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That Nigga Look Just Like Me

Hung on Paresky yesterday:

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

Another view:

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

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

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

I am honestly curious about the meaning. Any ideas?

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

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

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

One of the essays was:

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

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

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

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

Are there other Eph connections?

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

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

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Quixotic PC Gestures

A student writes:

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

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

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Academic Freedom and “Free Speech”

The best way to solve the controversy over “free speech” (and controversial speakers) at Williams is to reframe the discussion around one of our core values: academic freedom.

First, every Williams faculty member will agree that every Williams professor deserves untrammeled “academic freedom.”

Second, every Williams faculty member will agree that the best definer and defender of “academic freedom” is the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

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

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

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

Academic Freedom -> AAUP -> All Invited Speakers Welcome

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

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

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Video of Thursday’s Protest/March

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

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

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

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

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Answer Wisely

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

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

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Crowd of White People

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

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

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

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

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Green/Love Black Joy, 4

Let’s spend the rest of the week on various subplots associated with the controversy over Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kimberly Love’s failure to teach this semester. Day 4.

Former professor Eric Knibbs writes:

Prof. Love’s office, Hollander 111, used to be my office. When I resided there, I and my office neighbors found it occasionally convenient to place a small outside one’s office for waiting students to sit on (or to hold a box as a receptacle for essays). We were promptly admonished by security to put the chairs back in our offices immediately, and fire regulations were cited. The “fire hazard” thing isn’t a special application of the rules to this case. It represents the College’s approach to the hallways as I experienced it and is the reason this stuff was cleared out.

A Current Student writes:

The College take Regulations, especially those pertaining to the fire code, Very Seriously. Very, Very Seriously. I cannot tell you how many times I have been yelled at (nicely!) by custodians and security for my negligence. I can also say that this display constitutes a fire hazard. Not even the slightest doubt. It won’t cause a fire, but I would trip over it in a rush, and suddenly there’s a blockage in the hallway, etc. etc. Sure, there probably isn’t going to be a fire, but even I know this is a bad idea to keep it there.

I’d like to point out that when I say ‘fire hazard’ that doesn’t mean the object in question will start/contribute to a fire; I basically mean someone can trip over it. Stupid rule? Yes. Strictly enforced? Also yes. (And I do really mean strict. Just yesterday I was berated for leaving my shoes in the hallway. The custodians that come M-F are trained to clear all hallways every morning, so @PTC there essentially are people citing minor infractions every morning M-F.)

1) Who is the Williamstown fire marshall? Here? The Record ought to interview him.

2) I guarantee that, if a non-political display has the same dimensions and used the same materials as the original memorial, it would be removed instantaneously. Does anyone disagree?

3) The new display is less obviously illegal, mainly because it is possible to walk around it. But is it consistent with the fire code? Are there any other office hallways at Williams which look like this? Expert opinions welcome.

Do readers have any predictions about where this debate is going?

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The Pillory of McPartland

Professor McPartland’s duties, as a philosophy, a teacher, and a mentor to students, have been jeopardized by the Hollander Hall backlash:

  • The man is deeply dedicated to the principle of free speech and equality. Opportunists on both sides of the political aisle will now attempt to connect his principles and actions either to a racist agenda or as a sacrifice done in support of the persecuted right. These are distortions of his real beliefs. Nevertheless, they will out into the campus and beyond, allowing others to hijack his beliefs.
  • Minority students who wish to work with him will hesitate to ever approach McPartland, now. He’ll be known as the ‘racist’ professor, and such a label is as damning as it is indelible. Yes, he is tenured, but this won’t prevent the jury of popular opinion from denigrating his reputation. If people won’t approach him, how can he properly teach?

The worst part of all this? This could happen to any other professor who happens to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong professional capacity. As a student who cares for that unique bond between professors and students formed by an education in Williams, I worry for the future where all are subject to the pillory.

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Tell The Truth

Schapiro Hall at 9:00 AM today.

There is a report of a similar sign on Spring Street. Comments:

1) Can you imagine the convulsions that Williams would undergo if the sign said “How do you tell the truth to a crowd of black people?”

2) Do we need to separate out these two controversies? The debate about McPartland’s actions, and the responses thereto, are important enough to justify a new category. What name shall we use? I like “White Male Vigilantes.” Reader comments welcome.

3) How should I interpret the image at the bottom? Where does it come from?

4) Who is paying for these displays? A big poster board like that is not free, nor, I suspect, is it sold on Spring Street . . .

5) Thanks to our readers for these great photos!

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Green/Love Black Joy, 3

Let’s spend the rest of the week on various subplots associated with the controversy over Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kimberly Love’s failure to teach this semester. Day 3.

A (different!) Williams professor writes:

The main issue is that two mentally ill professors have made a claim that Williams is so violent to them that they cannot teach their classes. Some students believe that claim to the point that they set up a shrine to worship these professors. The college, by not denying the claim that the college is too violent to teach and by supporting the shrine despite obvious fire code violations (there are newspapers literally covering green lighted exit signs), is taking a side.

I am sad that there are some professors who are facing legitimate, devastating hardship: a child with a life threatening disease, a spouse with cancer, perhaps their own debilitating diagnosis. Some of these professors are faculty of color from very different backgrounds and cultures. These professors show up to their classes, write letters of recommendation for their students, and they role model doing work during times of hardship. In extreme cases they work with their departments and the Dean’s Office to get help with their classes and workload. These professors do not get shrines in the hallway or letters of support in The Record. They are doing their best to be adults and to do their jobs. Other faculty work around the clock to deliver excellence to their students.

This incident at Williams is a case of two very squeaky wheels getting some unearned, undeserved grease in the form of a paid leave, a shrine of worship, and the sense that they are somehow social justice warriors.

As a Williams professor, I am deeply embarrassed.

If it is true that these professors are mentally ill (not for me to judge), then students and other people should be supporting them as people and not necessarily supporting their unsubstantiated assertions. Students should be giving these two faculty support and privacy, not discussing this incident in terms of race, violence, or tenure. The fact that students are validating their claims and that Keith McPartland has been branded a racist means that this incident is not being treated as a mental health issue. The two professors are indeed being treated as social justice warriors instead of individuals who require a medical leave.

One of these professors literally stated that their department Chair was going to “assassinate them,” and rather than give this professor a medical leave several months ago, the college asked the Chair to step down. What does that imply? That implies, to me, that even if these two faculty are mentally ill, that the college has not responded in a way that is treating them as mentally ill, but is instead validating their assertions. The students supporting them are doing the same, passing around their ideas from The Feminist Wire, and looking to these faculty as role models.

I personally think that these two faculty deserve respect and privacy, and they should take their leave to heal however they need. But their actions were objectively hurtful and their assertions unjustified. Other faculty are suffering from problems, including mental health problems, who go about solutions in an appropriate way. The actions of these faculty should not be worshipped with shrines and admirers.

[T]hese two professors [Green and Love] were put on medical leave. That means the college considers this a mental health issue (because there are no physical health issues). One of these professors was put on medical leave after she didn’t show up to class as that was probably the only way to give her a chance and not terminate her employment. Discussions of mental health might not be coming up on EphBlog but believe me they are being discussed all over campus. My frustration is that students and some faculty aren’t treating this as a mental health issue, they are treating these two faculty as victims of a violent college and true social justice warriors. If this was only about mental health then none of us, not even you, should be talking about it. My point is that this is not just a mental health issue. The way the college has legitimized their concerns and the way that students have advanced their cause means that we haven’t even figured out how to talk about this yet.

Agree or disagree, a great College — as Williams aspires to be — should be a place at which we can have this conversation, where we can discuss and debate difficult questions, where — not only is it acceptable for someone to make you uncomfortable — but where being uncomfortable is a part of every Eph’s education.

Alas, Williams is not interested in having this conversation (in public). Instead of posting this comment on WSO Discussions — which have been dormant for a decade or more — this professor comes to EphBlog. And we are glad to host them! And our (hundreds? thousands?) of readers are eager to engage with his thoughts, as recent comment threads make clear.

Yet the fact that we, rather than Williams, host this conversation is an indictment of the Williams Administration. They could recreate WSO Discussions, perhaps only allowing Ephs to view/participate, perhaps requiring real names only. Yet the very last thing Williams wants is for a professor to be able to communicate, directly, with the entire community of Ephs, both students and alumni.

Williams insists on controlling the conversation because it does not trust us to talk amongst ourselves.

PS. Could someone clarify whether or not both professors are on medical leave, or just Green?

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Inclusive Space

One source sent this photo of a note taped to Professor McPartland’s door:

You will never guess what happened next!

1) I believe that these events have not been staged. That is, I think that real students, who actually support McPartland, put up the initial note, fully (and naively?) expecting other students to sign it. (McPartland, by all accounts, is a widely liked and respected teacher.)

2) I think that (different!) real students saw the note, and then wrote their honest feelings about McPartland. There are no hate hoaxes here.

3) “White Male Vigilantes?” Sign me up! And this would also make for a cool rock band name.

4) Is it a coincidence that McPartland, who (regularly?) teaches a Winter Study course on boxing, is one of the more high testosterone members of the faculty? Note that he could have taken this sign down from his door at any time . . .

5) Should any of the students involved be punished? Of course not! Lest you think this is an absurd question, recall President Mandel’s latest e-mail:

The following night, an unknown individual or individuals entered Hopkins Hall after hours, when the building was closed, and papered the outer doors of many office suites with flyers vilifying Professor McPartland by accusing him of extreme racism. I’ve been told these images are now also circulating on social media. This incendiary, offensive and damaging attack has no place at Williams. Senior Staff and I removed the Hopkins Hall flyers immediately on Friday morning. Flyers and materials that have been placed on and in front of Professor McPartland’s office door in Schapiro will also be removed. Williams is not as inclusive as it must become, but these acts have hurt our efforts.

“[N]o place at Williams” certainly suggests (just to me?) a violation of the (extremely broad!) student code of conduct. What do readers think?

Isn’t Mandel suggesting that students who put up posters, or at least posters which vilify, will be punished?

This would be nuts, obviously. I was going to write 1,000 or so words explaining why. Do I really need to?

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Green/Love Black Joy, 2

Let’s spend the rest of the week on various subplots associated with the controversy over Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kimberly Love’s failure to teach this semester. Day 2.

A (different!) faculty member (?) writes:

I have no comment on the free speech aspects of this “healing space”. I do wish to point out, however, that the “healing space” has very clearly become a shrine to the Williams Martyrs. It is a physical manifestation of the religion Anti-Racism, endorsed and supported fully by the administration. The religious and sociological dimensions of this entire affair are fascinating.

In her remarks at the faculty meeting on Wednesday, President Mandel strongly argued that reigning orthodoxies shall fall as Williams moves ever more into Inclusion. The notion of an officially unorthodox orthodoxy is too delicious for words.

Claiming Williams is the High Holy Day of Anti-Racism at Williams. At President Mandel’s induction in September 2018, the student government co-presidents sought to introduce ritual self-abasement of the College into campus culture. I am sure there are many other liturgical expressions.

Emphasis added. I agree that the religious metaphor works well. I prefer “Diversity,” rather than “Anti-Racism,” as the Williams godhead. What other parallels would readers draw? I don’t know nearly enough about religion, or about life on campus, to flesh this out fully.

The best approach would be to pick a specific period from the Williams of the 19th century. Perhaps the American Missionary Movement, begun with the Haystack Prayer Meeting? Or the Third Great Awakening? Highlight the key beliefs of that era and then suggest counterparts to the Williams of today.

A worthwhile project for EphBlog?

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Tense and Emotional

Latest from President Mandel on Green/Love Black Joy is below. There is a lot to process here, but, in the meantime:

1) Could someone send/post a copy of the “flyers vilifying Professor McPartland by accusing him of extreme racism?” Mandel reports that these flyers are “circulating on social media.” Future historians will thank you!

2) If you are a student who is being attacked/threatened by the Administration about these flyers (or anything else), EphBlog is here to help. We may disagree with your views, but we will eagerly defend your rights to share them. Academic Freedom for All!

Williams faculty, students, and staff,

Last week I sent an email sharing that some materials from the memorial in the first floor hallway of Hollander Hall had been moved by a faculty member. I explained that we were gathering information, and I now want to share what I’ve learned. I welcome the chance to hear from anyone else who was there and still wants to share their perspective.

As many people know, students and others had placed notes and objects in Hollander to demonstrate support for Assistant Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kim Love. In my first message I noted that Senior Staff and I had decided these materials weren’t impeding movement through Hollander and should be left undisturbed for a period of time. To clarify, we were aware the materials would eventually have to be moved due to their placement in the hallway. However, our plan was to allow them to remain until we could discuss long-term options with students.

While we were working to initiate that conversation, staff members responsible for campus and environmental safety, as well as Associate Professor Keith McPartland, the faculty chair of the building use committee responsible for Hollander Hall, exchanged calls about their shared concerns that the materials violated the fire code and posed a potential risk to people in the building. Professor McPartland, having clarified that they did violate both state law and campus policy, relocated the portion of the memorial that was on the floor, where it could have impeded evacuation or passage by people with disabilities. He moved it to a nearby location where students could reclaim it and didn’t disturb materials along the walls or in front of office doors. He also offered to help students reinstall the work in an alternative location that would be visible without creating an obstruction.

Students confronted him in Hollander and objected to any tampering with the memorial. People who were present report that the interaction was tense and emotional.

The following night, an unknown individual or individuals entered Hopkins Hall after hours, when the building was closed, and papered the outer doors of many office suites with flyers vilifying Professor McPartland by accusing him of extreme racism. I’ve been told these images are now also circulating on social media. This incendiary, offensive and damaging attack has no place at Williams. Senior Staff and I removed the Hopkins Hall flyers immediately on Friday morning. Flyers and materials that have been placed on and in front of Professor McPartland’s office door in Schapiro will also be removed. Williams is not as inclusive as it must become, but these acts have hurt our efforts.

I’ve had many conversations with people and groups concerned about the issues raised on our campus over the last few weeks: issues of identity, bias and racism in our college climate, and also of respect and basic humanity towards each other. Here are some of the steps that are happening as we move beyond individual meetings to community solutions:

Students who were stewarding the Hollander memorial have removed materials that violated the fire code and ADA. There are serious concerns about racism and other forms of bias on campus. We want students involved in addressing them and will work to find ways to do so, knowing that the process will require us to confront discomforting truths.

Starting the week of March 4, I’ll hold a series of small gatherings in my home where anyone concerned about campus climate and our support for faculty, students, and staff can communicate to me directly. We’ll continue to schedule such gatherings as long as there’s interest. People will be welcome to sign up individually or in groups. We’ll send a Daily Message later this week with instructions on how to do so.

With Senior Staff, faculty leaders, and others, I’m going to make sure all the takeaways from these and other conversations are imported directly into the college’s ongoing work on inclusion and into the strategic planning process.

Meanwhile, I’ve also begun talking with the Faculty Steering Committee, members of the student body, and other staff and faculty about ideas for a way forward. Individuals have been publicly maligned. Relationships have been strained or broken and now need to heal, so that we can all return to the work we have to do together. I include everyone in that mandate: Faculty, staff, students, and administrators all need to address issues within our discrete communities, as well as broader problems among constituencies and across our community as a whole.

This is a long message because the situation is complex and campus deserves as much information as I can provide. But it’s just a starting point. Each of us came to Williams to engage in a truly great learning community. We define that greatness by the reach of our intellectual ambitions and the openness and inclusivity of our culture. Such commitments are simple to express but hard to achieve. The actual work has tested our resolve and our bonds, and we’ll almost certainly be tested again in the future. But I also believe Williams has what it takes to persevere and transcend its challenges to become a better place. In fact, I believe we have to. I’m grateful I’ll be working toward that goal in partnership with all of you.

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Green/Love Black Joy, 1

Let’s spend the rest of the week on various subplots associated with the controversy over Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kimberly Love’s failure to teach this semester. Day 1.

A senior Williams professor writes:

As I may have mentioned earlier, I had moderately high hopes for our new president. But her bludgeoning of Keith McPartland, a great teacher and wonderful colleague, for doing his assigned duty, has certainly give me pause about her judgment and her ‘common sense.’

My own view is that Professor Kimberly Love should have been fired forthwith for dereliction of duty. And Mr.G. was reasonably given a semester’s leave to recover from his obvious mental incapacity. But he should then be encouraged, forced if necessary, to leave the College that he has utterly disgraced. There should be no compromise on either of these decisions. Neither of these professors should be teaching at Williams College and the chairmen who hired them should be promptly fired for lacking all sensible judgment.

Will this happen? I greatly doubt it. Williams now not only rewards mediocrity, but it regularly excuses catastrophic administrative decisions.

I’m absolutely disgusted by this whole affair. I can hardly believe that is happening to an institution, the idea of which I love with all my heart, but which is disintegrating before our eyes.

1) This seems a bit overwrought to me. Whatever else may be said about this disaster, it is less bad than Williams hiring (and re-appointing!) Bernard Moore, a convicted felon!

2) Why does this professor mention “catastrophic administrative decisions?” [Emphasis added.] It strikes me that the biggest mistake was the initial hiring of Green and Love. The Administration deserves some of the blame for that, of course, not least for its continuing insistence that hiring African-American professors is so, So, SO important. But none of this would be happening if the English and WSGS Departments were doing their jobs properly. Green and Love started at Williams in 2017. Who were the members of the search committees that selected them, presumably during the 2016-2017 academic year?

3) I still have high hopes for Mandel. How can this professor be sure that she doesn’t plan on getting rid of Green/Love? The time to do so is July, not February.

4) By the way, assume that Mandel fully intends to remove Green/Love. What are her options for doing so? (Perhaps our legal-readers could chime in!) I assume that Green/Love each have 3-year contracts. True? Or are junior professors essentially employees-at-will whom the College can fire whenever it wants to?

5) I don’t want to pry into anyone’s personal life, but, it is hard to avoid doing so in the context of this story. I assume that Green/Love are friends. Do they live together? Do they live in College housing? Are they romantically involved? I suspect that their living arrangements have implications, either legally and/or practically, for Mandel’s options in handling their case(s) . . .

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Where’s the Violence?

The College Fix has locked on to the Green/Love Black Joy controversy in an article published on February 18, 2019, titled “Black queer professors suddenly cancel their courses at elite college because of ‘microaggressions’

The focus of Greg Piper’s report is that Dr. Kai M. Green and Dr. Kimberly Love have massively inconvenienced their students and colleagues through the last minute cancellation of their Spring 2019 classes over what appear to be trivial concerns. From my perspective, Piper seems to underestimate the degree to which this controversy is a distraction from the underlying mental health issues which caused Kai M. Green ’07 to go on medical leave. (Kimberly Love has apparently also been placed on medical leave to help support Kai M. Green.)

In Piper’s view, the reasons that Green and Love provide for cancelling their classes seem relatively insubstantial. At best, he reports that they framed their complaints as

Colleague: Can I touch your….?

Answer: NO!

Piper is particularly concerned that neither Green or Love provide much detail regarding the “violent practices” they experience while teaching at Williams College:

Their article is light on specific incidents that bothered them; rather, it says Williams and other colleges “have not made structural changes to create environments in which Black, Brown, disabled, poor, queer people, and our work can thrive. Through various isolating tactics, academic institutions can dull our awareness of the grave conditions under which we are expected to perform.”

They cite one off-campus incident: a tow-truck driver who thought they weren’t “from around here” when he towed their stalled car, asked if they were students, and then called them “ball busters” when they complained that he wouldn’t drive them home, as he’d earlier promised.

Their description of this incident continues for several more paragraphs but does not acknowledge their classism toward the blue-collar worker. They finally suggest they told the account in “two very different ways” but both through a “Black Queer feminist lens.”

The professors, again, share no specific incidents of bias at Williams, other than the vague reference to requested touching. They credit the college for its “commitment and work … in the name of creating and sustaining a more equitable Williams.”

All in all, Piper is dubious about the merits of the complaints these Williams College professors have made about their working conditions. He writes: “Love and another professor, who together identify as “Black Queer Feminists,” are leaving their students high and dry due to abstract harms they claim to have suffered as a result of not being free to “point out the anti-Black, transphobic, xenophobic” environment of the extreme leftist college.”

Key comments on the Piper article include the following wry observations:

If you’re an SJW and you can’t find a safe space at Williams then you’re insane. The problem it seems is that the school allowed her to build her own course program and then got angry when no one signed up for it. Then she went to the college and demanded it be made mandatory or demanded reparations or she simply has a better offer somewhere else. Seriously, I have family members who work there.

Black, Queer, Heavy-set Feminist and a woman suffering from disphoria. What a team.

“Professors”: give everything plox
College: lol no ur batshit insane
“Professors”: microaggressions! transphobia! ur literally hitler

 

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Green/Love Black Joy

Controversies need names. And EphBlog is here to help! We hereby decree that the current scandal shall be named “Green/Love Black Joy,” with GLBJ as the appropriate abbreviation. Previous controversy names 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.

Reasons:

1) This controversy centers around the actions of Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kimberly Love, so using their names makes sense. I also think that “Green Love” is nice phrasing.

2) Our story started with their article for the feminist wire in November. One of the best lines was: “And not even tenure is worth our Black joy.”

3) Other participants also like the phrase “Black Joy.” The photo at the top of the post is from the student tribute/memorial to Green/Love.

4) Blackness is at the very center of this dispute, one way or the other.

5) I capitalized Joy, rather than leave it as “joy,” as in the article, because I think that the subtext here goes back to the College’s appointment of Joy James more than a decade ago. I don’t think — contrary opinions welcome! — that James had anything to do with Green/Love’s hiring, but the institutional imperative which demands, Demands, DEMANDS, that Williams hire more African-American faculty is the driving force behind this story. That force has been around for decades, of course, but it sure seems to have picked up steam in the last 10 years. Or does only EphBlog remember Bernard Moore?

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Evropa

Latest e-mail:

Williams students, faculty and staff,

This weekend, CSS received a report that a pole near Sawyer Library was vandalized with the word “Evropa”. As we explained a few weeks ago when the phrase “Identity Evropa” was discovered on a white board in Thompson Hall, Identity Evropa is an organization that promotes a white supremacist and European supremacist ideology. The group is especially known for trying to provoke reactions on college campuses.

While we believe this latest discovery is making a reference to the same organization, at this time we can’t assert whether or not both actions were taken by the same person. 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.

Williams should be a place where everyone is welcome and we treat these incidents with the utmost of seriousness. 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.

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

Previous discussion here.

1) Has the word “Stetson” disappeared from official campus discourse? During construction, the project was referred to as “Stetson-Sawyer.” I expected that terminology to continue, both since the entire front half the building is the old Stetson Hall and because Stetson was such a major figure in the College’s (financial) history. But my sense is that the average first year has never heard nor used the word “Stetson.” We are all as dust . . .

2) Klass is a smart guy. Surely he realizes that all-campus e-mails are exactly what these trolls want to achieve? The bigger a stink that Williams makes whenever anyone writes “Evropa,” the more “Evropa” writing we are going to see.

3) I would still like a discussion about why Identity Evropa is unacceptable at Williams while, say, Black Lives Matter and BDS are OK. All three organizations have problematic, even hateful, members. But Williams, as an institution, should be run in a viewpoint neutral fashion. If faculty/students want to create a chapter of, or invite a speaker from, any of these groups, then the College should allow it.

4) Vandalism is, of course, always unacceptable. I have no problem with punishing any student who vandalizes the innocent polls around Sawyer, as long as the same punishment is applied regardless of political views.

5) If you did this, and you get caught, your best defense will be to claim that your vandalism had nothing to do with politics. You are just a huge fan of the Europa League, an annual soccer competition.

6) If you want to troll Williams, I recommend a different approach. The Evropa League comes with all sorts of unfortunate connotations. (And vandalism is always a mistake.) Instead, start hanging “It’s OK to be White” posters around campus, but only in those locations in which students are permitted to put posters.

This is guaranteed to drive much/most of Williams crazy, and is much less likely to get you thrown out of school. “All Lives Matter” posters would have a similar effect.

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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!
Read more

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Deeply Distressed

Williams students, faculty and staff,

In recent weeks, members of our community have been leaving notes and materials in front of the Hollander Hall offices of Assistant Professors Kai Green ’07 and Kim Love to honor and support them at a difficult time. It has now come to my attention that yesterday afternoon a faculty member removed these materials. I am in the process of gathering information about what happened, as I am deeply distressed by any interference with students freely expressing themselves in a way that is not disruptive. In fact, 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. I regret that we did not communicate this message more broadly.

I want to make clear that I fully support those who were expressing their thoughts and feelings through the content that was removed. People have now replaced that content and added to it. I and senior staff will work with students and others to find a way that it can remain without creating a safety hazard.

I have come to Williams with the goal of fostering a supportive and inclusive community where all members of a diverse learning community will thrive. I ask you to join me in continuing to strengthen these values going forward.

Sincerely,

Maud

Time for another EphBlog investigation? Recall J’accuse!

UPDATE: Kai Green’s office is Hollander 106 and Hollander 111. Do you think that a professor with a nearby office might have gotten sick of looking at a bunch of junk piled in the hallway?

UPDATE 2: Thanks to a commentator for pointing out this Record article about the display (picture added above). If I were a professor who had no choice but to deal with that every day, I would get pretty annoyed . . .

UPDATE 3: From a comment:

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.

McPartland’s office in Schapiro has now been decorated/vandalized in turn.

More details, please.

Entire Record article below the break:
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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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