College (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies)
– Davidson College (Cultural Diversity)

There are probably more, but I was too tired to find them. I was surprised to find that some of the colleges above had such a requirement given that they can lean more conservative, but then again, a college leaning conservative relative to its peers doesn’t mean much. Williams, for example, is more “conservative” than its peer LACs but is liberal as an institution.

I am personally in favor of the DPE requirement. It’s not an extra course that one has to take in addition to others; it can be fulfilled by any course that examines certain themes. This is the list of fall courses that fulfill the requirement. Since we live in an increasingly diverse nation and an increasingly globalized world, it only makes sense that students learn about non-Western cultures, underrepresented voices in academic fields, etc. It’s important to graduate college with an open mind as well as an awareness of the workings and experiences of other communities. What do you think?

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“PEN America Applauds ‘Well-Formulated’ Guidelines on Campus Free Speech…” (pen.org)

https://pen.org/press-release/new-well-formulated-campus-free-speech-policy-by-williams-college/

PEN America responded favorably to the committee report at Williams in the press release linked above:

“This is a well-formulated document which offers solid recommendations for future policies and their implementation. We are gratified that our work proved useful to the Committee and hope that these new Williams guidelines provide a solid foundation for the firm defense of free speech and open discourse in the years to come.”

The press release emphasized the importance of prioritizing inclusion along with free speech:

“…we read its report to affirm an unshakeable dedication to precepts of academic freedom and protection for speech, while going beyond that to reflect how these values can be robustly defended in the context of the College’s principled commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion.”

Importantly, PEN America pointed out that it can be beneficial for colleges to form their own policies rather than adopting the policies of other institutions, such as the Chicago Statement:

“We have also recognized the need for institutions to develop their own policies through deliberations that engage students, faculty, administrators, and staff and yield results that enjoy a sense of ownership across the campus community. Williams has modeled such an approach.”

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“On Campus Activism: From the Summer 2019 Williams Magazine”

Link to a column that the president wrote for the 2019 summer issue of the Williams Magazine:

https://president.williams.edu/articles-2/summer-2019-report-on-campus-activism/

 

This section stood out to me in particular (emphasis mine):

“I absolutely think Williams needs to teach people to voice strongly held views in constructive ways. That lesson is best learned within a community broad enough to accommodate conservatives and radicals, believers and agnostics, creatives and critics. Disagreement, in such a culture, should fuel intellectual vitality.

 

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Williams College reigns supreme in Division III sports (MassLive)

https://www.masslive.com/sports/2019/06/williams-college-reigns-supreme-in-division-iii-sports.html

From the article: “Williams College has a seven-year winning streak in Division III national competition for the Learfield Directors Cup, emblematic of athletic supremacy.”

I didn’t see a post about this yet, and since it’s already been three weeks since it happened, there was no point in waiting to post about it.

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Williams College To Pursue “Strong Pro-Speech Policies And Principles”

https://www.wamc.org/post/williams-college-pursue-strong-pro-speech-policies-and-principles

An interview that might interest people.

 

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On Dr. Coyne’s response to the free speech report

I made a comment on DDF’s post “Jerry Coyne is a fool” regarding why I also disagreed with the way Dr. Coyne had portrayed the report. DDF suggested that I put it up as a post so more people would read it, so here it is:

“I’d probably want to start with how he misrepresents the intent of this report. It’s not a policy statement, it’s a consolidation of collected data and information that is meant to inform the drafting of a policy statement.

IMHO, Coyne uses events at Williams simply as a vehicle to further promote the Chicago principles above all else. His posts about the College follow a certain pattern: summarize what has happened, discuss the amazingness of the Chicago principles even if they are only tangentially related, and then finish by implying that Williams will cease to function if it doesn’t adopt those principles. Never mind that applications to Williams continued to skyrocket during and after the PR debacle surrounding Derbyshire.”

Coyne and I probably hold very similar, if not identical, ideological stances regarding free speech. I just object to his agenda-driven misinterpretation of the report as well as the way he inaccurately asserts himself as an informed expert on campus culture at Williams. There are a lot of more minor issues, too, such as his intellectual snootiness and glorification of his own institution.

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The “Teach It Forward” Campaign–Where is it now?

The “Teach It Forward” campaign was launched by Williams in 2015. Ephblog had posted about this at the start of the campaign, but there haven’t yet been any follow-ups on the campaign’s progression. It’s useful to look at its results so far.

According to the TIF website, the college has raised $685.01 million so far, making TIF the most ambitious and most successful campaign “in the history of liberal arts colleges” to date. This value surpasses the $650 million target that was set initially. Alumni participation (in terms of donations) stands at 74.1%, just under the 75% target. Overall alumni participation (in terms of both donations and volunteering) stands at 85%.

It would be interesting to see how the college has spent and plans to spend the money it has raised. Have they released information to alumni regarding how much of the $685 million they have alotted to different areas of expense?

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