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Healing Space

From the Daily Adviser:

Calling for faculty and students to visit Hollander healing space

Faculty and students are invited to stop by the healing space in the first floor Hollander today to pay respects to Dr. G and Dr. Love, leave a note, and recognize all of the amazing work they have done for students on this campus.

Reality or is this a ludicrous EphBlog parody? Please answer before you click the link . . .

Thanks to a reader for the photo. Good stuff! Please keep sending them.

abl argued that:

the number of disparaging remarks made about the display itself, really do illustrate the hypocrisy running throughout the right-wing’s facially high-minded (but actually ideologically motivated) call to protect speech on private college campuses

I am the General Stonewall Jackson of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Eph Division, and I have not made a single disparaging remark about the displays. In fact, I think that they are well done, both politically and aesthetically. I like the aesthetics of the heart-shaped collection of papers in the tribute to professors Green/Love and of the thorn-hedge in front of Professor McPartland’s office. I think that they both work beautifully. I also think that the politics work. Of course, I disagree (I assume!) with the protestors about whether or not students/faculty should be able to invite anyone they want to campus. But that disagreement does not prevent me from appreciating (and praising!) their protest efforts with regard to Green/Love/McPartland.

However, I am no expert on aesthetics! Other readers should chime in! I also don’t understand some (many?) of the references involved. For example, what does the green yarn imply?

UPDATE: On Thursday night, students taped photocopied pictures of Professor McPartland on the doors of Dean Buell and President Mandel. Can someone provide photos of these pictures? Future historians will thank you!

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McPartland in the Crosshairs

Where will the madness end? Your guess is as good as mine. Our story so far:

0) Assistant Professors Kimberly Love and Kai Green ’07 write an essay for the feminist wire in November. It is hard to summarize. Selected quotes:

We write this piece as two untenured junior faculty. We are Black Queer Feminists, serious about our call to research, service, and teaching. We are not safe. And it is not because we do not have tenure that we are not safe. …

We navigate this academic career with integrity and a deep love for knowledge. We are tired of shrinking ourselves to be here! We are tired of holding our tongues out of politeness because our colleagues are not ready to ask certain questions and are not ready to accept certain answers:

Colleague: Can I touch your….?

Answer: NO!

What we have been doing to fit our bodies in these institutions is killing us and we WANT TO LIVE! And not even tenure is worth our Black joy.

1) Love and Green cancel their classes just prior to the start of the spring semester, leaving their students (and departments) in the lurch. Their reasons for doing so are opaque at best.

2) Students (only?) sympathetic to Love and Green create a display/memorial around their (unused?) offices in Hollander Hall.

3) Philosophy Professor Keith McPartland removed the material in his capacity as Chair of the Hollander/Schapiro Users Committee after consultation with Campus Security and a conversation with them about the fire code. (It is hard to believe that no one mentioned this to the Administration. McPartland, and the folks at security, are well-versed in the nonsense which passes for political discussion at Williams. Surely they anticipated a blow-back? Surely they sent an ass-covering e-mail to higher ups?)

4) President Mandel sends a somewhat bizarre e-mail about the removal. Mandel claims that, previously (meaning last week?), “after senior staff and I confirmed that the materials were not impeding movement through Hollander we had asked custodial, CSS and other staff not to disturb them.” Sure would be weird for Mandel to tell CSS not to touch anything and then, a week later, McPartland checks with CSS and they say, “Go ahead. Remove it.” But, then again, miscommunication is the curse of every bureaucracy . . .

5) Students (how?) discover McPartland’s role and decorate/vandalize his office. These photos (four more below the break) are from Thursday morning. Should McPartland be concerned about his future at Williams? What advice would you give him?

What does this mean? We need a scandal name! The saga of Love/Green will be with us for a while. Suggestions? Longtime readers will recall that EphBlog loves to name Williams controversies. Classic examples include: ¿Quién es más macho?, Nigaleian, Safety Dance, Prospect Must Die, Willy E. N-word, Catch Moore If You Can, The Taco Six, Mary Jane Hitler and Self-CARE Now.

“Love” and “Green” are good words to work with. How about “Love Green Black joy”? Suggestions welcome!

Four more photos below. I believe these are from the morning of Feb 14. Thanks to an anonymous reader for sharing them!
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Zero African-American Phi Beta Kappa Graduates in 2015

In the Williams College class of 2015, there were 70 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) graduates. None of them were African-American. (Full list of students available in the course catalog, and reprinted below the break for your convenience.) Comments:

1) There were 44 African-American First Years in 2011-2012 (pdf). Some of those students transferred or took time off. Some African-American students from earlier years ended up in this class. We don’t know the total number of African-American graduates in the class of 2015, but it was probably around 40.

2) Since Phi Beta Kappa is the top 12.5% of the class, we would expect about 5 African-American PBK graduates. Of course, there will be random variation. Perhaps this year is low but, in other years, African-Americans are over-represented? Alas, that does not appear to be the case; there were zero African-American PBK graduates in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017. There was one in 2016.

3) A relevant news hook is the “scandal” last spring over UPenn law professor Amy Wax claiming that African-American law students “rarely” graduate in the top half of their class. The difference between EphBlog and Amy Wax, obviously, is that we have the data. (Williams declined to confirm or deny our analysis.)

4) Should we spend a few days discussing the reasons for this anomaly? If the Record were a serious newspaper, it would investigate this statistic and interview senior faculty and administrators about it.

Williams 2015 Phi Beta Kappa graduates:
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Unpersuadable

abl, who really ought to put these excellent comments on the main page, writes about the membership of the new Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion:

For a committee like this to have perceived legitimacy, it has to include viewpoints on both sides of this issue.

Untrue. The CUL, when it implemented the Dudley Report which gave us Neighborhood Housing, had no proponents of free agency. The Ad Hoc Committee on Athletics, when it produced the MacDonald Report, had no public supporters of the status quo with regard to admissions preferences for athletes. Those committees were stacked with people who would go along with Morty Schapiro’s preferences. And so they did, with more than enough “legitimacy” to make the two biggest changes at Williams in the last 20 years.

I don’t know whether this committee will do much of consequence, or if Mandel is even thinking along these strategic lines, but by including several publicly identifiable left-leaning students and right-leaning faculty on the committee, Mandel increases the likelihood that any recommendation that is perceived to lean one way or another is nevertheless accepted.

I actually see the inclusion of right-leaning faculty members to be much more notable here. I have no doubt in my mind that Mandel is more confident about being able to persuade left-leaning students than she is right-leaning faculty members. 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.

All of this said, my honest guess is that Mandel is open to a range of possible outcomes from this committee and isn’t playing these sorts of strategic games. My bet is the reason why you see a diversity of viewpoints represented on the committee is that Mandel genuinely wants to reach some sort of compromise that will generally placate most people. And the reason why she’s limited the reach of the committee is because that also limits the risk of delegating this much responsibility — it becomes easier for her to rein in any proposal that she doesn’t like based on ‘exceeding the scope of the committee’ or some other seemingly non-ideological grounds.

Agreed! (Emphasis added.)

I would bet, however, that Michael Crisci ’21 and Rachel Porter ’21 are much closer to the unpersuadable side of the ledger. Yes, it is true that they are not leaders of CARE Now. But signing the statement puts them at the most extreme 15% of the student populations. And then they applied for this committee! My prior is that, of the students who signed, only the most committed would apply. Hope that I am wrong! Or that I have underestimated the persuasive abilities of Cheryl Shanks and Fred Strauch . . .

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Hate Hoaxes: A History

A “hate hoax” is an act of hate — racist graffiti, a threatening note — which is a hoax in the sense that it was perpetrated by a member (or ally) of the class of people it purports to attack. See Pro Publica and Reason for discussion and examples. Let’s review some examples from Williams history:

January 1993: Three (anti-black) racist slurs posted on the door of Rice House. Perpetrator turned out to an African-American student. He was suspended for one semester.

September 2001: Female student reports that she was assaulted in her dorm room. Turns out that she made the whole thing up. I do not think that this truly qualifies as a hate hoax since her intent was probably not to stir up a campus controversy about sexual assault.

November 2011: Racist note — All Niggers Must Die — attached to a door in Prospect House. Perpetrator was (almost certainly) an African-American/Hispanic student activist. She was not punished and, to this day, the College maintains the public fiction that this was an actual hate crime.

November 2012: Racist statement — All beaners must die — written on whiteboard in Mission. Perpetrator was of “Mexican descent.” As best I can tell, the student was not punished.

November 2016: Racist graffiti — AMKKK, “meant to signify AmeriKKKa, a spelling of America that references racism in our society” — written in red paint in Griffin Hall. Two students are caught, both claiming (plausibly!) to have no connection to the KKK. There are reports that at least one of the students was a minority. Students were probably punished, but I do not know the details. One might reasonably quibble whether this is an example of a true “hate hoax,” in particular, whether the two students had the necessary intent. Let’s leave that debate for another day.

Are there other examples I should include?

As best I can tell, there are about as many hate hoaxes at Williams as there are actual hate crimes. What do readers estimate the proportions to be?

Even the hate crimes that do not seem to be hoaxes — Williams E in 2008, Mills-Dennett 1 in 2009 and Paresky 2014 — often seem to be driven by animus whose original source has nothing directly to do with hate . . . but that is a discussion for another day.

UPDATE: A source has told me that the November 2016 incident was carried out by three (not two) students, all of whom were first year African-American females. They were caught because they used paint from a college academic department, traces of which were still on their shows and clothing when Security came knocking on their door. The were suspended for a year but are now back on campus. Can anyone confirm?

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Ad Hoc Committee Members

Observations on President Mandel’s latest announcement about the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion. (See also this solid Record article.)

1) I think my detailed observations from last month were spot on. Key point:

If Mandel’s strategy for freeing Williams from the legacy of Falk’s folly depended meaningfully on this Committee, she would put fewer students on it, ensure that those students were carefully selected and entrust the Committee with a broad mandate. She is doing the opposite. Therefore, we know that this Committee will be unimportant.

2) Check out those Committee members:

Two of the student members — Michael Crisci ’21 and Rachel Porter ’21 — signed the student petition against the Chicago Statement. That document — how to put this neutrally? — does not provide many reasons for compromise. It is not clear how strongly Crisci/Porter felt about the issue. Not every signer was, presumably, fully committed. But for Mandel to allow students onto the committee who may very well have no inclination to allow someone like John Derbyshire (or Charles Murray or . . .) is a sign that she expects nothing of use from the committee.

Two of the faculty members — Cheryl Shanks and Fred Strauch — are strong proponents of free speech. (I have not discussed the topic with either.) Shanks authored a Record op-ed which was, perhaps, the strongest faculty statement on the issue. Strauch is a member of the rump Republican/conservative/libertarian/non-progressive wing of the faculty.

3) Note the change to the committee’s charge. New version:

I am charging an ad hoc committee with recommending to me, by May 2019, a set of speaker invitation guidelines that would demonstrate our full commitment to both inquiry and inclusion.

The emphasis on the “and” is new. Hmmm. Perhaps I shouldn’t make a big deal about changing patterns of italicisms . . .

4) The key power/responsibility in this whole discussion will fall to the Coordinating Committee. More on it some other day . . .

5) From the Record:

In a collective statement to the Record, committee members emphasized the range of backgrounds included in its membership. “President Mandel’s process for constituting this group of faculty, student, staff and alum representatives involved allowing each group to use their own governing bodies to nominate potential members,” they said. “Working together as a committee will in fact involve establishing a working model of inclusive dialogue among a diverse group.”

a) Good to see the Record picking up the phone and getting a statement. b) Why not publish the entire statement, rather than just two sentences from it? Even if there is not room in the physical paper, the statement could be added in a comment box to the web article. c) The Record should also have reached out to some critics, like either the faculty behind the petition of the leaders of CARE-Now.

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Thompson Graffiti

Latest racist (?) graffiti:

Williams students, faculty and staff,

This weekend, a student discovered the phrase “Black Riders Liberation Party” written several times on a whiteboard in the kitchen of Thompson Hall. The Black Riders Liberation Party is an organization that uses modern marketing tactics to promote a black supremacist ideology. The group is especially known for trying to provoke reactions on college campuses.

We don’t yet know who wrote the name on the board, or what their intent was in doing so. Because the organization is one that promotes hatred, we will investigate the report as a possible bias incident and Campus Safety and Security is trying to identify the author of the graffiti.

If you have information you think will aid the investigation, please call Campus Safety at 413-597-4444 or submit information through OIDE’s Bias Incident Reporting form. The form includes an option to report anonymously.

Williams should be a place where everyone is welcome. Many of the conversations at next week’s Claiming Williams events will focus on how to fulfill that promise, and we look forward to doing that work with you all.

Sincerely,

Leticia S.E. Haynes, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity
Steve Klass, Vice President for Campus Life
Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College

1) What are the odds that this is a hate hoax, meaning that the person who left the note is not actually a supporter of BRLP? I am not sure. On one hand, hate hoaxes are very common at Williams (and elsewhere). On the other, BRLP is a fairly obscure (?) organization. The typical hate hoax is much less subtle.

2) Why is this defined as “graffiti?” The convention, I believe, is that whiteboards are for writing stuff on. If Thompson has a whiteboard, along with a markers publicly available for writing on it, then writing the phrase “Black Riders Liberation Party” is, by definition, not graffiti.

3) Why is this a “possible bias incident?” Again, assume that the Thompson whiteboard is publicly available and that students are allowed, even encouraged, to write on it. If no student would be punished for writing “Democratic Party,” then the College would be on thin ice if it punished a student, with no warning, for writing “Black Riders Liberation Party.” Williams, if it wants to avoid turning into a madrassa, must be viewpoint neutral with regard to political expression.

4) Who gets to decide that BRLP “promotes hatred?” And, yes, I know that the Southern Poverty Law Center has said some mean things about BRLP, but I don’t think that Williams gets to outsource its moral judgments. Scores of Williams faculty — perhaps even a majority — believe that Donald Trump “promotes hatred.” Would writing MAGA on the Thompson whiteboard also merit an investigation by Campus Safety and Security?

5) Why does the “intent” matter? (And note the awkwardness of that sentence in the email.) Williams, unless it has developed the ability to read minds, must enforce its rules in a viewpoint neutral manner. It can punish anyone who writes anything on a whiteboard or it can punish no one. It can’t punish black students (but not non-black) students for writing the same thing. Or vice versa! (What is your guess as to the race of the students who wrote this?)

6) If you are the student who did thing, and they catch you, reach out for help. There are faculty who would support you. Note, especially, that Williams never (?) punished the Mexican-American student who wrote “All Beaners Must Die” nor did it punish Mary Jane Hitler.

7) Note the absurd scare-mongering about “modern marketing tactics.” What does that mean, exactly? They use Facebook?

8) Does the Black Riders Liberation Party really “promote a black supremacist ideology?” I doubt it. Accusations about being a “Supremacist” serve the same purpose today as accusations about being a “Communist” did in the 1950s. The BRLP certainly cares about African-Americans — not that there is anything wrong with that! — and seeks to advance their interests. Calling them supremacists (when they never (?) apply that terminology to themselves) is the worst sort of demagoguery.

When will the College learn that the best way to deal with obnoxious scribbling is to ignore it? No need to hide it — just post a note in the (public?) security logs. The bigger a fuss you make, the more of it you are going to get.

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Predatory Desires, 1

Great Record article by Rebecca Tauber and Samuel Wolf about the on-going debate over the Chicago Principles. Read the whole thing, along with our previous commentary. I will pull out some highlights over the next three days. Day 1.

Joy James, professor of political science and Africana studies, published an article in The Feminist Wire in which she argued against the Chicago Statement and outlined its implications for the College community. “The Chicago Statement ‘free speech’ campaign accumulates power for elites and enables their predatory desires and aggressions against marginalized groups,” James wrote. “People of color are window dressing for a Statement that seeks to legitimize hate speech.”

Is it worth going through James’ article? Not that I can see. But this does provide a handy excuse for revisiting James’ troubled tenure at Williams. (But, full disclosure, my prediction that she would depart was wrong. Perhaps no other school is interested in taking James off our hands? As a member of the political science department told me a decade ago: “Yes, she wrote a book. But it is not a good book.”)

James linked this view to a previously published article in The Feminist Wire by Kai Green, assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, and Kimberly Love, assistant professor of English, which discusses the relationship between academia and injustice. Green and Love detailed the challenges of being Black queer feminists in both higher education and Williamstown, portraying many of the issues raised by those against the petition. “We are not safe because we are Black radical thinkers and professors who refuse to wait for the right time to point out the anti-Black, transphobic, xenophobic and the list goes on … wrongs of this time,” Green and Love wrote.

Is it worth it to go through Green and Love’s article? Again, not that I can see. Perhaps the real purpose of having faculty like Green and Love at Williams is that, in comparison, Joy James looks like an intellectual.

All that said, it would be wonderful if the Williams College Debate Union were to organize some debates/panels featuring James/Green/Love and their faculty/student opponents. The more discussion and debate at Williams, the better.

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Apply for the committee on Campus Speakers, Inquiry & Inclusion!!!

Beloved Student Body,

President Mandel emailed you all this week about her Committee on Campus Speakers, Inquiry and Inclusion that will engage the campus on conversations and debates around “free speech.” There are four spots for students on this committee, and you can now apply to be on it!

The Committee on Campus Speakers, Inquiry and Inclusion will be made up of faculty, senior administrators, students, and staff representatives. The Committee is constituted for the spring term of 2019 and is tasked with the production of a final recommendation in May.

All class years are welcome to apply here! Applications are due by noon Friday, January 18th, and will be considered by the College Council Appointments Committee.

Feel free to email Lizzy Hibbard (eh6) or Moisés Roman Mendoza (mr20) with any additional questions.

Much love,

Lizzy and Moises

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Ad Hoc Update, 1

In February 2016, the (now defunct) student group Uncomfortable Learning invited Dissident Right author John Derbyshire to speak at Williams. Then-president Adam Falk cancelled Derbyshire’s talk, causing a public relations black eye for the College. Current President Maud Mandel seeks to undo the damage associated with that decision. We have named the associated controversy Self-CARE Now. This week, I will review Mandel’s latest e-mail and her draft charge to the Ad hoc committee on speakers, inquiry and inclusion. Day 1.

Mandel’s email begins:

As I noted in an all-campus message before break, “Williams, like campuses across the United States, has engaged in debate about how to bolster its commitment to free expression while maintaining its responsibility to ensure an inclusive environment for all community members.” In that same message I announced plans to charge an ad hoc committee with recommending policies and practices that will help us achieve these goals. I’m pleased to provide you with a brief update on that work.

1) Quoting yourself is the Historian’s Vice.

2) Maud is wise to use the term “free expression” rather than the more controversial “free speech.” Too many of her opponents have already decided that “free speech” is something to which they owe no allegiance. They may be more open to defenses of free expression.

3) Even better would be a focus on “academic freedom.” Recall that Maud wants Williams to end up with as much free speech/expression/whatever as state schools like Berkeley. No more cancellations, or even demands for cancellation! Framing is one of the most powerful tools she has to achieve that goal.

Centering the debate around “academic freedom” is more likely to work because it activates the amygdala of every Williams faculty member. They may differ in their views about what sorts of speakers (stupid) undergraduates can invite to campus. They are united in their demand that they have complete “academic freedom” — as they should be! And the vast majority insist that academic freedom includes their right to invite anyone they damn-well please to Williams. Once they demand that, Maud need only insist that students’ rights are no less, at least when it comes to academic freedom. Problem solved!

4) Why the delay in naming the committee? Recall what Maud told us in November:

I intend to recruit the committee by the end of the calendar year with counsel from leaders of faculty, staff and student governance.

We are now two weeks past the end of the calendar year. Still no committee. And note this note from December 13.

In late November I announced my plan to charge an ad hoc committee with the responsibility of moving this discussion forward and proposing policies or programs that will help us achieve both goals. I’ll share the committee charge and roster with campus and alumni in my start of semester message in late January.

So, by mid-December it was obvious to Maud and her team that they would need more time to name a committee. But, then why share the committee’s charge now? (Or is it just a draft of the charge?)

My guess: Maud has decided that this committee — which she originally envisioned as another example of the sorts of Committees that, at Williams, have led to institutional change, i.e., Angevine getting rid of fraternities, MacDonald tightening admissions standards for athletes, Dudley instituting Neighborhood Housing — will not serve her well. Faculty and student attitudes are too anti-free speech for this Committee to succeed. So, Maud has decided to head in a different direction. Read later posts this week for evidence and more speculation.

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The Next Evergreen State?

The College Fix is not my favorite publication but Christopher Tremoglie’s overview of the timeline of the Self-CARE Now controversy is solid. But no links to EphBlog. Sad!

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Self-CARE Now

Controversies needs names. President Maud Mandel has embarked on a multi-semester effort to repair the damage done by former President Adam Falks’ 2016 cancellation of a speaking invitation extended by the student group Uncomfortable Learning to John Derbyshire. There are Ephs who want Mandel to succeed. There are Ephs who want her to fail. We will place relevant posts under the “Self-CARE Now” category, which is a sub-category of the Controversies.

Longtime readers will recall that EphBlog loves to name Williams controversies. Classic examples include: ¿Quién es más macho?, Nigaleian, Safety Dance, Prospect Must Die, Willy E. N-word, Catch Moore If You Can, The Taco Six and Mary Jane Hitler.

Why Self-CARE Now?

1) Readers failed to provide any better suggestions. (Note that this is still a chance to design a catchy graphic. Submissions welcome!)

2) The student leaders of the opposition to Mandel wrote a Record op-ed summarizing their position. It begins:

The student letter that surfaced in response to the faculty petition was co-authored and edited by over 20 students from a wide range of identities and positionalities. It was, above all, a democratic, grassroots project from start to finish. We are now continuing under the name “Coalition Against Racist Education Now” (CARE Now) in the legacy of Black-led organizing efforts on the Williams College campus.

Including “CARE Now” in the the controversy’s name makes sense. Hilariously, their op-ed concluded with:

Beyond this statement, we have chosen to not comment on our next steps as we are focusing on building coalition and self-care.

If I didn’t provide the link, wouldn’t readers older than 25 assume that this was a parody? Do Williams students routinely, in Record op-eds, insist on the need for “self-care” even as they are in the midst of fighting a righteous battle against “Racist Education?” Apparently, they do. And so I can’t help but to make fun of that contradiction.

3) My original plan was to name the controversy after the committee that Mandel promised to name. That would have been anodyne, but still descriptive. Yesterday’s e-mail, however, made clear that this committee will be much less powerful than initially advertised, so making it central to the controversy no longer makes sense.

4) On a broader view, President Mandel is, right “now,” trying to provide some “self-care” to Williams, as an institution. Falk’s cancellation was the worst single Administrative decision in the last decade, generating unhelpful media attention, and setting back the cause of academic freedom. Williams needs to heal from that mistake and, with luck, Mandel will help us to do so.

What do we want?
Self-CARE!
When do we want it?
Now!

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Uncensored: Zachary Wood ’18 Discusses His New Book on FIRE’s So to Speak Podcast

Zachary Wood ’18 is one of my favorite Williams College graduates. I was very pleased to see the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) interviewed him about his new memoir, Uncensored: My Life and Uncomfortable Conversations at the Intersection of Black and White America.

Wood’s backstory includes a tough life that gave him the fortitude needed to become one of the college’s most precocious and famous alums. He has a mom with schizoaffective disorder and grew up in Washington, D.C.’s extremely dangerous Ward 8 community. Ward 8 includes the historic Anacostia neighborhood where the overall crime rate is reportedly 223% higher than the national average.

Zachary Wood’s bravery was tested when he and his Uncomfortable Learning organization invited thought-provoking speakers like former National Review writer John Derbyshire to speak. The college administration, under President Adam Falk, cancelled the event.

You can catch up with Wood’s adventures and hear more of his story by clicking on this link: So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast

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Alumnix

How long before the problematic terms alumnus and alumna are replaced with the politically correct alumnix? And am I really the first person to predict (create?) the word alumnix? Background:

1) Alumni is a plural term which refers to all the people who have graduated (or, in many usages, attended) Williams. No one (yet!) objects to it. The origin is Latin and, in general, the plural in Latin ends words with an “i.” The problem with the term is that, strictly speaking, it should not be used to refer to a group of female-only alums. The correct usage would be alumnae, which the College does make use of, albeit less and less as the years go by.

2) The singular is alumnus (male) and alumna (female). These are occasionally problematic in that those without a decent Prep School education will mistakenly use the former to refer to a female Eph. The College tries, somewhat, to avoid that faux pas.

3) The College’s official style guide recommends:

alumni
Use graduate (gender neutral), alumnus (male), alumna (female), alumni (all male or both sexes) and alumnae (all female).

4) The problem today is that the entire concept of well-defined male/female is suspect. Consider the debate over the use of Latino (for male) and Latina (for female).

This year, Fusion and MiTú each posted videos earnestly explaining to their millennial viewers why “Latinx” is the new term everyone should use to refer to people of Latin American descent.

The argument is that “Latinx” is a less determinist, more inclusive form of the words it replaces — “Latino” for males and “Latina” for females. These gendered identifiers, the thinking goes, impose a binary, give preference to the male over the female, and leave out those who don’t consider themselves either.

Williams has not (yet?) come around to that way of thinking.

Latina/o Studies at Williams College is a dynamic, interdisciplinary program that offers a five course concentration and the opportunity for students to complete a senior honors thesis. Students from all backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to take courses and pursue a concentration in Latina/o Studies.

But — Thank goodness! — there is movement in the right direction: “Visit Sawyer Library to view a display in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month.”

How long before Williams replaces Alumnus/Alumna with Alumnix?

5) According to Wikipedia:

An alumnus (/əˈlʌmnəs/ (masculine), an alumna (/əˈlʌmnə/ (feminine), or an alumnum (/əˈlʌmnəm/ (gender-neutral) of a college, university, or other school is a former student who has either attended or graduated in some fashion from the institution. The word is Latin and simply means student. The plural is alumni (/əˈlʌmnaɪ/) for men and mixed groups and alumnae (/əˈlʌmniː/) for women. The term is not synonymous with “graduate”; one can be an alumnus without graduating. (Burt Reynolds, alumnus but not graduate of Florida State, is an example.) An alumnus can also be and is more recently expanded to include a former employee of an organization[1] and it may also apply to a former member, contributor, or inmate.

So, perhaps alumnum is the better answer? I don’t remember my high school Latin well enough to comment.

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Nudged to Care: Michael E. Reed ’75 Promotes Lived Name Initiative at Bowdoin

 

 

 

Scott Johnson at Powerline called my attention to how a Williams graduate, Michael E. Reed ’75, is pushing to abolish gender classifications and foist artificial pronouns down the throats of the formerly free and independent folks at Bowdoin.

A friend has forwarded the email below from Bowdoin College Senior Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity Michael Reed. The email sets forth Bowdoin’s Lived Name Initiative. Is it permitted to ridicule this scheme and its supporting apparatus?

In the e-mail, Reed reports: “Beginning in January, the lived name will become the default name for students in Polaris, DegreeWorks, Blackboard, Workday, eBear, the online campus directory, and Bowdoin email display name.” This effort to prevent inadvertent dead naming is now  “an important part of creating an inclusive community.”

Reed, of course, has little compassion for the conservatives who feel excluded because they believe efforts to eliminate binaries and impose gender fluidity are both bad policy and an assault on freedom of speech. I have to agree with Scott Johnson who points out: “What we have here is beyond satire, a glimpse of our dystopian future now.”

Michael E. Reed, ’75

As you may remember, Reed rode a short stay on the Williams College Board of Trustees (2004-2006) into a paid campus job as a vice president and a member of the senior leadership team. He established Williams’s Office for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, and represented Williams as its affirmative action and Title IX officer. He left Williams in 2014 to take a job as vice president of institutional initiatives at Dickinson College. He was appointed the senior vice president for inclusion and diversity at Bowdoin College starting in March 1, 2018. Reed was a psychology major as an undergraduate.

For the full Powerline article, see Include Me Out.

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Paul on Free Speech

Professor Darel Paul tweets about the Ricochet article from two weeks ago.

No offence to Lukianoff et al., but trying to convince opponents of speech that free speech protects the rights of the minority is a loser of an argument for at least 2 reasons.

First, the opponents of the Chicago statement at Williams are not the “minority”. They are the majority, at least of those holding power (student government, student newspaper, etc.). And it makes sense that the majority might like to ban speech.

Moreover, this majority has no fear that it may one day become a minority on campus (a very reasonable belief) and thus one day require the protections of something like the Chicago statement.

Second, in a therapeutic culture like the one which characterizes elite college campuses in America today, freedom is a secondary value. Safety is a primary value, one which is potentially threatened by speech.

I don’t know how to get opponents of freedom to value it, but going about assuming that they actually do so in a way they don’t yet realize is an obvious mistake.

Right on all counts.

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Censorship at Williams: When You’ve Lost David Brooks

David Brooks, the somewhat conservative columnist at the New York Times, has offered his take on the pro-censorship, anti-free speech movement at Williams College.

 

 

In a tweet on Saturday, Brooks references the student statement opposing the faculty effort to adopt a version of the Chicago Statement and writes: “This is a statement signed by 363 censorship advocates at Williams College. A perfect encapsulation of the fundamentalism sweeping America’s elite colleges.” Most of the comments on Brooks’ tweet were supportive.

There was also the predictable leftist responses as follows.

In my view, the fight for freedom of speech is the most important issue in our nation. The left cannot win if we argue about their policy ideas. When we do argue policy it is too easy for conservatives to point to the real world examples of leftist ideology in action including Cuba and Venezuela. The only way the left can win is by silencing conservatives. It is good that establishment figures like David Brooks are waking up to the censorship running wild at places like Williams.

David Brooks has been writing for the New York Times since September 2003. He appears as a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty

Earlier this year, I noticed a helpful article by Mitchell Langbert on the number of Republicans teaching at the top ranked liberal arts colleges in the nation. The article appeared on the website of the National Association of Scholars. Lamgbert mentions Williams in his article. His research shows only a single Republican teaching at Williams out of 254 faculty members. According to my sources, there are actually two registered Republicans at Williams.

If this is true, it would change Langbert’s reported ratio of Democrats to Republicans at Williams from 132:1 to 66:1. This would at least take Williams out of the worst of the worst category.

I had an extended e-mail conversation with Langbert after this article came out. We compared notes on what it was like to compete for tenure and teach in an environment biased against conservatives. His article supports what I learned when I spoke with Jon Shields and Joshua Dunn, the authors of Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University. Without a doubt, Republicans fare the worst at the elite LACs in New England. For Langbert’s full article, click on the link below.

Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty

Mitchell Langbert is associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY 11210; MLangbert@HVC.RR.com.

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Admit Your Privilege, 1

Associate Professor of Biology Luana Maroja‘s report about the state of free speech at Williams is the most important statement from a member of the faculty in years. Let’s go through it. Day 1.

As background, there has been a long-running debate at EphBlog about how much (malign) influence progressive members of the Williams faculty have on the evolution of the College. To caricaturize a bit, folks like John Drew have argued that “the postmodern radical ideology which dominates the culture of Williams College appears so unhealthy to well-meaning outsiders.” People like dcat and sigh have argued that this is nonsense, that, while there are liberal/progressive faculty members, they don’t do anything which in any way harms or oppresses non-liberals. For the most part, I have been on team dcat/sigh in this dispute. But perhaps I am wrong . . .

Freedom of speech at Williams College – are the walls closing in?

Many professors at Williams have been feeling the walls closing in. I’m an evolutionary biologist, and in my classes there is increasing resistance to learning about heritability (probably fear of the “bell curve”, something I actually dismiss by contrasting Brazilian with Americans, as I am from Brazil) and even kin selection! (Using the “naturalistic fallacy” argument, students assume that by teaching kin selection I am somehow endorsing Trump hiring his family.) The word “pregnant woman” is out: only “pregnant human” should be now used (after all, what if the pregnant individual goes by another pronoun?).

“Walls closing in” is remarkably strong language, even — dare I say i? — quite John Drewish. Is Maroja providing us with an accurate description of life at Williams today? If so, then wow! Students (in a biology class!) are demonstrating “resistance to learning about heritability?!?” That is nuts! I think that dcat/sigh/me owe John Drew an apology.

In other fields the walls have closed in even more. The theater department recently dealt with two challenges: a cancellation of a show and an uproar about another show – both shows deemed offensive or overtly violent to blacks, yet both written by African-American artists. Williams is now developing a reputation of being unfriendly to artists of color.

1) Again with the “walls” closing in metaphor. In this a fair description of intellectual life at Williams or Fox News nonsense?

2) Are these uproars in theatre connected to Theatre Professor David Gürçay-Morris’s ’96 role in the faculty petition? We are always most conservative about the things we know best. Perhaps these controversies are radicalizing even theatre professors like Gürçay-Morris.

3) I have not provided much coverage on these stories. Do others have comments? I think that there is more complexity to these disputes than Maroja is letting on.

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Evolution of Student Petition Against Chicago Statement

An anonymous student sent in this zip file which catalogs, in detail, the evolution of the student petition against the proposal that Williams adopt the Chicago statement. Comments:

1) New authors welcome! The student who sent this should join us as an author, anonymous or otherwise. Our readers would love to get your perspective.

2) New authors welcome! Any student who worked on (or agrees with) the petition should join us as an author, anonymous or otherwise. Our readers would love to get your perspective.

3) The screenshots make clear that Isabel Peña ’19 and Audrey Koh ’21 played leadership roles in putting this together. Kudos! I disagree with almost everything in the document, but playa recognize playa! Should we be surprised or pleased (or both? or neither) that two women are leading the effort?

4) Which other students are leading the charge on this? My sense is that Liliana Bierer ’19 has also played an important role, but, then again, hers is only the 16th signature on the petition. Is signature placement a useful signal?

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Record Assignment Desk

The next issue of the Record (the last of the semester) has a chance to be epic, to be read widely within the Williams community and across the country. Free speech is hot, Hot, HOT and the Record is well-positioned to cover the debate. My advice (somewhat cribbed from two years ago):

1) Pick up the phone! The Record‘s continuing refusal to talk to people like, well, me, who know a great deal about the institution is annoying. They don’t have to quote me — indeed, I might prefer for the talk to be on background — or do what I say, but a failure to even talk with knowledgeable sources is pathetic.

2) Report the facts. We know that the three key faculty behind the petition are Luana Maroja, Steven Gerrard, and David Gürçay-Morris ’96 but I believe that there were three others in the original “group of six.” Who were they? And tell us more details about the backstory. Gerrard, at least, has been wrestling with this topic for a while, teaching an entire course about free speech. Was he the prime mover? (If so, he was smart to recruit/cajole Maroja. White men are unwise to lead these sorts of efforts at Williams!)

3) Seek comment from Adam Falk. He may not provide one but, even then, you should tell us that he refused to comment. Quiz him about the op-ed in which he urged students “to seek out someone whose opinions and beliefs are different than their own, and to engage in a conversation to really listen and learn from one another.” Fun stuff!

4) Cover the history of speech debates/suppression at Williams. I believe that, prior to John Derbyshire, no speaker has been banned at Williams for 150 years. The last documented case was Mark Hopkins banning Ralph Waldo Emerson. Tell us more about this history, and seek some comments from history professors at Williams.

5) Provide a comparison to other NESCAC/elite schools. Ask Amherst and Swarthmore if they have ever banned a speaker. Ask them if they ever would. They might use this occasion to make fun of Williams. Ask them if they have any official policies which would prevent their students from inviting any speaker to campus. Place Williams policy — which, right now, is that the president can ban whomever she likes — in the context of our peers’.

6) Interview prominent alumni who have experience with, or expertise in, campus speech debates. Start with Cappy Hill ’75 (who faced similar issues when president of Vassar and is now on the board at Yale), Will Dudley ’89 (who has his own set of challenges at Washington and Lee), Fred Lawrence ’77, and Zach Wood ’18. Lawrence and Wood testified before the Senate about this very issue.

7) Interview leading faculty opponents of free speech. Start with Kai Green, Kimberly Love and Joy James. Ask them tough questions: “Professors at places like Michigan, Amherst and Harvard can invite any speaker they want to campus. Do you prefer that you and your Williams faculty colleagues have fewer rights, that the President of Williams can, for any reason, deny your invitation to a speaker? What would you do if, for example, Maud Mandel rescinded your invitation to Angela Davis on the grounds that she had engaged in “hateful” speech toward police officers?”

8) Interview leading student opponents of free speech. (Not sure who those would be. Perhaps start with the first few signatures on the student petition: Isabel Peña ’19, Audrey Koh ’21 and Annalee Tai ’21) Ask them a similar question: “Students at places like Michigan, Amherst and Harvard can invite any speaker they want to campus. Do you prefer that you and your Williams peers have fewer rights, that the President of Williams can, for any reason, deny your invitation to a speaker? What would you do if, for example, Maud Mandel rescinded your invitation to a leader of Black Lives Matter on the grounds that he had engaged in “hateful” speech toward police officers?”

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Faculty Petition Timeline and Request for Controversy Name

We need a name for this controversy and we need one now! Loyal readers know that Ephblog loves to name a controversy — ¿Quién es más macho?, Nigaleian, Safety Dance, Prospect Must Die, Willy E. N-word, Catch Moore If You Can and Mary Jane Hitler are just a few of our highlights — and this debate will be with us for months to come. Suggestions?

For background, here is a timeline (pdf) of events:

The following petition was drafted by several faculty members, in collaboration with and inspired by discussions among many, and finalized on October 14, 2018. It was then sent to several more faculty members for review, who gave feedback and signed their names. At the same time, a meeting for a faculty discussion was planned for November 15, 2018.

After the petition had garnered sufficient faculty support, it was sent to all voting members of the faculty on October 29, 2018 by Luana Maroja, Associate Professor of Biology, Steven Gerrard, Professor of Philosophy, and David Gürçay-Morris, Associate Professor of Theatre. Over one hundred members of the faculty had signed by November 5, 2018, representing a range of disciplines and identities. Several faculty voiced concerns by email and in person, and it was planned to have several faculty discussions to allow productive dialogue on the petition and the issues of concern. Plans for student outreach were also initiated at this time.

Apparently, information about the petition and the first planned discussion was shared with students shortly thereafter. The petition was discussed at a meeting with students and President Mandel on November 11. College Council discussed the petition on November 13. A letter to the editor by Cheryl Shanks, Professor of Political Science, was published in the Williams Record on November 14. A student letter was presented to the faculty at the November 15th 4pm meeting, which was read out loud by Professor Gerrard before he presented some brief remarks. Instead of the planned discussion amongst faculty, interested students were welcomed into the meeting. They shared their thoughts about the petition and the issues raised therein. The discussion between faculty and students continued until 6:30pm.

We still don’t know the names of the “several faculty members” who wrote the petition although, presumably, Maroja, Gerrard and Gürçay-Morris played leading roles. It would also be interesting to know which 100 faculty members signed. Here is the original version:

Petition to the Faculty of Williams College

Greetings.

In view of the continuing local and national discussions regarding freedom of expression on campus, several of us think that it is an opportune time to reflect on and clarify our policies and ideas on this issue. While there is an understandable desire to protect our students from speech they find offensive, doing so risks shutting down legitimate dialogue and failing to prepare our students to deal effectively with a diversity of opinions, including views they might vehemently disagree with.

We believe that Williams College, as an institution of higher learning, must maintain a strong commitment to academic freedom. We further believe that Williams should protect and promote the free expression of ideas. We should be encouraged to use reasoned argument and civil discourse to criticize and contest views we dispute, not to suppress these views and risk falling down the slippery slope of choosing what can and what cannot be discussed.

The Chicago Statement articulates the duties of institutions of higher learning towards freedom of expression. A version of this statement has now been adopted by many other colleges and universities, including Amherst, Princeton, Smith, and, most recently, Colgate. We believe that Williams College should affirm its commitment to the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom as essential to fulfilling its mission and goals by adopting the Chicago Statement.

If you agree with our concern and this statement, we ask you to please add your name to this petition. If we have a critical mass we will bring this to the president and our fellow faculty members for further consideration.

Links in the original. Again, my purpose in this post is not to dive into the substance of this debate. We will have months of that to come! My purpose is to solicit ideas for a funny/descriptive/insightful name for this controversy, something which merits the creation of a new EphBlog category. Thoughts:

1) Luana Maroja seems to be playing a leadership role in this effort. Well done! Maybe “Maroja’s Marauders?” I am a sucker for military references . . .

2) Note that “a group of six Williams professors started talking about getting the college to adopt the Chicago Statement.” I would assume that the 6 included Maroja, Gerrard and Gürçay-Morris. Who are the other three? Perhaps the controversy name should involve all of them? Perhaps “The Terrible Six?” Eph historians will recognize the reference (pdf):

3) I still like the alliteration of “Maud’s Moment.” Mandel will certainly be a central player in this debate, but “moment” does not quite capture things . . .

4) Is there some phrase we can use from the students’ petition against the change that resonates?

To quote Aiyana Porter at last week’s Black Student Union town hall, “John Derbyshire literally said that Black people are not humans. I’m not going to consider that in my classroom . . . . Who are we okay with making uncomfortable? Why are we so driven to making those particular people uncomfortable? If we are so insistent on making them uncomfortable, then we at least need some institutional support to get through all of the discomfort that you are thrusting upon us.”

I assumed that the reference to “my classroom” meant that Porter was a professor. Untrue! She is a student. But she does remind us how all this started with Uncomfortable Learning and John Derbyshire. Maybe “Derbyshire’s Revenge” or “Derbyshire’s Discomfit?”

Gaudino’s Revenge?

None of this is working for me. Suggestions welcome!

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Donor Beware: Power Line’s Steven Hayward Takes on Williams College

 

 

 

I was surprised to see one of my favorite Power Line writers, Steven Hayward, had noticed the faculty petition to bring a version of the famous Chicago Statement to Williams College. He notes he is proud UC Berkeley has adopted the Chicago Statement and its common sense defense of free speech and academic freedom. He opines “…while places like Berkeley, Colorado/Boulder, the University of Wisconsin, etc. have the rap for being the most politically correct and radical institutions of higher education, in fact they are relatively sane compared to small, elite private liberal arts colleges.”

Our Rotten Liberal Arts Colleges

His article focuses on the extremes he sees at Williams College and Sarah Lawrence. He goes out of his way to share choice elements of the student led counter-petition which hysterically views free speech and academic freedom as little more than revolutionary pogroms targeted at “people of color, queer people, disabled people, poor people, and others outside the center of power.”

His article is a refreshing reminder of why the postmodern radical ideology which dominates the culture of Williams College appears so unhealthy to well-meaning outsiders. It is worth reading his article in full. Steven Hayward is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and a visiting lecturer at Berkeley Law School.

 

 

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Faculty Petition about Free Speech

A faculty member passed along this document (pdf) which seems to include both the (complete?) faculty petition and the student response. The petition:

Good stuff! EphBlog agrees.

1) Note that there is no mention of the Chicago Statement or Chicago principles. Perhaps an earlier (or later?) version made that connection? If not, I don’t know why President Mandel would use that terminology.

2) From a College-branding point of view — paging Jim Reische! — it might be nice to have “Williams Statement on Free Expression.” We don’t just agree with Chicago! We have our own (similar) views.

3) Who wrote this? Who organized it? Who signed it? Let us praise them!

4) Do readers have predictions about how this will all work out? This certainly seems to be the major campus controversy for 2018-2019.

5) Worth a line-by-line analysis?

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Maud’s Moment!

President Maud Mandel is about to put her stamp on Williams.

Williams faculty, students and staff,

Numerous conversations have taken place recently, especially among faculty and students, around Williams’ principles and practices governing inviting speakers to campus. I’ve decided to charge an ad hoc committee with exploring various points of view and making recommendations for how Williams can ensure an educational environment that’s both intellectually open and inclusive.

I intend to recruit the committee by the end of the calendar year with counsel from leaders of faculty, staff and student governance. You can expect an update on the membership and charge once the group is constituted in early 2019. My hope is that the committee will engage campus constituencies who are interested in the issue and want to contribute to the development of guidelines appropriate for Williams.

Best wishes,

Maud

1) This is exactly the plan that EphBlog recommended two 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.

Adam Falk was not smart enough to follow this advice, but Maud Mandel is presidential timber cut from a better forest. (Or she reads EphBlog . . .)

2) Mandel would not be forming this committee if she did not want to move Williams toward the Chicago statement. Yay, Maud!

3) The next step is to pick committee members who will give her the answer she wants. Suggestions? It is not obvious that Mandel should pick many (any?) strong free speechers, like the faculty behind the petition. Does she know that, Michael Lewis, for example, wants free speech? Of course she does! But a committee filled with (too) many Michael Lewii might, counter-intuitively, make her goal more difficult to achieve. What she really wants is a committee which will produce the answer she prefers but is staffed by respected people with no (publicly disclosed) prior positions on the topic of free speech.

4) Such a rule would also provide cover for keeping faculty like Joy James far away. (Is going through the linked nonsense useful?)

5) Mandel should include at least one staff member (Jim Reische would be perfect) and one athletic coach. No one can complain about such choices, especially if the selected individuals have not expressed their views on free speech. But staff — who are at-will employees — are much more likely to know what the boss wants and to give it to her. Athletic faculty, also at-will, are naturally more “conservative” on these issues than their tenured brethren.

6) Should the committee include students? What about alumni? What choice will Mandel make? I am not certain what the best answer is.

7) The committee will have to include some racial minorities. Good choices might be Hispanic economists Peter Montiel or Greg Phelan. I haven’t spoken with either of them about the case, but most economists would be on Mandel’s side in this debate.

8) Mandel would love to have an African-American on the committee. Who should she choose? Not Joy James, obviously. Maybe Neil Roberts? He strikes me (contrary opinions welcome!) as one of the most “right-wing” African-American faculty at Williams, someone who might very well aspire to greater things. Being on this committee, and giving Mandel the answer she wants, would fast-track him toward being Dean of the Faculty.

9) EphBlog favorites Eiko Siniawer ’97 and Lee Park are plausible candidates. Again, I have not discussed this issue with them, but they are sensible, both in their policy judgments and in their willingness to play ball with a new president’s priorities.

10) The most competent high-profile committee in the last decade or so was the Merrill Committee, dealing with the Log mural. Might Karen Merrill be the best person to lead this new committee? What about Joe Cruz ’91 who also served on it?

11) Should Provost Dukes Love seek to be on this committee? Should he seek to chair it? Leading the campus conversation on such a difficult topic is the last item he needs on a resume which is perfectly crafted for his eventual job as an college president, at Williams or elsewhere. On the other hand, this whole thing could turn into an utter disaster, if handled poorly. Tough call!

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Mandel’s Moment?

From Ricochet:

Students at Williams College in Massachusetts are angry. According to a petition signed by hundreds of students, the faculty is urging the college to enact “reckless and dangerous policies” that will “imperil marginalized students,” and amount to “discursive violence.”

What awful set of policies could Williams College faculty possibly be considering?

It is a version of the policy known as the “Chicago Statement.” Created in 2015 by a committee led by legal scholar Geoffrey Stone at the University of Chicago, the statement “recommit[s] the university to the principles of free, robust, and uninhibited debate.” It explicitly reminds students and faculty on campus that they have a “responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect,” and that “concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be.”

1) Could this be Maud Mandel’s moment? She has an opportunity to guide/cajole/force Williams College along a very different path than the one Adam Falk preferred. Will she take it? EphBlog hopes so!

2) This issue comes up in the Record article we are reviewing this week. More tomorrow.

3) The petition is here (pdf). Worth a week to go through?

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More Safety Dance Documents

Here are some more Safety Dance court documents: 132-main, P Counter Facts, and P reply to D response in opposition.

Any comments from our legal readers? My sense is that readers do not want more writing from me about this sad case.

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Safety Dance Update, 3

Two new filings (Statement of Facts and Memo for Motion of Summary Judgment) in the Safety Dance case provide an occasion to revisit the biggest sexual assault case at Williams since Brackinridge or Gensheimer/Foster. Day 3.

The change Sandstrom refers to concerns affirmative consent. “No,” obviously, means “No.” But, just a few year ago, it was assumed that, if someone did not want to do something, they had an obligation to say so. Now, the standard is one of “affirmative consent.” It is every Eph’s obligation to ask for, and receive, permission for every sexual act. John Doe was, officially, thrown out of Williams, not for ignoring Jane Roe’s protestations but for (allegedly) not ensuring that Jane Roe said “Yes.”

This is very bit as insane as it sounds. Consider:

How many times has Maud Mandel sexually assaulted her husband since arriving at Williams?

I am 100% serious in asking this question. Consider:

The Williams College Code of Conduct requires affirmative consent for all sexual activity.

Consent means that at the time of the sexual contact, words and conduct indicate freely given approval or agreement, without coercion, by all participants in the sexual contact. Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity.

Williams also defines “sexual activity” very broadly, as “any sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by any person upon any other person . . .”

So, if Maud Mandel, without asking (and receiving!) explicit permission, has ever kissed her husband goodbye in the morning, or given him an affectionate pat on the behind as he walked out the door, or . . . anything really — then she has committed sexual assault and should, like John Doe, be kicked out of Williams.

This is, of course, nonsense. No normal person thinks that people, like Maud Mandel, in a relationship need to get permission for every single sexual activity ahead of time. But that is still the official policy at Williams, a policy which is used as a stick the ruin the lives of men — many of them poor and/or minority — much less powerful than Maud Mandel.

If John Doe deserves to be kicked out of Williams, than Maud Mandel is guilty of sexual assault.

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Safety Dance Update, 2

Two new filings (Statement of Facts and Memo for Motion of Summary Judgment) in the Safety Dance case provide an occasion to revisit the biggest sexual assault case at Williams since Brackinridge or Gensheimer/Foster. Day 2.

The more I read about Safety Dance, the more angry I become. Bolton/Bossong/Camancho sought to ruin John Doe’s life even though, at most, his crime was to be a bad boyfriend. Maybe they had it out for Doe because he was a first-gen minority male? They would never have pulled this crap against someone who looked like me, who came from a family of wealth and privilege . . .

Or maybe they would have screwed over a rich white guy just as hard . . .

Would that make them better people or worse?

Maud Mandel: Settle this case before it goes to trial.

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Safety Dance Update, 1

Two new filings (Statement of Facts and Memo for Motion of Summary Judgment) in the Safety Dance case provide an occasion to revisit the biggest sexual assault case at Williams since Brackinridge or Gensheimer/Foster. Day 1.

1) 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 . . .

2) 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. Contrary opinions welcome!

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