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Teach-in Details

I think its worth responding to David’s thoughtful speculations about the nature of the upcoming Focus the Nation teach-in on Tuesday.

Will the teach-in on global warming on Tuesday be any different? I doubt it, but I respect Morgan Goodwin a great deal. If any of the presenters argue that a) global warming isnt that serious a concern or that, b) however serious, there isnt much that we can do about carbon emissions via government fiat or c) that the most important human value is freedom and that you have no more right to control my carbon emissions than my speech or d) that Williams, as an institution, should have no more involvement with the political issues surrounding global warming than it does with those involved with fighting malaria, then I will be proved wrong. Perhaps TNG will surprise me with their open-mindedness and commitment to free-wheeling debate.

First, the numbers: Currently 92 professors are ‘participating’ in Focus the Nation. That means 15 professors will spend the entire class period on Monday or Tuesday discussing climate change. Another 9 will spend part of class time doing so. The majority will spend at least 5 minutes discussing why climate change is relevant, interesting or concerning to their discipline, and a final 12-15 have agree to make an announcement to their class about the day’s events and encourage students to attend panel discussions or the talk by Christopher Flavin. These numbers aren’t final, and we expect to cross the 100 mark tomorrow. Read more

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Hello Campus,

College Council was shocked and dismayed to learn of the use of racial slurs in Williams Hall this weekend and we are personally and deeply offended. We want to update you a little on the details of this incident and lay out a plan for what we’ll be doing in the near future to strengthen our community and deal with this incident and others like it.

What happened?

Over Friday night, ‘nigger’ was written on three posters in Willy E. Since the writing was found, two deans and Campus Safety have been working hard to find out as much about the incident as possible. When and if the students who did this are found, discipline will be at the discretion of the dean’s office. Any help that anyone can give on this matter should be directed to the anonymous tip line, either online or on the phone. (x4444 or http://www.williams.edu/admin/security) In addition, you are encouraged to seek out any trusted faculty or staff member and your information will be forwarded on.

What can you do?

We are also shocked to learn that there have been other incidents in Williams hall this year, as well as anecdotal evidence that says this type of incident is not rare. We want to raise this point now to show that there are many incidents that are not reported, but are still viewed by students as hurtful and malicious. We are asking you for your stories about things like this that you have experienced. If you have any stories to share, and don’t feel comfortable posting them on WSO or sharing them with your friends (or even if you do) please email me (08mjg) or Kim (08kmd). These stories will not be
made public, but will be read by a few all-campus leaders to help us address broader issues of community.

What will we do?

This incident is hurtful and alarming, but it is also an opportunity. We can focus the community around issues of respect, student citizenship and residential life, and have those late-night discussions with friends. We can think about how the college should deal with incidents like this and what sort of community we want Williams to be. There will always be those who take advantage of events like this to be divisive, but I can assure you that College Council will not allow this to create more conflict, and I encourage you all to help us work together for a positive solution.

Many schools have student run discipline boards, others have social honor codes. We want to engage the campus and ask, what can we do, both structurally and on a very informal level to foster respect and protect our community against harm.

College Council will address this type of process during the second half of our meeting on Wednesday night. Please come and share your views for a way forward. We will meet at 8:30 in the Henze Lounge (upstairs in Paresky).

Thank you for your concern,

Morgan Goodwin and Kim Dacres
College Council Co-presidents

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Global Warming Solutions and Herding Cats

FTN logo WilliamsHolding a big event at Williams is like herding cats. In an institution run by independent and motivated professors and administrators, getting collaboration and consensus is very difficult. That is why I’m very proud to announce plans for Focus the Nation, an event which really will capture the attention of the entire school, at least for a day.

A little background on Focus the Nation: conceived of and promoted by Eban Goodstein ’80, this day-long symposium for global warming solutions will take place at over 1500 schools, churches and businesses across the country. Held on Jan. 31st nationally, the eve of super Tuesday, the goal is to engage 5 million citizens in active and intelligent conversations about global warming solutions.

The classic problem in any sort of activism is that when you throw an event, only the people who are interested come. In order to address this age old problem, we’re going to the students. Starting in September, we embarked on a campaign to speak to every single faculty member individually and ask for some or all of class time on February 5th to discuss climate change from the stance of their department. To speak to over 300 faculty is a big project, and I applaud Meredith Annex ’11 and Martin Sawyer ’08 who have coordinated those efforts.

ftn logo nationalIts paying off. Currently over 60 faculty will use between 5 minutes and all of their class time to talk about where their passion for a better world intersects with their discipline and subject matter. And more new commitments are coming in every day. We’ve actually been surprised at how many faculty are genuinely eager to participate in an event that addresses a big issue and uses their particular strengths. Maybe it’s not that surprising after all.

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