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Morty on Campus Unrest IV

Former Williams President Morty Schapiro wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in March on the “The New Face of Campus Unrest.” It is not good. Let’s spend a week dissecting it! Today is Day 4.

A decade or so ago, I returned from Shabbat services at my synagogue to learn that a student had hung posters mocking the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters distributed in the dorms. The message had been turned into a celebration of Hitler’s birthday; the picture of concentration camp victims had for some reason been replaced by a marijuana leaf. It is hard to imagine a more disgusting display.

Longtime readers will know that Morty is referring to Mary Jane Hitler, a controversy we covered in detail. Is Morty’s summary a fair one?


First, note that he elides the manner of distribution of the posters. The originally posters (example above) were “distributed in the dorms” — as if they had been left in a common room — while the Hitler posters were “hung.” In fact, both posters were distributed in an identical manner: hung on the doors of student rooms. Below is one of the parody posters.


Second, “the picture of concentration camp victims had for some reason been replaced by a marijuana leaf” is wrong. The marijuana leaf replaced the Star of David symbol on the original posters. This is, perhaps, a small point and I am certain that Morty is not trying to be misleading. (Why would he?) But it does remind us all testimony is inherently unreliable, especially years after the fact.

Third, “celebration of Hitler’s birthday” is a misleading description of the intention behind the posters. Recall the Administration’s own description:

The student who admitted that she had produced and hung the second posters said that her doing so was intended as a use of her right to provoke discussion about the appropriateness of the first ones.

Indeed. These posters were clearly parodies of the original Holocaust Remembrance posters. They were, intentionally, nonsensical.

Fourth, note the Morty’s provincialism in the claim that “It is hard to imagine a more disgusting display.” Hard for whom? I can easily imagine many more worse displays! In fact, doesn’t Morty have some Northwestern colleagues who are, say, African American rather than Jewish? I suspect that they would find praise of the KKK or the Confederacy much more disgusting than these Hitler/marijuana posters.

Fifth, I am unimpressed with Morty’s empathy. Why turn this student into the other? She made a mistake. Wasn’t it Morty’s (and Williams’s) job to, you know, teach her? To help turn her into a better person? But why even try when it is so much easier (and profitable!) to turn her into the enemy.

And, eight years later, she is a wife and mother, moving on with her life as so many before her have done, as so many graduates in 2016 will soon do.

I am leaving names out of this discussion, but surely our faithful readers will appreciate that the student is marrying someone connected to this saga but, not, fortunately, the original creepy boyfriend.

Back to Morty:

But here is the question we asked: Did the student hang those posters randomly, or instead single out the rooms of members of groups targeted by the Nazis such as Jews, blacks and gays?

“blacks?” Come on Morty! Although the Nazis were, obviously, no friends to blacks, any accurate accounting would put blacks far down on the list of Nazi victims. If you believe Wikipedia, any fair three word summary of Nazi victims would definitely not include blacks and might not include gays. But Poles and Ukrainians — much less Catholics, Communists and deaf people — are not major constituencies of a modern, major university president, so Morty does not list them.

If it had been the latter, it might have constituted verbal assault. But it was the former, and in our view that was protected free speech. This wasn’t an easy decision, or perhaps the most expedient, but it was the right one.

Tell us all how brave you are Morty! How, exactly, would it have possibly been “expedient” to punish this student, a student who was clearly exercising free speech in exactly the same manner as the students who put up the original posters? Any attempt to punish the student would — if she fought it — lead to disaster. And this student was a fighter.

Of course, this passage is just a throw-away story — meant to demonstrate the good sense (put him on your corporate board!) and bravery (nothing expedient!) of our fearless author. But I just couldn’t resist taking a guided tour through one of my favorite Williams controversies.

They don’t call me Nazi Hunter for nothing!


CC Poster Meeting Notes

CC Secretary Remington Shepard ’08 kindly provided me with the minutes to the April 25th College Council meeting which discussed Mary Jane Hitler. Previous discussion here and here.

It isn’t clear to me if CC discussed having a speech code at Williams (a stupid idea) or my much simpler Eph Style Guide.


All About You

The most important College Council meeting of the year happened two weeks ago and discussed Mary Jane Hitler. Rant follows.

CC member Andrew Goldston reports:

The dais took efforts to limit the scope to exploring the idea of standards of tolerance of speech/expression/whatever around campus, and the meeting was entirely too calm and measured, IMO. Honestly, nearly everything I heard I’ve already read on WSO, seen on EphBlog, talked over in ConLaw this morning, or written here myself.

Remington will be posting meeting minutes at some point with a pretty detailed accounting of what went on, if you want to check. The only thing everyone really agreed on, as far as I can tell, is that putting stuff on people’s doors is a pretty bad idea.

Frankly, I’m all Hitlered out.

Students want to read those notes but CC Co-President Kim Dacres is, uh, less than helpful to her constituents.

James Matthews: I haven’t seen or heard anything about this meeting, and it’s been a few days. Would somebody who was present care to fill me in?

Kimberly Dacres: We had the CC meeting last wednesday. You both should have come if you wanted to be filled in. But, since that isn’t the case…look out for the meeting minutes from the CC Secretary, Remington Shepard. Take care.

James Matthews: Not everybody has the time to come to everything they would like, Miss President. Furthermore, CC minutes tend to be elusive beings, appearing seemingly at random, and more frustratingly (for those of us who aren’t fans of the dining halls), unannounced, and disappearing just as quickly. Since some of us had other commitments at the time, it would nice if either someone less condescending towards that could inform us what went down, or if CC could at least post the minutes online so that we can have easy access/reference to them.

Kimberly Dacres: Let me make one thing clear, you are not the only one with committments on this campus. So, please don’t get testy with me when I point you in the direction that you asked for in the first place. As to my so called “condescending” tone…you don’t even know me. So try talking to me in person instead of being an “elusive being” and posting on WSO. CC office hours Sunday 9pm-10pm…unless you have other commitments because of course this IS all about you.

Spoken like someone not up for re-election! Comments:

1) Kudos to CC Co-president Morgan Goodwin for providing a brief run-down later in the thread.

2) Secretary Remington Shepard apologizes and notes that he has been too “busy being a student recently.” Wrong answer! When you run for CC, you are making a promise to, within reason, allow your CC duties to take precedence over your classes. No one is asking you to fail out, but if you don’t have time to turn than B- essay into an A because the notes take so much time to write, then you take the hit. Your GPA should be lower if you are a CC officer than it otherwise would be. CC officers are like JAs or sports/activity leaders. By competing for and winning a job that many others wanted, you are making a commitment to do that job first.

3) As best I can tell, the minutes are still not electronically available. Not even for last year! Some say that is fine, that there is no need for electronic CC minutes since only loser bloggers read them. False! First, if you are going to have a website which promises notes, then you need to put notes up there. Otherwise, people will not take you seriously. Second, if CC wants to influence people who matter (faculty, alumni), it needs to communicate with them. Meeting Dean Roseman once a week is fine and fun but she is not the only power that matters and, like many Deans, is more interested in getting CC on-board with her agenda than helping CC accomplish its agenda. Third, some/many/most students consider CC something of a joke (although this changes from year to year). One reason for this disdain is CC’s failure to accomplish even the most basic tasks, like posting the minutes.

Follow Jonathan Landsman’s ’05 example. Provide thorough minutes. Post them quickly. If the CC secretary can’t/won’t do it, replace him.



Who remembers this debate from two years ago on WSO? Our own Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07 wrote:

Though I believe strongly in the legal right to freedom of expression, it is clear that certain forms of expression are correctly censured by society. One may be technically free to be a hateful bigot, but the rest of society is free to view hateful bigots with scorn and contempt.

I realize there are certain things I should not say. Not because society restricts my speech, but because these things are themselves vile and loathsome. I should not, for example, support or endorse Nazis. If I speak in support of the Nazi party, or wear clothing that bears the swastika, I will (quite rightly) be criticized for doing so. Anyone who endorses a regime which murdered so many millions deserves to be held in contempt by society.

Yet, several times at Williams, I have seen people wear shirts and sweatshirts embroidered with the hammer and sickle or the “CCCP” logo, or printed with a picture of Mao Zedong or Che Guevara. Wearing such clothing does not seem to attract any undue attention or criticism. It seems quite acceptable.

Communism is thought to have killed about 20 million in the USSR, 65 million in China, and millions more in Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It adds up to nearly 100 million deaths in the 20th-century. These are not casualties of war, but civilian slaughter – deaths in gulags, concentration camps, executions, and famines either planned or unintentionally caused by central policy. Though I am unsure of the exact death toll caused by the Nazis, I think this (100 million) is even higher. If it is unacceptable to endorse the Nazis, why is it acceptable to wear clothing that bears the symbol of an even more murderous ideology?

A fun thread ensues. If Julia had used a picture of Stalin or Mao instead of Hitler, I doubt that security would have taken the posters down. Mary Jane Hitler creates a huge controversy at Williams. Mary Jane Mao? Not so much. Why?


Too Many Jews

Still think that Mary Jane Hitler is a basically good person who simply misjudged likely campus reaction to her posters? Think again. Consider her thoughts on Williams admissions from two years ago (before she arrived at Williams but after she had been accepted).

The PC explanation for why Jews make up 3% of the US population but 10% or more of the students at places like Williams is that Jewish culture values educational achievement. That is undoubtedly true, but . . .

[Incomprehensible rant on Jewish genetics deleted]

[O]ne of the reasons that some groups are “underrepresented” at Williams is that, pari passu, other groups at Williams are overrepresented. Want to increase diversity — meaning to make the percentages from various groups equal to the percentages in the applicant pool — at Williams? Don’t let in so many Jews.

Now, I am doing my best to keep an open mind about her, to see her as I was myself at 20, not a bad person but lacking a full Eph helping of empathy and with especially poor judgment about peer reaction to provocative ideas. Yet that is not the worst of it. She links to sites like the racist American Renaissance and suggests that dreck like “The Color of Crime” (pdf) by Jared Taylor ought to be assigned in a Williams classroom.

A single mistake deserves understanding and forgiveness. A pattern of such behavior necessitates stronger measures. Suggestions?

Whoops! Mary Jane Hitler didn’t write those rants, did not link to those noxious websites. I did.

Those who insist on punishment for her ought to pick on someone their own size, someone like me.

UPDATE: Minor editing.


Holocaust Posters

Here is one of the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters.



1) Previous discussions here and here.

2) Seems clear that these images and information came from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Posters featured (among others) Dora Rivkina, Max Rosenblat and Thomas Elek. See also this pdf.

3) Were all those remembered Jewish? Yes (I think). Why can’t I find anyone from the WCJA to answer some questions on the details? Help us out, readers!

4) Were all those pictured killed because they were Jewish? No.

In 1940, after the Germans occupied France, Thomas’s mother enlisted in a women’s resistance group. Following her example, Thomas joined a progressive students’ organization in 1941 and later, with his brother, Bela, joined the armed resistance group, Franc-Tireurs et Partisans. Thomas participated in sabotage actions against the Germans. His group launched numerous grenade attacks, and set fire to a German library on the Left Bank. On July 28, 1943, his unit blew up a convoy of German officers and soldiers, killing 600.

Arrested on November 21, 1943, Thomas was tortured and condemned to death. On February 21, 1944, at the age of 20, he was executed by a Nazi firing squad.

Thomas Elek, resistance fighter, would have been tortured and shot regardless of his religion. Now, I don’t think that the WCJA was trying to make any sort of subtle point here. I suspect they just skimmed through the on-line information and picked some pictures/stories. But the identities of the victims, the stories behind their deaths, and the reasons for their selection by WCJA are an important point in the conversation. Recall Jonaya Kemper:

I found the HRD posters just as offensive. Saying they were not religious posters is bull. Saying that you were trying to call attention to all the atrocity in the world is backpeddling at best. There were no African children or Bosnian children on those posters. Only Jewish children. Not even the children of gypsies or any of the mixed race children that were experimented on and sterilized. Not a single one. There was a Star of David on the poster, and the way a small child died horribly. I take offense at ANYONE posting the methods of cruelty measured on any child, on my door.

It would be good to have more dialog about these posters. The Mary Jane Hitler controversy has eclipsed a useful conversation about how we should mark Yom Hashoah and how we might encourage others to do the same.

5) Does Thomas Elek belong on a Yom Hashoah poster? Probably not. Although usage varies, the Holocaust “is the term generally used to describe the killing of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the National Socialist regime in Germany led by Adolf Hitler.” So, Jewish US soldiers who died during World War II are not remembered on this day because their deaths were not part of the Holocaust per se. We honor them on Memorial Day. Similarly, Thomas Elek was treated no differently (?) than non-Jewish French resistance fighters who were caught by the Gestapo.

6) I realize that this is arcane commentary, at best, but uncomfortable learning demands close attention to the details of the symbols that we choose and their effects on fellow Ephs.

UPDATE: Post title changed by request.


Cartoon Contest!

Want to contribute to EphBlog’s epic Nazi-snipe hunt? Feeling sad that your talents are more artistic than InterNICistic? No worries! EphBlog needs your help.

Attentive readers will have noted that our posts on Robert Shvern have lost their photos. Very sad. Turns out that the pale guy with the skanky ponytail was Robert Shvern himself. And here we thought it was just another loser on Friendster. Our mistake! In any event, the photos (since they are the property of Mr. Shvern) have been removed at his bombastically legalistic request. We at EphBlog are nothing if not law-abiding.

And that’s why we need your help. Please create a cartoon version of Robert Shvern that we can use in place of the missing photo. This is your chance for fame (or anonymity) in service of the greater Eph good. Nothing too tasteless please, but the smirk, ponytail and reverse Swastika are recommended components. Use your imagination! Either post a link to your submission or e-mail it to us. The winning submission will be proudly placed in past and present posts devoted to the topic of Robert Shvern.


Successfully Manipulated

A reader notes:

If you telnet to port 80 at, it says httpd is actually
running at

Apache/1.3.37 Server at Port 80

Must be vhosted. Anyway, here’s another of shvern’s little manifestos:

At least we have (weak) evidence that he won’t commit a (severe) crime.

Not so fast. The “manifesto” goes as follows:

“As you know, I have no respect for law or morality. Why I never committed any crime? (of course, I’m not talking about something like shooting a grouse out of season now and then. I mean felony type stuff – burglary, arson, murder, etc.) Lack of motive? Hardly. As you know, I have a good deal of anger in me and there are lots of people I’d like to hurt. Risk? In some cases, yes. But there are other cases in which I can figure out ways of doing naughty things so that the risk would be insignificant. I am forced to the humiliating confession that the reason I’ve never committed any crime is that I have been successfully brainwashed by society. On an intellectual level I have only contempt for authority, but on an animal level I have all too much respect for it. My training has been quite successful in this regard and the strength of my conditioned inhibitions is such that I don’t believe I could ever commit a serious crime. Knowing my attitude toward psychological manipulation of the individual by society, you can imagine how humiliating it is for me to admit to myself that I have been successfully manipulated.”

Reassured? Don’t be. Note the quote marks. This was not written by Robert Shvern. The author is Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber. The manipulation was not as successful as one might have hoped.

Narcissistic ramblings below.

Read more


Community Standards

The question: Should EphBlog remove Julia’s last name (at her request) from all posts/comments relating to the Mary Jane Hitler controversy? I think Yes, but many (most? all?) readers seem to disagree.

In thinking about this question, it is important to keep in mind our history of removals/censoring. In particular, anyone who thinks that simply removing Julia’s last name is unreasonable should explain why other removals of entire articles are acceptable. Consider two cases.

First, a post about a then-student arrested for child pornography was removed at the Eph’s request, along with a link or two to that post. This was news in the public record but, consistent with our FAQ, we removed it all.

Second, a post about a then-student who plead guilty to marijuana possession in Berkshire District Court. Again, this was a matter of public record. The Eph requested (in an extremely obnoxious fashion) that we remove it. (Amusing commentary here.) There is no way to stop us from printing this sort of post, but we want to create a friendly forum here. We aren’t interested in just EphTripe, obviously, but we would still like the Eph community to feel welcome.

So, if it is OK, even praise-worthy, to remove those two posts entirely, what is the problem with removing just Julia’s last name?


Removing Names: “DK’s Ephblog” or “Everybody’s Ephblog”?

(I emailed this to DK and he asked me to put it up as a post)


I’m a bit bothered by your seemingly unilateral removal of the full name of Bong Hits 4 Hitler from this blog, all comments, and your statement that any future posts/comments with her name would be redacted, coupled with your offer to remove Rob’s name from EphBlog based on an exchange that you feel is of equal value.

Back when I was sniping at PTC for what I saw as spamming about marginally tangential (at most) Democrat/anti-Bush/anti-war/populist politics and policies around the country, you corrected my statement that this is “DK’s Blog” by responding “And, for the 237th time, this is not my blog. This is our blog.”

If that is the case, I have a real problem with your unilateral decision to go ahead and remove Julia’s name from the posts and comments, without even asking the rest of us for our opinions on the matter before you did so or even informing us that you were considering it. In the same vein, I have even more of a problem with offering to remove Rob’s name based on your “deal” with him.

If this site is not just your blog, you do not have the right to make that decision on behalf of all of the other authors and commenters, particularly when it seems that you are in an extremely small minority. If it’s your EphBlog, then you do — but I really don’t think you can have it both ways here.

Nobody is forcing you (or even necessarily asking you) to use her name or Rob’s now or in the future. But I find it strange, to say the least, that you proclaim that “this is our blog” but then go on to change the rest of our entries and comments about Bong Hits 4 Hitler, set an editorial standard for future posts about Bong Hits 4 Hitler, and propose to do the same for posts about Robert Shvern.

If it’s “our blog”, then you don’t have the authority to bind us in your agreements or make the decision to remove Bong Hits 4 Hitler from all comments and posts here. You have not consulted us, asked for our opinions, or apparently recognized that most if not all of the rest of us disagree with you on both of these points.


Dynamics of Control

Thanks to comments (especially from “Dee”) on previous Mary Jane Hitler threads, EphBlog’s all-seeing eye is drawn to RobLINK, a site devoted to making salary information from George Mason University (GMU) public.

Contained on these pages are GMU Salaries from Spring 1995 to Spring 2006, with tools that make that information easy to search and survey. This salary information is public information and can be obtained by anyone by placing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with George Mason University. Please redistribute this information freely and encourage others to do the same.

Great stuff! Transparency in salary information is a long-standing cause of EphBlog. Who can forget our discussions about President Schapiro’s compensation or our trolling through the College’s Form 990s? Back when I could contribute to Willipedia, I created this page on the topic.

Does everyone appreciate this sort of public service? Alas, not.

Unfortunately, administrators and certain individuals at GMU are hostile to the release of this public information and are fighting against GMU salary information being widely available so that they can enjoy the dynamics of control. This approach is extremely damaging to the educational environment where the focus should be on facilitating an open environment that is supportive of academic pursuits instead of one that is strongly administrative, political, and censorial in nature.

Surely a bit overwrought, but the “dynamics of control” are exactly what we have had to deal for years in trying to get the Administration at Williams to conduct itself in a transparent manner, in a style worthy of an elite academic institution. Numerous examples available on request.

But does RobLINK having anything to do with Robert Shvern, Mr. Creepy Boyfriend? Good question! The first name and antipathy to GMU certainly matches. This link provides excellent circumstantial evidence. Perhaps some of our technically minded readers can trace the various connections via InterNIC.

Before this lulls you into sympathy for Shvern, note how the page ends:

Concept originally designed and implemented by RobLINK.
Salaries courtesy of George Mason University.
Send mail to the maintainer of this page.

This site exists without the assertion of any particular social, political, racial or “gender-based” ideology. This site is in no way affiliated with GNAA.

Don’t click on that last link unless you have a strong stomach and a computer protected from nasty cookies/spyware. It is the sort of “joke” that only someone like Shvern could appreciate.


Two Camps

Robert Shvern has refined his opinion of the Mary Jane Hitler controversy.

It comes down to two camps really. Either you believe in the free will of others or you want to control them.

Those who believe in life, and consequently in others, see a wide range of diversity in the world. People are different and consequently many ideas exist, at least from people not swamped in normative social convention.

In a free society we aren’t required to all agree on our opinions, preferences, viewpoints or interpretations. Neither should we be required to silence ourselves or lie in accordance with custom. In unfree societies, people have to stay silent or openly lie to say what is expected by authorities. Whether the punishment is gulags, work camps, summary execution, or disrupting one’s livelihood, the method is the same: force over freedom, destruction over rationality.

It’s fairly easy to force a population to repeat arbitrary ideas without ability to consider their assumptions and consequences. History shows that the only defense to mob thinking is rational discourse somehow finding a way to escape the conformist fury of the mob.

If you don’t like an idea, speak out about the idea, not the person saying it. Surely you can attack speakers and destroy a few lives by attacking people, but this only shows you lack an argument against the idea. The people communicating ideas are only messengers and rarely have anything to do with the origin of the idea or its reasoning. Attacking people does not defeat an idea, but it boldly demonstrates an instinct for cruelty and unconcern for others.

I support free speech of all varieties and viewpoints for the same reason as the ACLU defends unpopular legal defendants. If free speech only consisted of ideas with which the majority agree, then it would not be free speech at all, but only communication controlled by mob rule. I don’t want a society that restricts ideas to those approved by the mob. I believe that thinking people can figure out ideas for themselves and need no well-intentioned controllers or censors.

A gentle tolerance of diversity and polite civility allows human knowledge to increase instead of increasingly constricting intellectualism to lowest common denominator mob rule.

Remove the blackness from your heart and have a little faith in mankind.


1) It would be convenient if the (funny!) YouTube videos on this page did not start automatically.

2) We are all in favor of “tolerance of diversity and polite civility” at EphBlog. Perhaps this should be our new motto.

3) Did I mention that I had a fun 30 minute conversation with Robert Shvern yesterday? Good times! The best part of EphBlog is all the interesting people you get to meet. The conversation was officially off the record, but now that Shvern is threatening me with legal action I feel, uh, less well-disposed toward him than before. I guess I need to work on that “blackness from your heart” stuff.

Anyway, I actually had an idea for how this might all work out for the best. I proposed that Shvern agree to stay away from the Williams campus for the next two years. (It appears that the College has done nothing to prevent him from visiting as often as he likes.) In exchange, all usages of his last name would be removed from EphBlog.

People on campus who find him threatening would not need to worry about his presence. Shvern would no longer have this be the number two hit on Google for “Shvern.” Everybody wins!

Unfortunately, Robert Shvern does not want to take this deal. He wants me to remove these two posts (and the associated comments). He wants to get lawyers involved. Good luck with that!

4) This may get a great deal uglier. That’s no worry for me since I have excellent legal counsel and all the time in the world. Others should, however, be careful in their participation going forward. There is little real anonymity on the internet and Robert Shvern has demonstrated an inclination to sue those who make disparaging comments about him. Write at your own risk.

5) Since the internet is a great place to get free legal advice, perhaps some of our lawyer-readers could comment on the issues involved, especially with regard to our comment threads. Could Robert Shvern successfully sue on the basis of what has already happened?


Springtime for Hitler

What is it about Hitler and April in Williamstown? Consider this article from April 27th in the New York Times.

Adolf Hitler, in brown-shirted effigy, disappeared suddenly from the Williams College campus this evening as a group of pro-fascist conservatives made off with an image of Der Fuehrer which had been prepared for destruction at the stake.

In the first riot at Williams in several years, over 500 mauling undergraduates broke up efforts to protest the failure of the German Government to act on an offer to buy all the Vienna Library books which have been condemned.

April 27th, 1938, that is.

The article’s title is “Hitler Effigy Saved From Williams Fire; Then Student Battle Rages Over Burning of Swastika.” Those were the days, eh? The last time there were “500 mauling undergraduates” at Williams was when? The Vanilla Ice concert?

Every Eph’s Hitler reading list should include Adolph Hitler: The Definitive Biography by Pulitzer Prize-winner John Toland ’36 and The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler by Professor Robert G. L. Waite. If Professor Waite (my teacher in HIST 301) were still alive, he would have much to say about Mary Jane Hitler. Want to understand what the world was like 7 decades ago? Start with the Anschluss. Are there any historian readers who can educate us about the Vienna Library, circa April 1938?

The article continues:

Piles of pine coughs, boxes, crates and rubber tires blazed up in the midst of the Sophomore Quadrangle as floodlights played from dormitory windows. Fire houses were pulled out to flood the gathering and help preserve a Nazi swastika which had been brought on to supplant the Hitler image.

Are you an Eph undergraduate who cares about the past? Go look up the stories in the Record from the spring of 1938 and tell us what you find.

The student mob swayed up and down the field for half an hour in a fight over the swastika. Then its rescuer made off down the hill, while on a crowded balcony a moustached, undergraduate simulated Hitler in a brief appeal amid cheers and jeers.

And who was that nameless undergraduate, engaged in a stunt that — with the benefit of knowing what was then to come — seems much worse than that of Julia? What life did he go on to lead, which woman did he marry, what children did he raise? Should he have been marked, for the rest of his life, by one foolish moment of undergraduate stupidity? Was he not an Eph, like you, like me, like Julia?


The Postress

Via Greylock News, a (not very active) blog discussion about Mary Jane Hitler. Comments:

1) This is the second independent use (first here) of the phrase “Mary Jane Hitler” to describe the controversy. That makes it official! False modesty aside, all scandals need names. A name for this scandal needs to include the word Hitler. Mary Jane is a useful double entendre since it captures the fact that marijuana references were involved and that the main protagonist, Julia, is female. The absurdity of the combination of Mary Jane and Hitler also captures the lack of threat here. Julia may be confused and clueless but she is obviously a basically good person. The phrase (due to HWC?) “Bong Hits 4 Hitler” is not a bad formulation, but now that two other media sources are using the Mary Jane Hitler terminology, it is time to settle on this.

2) The site, Watching the Watchers, has a copy of one of the posters but lists no source (and no mention of EphBlog either). Now, not everyone knows about EphBlog (shocking but true) but odds are he got the picture from us. Credit where credit is due, please.

3) The author, Lee Russ, refers to Julia as The Postress. I am not sure why he doesn’t just use her name, now that it is the Record. In any event, following the standards outlined in our FAQ, we have removed all references to Julia’s last name in our posts. Soon, we hope to do the same in our comments. (Future comments which mention Julia’s last name will be either edited or deleted.) We do this at Julia’s request.

Now, as you might imagine, this is a tough call. On the one hand, EphBlog is not just a news source. We are a community. We seek to be friendly and accommodating. We do not want to cause anyone unnecessary grief. On the other hand, this is the biggest story at Williams in the last several years. We need to cover it and discuss it. Although we do delete posts (most recent one concerned an Eph charged with child pornography), we would be hard-pressed to delete the posts and associated discussion surrounding this topic.

Fortunately, in the end, it was easy to both maintain our news coverage and discussion while not highlighting Julia’s last name in our coverage. Reader comments on this decision are welcome.


Meet Robert Shvern, Creepy Boyfriend

Who is “Rob S.”, Julia’s creepy boyfriend? Inquiring EphBlog readers want to know!

Our treasure hunt begins with an anonymous tip from a loyal reader and the site ( that Rob S. used to communicate with the Williams community. (Note that the site no longer features the posters or Rob’s commentary. Here is a cache. Did anyone save a more recent version, especially one with the threats against Noah? Check your Firefox buffers!)

1) Here is the domain information associated with Note that the registrant’s e-mail address is

2) Throne Networks controls and is a defunct(?) company according to the Virginia Department of Corporations. However, their 2000 annual report is available online. Search here to discover this (pdf). Robert Shvern is listed as the President of Throne Networks. Ross Mueller is the Vice President. Ryan Cruse is the Director of Technology.

3) A Google search shows that “Robert Shvern” was arrested for (but not convicted of) computer crimes at George Mason University. Consider this story from 1998:

An alumnus and a current student who say they were falsely accused of
hacking into the computer system at George Mason University have filed a $4.5 million lawsuit against the school for defamation of character and false imprisonment.

An attorney for Robert Shvern, 24, of Fairfax County, and Ryan Whelan, 25, of Centreville, said the two men suffered great embarrassment and damage to their reputations and lost jobs and money as a result of charges filed against them last summer, which were later dropped.

If Robert Shvern were 24 in 1998, then he would be 33 now, the same age as our Rob S. And living in Virginia. These pieces seem to be aligning nicely, don’t they? But, to really connect “Rob S.” to Robert Shvern, it would be nice to find a link to Ryan Whelan, who would be about 34 now.

4) Conveniently enough, there is a Ryan Whelan listed on Friendster, a 34 year-old living in Virginia. And he is “friends” with Rob S. (Oh, wait. How clever! Rob S. changed his name to “Roberto” and deleted all the nasty stuff. No worries. Here is an original version.) What a coincidence! Also, two of his “friends” (Ryan Cruse and Tyler) are also friends with Rob S. Glad that they have stuck together all these years.

Not enough evidence? Recall that the Vice President of Throne Networks was Ross Mueller. Shockingly enough, there is a Ross Mueller on Friendster. Who’d a thunk it? Ross’s friends include Ryan Cruse and Peter Beckman, both friends of Rob S. It’s a small Friendster world after all. Now, it is possible that the Ryan Cruse, Ross Mueller and Ryan Whelan listed above are not the same men that Robert Shvern has known for years. Rob S. just happens to have friends with the same names. Yeah, riiiiiiight.

5) So, we can conclude (corrections welcome!) that Julia’s creepy Hitler-poster-designing boyfriend is 33 year-old Robert Shvern of Virginia, proud graduate of George Mason University, and once (and current?) President of Throne Networks.

But the somewhat scary part is that Throne Networks appears to be the host of a number of very nasty websites. Check out domain information on, and I do not know if Robert Shvern is still associated with Throne Networks. Perhaps the Record will interview him! If I lived in the same dorm as Julia, then I might have some concerns about Robert Shvern coming to visit.

UPDATE: This post originally included a picture of Shvern retrieved from his now-closed Friendster page. Schvern has noted that this image is his property and that we have no right to use it without his permission. He is correct. We mistakenly assumed, since the image was on a public Friendster page, that it was in the public domain. EphBlog regrets the error.


Uncomfortable Learning

Professor Sam Crane writes :

I talked yesterday, and had a pleasant dinner with, a group of alumni from my college. They were students of a famed teacher, Robert L. Gaudino. He was an immensely dedicated teacher, committed to the idea of “uncomfortable learning,” challenging fundamental assumptions and, even, identities. I was impressed by the deep effect this teacher had on his students, evident still forty years later.

Gaudino was one of the most important professors at Williams in the last 50 years. (I just created his Wikipedia page. Who will add to it?) We all agree on the importance of “uncomfortable learning,” of being confronted by strange and disquieting views, of learning that not everyone thinks as we think and acts as we act. Don’t we?

Alas, we don’t. Some are too quick to sacrifice a diversity of viewpoints in the name of “promoting acceptance.”

In reaction to the racial slur that was directed at a student in May 2005, President Schapiro asserted that “hateful behavior lies well outside the boundaries of this community’s standards.” Last Friday, a misguided student ignored that message and crossed those boundaries. An incendiary poster campaign promoted a pro-Hitler message and mocked the remembrance of genocide. Cognizant of recent events at Virginia Tech, some Williams students were terrified by the message and afraid to participate in ordinary activities.

The behavior that promoted this kind of fear among community members was unacceptable. Williams must be a safe and accepting community. All students have the right to walk around campus and participate in activities without feeling threatened. No student has the right to make a member of the Williams community uncomfortable. As your elected officers, we condemn the posters and ensure the community that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

No, no, no. A thousand times No. Not only does Julia have the right to make the students around her “uncomfortable,” she has an obligation to do so. We all do, particularly members of the Williams faculty and those alumni with a devoted interest in our beloved alma mater. If you are “comfortable” at Williams all year long, then the College is doing something wrong. A comfortable liberal arts education is an oxymoron.

Now, of course, we don’t want students to feel “terrified” (as some no doubt were by Julia’s posters); we need to ensure that everyone can participate in the Williams conversation; we need ground rules for maximizing effectiveness and inclusion. Yet Julia’s decision to put up posters featuring Hitler as a satire of, and comment on, the WCJA’s Holocaust Remembrance Day campaign is well within the framework of a Williams education, of “uncomfortable learning.” Say what you will about Julia, but this Record article makes clear that she is intelligent, thoughtful and well-spoken. There is no doubt that she belongs at Williams, that she is a part of the community, that her speech has educated others. She might want to cultivate some more empathy for those around her, especially those students who “felt threatened” by the posters. (Much the same was said, correctly, of me 20 years ago. Surely, loyal EphBlog readers know that I was the Julia of my day at Williams.) But empathy will come with time, as it comes to all of us.

Surely at least some members of the faculty would agree with this sentiment, would recognize that posters like Julia’s, ideas which we find offensive, are an integral part of our education. Or are there no Robert Gaudino’s left at Williams? Consider this description of an event at Williams 25 years ago, before Julia had even been born.

Steve Lewis [’60, former Economics professor] began by discussing three events that had occurred at Williams which were “created” by Gaudino. In essence, Gaudino responded to certain situations and transformed them into educational “events.” Steve introduced the events by referencing one of Gaudino’s questions: “Isn’t education really one big upset stomach?”

Indeed it is. Read the whole thing. If Bob Gaudino were at Williams today, he would be turning this into an “event,” defending in the strongest possible terms Julia’s active participation in the intellectual life of the College, asking all of us to consider (and appreciate) the stomach ache that these posters have created.

Where have you gone, Professor Gaudino?


MJ Hitler on the Radio

We are getting a lot of hits from Scottie on the Air (barely safe for work), the website of a local radio shock-jock. Compliment or insult? [Note that he uses the “Mary Jane Hitler” phrasing (at the bottom of the page). — ed. I know my audience . . .]


No Juden

Rob. S from Reston, Virginia is Julia’s 33 year-old creepy boyfriend. Think that “creepy” is not a fair description?


Think again. Here is his Friendster page.


Worse part? How about this:

Who I Want to Meet:

i like smart, cute, pale, sweet girls

please no djs, ravers, juden

Or maybe this cartoon?


Thanks to an anonymous tipster. More details welcome. I agree with HWC that Rob’s threats against Noah give Williams a perfect excuse to ban him from campus. He should be prevented from ever setting foot on Williams property again. Julia should be informed of his status and told that inviting him on campus, much less into her dorm, would lead to her own expulsion as well.

Julia can say anything she wants. I, and others, will defend her, no matter how hateful her opinions might be. (And I have yet to offer my own views on the posters.) But she has no right to invite a Nazi [Or, at least someone who doesn’t like “juden.” — ed. Whatever.] who has threaten a Williams student with violence on to campus. Ban him.

UPDATE: This post originally included two pictures of Rob and a cartoon with strange Swastika-like symbol, all retrieved from his now-closed Friendster page. Rob has noted that these images are his property and that we have no right to use them without his permission. He is correct. We mistakenly assumed, since the images were on a public Friendster page, that they were in the public domain. EphBlog regrets the error.


Punishment Today

Julia’s creepy 33 year-old boyfriend Rob is not pleased with Noah’s misidentification of him as Nazi Robert Lindstrom.

Noah has made the accusation that I am a nazi. Noah doesn’t know my family’s history or understand why that is insulting, but should be warned that those are fighting words. While it is easy to post thoughtless insults on blogs so you can “win” irrelevant arguments and show how clever you are with ad hominems, if you say something like that to me in person next time I’m on campus, it is likely that I’ll respond to such libelous insults with violence.

Good to know!

Calling someone a Nazi = “fighting words.” Putting a poster of Hitler on someone’s door = “nothing event”. Let me ponder those equations for a few moments . . .

But the real news is that, according to EphBlog surveillance cameras placed all around Hopkins Hall, Julia is due to receive her “punishment” from Dean Roseman today. Confirmations of this poorly sourced rumor are welcome.

My hope is that Dean Roseman is smart enough to realize that the appropriate punishment for Julia is nothing. (Long time readers will also wonder why Roseman is so eager to punish Julia while doing nothing to stop students from participating in the St. Anthony Hall fraternity.) As discussed in the QBE controversy, the College has few ground for punishing such students (which is a good thing). The student handbook is clear.

Williams College does not discriminate on grounds unrelated to its educational objectives; it is committed to being a community in which all ranges of opinion and belief can be expressed and debated, and within which all patterns of behavior permitted by the public law and College regulations can take place. The community is varied, including people of diverse races, religions, national or ethnic backgrounds, gender expressions and gender identities, and sexual orientations, and its members may from time to time disagree with one another’s ideas and behavior. The College seeks to assure the rights of all to express themselves in words and actions, so long as they can do so without infringing upon the rights of others or violating standards of good conduct or public law.

The College can not punish students for speech, however immature/hateful/obnoxious that speech might be. It can not punish Julia for postering doors while allowing, even praising, the WCJA for doing so. I am all in favor of having a dean scream (literally) at Julia and turn her into a blubbering mess. (Are there any deans at Williams with the ability/desire to the play the bad cop like that? There should be.) But the College can not use its formal powers to punish Julia (no “warning letter” or anything else that becomes a permanent part of Julia’s record at Williams) while, at the same time, not punishing the students behind the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters. If Roseman is so foolish as to issue such a punishment, and Julia wants to fight it, free-speech-absolutist alums (like me) will have no choice but to fight at Julia’s side. First they came for Mary Jane Hitler, but I was not . . .

Let’s hope that it won’t come to that.


Go Away, Creepy Nazi Boyfriend

Julia’s 30 (?) year-old boyfriend “Rob” is not a particularly constructive part of the campus conversation. But, like a jack-knifed tractor-trailer filled with squawking befuddled chickens, his thoughts demand attention.

I can appreciate the difficult position the administration is in. They are being pushed by wealthy donors to enact great harm over parody fliers created by an non-student. Making this worse is that the people who claim to have felt threatened show signs of mental illness. How can one adequately satisfy crazy people armed with absurd demands?


1) Is there any evidence that “wealthy donors” (Is that code for Jews?) are involved in this dispute? Not that I know of. And, to the extent that they are involved (and certainly we have hundreds of wealthy alums — Jews and gentiles! — who read EphBlog) is there evidence that they are pushing for “great harm?” Not that I have seen. Indeed, I have yet to see anyone argue that Julia should be punished (expelled or officially warned) by the College.

2) Accusing your opponents of “mental illness” is just pathetic.

3) His description of the immediate aftermath of the postering paints a good picture of Williams. Short version: Jean Thorndike/security acted quickly and thoroughly to ensure that there wasn’t a physical thread to students. Once she determined that this was nothing more than garden variety stupidity, she let everyone go on their merry way.

4) Noah reports on WSO that the boyfriend is Robert Lindstrom. (I know that he is referred to as “Rob”, but can’t confirm this.) If the boyfriend is the Robert Lindstrom associated with (go here but only if you have a strong stomach), then this is a sad, sad day for Williams. My (forlorn) hope is that the boyfriend is a different “Rob.” In my experience, Eph women have much better taste than this.

UPDATE: Evidence that boyfriend “Rob” is Robert Lindstrom the Nazi can be seen on this page of the “Libertarian National Socialist Green Party.” Note that the Hitler photo is one of the same ones used one of the Williams posters. Other confirmations welcome.

UPDATE II: Julia reports in the same WSO thread that her boyfriend is not that Robert Lindstrom. I apologize.


CC Meeting on MJH

Kudos to College Council for devoting tonight’s meeting to Mary Jane Hitler. The more discussion, the better. Perhaps someone will live-blog it. Better would be a podcast by WCFM. I certainly hope that the secretary (Remington Shepard ’08) takes Landsmanian quality minutes. (Alas, there seem to be no minutes posted since 2005. Or am I looking in the wrong place?)

Most productive, I suspect would be a review of current College policies and suggestions for changes. More below:

Read more


HRD Poster Details

Alex writes on WSO:

Of all the horrible things that happened during ww2, the mass murder of Jews in Germany stands out because it is one of the few examples where in a society much like ours, people much like us were complicit in the killing of millions of their neighbors and friends — that is truly frightening…

Instead of approaching the issue from this angle, however, the WCJA decided to put up posters with descriptions of the violent deaths of individuals. This IS offensive, because it sends the implicit message that what distinguished the crimes against Jews from others was the age of the victims and the gruesome death method. This is not true. The ~25 million that died in Russia and the hundreds of thousands that were brutally killed in 6 weeks in China are only two examples of other groups that suffered similar, if not worse, fates in terms of the parameters on the posters. In those terms, the holocaust was accompanied in both time, location, and planning by other massacres. There is no day dedicated to remembering them, although these groups are well represented on campus.

As I said, remembering the holocaust is for many of us the only link to ww2: if you are trying to raise awareness of the brutality of the Nazis by exposing the barbarity of their actions, I find it difficult to rationalize “remembering” only their Jewish victims– never mind that many historians view the gays , Soviet POWs, and other groups the Germans murdered en masse in concentration camps to be part of the death toll of the holocaust. Members of half of my family died in ww2 as Russians, members of the other half died because they were Jews — why do I have to ignore half?

The whole point of remembering the holocaust is that everyday citizens of civilized countries, like all of us, can become complicit in a crime of this scale and horror. It is to understand WHY it happened, not to feed yourself lies about why it can’t happen again.

We still need to gather more facts about the WCJA’s Holocaust Remembrance Day posters. Questions:

1) Who put up the posters? If the WCJA was the driving force (as I have heard elsewhere), then was it a group project or just a few dedicated individuals? If so, what are their names? Or do they want to remain anonymous? I have no opinion on what answers to these questions might be considered “right” or “wrong.” I just want to know the facts.

2) Can we please see a copy of one (or more) of the posters? Why is this so hard to accomplish?

3) There is some dispute about whether or not the posters included pictures of “dead babies.” Can someone clarify? My best guess is that some posters included pictures of living children (and infants?) who were later killed by the Nazis but that there were no pictures of corpses.

4) Alex implies that all the posters featured Jews. True?

5) Where did the pictures and individual details come from? I assume that the WCJA (if they were behind the project) did not individually research 2,000 individual cases. They must have gotten the pictures/stories from somewhere else. Where?

6) Were College staff/funds used in creating the posters? Not that there would be anything wrong with that.

7) Are their rules against putting up posters on student doors? Rahul argues that there are.

Security is not going through WSO taking down your posts. (Cowardly? She did, as Ronit pointed out, identify herself). Security did, however, go about removing the Hitler posters. People were offended by them, yes. As were people offended by the Holocaust Remembrance Days posters. Security didn’t go about removing those posters. Were they unaware of those being put up? Because the only college rules that were violated were violated by both the HRD posters and the Hitler posters – unsolicited posters posted in prohibited places. I wonder if I complain about say, a poster put up which says (no offence to anyone, just the first thing that popped into my mind) “The Best a Capella show in the world, tonight at 8 in Currier Ball room”, would security remove it? I suspect not. Thus by removing the Hitler posters security and the school administration has taken a stance on what is acceptable free speech and what isn’t. If they showed respect for the rules equally, I wouldn’t care. Otherwise, they are putting themselves in a difficult position morally and legally in trying to decide what can and can’t go up.

It would be nice to get confirmation on the actual rules. And on the claim that security took down all the Mary Jane Hitler posters and none of the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters. And who ordered security to do so?

Again, I don’t have a strong feeling on what the answers to these questions “should” be. I just want to know the facts.

UPDATE: This post was edited for context and better clarity, so some of the comments no longer directly apply.


Mary Jane Hitler Clarifications

EphBlog’s ace team of reporters has been hard at work gathering information on Mary Jane Hitler. I think that all of the below are true, but clarifications and comments are welcome.

1) Partly inspired by hwc’s “Hitler Girl” riff, the phrase “Mary Jane Hitler” as applied to this scandal (or to Julia specifically) is spot on. Trust me. Or ask around. There is no better name for this contretemps.

2) I was somewhat afraid to write this yesterday:

The author of this manifesto(?) is her (male?) friend. (Am I sexist for thinking that this was written by a man?)

And specifically edited out my suspicion that it was a boyfriend, as opposed to some random male friend. Turns out it was. The much older (30?!) boyfriend lives in DC and was visiting last week. I dislike this aspect of the dispute since I want to view Julia as autonomous, as acting largely on her own, driven by her sincere convictions. I don’t like the fact that he designed the posters, that he wrote the screed here, that, for all we know, the entire exercise was his idea. Fortunately, Julia’s later postings on WSO make it more plausible to view her as an agent in this and not merely as an accomplice. But I still hope that the boyfriend disappears from the story. Alas, the continuing updates to his site make that less likely. [Not that there is anything wrong with older guys spending too much time on Williams controversies, right?!? — ed. Errr . . .]

3) Julia was identified by security via the use of her student ID since she used that ID to enter all the buildings in which she placed the posters. Students at Williams should realize that big brother is watching and remembering. Julia did not intend to have her involvement known so easily and would have just waited for people to enter/leave her target dorms (so that she wouldn’t have to swipe) if she had anticipated that the College would go to so much trouble to track her down.

4) Security came looking for Julia in her room, couldn’t find her and then went hunting for her around campus, including wandering through Paresky with her picture.

5) There is a (supposed) picture of Julia in this Fark thread. Is that her? UPDATE: Not her.

6) Julia, as you might imagine, has spent some fun time with various members of the Dean’s Office in the last couple of days. Good times! Apparently, they told her that if her identity became know, Williams could not “guarantee her safety” and that, therefore, she should consider taking time off. UPDATE: Not true.

Again, the above are from sources of various levels of reliability. Clarifications are welcome!


Distasteful and Ridiculous

Here is one of the four (?) posters put up in our recent Mary Jane Hitler scandal.


The other three, along with, uh, interesting commentary, are available here. The associated argument is not dissimilar, at least in attitude and in-your-face-to-PC-Williams elan, from the stuff I wrote 20 years ago. I have, I hope, matured since then

Many people on campus took offense when tasteless and sickening “Holocaust Remembrance” posters were taped to dorm doors with the intent to invade personal space and make students uncomfortable. A few days later, 4/20 parody fliers were posted and most students were not bothered, but a few were so outraged that someone dared to express an idea they disliked that they demanded censorship as a response.

They’ll serve the corporate world well one day as they crush anything they dislike.

The parody fliers contained images of a marijuana leaf for the unofficial 4/20 holiday recognized by pot smokers and images of Adolf Hitler who had a birthday on 4/20. In addition, these posters featured historically accurate quotes about the Autobahn, National Socialist social concerns, rejection of materialism, and the goal of unity and cooperation. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Hitler and marijuana aren’t a traditional pairing or one of shared ideology, but apparently the formation of that thought never arose in the duller minds on campus.

The idea that someone could post these fliers so offended a handful of weak-minded people and caused them to react like Hitler Youth and demand censorship and repression. Authorities were summoned. Campus security was immediately dispatched and removed the fliers, perhaps to throw them into a bonfire, while the obnoxious but sacrosanct “Holocaust Remembrance” fliers remained posted on doors of students who mostly found them distasteful and ridiculous.

Wow. I think that we have found the main topic of conversation for the remainder of the spring term. Julia was the student who put up (and designed?) the posters. (See comment toward the end of this thread.) The author of this manifesto(?) is her (male?) friend. (Am I sexist for thinking that this was written by a man?)

Rationalism was notably lacking in much of the commentary posted in the Williams student forum. One student called the parody posters “hate speech” as if such a thing existed in law rather than fantasy. In the United States, all opinions and ideas are legal to express, whether unpopular, ignorant, or hateful. Calling an idea “hate speech” is just a mendacious method to marginalize another person’s right to express ideas that differ from those of the person who wants censorship.

The spectacle snowballed as people who had not seen the fliers began to discuss how outraged they were as they imagined a bogeyman that captured all of their fears and weaknesses. There was no reality check because these people live far from reality and logical evaluation. They might be good at repetitive work where they operate like machines designed to perform a function, but when something new emerges the machine is unable to handle it and sadly breaks.

One day they can be the brutal and unempathetic bosses that stick to the company line despite the harm caused to individual workers. They are the deciders, for your best interests of course.

I actually think that the WSO thread displayed a lot more nuance than this description. Read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

Those who called the fliers “hateful” were only projecting their own hatred and small-mindedness. To be a self-centered zombie who claims to be “offended” at anything disagreeable is a hallmark of immaturity and ignorance. It is ironic when a liberal environment is lacking in open-mindedness, tolerance, and diverse viewpoints — and many politely sit silent without concern.

If a college campus is not a suitable environment for free speech, but instead we hear only calls for self-censorship and lockstep obedience, what future can this generation offer? If students are so weak-minded that they are afraid of ideas, even hating any idea with which they disagree, but can only respond with anger and calling security for censorship instead of rational consideration or discussion, what have they learned for all of their time spent pursuing education? These are people soon to enter the adult world after spending years evaluating grammatical structures, molecular balances, and Renaissance art, yet they are unable to evaluate a flier sensibly?

Surely there are also students who still have enough youth left in them to laugh at absurdity, and enough self-confidence to not desire other ideas censored when they find them disagreeable.

More to come, no doubt. I am still trying to figure out if this is a serious political viewpoint or an elaborate theatrical spoof of campus discussion. Opinions welcome! I am still thinking through my own thoughts on the matter.


Message Regarding Recent Posters on Campus

This message was sent from Morty at 6:00 this evening.

To the Williams Community,

Having had time to consult and reflect on the recent appearance of Hitler posters on the doors of many students, we would like now to give you our fuller sense of the matter.

The posters, which appeared in at least seven dorms, were designed to mimic ones put on student doors and elsewhere earlier in the week raising awareness of the Holocaust.

The student who admitted that she had produced and hung the second posters said that her doing so was intended as a use of her right to provoke discussion about the appropriateness of the first ones.

Williams, like all colleges, needs to grant wide latitude for speech, even speech as repulsive as this, as long as it does not represent verbal assault.

While this second round of posters seems not to rise to the level of verbal assault, it certainly does offend us and all those who value the well-being of our campus community and its members.

Many students who viewed what appeared as a pro-Hitler poster on their door felt threatened — understandably so, especially so soon after the horror at Virginia Tech. This sense of threat was not limited to Jewish students, though not surprisingly they were the most effected.

Adding to their sense of violation was both the anonymity of the Hitler posters and the degree to which they mimicked the ones for Holocaust remembrance, to the point of replacing the Star of David with a marijuana leaf.

The result was pain and fear for those who felt threatened and deep
disappointment for all of us who care about them.

There were many ways to foment discussion that would not have been outrageous, would not have made members of our community feel threatened, and would have resulted in dialogue of a healthier nature.

We understand that some students found the Holocaust posters too strident, especially in their placement on student doors, but the two are not equal. One drew attention to the plight of victims, the other had the understandable effect of making people feel victimized.

The student has said she will address the community about this matter. When she does, we encourage the College community to rise to its highest values — affirming free speech, to be sure, but also identifying outrageous speech when we encounter it, and caring about the well-being of all community members.


Michael Reed
Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity

Nancy Roseman
Dean of the College

Morty Schapiro
President of the College


Show Us The Posters

Andrew Goldston ’09 has more thoughts on the Mary Jane Hitler controversy. (Again, I am looking for better names than this! But, still, this one isn’t bad. The word “Hitler” needs to be there, obviously, but the “Mary Jane” part is a double entendre, referring to both marijuana (a marijuana leaf was in the center of the poster) and the (unknown) Williams female who posted them. (Previous commentary here.)

That said, we’re past the 72 hour mark and I haven’t heard anything more about this from official sources. I figured there’d be a big staff meeting in Hopkins Hall this morning to come up with a PR strategy for this, but I’ve heard nothing so far. It will be unfortunate if we don’t get a fuller public statement from College officials within the next day or so.

I’m not going to say that the campus Jewish community deserves swift justice, retribution, or whatever against the perps here. I don’t know the circumstances, and I’m not clamoring for anyone to be burned at the stake. But what we do deserve is more information about what this was, and what happens now.

Perhaps. But, instead of just demanding that the administration supply him with information, Andrew ought to also supply the rest of us. Please post a copy of both the Holocaust Remembrance Day poster and the Mary Jane Hitler poster. Or mail me copies and I will post them. It is hard to have a fully informed opinion without seeing the posters. Also, Andrew ought to post (or at least crosspost) these entries at EphBlog. He has just the sort of insider’s perspective that hundreds of EphBlog readers are eager to consider.

Jesse Levitt ’08 was kind enough to pass on this description:

[T]hey reflected an imitation of our REMEMBER poster, substituting a marijuana leaf where we used the infamous yellow star, and quotes from Hitler, with photos, where we remembered specific persons who perished at the hands of the Nazis.

Andrew also reports that “[A]pparently most people at the town meeting actually thought they were just ‘yay Hitler’ posters, with a serious pro-Hitler component.” Really? I can understand being furious that someone would be so insensitive/cruel/anti-Semitic to put up such posters. But I can’t imagine seriously believing that someone on campus was pro-Hitler. What does it even mean to be pro-Hitler? In favor of the Holocaust? Are there people at Williams who really believe that some Williams students are pro-Hitler? That seems absurd (to me). If anyone else was at the meeting, please let us know your thoughts.


Not Be Tolerated

The Hitler-Marijuana Poster Scandal (any idea for a better name? Mary Jane Hitler? Puff the Magic Genocidal Maniac? Help me, dear readers!) mentioned yesterday has generated much interesting discussion at WSO (including interesting references to the Kechley Krazy Kookout contretemps of 3 years ago, now captured at Willipedia). These remarks, however, are troubling.

Lauren Bloch:

I wanted to announce here since many people who read this forum are interested in the incident yesterday..

The Board of Directors of the Jewish Association are sponsoring a Town Meeting tomorrow night (Sunday April 22nd) in the Henze Lounge in Paresky at 8pm to discuss the disappointing response of the administration to this hateful postering.

Jonathan Horn:

I would just like to add that soon after her e-mail went out, I sent an e-mail to Dean Roseman expressing my dismay over the incident. I also requested that that the administration respond to this incident with stern measures. I felt that hate speech should not be tolerated on our campus, even if the intention behind it is supposedly not to harm others. Dean Roseman responded to my e-mail, but failed to address any of my concerns.

I find this unacceptable, given the response that would have been generated had these posters targeted any other group. A poster of a burning cross with the letters “KKK” emblazoned across it would quite rightly not be tolerated, and neither should these posters. While the administration has ignored the views of the student body on other issues, I sincerely hope that they will not do the same on this one. Thanks.

1) If you are the woman who did this and worry that the college is going to punish you unfairly (the lynch mob is certainly getting organized), feel free contact me. I, and other free-speech-loving alumni, can help.

2) If the College has a rule against putting posters on other people’s doors, then, obviously, this woman has broken the rule and might be punished for doing so. But the College seems to have no such rule. I think that no punishments have been brought against the students behind the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters. In fact, I would wager that at least some College officials publicly praised that project.

3) Once we agree that door-postering is allowed, the only grounds for punishment would be the content of the posters themselves. Are they “hate speech?” (Could someone please provide a thorough description of the posters?) For background, recall the Queer Bash E-mail (QBE) controversy of 2003. I think that the College (correctly!) has no more restrictive rules against speech than does Williamstown. In other words, if it is legal to put of this poster on Spring Street, it is alright to do so at Williams, according to College regulations. The woman who did this has little to fear, unless she allows herself to be bullied.

4) What is with Bloch and Horn, our charming speech-punishers? Are they going to decide what speech is allowed and what is banned? Are they going to determine the sort of posters that may be put on other people’s doors? Perhaps there should be an Acceptable-Ideas-Committee which would vet student opinions, pre-screen poster designs or Record opinion pieces, decide for everyone else which ideas are hate speech. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

6) Never too late to reconsider my idea for an Eph Style Guide. It wouldn’t solve every problem but it might have caused this young woman to reconsider posting these posters on other people’s doors. At the very least, the ESG provides a mechanism for the Williams community as a whole to grapple with the ideas of freedom and restraint in an academic community. Take it away, Gargoyle!

Again, the entire thread on WSO is interesting and well-argued. Read the whole thing.



First the bomb-making, now this. Some people just have no sense of context or timing.

To the Williams Community,

Beginning at dinnertime today posters containing positive messages
about marijuana and Adolph Hitler appeared inside at least seven
campus buildings.

A student has admitted that she and a non-student friend are
responsible and that their intent was to encourage dialogue.

We certainly understand the pain and distress that these posters
inflict on members of the campus.

N Roseman

More details from WSO:

I would never post the picture. They have been turned into Security. It seems to be imitating the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters with quotations from Hitler, commemorating his birthday, and the words “Remember” on top.

Contrary to what the admissions viewbook might tell you, there are some astonishingly stupid people at Williams.


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