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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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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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Canty ’88 on Banning Speakers, 4

John Canty ’88, a former op-ed editor of the Record and CIA agent, kindly sent along these thoughts on banning speakers at Williams. Relevant past discussions here and here. Last day.

Canty concludes with a series of questions. Allow me to answer them, as if I were an opponent of the Chicago Principles. (abl and other opponents should feel free to provide betters answers if they don’t like mine.)

I address the following questions to those opposed to adopting the Chicago Principles: Do you think your lives will be “echo chambers” where everyone will lie down supinely before your viewpoints?

No. What does that have to do with anything? We just prefer an approach in which speakers at Williams are “curated,” chosen by the College to maximize the quality of the education we receive. Is that insane? We expect to agree with some speakers and disagree with others. In fact, we disagree among ourselves every day, in every class. As best we can tell, you agree! You don’t want John Derbyshire to speak at Williams. We agree! And that means that both you and we reject the Chicago Principles.

If I disagree with you on free market vs socialism, are you so nervous about your position that you can’t stomach debating why socialism hasn’t worked in Cuba, Venezuela, or the Soviet Union?

Happy to debate! Have you ever taken an economics course at Williams? Let us assure you, many of our faculty (and our fellow students) are free marketers par excellence.

Do you think at age 20 you really have all the answers?

No. Do you have all the answers at age 53? We doubt it! We all want what is best for Williams. And you and we seem to agree that the adopting the Chicago Principles — which would necessarily allow hatred-spewers like John Derbyshire to speak at Williams — would be a mistake.

If McCarthyism of the 1950s was about silencing and purging leftist dissidents, is the McCarthyism of 2019 seeking to stifle legitimate debate by accusing conservative viewpoints of (pick your insult) “racist/homophobe/mysognist”?

Weren’t you the one who wrote “I have no problem with colleges banning speakers who are not spreading ideas but really spewing hatred?” We agree! Moreover, is “accuse” the right word? Do you disagree, as an empirical matter, that Jon Derbyshire is a racist? We think he is. And we think that racism, which is a particularly troublesome example of “spewing hatred,” has no place at Williams.

What objections do you have to the Chicago Principles?

The same as you! They require us to allow John Derbyshire to speak at Williams. You don’t want that. We don’t want that. The Chicago Principles require it.

Does Williams suffer or thrive from an environment of intellectual diversity and mutual respect?

Thrive! Again, we agree with you! How many times do we need to say it?

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Canty ’88 on Banning Speakers, 3

John Canty ’88, a former op-ed editor of the Record and CIA agent, kindly sent along these thoughts on banning speakers at Williams. Relevant past discussions here and here. Day 3.

Having sung the praises of the Chicago Principles, with their insistence on the importance of allowing speech which is “offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed,” Canty writes:

Please let me clear that I have no problem with colleges banning speakers who are not spreading ideas but really spewing hatred.

Arrrgh! No sentence could better illustrate everything that is wrong with out-of-touch alumni, muddle-headed American “conservativism” and the ideological drift of Williams College.

1) You can (intelligently!) believe that Williams should ban John Derbyshire or you can believe that Williams should abide by the Chicago Principles. You can believe the first (Hi abl!) or believe the second (Hi JCD!). But for Canty to profess both beliefs in a single essay is just nonsense.

2) Does John Canty ’88 have any objective way of deciding which speakers are “spewing hatred?” If so, he should share it with the rest of us! Needless to say (!), he doesn’t. He, like many alumni, just want their memories of Williams to lie undisturbed, shrouded in the gauzy haze of Purple Mountains majesty and beer-soaked fellowship. And that is OK! Alumni are free to leave the running of Williams to Maud Mandel and others, to leave the hard choices to her and the Williams Administration. However, at EphBlog, alumni incoherence will be treated just as ruthlessly as it would have been back in a Williams classroom.

Canty continues:

I understand former Williams College President Adam Falk’s decision to ban a lecture by John Derbyshire or University of California-Berkeley’s move to cancel a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos. But I have major problems with efforts by students to silence all opposing viewpoints. In all too many cases, students either have worked to rescind speaking invitations or to disrupt campus lectures, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Harvard University (2014), Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson at Georgetown (2016), acknowledged police scholar Heather MacDonald at Claremont-McKenna (2017), and respected social scientist Charles Murray at Middlebury (2017). (See Michael Bloomberg’s 2014 Harvard commencement address: “Don’t Major in Intolerance.”)

1) Yiannopoulos’s talk was cancelled. But then, after complaints, he did speak. Berkeley, after some backsliding, has abided by the standards expected, by the Supreme Court, of state institutions. Anyone invited is allowed to speak, even if they are “spewing hatred.”

2) Students don’t seek to “silence all opposing viewpoints.” They only seek to silence some of them. Just like Adam Falk! And you!

More from Canty below:

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Canty ’88 on Banning Speakers, 2

John Canty ’88, a former op-ed editor of the Record and CIA agent, kindly sent along these thoughts on banning speakers at Williams. Relevant past discussions here and here. Day 2.

Canty continues:

I never recall in all of this time anyone attempting to shut anyone else up.

Exactly right. Of course, it is dangerous to rely on faulty memories for testimony about the Williams of 30+ years ago. (And it is pathetic that the Record archives are not on-line so that we might investigate this claim.) But I agree with Canty that, back in the day, no one suggested that we ban speakers.

The news that my beloved Williams College and Williams Record (see December 5th 2018 editorial) are struggling with a move to endorse—as many other colleges and universities have done–the University of Chicago Principles of Free Expression is therefore personally appalling. Let me briefly recount the Chicago Principles. Like Williams, the University of Chicago has a long and honorable tradition of academic tolerance. Stemming from a number of controversies over recent years where colleges banned speakers from lecturing due to concerns with invading student “safety zones”, a panel of scholars released the Chicago Principles in 2015. University of Chicago Law School Professor Geoffrey Stone, an acknowledged First Amendment scholar, played a key role in drafting the statement, which the University of Chicago endorsed. The Williams Record December 2018 editorial spends far too much time dancing around who is for them and against them. Let’s just look at the Chicago Principles.

For further discussion, see my five part review of the Woodward report, Yale’s 1975 anticipation of the Chicago Principles.

More from Canty below:
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Canty ’88 on Banning Speakers, 1

John Canty ’88, a former op-ed editor of the Record and CIA agent, kindly sent along these thoughts on banning speakers at Williams. Relevant past discussions here and here. Day 1.

Friends, Romans, and Fellow Ephs–

Like many Williams students and alums, I am proud of the long tradition that Williams College has maintained for upholding high standards of academic freedom on campus. In the 1930s, Williams President James Baxter came under sharp public attack for the College’s decision to hire Marxist intellectual Max Lerner to the faculty; Baxter strongly defended the move as a classic example of the school’s commitment to defend free expression and divergent opinions.

1) I agree that “academic freedom” is the most effective frame for this discussion. Follow my advice in this post and the problem is solved.

2) Is that bit of history correct? I think of Baxter as much more famous for his defense of “Red” Fred Schuman. From 1948:

Although I am sure that Phinney would have defended Lerner against complaints, my sense is that Phinney’s primary motivations had little/nothing to do with “free expression.” Phinney wanted to raise the quality of the Williams faculty (and end the unstated taboo against Jewish faculty). From Jews at Williams:

Perhaps James McAllister could enlighten us about this history.

3) There is a great senior thesis to be written about Baxter’s efforts to upgrade the Williams faculty. Start here.

More from Canty below:
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Where’s My Safety?

There is so much going on at Williams that I am losing the ability to follow it all. Apologies to all our readers!

1) The above screen shot is from this flyer (pdf) that went up in Paresky last week. Does anyone have a higher quality version?

2) The College Council minutes (doc) are also filled with interesting material. Pick out your favorite parts and leave them in the comments. Example:

There are a lot of real concerns about equity here given the fact that there are sites like Canary Mission that was not at all mentioned in Lance’s first minute notes. That website was mentioned a variety of times specifically because its a giant website that a current student at Williams is on. Someone reported her due to her Jewish Voices for Peace activism. She is now on there. She can no longer enter the country of Israel because of that. When she is looked up by employers there is a website that says she is anti-semetic even though she is Jewish. It is a tricky situation here when one side of the debate is being attacked and surveilled and being nationally seen in this way.

Indeed, it is much more dangerous, at least from a career-perspective, to voice anti-Isreali positions than anti-Palestinian positions. Why would that be?

3) The WIFI controversy reminded me of this Claiming Williams session:

Unpacking Jewish Identity

This workshop for faculty and staff will provide participants with an opportunity to begin examining their Jewish identity and their Jewish privilege in a supportive environment that focuses on their own experiences. It will be one small step toward increasing effective dialogue about race, practicing allyship, and interrupting racism. Workshop facilitators will guide participants through a process of reflection that includes writing and small-group discussion with the goal of understanding racism in structural terms, and formulating some practical steps for more insightful living.

Does “Jewish privilege” strike readers as nonsense? Williams regularly features discussions of “white privilege.” Indeed, any successful group is, in this day and age, almost certainly benefiting from some sort of privilege.

4) The bad press caused by College Council refusing recognition to WIFI continues:

Scarborough has 2.5 million followers. Has a negative tweet about Williams ever been so broadly broadcast?

By the way, I made up one of the 4 points above. Can you guess which one without looking? And how many years before it turns into a reality?

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The Latest Postmodern Jargon: “Minoritized”

As DDF noted in a previous post, the subhead of the Record article editorializing in favor of affinity housing read:

Creating space for minoritized students

This is also the same language used in the CARE Now petition:

We demand increased support and safety for minoritized students on campus, which include students with disabilities, students of color, low-income students, queer students.

I suspect similarly to David that the intent of this word is to demonstrate this identity is something imposed upon the individual. It echoes the view that all ideas and language were socially constructed by those in power (probably the white man) to further establish that power hierarchy. This social constructivism thesis has a few important steps. It first presupposes that these ideas and identities are socially constructed (this is trivial; almost everything is socially constructed), then moves to claim that this construction serves external some purpose. Philosopher of science Ian Hacking handily describes this as a construction’s “extra-theoretical function.” In the case of “minority,” the word is perceived to have some purpose outside of its perceived meaning–namely, to assert power over the groups it describes. The notion of purpose, however, necessarily presupposes that there is an architect behind this construction, since purpose requires a rational agent. This is how we move from the fairly modest claim that the “minority” identity is, at least in part, socially constructed, to the claim that these identities were constructed by privileged parties to assert their power. Hence comes the need to reinvent the word “minority” to reflect its “true” significance as an identity forced upon a group.

The problem with the social constructivism thesis that, as I see it, lies behind this change in lexicon, is that it makes an unwarranted jump from acknowledging that ideas are in part socially molded to assuming that they were intentionally forged this way by malevolent beings of power. Is it not possible that the word “minority” serves the objective, mathematical purpose of describing a group that represents a small percentage of a population? It is absurd to subvert objective language used to assert mathematical facts with biased sociological analyses.

Perhaps this has all been a little tangential to most events on campus. Though confusing, it is ultimately not a problem if a group of students sometimes chooses to use a fancy invented word over a commonplace one. What is a problem is that these students embed a narrative into the semantics of every conversation they have, fundamentally redefining the logical playing field in which these discussions occur. This is a narrative of the oppressor and the oppressed, of the good and the bad. Choosing not to adopt this language may be perceived as insensitive and even unacademic, but ultimately it is an issue of supreme ideological importance.

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Inside the Purple Rubble

The College Fix is linking to an article at Inside Higher Ed which reports that the committee created by President Maud Mandel last fall to make the school “both intellectually open and inclusive” plans to “focus on persuading, not ordering, student groups to avoid controversial speakers.” According to the committee chair, Prof. Jana Sawicki:

The goal is to not restrict who can speak on campus but to prompt the students who invite those guests to consider whether they have academic value and whether individual speakers’ views would offend minority students or make them feel harmed, she said, adding that speakers brought on campus by student groups are generally the most controversial.

One idea the committee floated was involving faculty advisers to student clubs in more of the discussions about which speakers to invite to the campus, Sawicki said. If a student group wanted to host a controversial speaker, the adviser could talk with the club members about whether they’d thought through how the speaker’s views would affect their peers, she said. The advisers, who currently are not involved in club operations, would never stop the students from hosting a speaker they wanted, Sawicki said.

The committee’s recommendations strike The College Fix as unrealistic. How, for example, can the school promote freedom of speech if the goal is to not offend minority students who have shown themselves to be intolerant of the views of even their white, liberal, elected student council representatives? One student was so offended by having to ask for funding for a black preview event that she went back later and called the white student representatives “d***heads.” As The College Fix reports:

Black student activists at Williams College are no shrinking violets. They took over a recent student government meeting, unloading a string of vulgarities against elected student leaders for allegedly favoring white students with more funding than black students get.

They used anti-gay and even anti-black language, if you can believe it: “to be here [at Williams] is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day.” “We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***ing chicken and be n***ers.”

Williams College asks students not to invite speakers who ‘would offend minority students’

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CARE Now Demands

A fellow student commenter requested that I upload CARE Now’s 12-point request to President Mandel, emailed to the student body on April 17th. I won’t add anything to the discussion at this time, but I encourage all to read:
Letter to Maud

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Segregation Now!

Negative press for Williams College just got worse. Breitbart called national attention to the efforts of the editorial board of The Williams Record to promote segregated housing for black students on campus.

The editorial board for the student newspaper at Williams College is calling on the school implement racially segregated housing in order to make the college “a less harmful place” and become “a more inclusive institution.”

Williams College’s student newspaper echoed a proposal by a student group called Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), which called on the school to implement racially segregated housing in order to make the college “a more inclusive institution,” according to The Williams Record.

CARE Now had recently released a list of twelve demands in an open letter, which included calling on the school’s trustees to fulfill their “obligation to the well-being and safety of its students, faculty and staff” by separating minority students from the rest of the campus body in order “take steps toward becoming a more inclusive institution.”

Breitbart’s reporting appeared just as The College Fix published a link to a controversial video in which two black student activists demanded their activities be funded with minimal control or supervision by the majority white College Council.

As a prominent black student leader told the student representatives: “Sure we got the money. But we are sick and tired of having to beg, steal, barter, go into every f***ing office, suck some more d*** just to ask for some s***. That’s crazy. Just so we can get more community. We did not ask to interrupt this space. But you have some way of intruding in ours.”

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Culture of Open Antagonism

One of my favorite conservative blogsites, Instapundit.com, has helped spread the word about what Maud Mandel has referred to as a “culture of open antagonism” at Williams College. Glenn Reynolds posted:

They told me if Donald Trump were elected president, America’s institutions would become hotbeds of racism and hate. And they were right! Black students explode in anger at white students in vulgarity-laced rant (VIDEO).

Plus: “We try to create space for us, it don’t work. We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***king chicken and be n*****s for once, it don’t work. I just don’t get it.”

The folks who commented on Reynolds’ above post seem to a better grasp of the origins of this culture of open antagonism than she does.

The message, boiled down: “Give me money, and don’t ask any questions about it, or I’m going to brand you a racist.” These black students don’t ultimately care that they got the money. Instead, they are making a bid to rule the campus with fear.

This is the environment the Left is creating. It is ugly and chilling.

No one in the room had the decency to tell him his behavior was inappropriate and he should come back and speak when he calmed down? We are raising a generation of kneeling subjects…

 

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“Why Aren’t You Listening?” — Full Livestream Reupload

For anyone who cares about the past, present, and future of Williams College, this video is a vital historical document of campus life in 2019. College Council’s decision to remove it from their Facebook page was, I assume, an unfortunate concession to student activist demands that all this stuff be kept under the table. I’m a current student who luckily saved a copy of the livestream from that meeting just before they took it down this weekend.

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Listening at the Great Awokening

The great Darel E. Paul, professor of political science, published a well-researched and thoughtfully organized article at Areo on how the new identity politics has taken hold at schools across the nation. He connects the dots which show how identity politics has become a staple at schools as different as Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen State College and Yale.

Listening at the Great Awokening

Colleges and universities across the English-speaking world are caught up in the enthusiasm of a Great Awokening. Its dogmas are structural violence, systemic racism, racial stress, white privilege, white fragility, implicit bias and microaggressions. From the University of Missouri to Evergreen State College to Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, faculty and students are ablaze with the fire of social justice.

In Paul’s view, liberal arts colleges are particularly likely to get wrapped up in the dogma of critical race theory because they lack – by definition – traditional STEM programs like business, medicine, engineering and agriculture. He reports that predictably “…this spring the Great Awokening finally came to my home institution, Williams College.” Unfortunately for Williams, Paul writes that the school seems unpleasantly close to being another Evergreen State College.

Administrators and other campus leaders have encouraged white members of the college community like myself to listen. Over the past two months, I have striven to do exactly that. In fact, I’ve done quite a lot of listening (and reading). I have spent dozens of hours listening at meetings and reading copious documents produced by activist students and faculty. I have also watched videos and read documents resulting from the racial blowups at Yale University in 2015, Evergreen State College in 2017 and Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. Listening to these views from multiple campuses helped me realize that what seems to be a local discourse responding to local issues is actually a local manifestation of an international social, political and ideological phenomenon. All the accents and cadences of critical race theory can be identified. Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen and Yale could really be Any Residential College in Any Town.

Paul notes that the folks promoting critical race theory are ultimately leading us into a Soviet Union style educational system where truth matters very little. All that matters is whether research and teaching supports the dominant ideology.

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.

Areo is an opinion and analysis digital magazine focused on current affairs — in particular: humanism, culture, politics, human rights, science, and free expression.

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The Purple Rubble

The College Council has removed from its Facebook account a controversial video. This video captured an example of profane, incendiary, anti-white bigotry directed at white student representatives by one of the most prominent black student leaders at Williams College on June 9, 2019.

The video featured a long, stream-of-consciousness rant saying, in part, “…to be here is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day.”

“You want a discussion and dialogue. Here’s the f***ing dialog. We don’t have dialogue, because every time we try to talk to you we get shut down by the white moderate, white liberal bull***t.”

A link to the video was published on Ephblog on April 15, 2019. A partial transcript appeared at the Anonymous Political Scientist blog on that same day. Finally, The College Fix published a link to the video on April 19, 2019. The College Fix is a national-level conservative website where student journalists write on topics in higher education.

NOTE: A heavily redacted transcript of the June 9, 2019 meeting is still available at 4_9 Minutes.

According to the Williams Record, black student activists planned a demonstration to protest their treatment by the College Council. It was canceled, however, after links to the video rant were published at various on-line sites.

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Why Aren’t You Listening? – A Student’s Perspective

For those who have not seen yet, The College Fix published an article the other day on the recent College Council meeting, which featured an, er, interesting exchange between fellow students. The article contains a partial transcript and link to the video feed from the meeting.

We ought to frame this meeting in its larger context: Students requested money for a Black Previews event from CC. These students were questioned thoroughly about the nature of the event and the money requested. They were ultimately granted the money necessary. That is, these students went through the same process as all do when requesting money.

I can’t imagine anyone would regard navigating the bureaucracy of College Council to request funds a particularly delightful experience. Many clubs have been the cause of the creation of subcommittees to monitor their funding, and many, too, have seen their budgets slashed. Let us disregard, then, the fact that Black Previews is an event that merits its own debate–these black activists were angry because they faced the same process as every other student does, and they responded with what can only be described as the verbal abuse of their classmates.

There may be some very real problems with College Council, but to discuss these with the rhetoric of racism is irresponsible and exploitative: Irresponsible because it is a disservice to the real instances of institutional and intentional racism both on campus and beyond. Exploitative because it takes advantage of the social norms in place and the average student’s desire to be agreeable and, well, not racist. Any disagreement, any objection to this abusive diatribe would have immediately been deemed racist, and this was no subtlety in the rhetorical strategy of the two speakers. “You want to have free speech? You want to have a debate?” Isaiah says at one point. “You want to be racist? Say some s*** now.” They then correct themselves to say that their offer to respond was sincere, and when someone does respond to them–to express his remorse for their struggle–the activists proceed to liken the heads of their fellow students to a bunch of reproductive organs. Tough to respond when the person you’re talking to believes your speaking up (even if you’re on their side!) is also an indication of your being racist, and they respond with puerile (but perhaps still hurtful) insults.

What is most lamentable about this whole debacle, however, is that the students not only accept this kind of attack, but dignify it. One student cites the “moving” nature of the speech as a reason to discuss it further. Another merely says he is glad the activists received their money after the quality of his eyesight is called into question (“Are you blind?!”). Another claims the CC bylaws are violent to people of color. Dignifying students like these grants power to this type of discourse. Students at Williams have a responsibility to preserve a respectful exchange of ideas among a student body that contains some of the brightest minds of our generation. As the political climate becomes dominated by tactics of intimidation and antagonism, we sacrifice perhaps the most noble quality of our campus: its ideological diversity and the exchange of those ideologies.

It is a fascinating time of political discourse at Williams and similar institutions. Coming from a hometown that was plagued with conservative and religious dogma, I realize now the parallels between the radical left and evangelicals of the south. I do hope this is a short-lived fad rather than the beginning of a longer trend, though history would indicate otherwise.

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Why Aren’t You Listening?

Nishant writes:

Can we have a post on that crazy video that anon eph frosh posted? It needs multiple daily posts from David. I am serious.

Video here. (Is there a way to embed this? Or at least make it accessible for readers who don’t use Facebook?) The action starts, apparently, at the 30 minute mark. Here (doc) is a (heavily?) edited transcript.

Background seems to be a (successful attempt?) to get CC to partial fund some events at Previews this week which are focused on African-American admitted students. Alas, there were still some CC critics with more to say:

Isaiah: I know that the funding for this has already been supported, but I am appalled by how this was handled. *many expletives* I’m looking at this budget and I’m seeing all the ways white men are getting resources and community afforded to them, and whenever black students come and try to make spaces for students on this campus, we are stopped at every. single. Level.

Oluseyi: you, Tristan Whalen. Why aren’t you listening?

Isaiah: now we are writing. Every time we start speaking, ears close. *many more expletives* You have half a million dollars. How many % of the budget is black previews? .42% Every time we start talking to you we get shouted down by the white moderate, white liberals. You come here, you have $3billion dollars to your name. Why is CC not diverse? Because if we dare try to run, try to be in this space… we have to be with people like you. I just don’t get it. We keep our heads down. Yeah, we got the money, but we are tired of this. I refuse –– no more. You want to have free speech, you want to be racist, open your mouth now.

Since my fan club wants a series on this, a series is what you will be getting! Although probably not this week. What should the scandal controversy name be? “Black Previews”?

Could our readers tell us who the dramatis personae are?

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Discursive and Institutional Violence

Why are some Ephs allowed to send e-mails to the entire Williams student body and other are not?

From: Modhurima, Rodsy <rm8@williams.edu>
Date: Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 10:25 AM
Subject: Calling on trustees as a campus community
To: <WILLIAMS-STUDENTS@listserv.williams.edu>

Dear Williams College Community,

This February we joined as a campus to March for the Damned. We showed our love for each other and brought attention to the ways in which our campus community needs to support minoritized members of this community- staff, faculty, and students.

Many of the demands which have been circulating recently (including, but not limited to, affinity housing, increased accountability of CSS, improved sexual assault prevention and response, and increased support for faculty of color and queer and trans* faculty) have either been ignored or sent to committees to stagnate. These are largely the same demands students have been making for decade.

Today, the Williams trustees are having a full board meeting on campus to approve fiscal budgets for 2019-20. We have called on them to respond to a list of twelve concrete objectives by April 17th. We invite the whole Williams community to join us to build a community of love and compel the trustees to support us in this mission by responding to our asks.

These are not the extent of our demands but are the ones most relevant to the role of Trustees.

In love and solidarity,

CARE Now

Their letter to the trustees:

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE TRUSTEES OF WILLIAMS COLLEGE

We are the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), an active and growing collective of student activists born out of resistance to the 2018 faculty petition on free speech. We garnered over 300 student and alumni signatures in protest of predatory and hate speech. We organized a 200-strong March for the Damned on February 25th after the departures of Professors Kai Green and Kimberly Love due to the violent practices of the College.

We hold the truth of discursive and institutional violence to be self-evident. This year alone, there has been a mass exodus of faculty of color. Many junior faculty of color are considering medical leave due to the unmitigating stress of living in an unsupportive and callous environment; staff are similarly unsupported by the institution with a lack of growth opportunities or access to basic living necessities; and too many students are admitted to the Jones 2 Psychiatric Ward each year.

Dozens of faculty of color leave campus each weekend to avoid the emotional detriment of existing here at the College. The College has proven incompetent in fulfilling its fundamental mission “to provide the finest possible liberal arts education” by failing to support those responsible for educating, mentoring, and supporting students. College administrators have sat on a ‘Faculty-Staff Initiative Report’ from the last mass exodus of faculty of color in 2009, and yet the administration has not adequately addressed the findings of this report over the past decade:

“We understand that improving the professional quality of life for staff and faculty of color, and thus the institutional culture at large, would only improve the experience of Williams students. We have witnessed how departures of staff and faculty of color or their absence in particular fields/sectors impact negatively upon the lives of students—both students of color and white students who turn to staff and faculty members of color for curricular and/or extracurricular support. This negative impact ranges from the disruption/suspension of research projects to an increased sense of isolation. We, therefore, hold that a sizable and long‐term community of staff and faculty of color is vital to the studies and lives of students across the College” (Faculty-Staff Initiative, 2009).

We remind the Trustees of their obligation to the well-being and safety of its students, faculty, and staff. The present moment demonstrates a managerial and fiduciary failure to provide a safe, respectful, and livable school community. The Trustees must respond thoroughly and with haste to this failure with tangible, monetary investment.

Therefore, we compel the Trustees to accomplish the following:

A complete process of reparation and reconciliation to Indigenous peoples including the increased hiring and admittance of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students as well as the reallocation of property back to the nations impacted by the College’s active participation in settler-colonialism.

Approve the request for $34,000 additional funding to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity in full for the purpose of supporting student-led Heritage Month events, as well as the increase of $15,000 additional funding for incoming Minority Coalition groups.

Commit to improving community spaces by establishing affinity housing for Black students (and all other marginalized groups), ensuring all college buildings be in compliance with ADA guidelines, and fully renovating the Davis Center buildings.

Fund permanent networks of support for faculty of color, such as weekend faculty-staff shuttles to New York and Boston, a community space of gathering, and additional housing resources.

Immediately approve and fund the two requested hiring lines for Asian American Studies. Additionally, immediately use opportunity hires to fill critical gaps left by departing faculty of color.

Recognize that the Davis Center is currently operating with only two full-time underpaid and overworked staff members. As such, immediately hire sufficient staff members to ensure the efficient operation of the Davis Center.

Hire additional therapists, with a focus on trans therapists and therapists of color.

Increase hiring and pay for staff at the Office of Accessible Education and streamline support for students, staff, and faculty who take medical leave and/or time off.

Fund a thorough external independent investigation into the practices and interactions CSS has with students, namely minority students.

Increase diversity and pay for staff in Dining Services and Facilities.

Hire an independent advocate specialized in survivor support, effectively removing the no-contact order (NCOs) investigation responsibilities from Dean Marlene Sandstrom.

Hire three more Title IX coordinators who will meet the demonstrated needs of survivors.

We, CARE Now, demand a formal and public response by the Board of Trustees to this open letter addressing all twelve objectives by April 17, 2019

I love you ・ I love me ・ I love us ・ I love we

Contact us at carenowradicallove@gmail.com | Literature of The Damned: https://bit.ly/2Gi7drK

Photo Credit: Sabrine Brismeur, Photo Editor at The Record

Lots to consider here. Could we start with a single concrete example of the “discursive and institutional violence” which CARE Now considers to be “self-evident?”

If CARE Now is serious about trying to change Williams, they should follow this advice.

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Society for Conservative Thought Event: “Considering the Case for Campus Free Expression”

On April 3rd, the Society for Conservative Thought hosted “Considering the Case for Campus Free Expression.” In light of recent campus and national discourse concerning the roles of free expression and open intellectual inquiry in liberal education, this event provided students the opportunity to listen, learn, and voice their perspectives on these vital matters. More than 70 students, faculty, administrators, and local community members attended.

Guest speaker Nico Perrino (pictured left), is Director of Communications at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. He is the creator and host of “So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast”, and his writing has been published in USA Today, Politico, and The Guardian. He regularly travels across the country to speak about the rights of students and faculty on college campuses.

Professor Luana Maroja (pictured right) is Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Biochemistry Program at Williams. She has advocated in online and campus publications for the free exchange of ideas on college campuses.

Professor Steven Gerrard (pictured center) is Professor of Philosophy at Williams. He has offered classes on both free speech and related controversies on college campuses.

After introductions, Professor Maroja and Mr. Perrino gave opening remarks in support of campus free expression. Professor Gerrard then led a discussion panel that led to further interrogation and articulation of these ideas. The floor was then opened for an interactive Q&A session between audience members and the speakers.

The Society is deeply grateful for the support of the Class of 1971 Public Affairs Forum, and the Department of Political Science. Thanks to our sponsors, 12 Society members were able to dine with the speakers prior to the event.

Learn more about the Williams College Society for Conservative Thought by visiting our website.

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CARE Now Documents

The CARE Now folks have, to their credit, been collecting and publicizing documents related to their grievances. Here are some of them:

1) Record Op-Ed on “Violent Structures”. Worth reviewing in detail?

2) A pamphlet (pdf) entitled “The Time Has Come for White Women to Move Beyond Lip Service: Toward an Anti-Racist Professional Ethics for White Women’s Studies Directors.” This does not seem to have a direct Williams connection, but is a great example of Steve Sailer’s point about the tensions inherent in any “coalition of the fringes.” I can think of more than a few white women on the Williams faculty — strong liberals all! — who will grow very tired, very quickly of their POC colleagues telling them to shut up and listen.

3) Pamphlet (pdf) associated with the march a few weeks ago.

4) The 2009 Faculty Stuff Initiative report (pdf) on “retention and recruitment of faculty and staff of color.” Worth reviewing in detail?

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K. C. Johnson on How to Fight BDS

I saw an excellent article in the Tablet today from one of my favorite former Williams professors, K.C. Johnson, on the successes enjoyed by those fighting against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses. In particular, he applauds the presidents of Pitzer, Cornell and the University of Michigan for standing up to the BDS movement.

Nevertheless, Johnson thinks it is foolish to depend on college presidents to stamp out the BSD movement. Instead, he recommends more aggressive actions by faculty and students. Among faculty, he notes:

On the faculty side, after several minor academic organizations had adopted resolutions committing support to BDS, the American Historical Association seemed poised to follow suit. But the Alliance for Academic Freedom, an organization championed by high-profile professors such as Maryland’s Jeffrey Herf and David Greenberg of Rutgers, engaged the BDS advocates on a variety of grounds, and helped to persuade more moderate AHA members to decisively reject the BDS resolution. The 2016 vote blunted the momentum of BDS activists in targeting academic organizations.

Likewise, Johnson also sees great hope in encouraging students to show courage in combating the BDS movement on their own, potentially with the help of legal talent.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, San Francisco State University settled a lawsuit filed by two Jewish students who alleged religious discrimination in one of the nation’s most virulently anti-Israel campus environments. The university agreed to spend $200,000 on “educational efforts to promote viewpoint diversity (including but not limited to pro-Israel and Zionist viewpoints).” The school also released a statement reiterating “its commitment to equity and inclusion for all—including those who are Jewish,” and affirming “the values of free expression and diversity of viewpoints that are so critical on a university campus.

It is, of course, a great shame that K.C. Johnson saw his excellent research demeaned while he was a junior faculty member at Williams. According to a report he gave to an Ephblog correspondent, he bailed out rather than endure what looked like a fruitless, upcoming tenure battle. It warms my heart to see such a courageous fellow sticking it out in the academic world, promoting the freedom of speech standards which once made our elite institutions truly elite.

 

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Factrak Comments for Professors Love and Green

Below the break are all the current Factrak comments for Professors Love and Green. They seem quite good, especially for Love. But perhaps I don’t have a sense of the average student comment . . .

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Vigilante George Zimmerman

A new display went up in Paresky yesterday.

Close ups:

1) I assume that this display has official permission from Williams, otherwise it would have already been taken down, as the big sign was last week. True? If so, how long will it be allowed to stay up for? A week? A month? Forever?

2) I don’t recall seeing other such prominent displays on Paresky. Does anyone? Will other groups be allowed to display in the same manner? I am sure that, say, Williams Catholic would love to put up pro-life posters of similar size.

3) How much are these efforts connected, if at all, to our two named controversies: Green/Love Black Joy and White Male Vigilantes? It could be that there is no connection that these posters, or ones like it, would have gone up even if Green/Love had never resigned and/or McPartland had never moved their memorial. But my sense is otherwise, that these posters are a direct response. Comments welcome!

4) What a pathetic summary of the Trayvon Martin case! If Martin was really “racially profiled and fatally shot by vigilante George Zimmerman,” then why didn’t Barak Obama’s Justice Department, run at the time by Eric Holder, charge Zimmerman? Were Obama and Holder proponents of white supremacy? I have my doubts!

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Great Young People and Old People

From CNN:

President Donald Trump vowed Saturday to sign an executive order requiring colleges and universities to “support free speech” in order to be eligible for federal research dollars.
“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak,” Trump said in part of his two-hour long speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
The President did not offer any more details on the order.

1) This seems to be one of the few topics on which Trump agrees with former President Obama. And with EphBlog!

2) Will there be an executive order? I have my doubts. Recall that Trump promised an executive order about birthright citizenship. Nothing happened. Will this promise turn out differently?

3) Biggest secret fan of this proposal? Maud Mandel! Think about it. An executive order would provide Mandel with the perfect cover to do what she wants to do anyway. No muss, no fuss. Any faculty/student complaints can be met with: “The Feds made us do it!”

4) If Trump wants to succeed on this topic, he should involve Ken Marcus ’88, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education.

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That Nigga Look Just Like Me

Hung on Paresky yesterday:

Our source notes: “Money for this came from somewhere. Who is funding this stuff?” Good question! The Record should find out.

Another view:

Could someone explain the messaging? I know that the line is from “Nikes” by rapper Frank Ocean. Lyrics:

These bitches want Nikes
They looking for a check
Tell ’em it ain’t likely
Said she need a ring like Carmelo
It must be on that white like Othello
All you want is Nikes
But the real ones just like you, just like me
I don’t play, I don’t make time
But if you need dick I got you
And I yam from the line
Pour up for A$AP, R.I.P. Pimp C
RIP Trayvon, that nigga look just like me

But why that line from these lyrics at Williams in 2019? Is what happened to Professors Green and Love akin to what happened to Trayvon Martin? Does that mean that Maud Mandel is George Zimmerman?

I am honestly curious about the meaning. Any ideas?

Or is this a sign that Professor Neil Roberts is more involved in the protests than I would have expected. Background from 2012:

Neil Roberts, assistant professor of Africana studies and faculty affiliate in political science at Williams College, has guest edited a symposium in the journal Theory & Event, published in September by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

The symposium features eight essays on what Roberts calls the Trayvon Martin event. “An event,” Roberts explains, “differs from a tragedy. A tragedy entails a plot, set of actions, and conclusion, often foreclosed and backward-looking. An event is an occurrence mutually reinforced by past actions and future outlooks, conversations, and prognostications on what we must do to decipher its meaning in its wake. The shooting of 17-year-old Martin is no different.”

One of the essays was:

“Stuff White White People Know (or: What We Talk About When We Talk About Trayvon)” by Mark Reinhardt, Williams College Class of 1956 Professor of American Civilization.

“My core assumption in the paper,” says Reinhardt, “is that white supremacy continues to be a fundamental political fact in the U.S., albeit one whose form has mutated in such a way that most white people deny, and probably do not believe, that it continues.”

Is Maud Mandel one of these white people? Just asking! Or perhaps IQ-realist Nate Kornell is
involved? (Probably not.) Professor Green also has views on Trayvon Martin. And here is a cartoon from Chan Lowe ’75.

ABC reporter Matt Gutman ’00 won an award for coverage of the Martin shooting. Claudine Rankin ’86 wrote Citizen: An American Lyric, a book with some connections to the case which are difficult to summarize.

Are there other Eph connections?

Anyway, later yesterday, College employees “temporarily removed” banner and post these signs:

What advice do you have for the protestors and/or for President Mandel?

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Quixotic PC Gestures

A student writes:

[T]he biggest takeaway from this whole episode is that there is a serious risk of contagion among the faculty ranks. If Green//Love walk away from this incident without any reprimand, the College effectively endorses their thesis that the school is perpetrating anti-black violence and that violating the terms of their contract is an appropriate means of protesting it, so what’s to stop every other professor in WGSS, English, sociology, etc. departments canceling their classes to “stand in solidarity” or whatever? Unless someone at the school (Maud? Dean Buell? Who?) takes a strong stand against this kind of behavior, we can expect much more of it in the near future. There is no winning against these kinds of activists, nothing the school can do to earn their approval, regardless of how many black faculty it hires or how well it supports them. The goalposts will always be shifted, the school will always be seen as racist/violent, so the College might as well make a convincing statement that rules matter, faculty obligations to students matter, and that the school has a commitment to education, not quixotic PC gestures.

“Quixotic PC gestures” is a great name for a rock band. Or for Denise Buell’s life’s work.

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Academic Freedom and “Free Speech”

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).

Once the Coordinating Committee — Maud’s stalking cow for fixing the Falk/Derbyshire disaster — has guided the faculty to these two points, the rest follows naturally. The AAUP addresses precisely the issue — invitations to outside speakers — which has bedeviled Williams.

Because academic freedom requires the liberty to learn as well as to teach, colleges and universities should respect the prerogatives of campus organizations to select outside speakers whom they wish to hear. The AAUP articulated this principle in 1967 in its Fifty-third Annual Meeting, when it affirmed “its belief that the freedom to hear is an essential condition of a university community and an inseparable part of academic freedom,” and that “the right to examine issues and seek truth is prejudiced to the extent that the university is open to some but not to others whom members of the university also judge desirable to hear.” . . .

See how the Gordian Knot of hate/free speech is so cleanly cut with this approach? No need for definitions, for balancing, for weighing costs and benefits. No reason to argue about the Chicago Principals, as if the best college in the world should concern itself with the ramblings of a not-quite-first-tier research university.

Academic Freedom -> AAUP -> All Invited Speakers Welcome

Third, President Mandel and the Trustees assert that students deserve “academic freedom” — at least with regard to speaker invitations — as well. This might not meet with universal faculty agreement, but that is why Mandel is paid the big bucks.

Problem solved! And then the problem largely goes away, absurd fantasies about Chapin being booked by white supremacists every Wednesday night not withstanding.

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Video of Thursday’s Protest/March

Thanks to Phacelia Cramer ’19 for posting this excellent video of Thursday’s protest/march. This looks much closer to 200 people than to the 50 that other correspondents had estimated. Alas, I can’t figure out how to save a copy or embed it here. Damn you Facebook!

1) One chant: “I love You. I love Me. I love Us. I love We.” I have never heard this at a protest before. Have readers? Is it connected to the increasing therapeutic tenor of our culture?

2) Another chant: “What side are you on, White People, what side are you on?” Hmm.

3) Where was President Mandel? I think the single cleverest decision that former President Schapiro made was, at the height of the Stand with Us movement a decade ago, to join a protest march even though the march was clearly directed against him and the Williams Administration. Could President Mandel use the same trick? Should she?

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Answer Wisely

This is the current status of the bottom of the big poster in Hollander Hall which we highlighted yesterday. I think that the comments are . . . pretty good! Reader opinions welcome. And thanks for the photos. Keep them coming!

I have selected “White Male Vigilantes” as the category for all posts related to McPartland’s actions and the response there to, abbreviated as WMV.

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Crowd of White People

This display is in Hollander Hall. Perhaps some readers could send us photos of the answers.

1) There was some abl/PTC discussion about the people/resources being put into this effort. I agree with abl that there might very few (10?) students actively engaged, with perhaps 50 supporters who aren’t putting up posters but do come to the marches. I also agree with PTC that there is (official?) college support (via the Davis Center?) for these efforts. No student printed out that poster and her dorm room printer. No one puts up a poster of that size without College permission, implicit or otherwise. Can someone on campus provide some local color?

2) There was a march/meeting/protest yesterday at Paresky. Details are scarce. But this CARE Now handout was distributed. Kudos on the graphical design of this document! It looks very professional.

3) There are two candidate names for the McPartland-related portion of this controversy: “White Male Vigilantes” and “EverPurple.” The former is how an anonymous student referred to McPartland. The latter is a reference to Evergreen State, a school’s whose descent into PC nonsense Williams would do well to avoid. Which do readers prefer?

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