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Deja Vu

I really liked my post last week: Holiday Feelings and Fond Memories. I was hoping that it might inspire some great stories about Williams Professors. Also, I was hoping to get an answer to the question: Do Williams Professors still line up “outside” the West College Gate and applaud the graduates as they walk through?

Unfortunately, the only response I got was about how one fails out of Williams.

Therefore, I am posting last week’s post again and hoping to hear some wonderful stories.

I would like to return to the warmth of the holiday spirit and expand on my recent post, “One of the best things about Williams…” I wanted to share a favorite memory of a beloved professor: It was my graduation day, a day that was not always guaranteed to occur for me. As we walked through the gates by West College, the professors lined the walk and applauded us.* I was humbly making my way through the parallel lines when Professor Mac Brown sought me out and shook my hand. I had taken many classes from Professor Brown and he had seen me at my worst and at my best as a student. The fact that he made the effort to find me and shake my hand meant more than I can convey. It is a memory that I cherish to this day.

What memory of a professor do you cherish to this day?

*Does this (unbelievable) tradition still occur?

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Holiday Feelings and Fond Memories

I would like to return to the warmth of the holiday spirit and expand on my recent post, “One of the best things about Williams…” I wanted to share a favorite memory of a beloved professor: It was my graduation day, a day that was not always guaranteed to occur for me. As we walked through the gates by West College, the professors lined the walk and applauded us.* I was humbly making my way through the parallel lines when Professor Mac Brown sought me out and shook my hand. I had taken many classes from Professor Brown and he had seen me at my worst and at my best as a student. The fact that he made the effort to find me and shake my hand meant more than I can convey. It is a memory that I cherish to this day.

What memory of a professor do you cherish to this day?

*Does this (unbelievable) tradition still occur?

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Warm Wishes

Maud sent me (and every other class agent? every alum? every Eph including students/staff/faculty?) this card:

In the e-mail, the card is animated and features Maud’s signature at the bottom. Sadly, I could not recreate those effects in this post. Comments:

1) Have Williams presidents traditionally sent out such e-mails? I assume that they have, but I can’t recall any specifics. We should gather some up!

2) The card does not mention “Christmas,” which I assume has been the case for 20 years or more. (Indeed, it is almost a quarter century since Williams had a non-Jewish president.) When was the last time “Christmas” appeared on such card?

3) This card does not even mention “Happy Holidays,” which is the traditional replacement on such institutional communications for the older “Merry Christmas.” Is that intentional? Happy Holidays was (is?) considered more inclusive since it encompasses both Christians/Christmas and Jews/Hanukah. But other faiths do not have (major?) holidays in late December. So, is “Happy Holidays” now considered rude? Honest question!

4) “Happy New Year” is no more controversial today than “Merry Christmas” was 50 years ago. Will that always be true? Other people have their own traditions for when the new year starts. Will our desire to avoid offense cause us to remove/replace this traditional greeting? I assume not. The Western calendar is so universal that Williams presidents will continue to write “Happy New Year” for decades to come.

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Adams Versus Topaz

Although the College Fix is not the most reliable news source, I think this is a fair summary of the Chad Topaz versus Colin Adams fight:

Thompson’s essay received negative pushback from her fellow academics, including Chad Topaz, a professor and mathematician at Williams College. Topaz publicly condemned Thompson’s argument, calling it “dangerous.” He also said he would advise his students “not to apply [to UC-Davis] for grad school,” and that he would advise fellow academics “not to apply there for jobs.”

Correct. As we have discussed, Topaz’s initial response was histrionic and inconsistent. How can Topaz recommend that “minoritized” high school seniors attend Williams or that “minoritized” graduate students apply for faculty positions at Williams if the chair of his own department, Richard De Veaux, is opposed to the proper use of diversity statements in academic hiring? The College Fix continues:

In response to the letter castigating Thompson, a counter-petition has arisen in support of Thompson. That letter expresses concern over what the signatories call “attempts to intimidate a voice within our mathematical community.”

“The reaction to the article has been swift and vehement. An article posted at the site QSIDE urges faculty to direct their students not to attend and not to apply for jobs at the University of California-Davis, where Prof. Thompson is chair of the math department. It recommends contacting the university to question whether Prof. Thompson is fit to be chair. And it recommends refusing to do work for the Notices of the American Mathematical Society for allowing this piece to be published,” the letter reads, continuing:

Regardless of where anyone stands on the issue of whether diversity statements are a fair or effective means to further diversity aims, we should agree that this attempt to silence opinions is damaging to the profession. This is a direct attempt to destroy Prof. Thompson’s career and to punish her department. It is an attempt to intimidate the AMS into publishing only articles that hew to a very specific point of view. If we allow ourselves to be intimidated into avoiding discussion of how best to achieve diversity, we undermine our attempts to achieve it.

That letter had 725 signatures attached to it as of yesterday evening, well over a hundred more than the letter critical of Thompson.

Reached via email, Colin Adams, a professor at Williams College and the author of the letter, declined to answer questions about the ongoing controversy, though he wrote that the letter has been signed by “8 past presidents of the American Mathematical Society, four Fields medalists (math equivalent of the Nobel prize) and numerous prominent members of the math community.”

Whoah! I did not realize that Adams was so central to this fight. Well done! But that fact just makes Topaz’s refusal to fight the power at Williams all the more cowardly. If Thompson’s actions are enough to cause him to recommend that students not go to UCD, how can he in good conscience recommend that students come to Williams? Honest question!

The (alt-right?) Williams professors who signed the letter include: Colin Adams, Luana Maroja, Matt Carter, Julie Blackwood, Steven Miller, Joan Edwards, David C Smith, Thomas Garrity, Phebe Cramer, Susan Dunn, Richard De Veaux, Dan Lynch, David Gürçay-Morris and Leo Goldmakher.

What does Professor Topaz think of this?

Who are the “haters” in this context? The most charitable interpretation would be that it is a reference to (anonymous) people who said mean things to Topaz on twitter. I ignore those people as well! A more problematic (but still OK) interpretation would be that haters refers to (reasonable?) critics like EphBlog. But my sense is that “haters” is a direct reference to Adams and the other signatories of his letter, including six members of his own department at Williams.

So much for collegiality . . .

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Topaz Updates

EphBlog’s favorite woke mathematician, Professor Chad Topaz, has a new analysis.

In November, 2019, the Notices of the American Mathematical Society (AMS Notices) published an essay critical of the use of diversity statements in academic hiring. The publication of this essay prompted many responses, including two public letters circulated within the mathematical sciences community. Both public letters were signed by hundreds of people and will be published online by the AMS on December 13, 2019. In this research brief, we report on a crowdsourced demographic study of the signatories to the two public letters. Letter A highlights diversity and social justice issues, and was signed by relatively more women, members of underrepresented ethnic groups, and professionally vulnerable individuals. Letter B highlights the need for discussion and debate, and, in stark contrast, was signed by substantially more men, white people, and professionally secure individuals.

Comments:

1) I like Topaz. No, really, I do! Some of my closest friends/family share his woke political outlook. He is also an outstanding teacher, and there is no faculty attribute that EphBlog values more highly than excellence in teaching Williams students. Also, he is highly transparent in his research, providing, for example, the raw data underlying this analysis.

2) Despite his recent arrival, Topaz might play a major role at Williams over the next few decades. Note the blurb on his homepage: “data science, applied mathematics, and social justice.” Topaz, a topologist, has, in recent years, dived into data science, a field likely to play a major role at Williams (and everywhere else) over the next few decades. Indeed, there are rumors that one of the major outcomes from Maud’s strategic planning process is a new focus on Data Science. Topaz would be a natural leader for such an effort.

3) Topaz’s entrepreneurial energy is impressive. He does a lot of stuff! A faculty member told me that, when Williams was hiring a senior mathematician a few years ago, Topaz was clearly the number one candidate on the market. I think that Topaz deserves 90% of the credit for the creation of QSIDE. What other Williams faculty members have done something like this over the last decade? The best analogue I can come up with is Economics Professor Stephen Sheppard and the Center for Creative Community Development. Other examples?

4) Should we be worried that Topaz is a little too entrepreneurial? Note that “The Center for Creative Community Development (C3D) is a Williams College research center.” This is the normal way that such things are organized. Sheppard fund-raises, runs the effort and so on. But Williams College gets a cut and is, ultimately, in charge. QSIDE, on the other hand, seems to exist (completely?) independently of Williams. It is a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organization. Does it use Williams resources? How do the finances work? If I were a trustee, I would ask some questions.

5) The problem at Williams is not Chad Topaz, a dedicated teacher and skilled researcher. The problem is that there is no one (?) on the faculty who represents the other side of politics in America, much less globally. No one on the Williams faculty voted for Trump while, probably, about 10% to 20% of the students will.

6) And the problem with Chad Topaz is that he probably doesn’t see a problem with this. He doesn’t “debate social justice” and I bet that he has no interest in seeing such debates at Williams, or in even hiring a junior professor who thinks that such debates might be a good idea. Am I being unfair? Comments welcome!

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One of the best things about Williams…

I loved my time at Williams and feel very fortunate to have been a student there. While I have an almost endless list of things that I am grateful for, near the top of the list are the relationships I had with a few professors over the years. Here is a tweet from Professor Sarah Jacobson that illustrates that those kind of relationships continue to this day:

Sarah Jacobson

@SarahJacobsonEc

Dec 2

“Can I brag and be proud that my independent study student from last spring (at the time a sophomore) got her term paper published in an undergrad econ journal? And that the paper had a lovely pun in the title? I think I can, right?”

Here’s the link to the paper itself, which concludes “We need to research policies that will help provide for this increasing energy demand, but at the same time will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

https://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/uer/vol16/iss1/5/

Isn’t it great that Williams has small class sizes where close relationships with professors can be built and magic like this can happen?

 

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I Don’t Debate

Professor Chad Topaz’s latest twitter thread deserves a thorough fisking. Key section:

Key sentence:

I don’t debate social justice.

What are we to make of this?

1) I believe Topaz. He has no interest in a debate. (I reached out to him and received no response.)

2) There is a long tradition at Williams of refusing to debate, although it has been somewhat dormant in the last 50 years. The ministers who started Williams had no interest in debating the divinity of Christ. Mark Hopkins refused to allow Ralph Waldo Emerson on campus. Adam Falk banned John Derbyshire. Can any historians flesh out the attitude of Williams faculty toward debate during the 19th century? Topaz is a modern version of that worldview.

3) Nothing wrong with a refusal to debate, of course, if, that is, you are running a Madrassa. Is that what Williams is? I hope not!

4) I have no objection to Williams professors who prefer to have nothing to do with Topic X. Life is short! They are busy with their students and their research. But it seems unusual for a professor, like Topaz, to be so engaged in social justice issues — as he obviously is — and yet, at the same time, to refuse to discuss/debate the topic. Most SJW professors won’t shut up about social justice.

5) I recommend that Topaz’s opponents, like Professor Colin Adams, publicly challenge him to a debate about diversity statements and the desirability of publishing the views of their critics.

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I Wish You a Restful Break

Indeed. I never wish people a “Happy Birthday,” and for exactly the same reasons. How can I ever know what sort of stressful situations they are going through? How can I ever know what effect my words might have?

More importantly, what if someone has turkeys in their extended family? This holiday is a nightmare for them! Have you no empathy?

Professor Sarah Jacobson gets it:

Exactly right. In fact, I recommend that Professor Jacobson stop referring to herself as a “Professor” at “Williams College.” Professor is, of course, a word with problematic roots. Indeed, any word with roots going back to the Normans, among the worst colonialists in history, merits banishment. And don’t even get me started on the Romans! And Ephraim Williams’ attitude toward Native Americans is well-documented.

Anyone who doesn’t want to say “Thanksgiving” should never say “Williams.”

Stay Woke, my fellow Ephs!

UPDATE: The last time the Williams College twitter account used the word “Thanksgiving” was 2015. How long before the official college calendar removes the word? (It currently refuses to use the words Columbus or Christmas.) Think I am crazy? Consider:

Enjoy the holiday-that-must-not-be named!

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Particularly Nasty and Vitriolic

Will Professor Chad Topaz’s jihad against the opponents of diversity statements go on long enough to require an EphBlog scandal name? If so, suggestions? Updates:

1) See this Inside Higher Ed article for useful background. Sadly, it does not mention Topaz or any other Eph.

2) Chicago Professor (and EphBlog critic) Jerry Coyne comes down hard on Topaz. Some of his points are good, some bad. All are made at excessive length.

3) Former Williams professor John Drew notes:

Academics offended by the extremism of Chad M. Topaz, a woke Williams College math professor, have organized a petition in response to his campaign to silence a white female math professor at UC Davis. He has gone so far as to try to get her fired.

What was most interesting to me about this statement is that it is basically coming from liberal academics who are for the most part in favor of affirmative action and okay with promoting diversity. The issue, for them, is that Chad Topaz has take on the role of enforcer of the most extreme policies expectations of critical race theory and identity politics. I was also surprised to see who has already signed the petitions complaining about Topaz.

Signatories include the following list of luminaries including at least six from his own college including – Luana Maroja, Matt Carter, Joan Edwards, David C. Smith, Phebe Cramer and Susan Dunn – and no less than five from his own math department – Colin Adams, Julie Blackwood, Richard De Veaux, Thomas Garrity and Steven J. Miller.

Hmmm. Have they really? (That is, do the petition organizers actually check that any signers are who they say they are?) If so, this should be the lead story in the Record next week.

4) Topaz provides an update here. Note:

For those of you who are in mathematics, advise grad-school-bound undergraduate students – especially students who are minoritized along some axis – not to apply to UC Davis. Advise your graduate student and postdoc colleagues not to apply there for jobs.

Shouldn’t Topaz start his activism closer to home? Assuming that the signatories on the letter are real — and I have every reason to think that they are! — there are professors at Williams, even professors in the Math/Stat Department — who agree with Abigail Thompson, or at least disagree with Topaz’s attempts to silence her.

How can Topaz recommend that “minoritized” high school seniors attend Williams or that “minoritized” graduate students apply for faculty positions at Williams if the chair of his own department, Richard De Veaux, is opposed to the proper use of diversity statements in academic hiring? The Record should find out.

UPDATE: Thanks to the first commentator for pointing out Topaz’s other posts. They are preserved below the break for posterity.
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DIE Uber Alles

Last time a Williams faculty member was tagged by Steve Sailer? Tonight!

Chad Topaz is “disgusted” by an academic writing something with which he disagrees, so disgusted that he won’t even link (pdf) to it?

I wonder if that argument would fly in a Williams history class? “I am so disgusted by this argument that I refuse to footnote it!”

Is Topaz as histrionic in person as he is here? Honestly curious!

UPDATE: Topaz provides more details on his views here.

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One Concern

From Math Professor Chad Topaz:

Here at QSIDE, we wake up early, drink coffee, and write these:

Hi organizers [of a one-day conference],

Thanks so much for organizing this event. I know it takes a lot of work to pull it off.

I do want to bring up one concern. If I am wrong in my assessment, please forgive me and ignore the rest of this email, but it seems all the speakers are liberal. It’s disappointing to see the many excellent not-liberals excluded from participating as speakers, and moreover, it sends a really discouraging message to any attendees who aren’t liberals.

I hope you might find a way to bring political diversity to your set of speakers. There are lots of great, effective practices for speaker selection that would result in a more politically-diverse program.

Thanks for hearing me out on this, and thanks again for the work you do to put it all together.

Cheers,
Chad

1) How wonderfully (passive) aggressive! Not that there is anything wrong with that!

2) Does Topaz send these out to colleagues organizing such conferences at Williams? Kudos to him if he does! The more thought put into panel selection, the better. EphBlog has been complaining about the lack of political diversity on panels at Williams for decades!

3) If you were a junior member of Topaz’s department, what would you think? EphBlog’s advice would be to follow Topaz’s suggestions! They are sensible (or, at least, not nonsensical) and, more importantly, he will be voting on your tenure in a few years.

4) How would you feel if you were organizing a conference at, say, Harvard and some rando from Williams sent you this e-mail? Good question! Perhaps our academic friends like dcat and sigh might opine.

5) I would chuckle, then ignore it. Does Topaz really think that I am unaware of political diversity and its importance? What wonderful arrogance from some nobody teaching at a jumped-up prep school! Putting together conferences is difficult, balancing participant priorities is hard, and even getting people to agree to come is annoying. The last thing I want to deal with is somebody who isn’t even attending the conference kvetching about his personal hobbyhorse. Of course, at the end of the conference, I will seek opinions from the attendees to see how we might improve things next year and, if others share Topaz’s (idiosyncratic?) views, I will try to adjust, subject to all the other constraints I need to deal with.

More:

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The Williams Record: “Profiles of Presidents Past”

Profiles of Presidents Past: Adam Falk

The Record, in a recent issue, has written a profile of former Williams president Adam Falk. The article is written interview-style, and it touches on issues ranging from expensive landscaping projects to free speech controversies.

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Weekend Links

Will the ABA Reject Due Process?” by former Williams professor KC Johnson.

They left their corporate jobs to write kids’ books in a barn. But a fairy-tale life is hard work” about Ephs Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson.

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What Williams classes have stayed with you since graduation?

While cleaning out some old files, I recently came across a copy of my Williams transcript.  Looking at it produced some surprises, and my older son was not very impressed with my grades.  (My arguments about grade inflation did not impress him either.)

One of the items on the transcript was a political science class I took as senior with Prof. Michael MacDonald called Settler Societies. The class was a comparison of the similarities and differences between the conflicts which were then present in Israel, South Africa, and Northern Ireland.  One of my clearest takeaways from the class was how intractable each of the conflicts appeared, and how it seemed as though there was no way for any of them to be “resolved” short of full scale civil war.  Much to my surprise, within 10 years, both the situations in South Africa and Northern Ireland had fundamentally shifted (“solved” is probably not exactly accurate), despite there being no obvious way forward at the time I took the class.  It appears that the class has now morphed into a senior seminar called Identity Politics: Conflicts in Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, & South Africa“.  Here is the course description:

Identities have been either the stakes, or the guise taken by other kinds of conflicts, in Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa for centuries. They have led to, or expressed, political divisions, clashing loyalties, and persistent and sometimes consuming violence. They also have produced attempts by both internal and external actors to resolve the issues. This research seminar will engage the origins of the conflicts and the role of identities in them, the role of disputes about sovereign power in creating and intensifying them, the strategies for reconciling them that are adopted domestically and internationally, the deals that have been struck or have not been struck to bring peace in these societies, and the outcomes of the various efforts in their contemporary politics. The course will begin by reading about both the general theoretical issues raised by conflicts in these “divided societies” and various responses to them. After familiarizing ourselves with what academic and policy literatures have to say about them, we then will read about the histories and contemporary politics in each society. With that as background, students will choose an aspect or aspects of these conflicts as a subject for their individual research.

For some reason, this course has stuck with me through the years, even though it has no professional relevance for me.  Perhaps it was that the subject matter always seemed relevant to current events (and it still does).  Perhaps it was because of Prof. MacDonald’s talents as a teacher.  Probably some combination of both.

What Williams classes still stick out in your mind?

 

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Let’s Stay in Touch

LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA – If you would like to stay in touch, I have established a new blog called Williams Liberty.

Williams Liberty has a different mission compared to EphblogWilliams Liberty will be focused primarily on breaking news. It will be promoted through my existing Twitter accounts, accounts that have more followers than the college’s Twitter accounts. Covering breaking news at our nation’s top liberal arts college is a service which cannot be provided by the Williams Record and would not be allowed on the college’s websites.

It will, of course, be conservative friendly and politically incorrect. In particular, it will provide the conservative viewpoint which has been largely absent on campus since 1989. Its contributors will be immune from ideologically motivated abuse or boycotts.

Consistent with conservative sensibilities, it will be well-written, tightly edited and moderated. Its language will be professional and PG at worst.

Williams Liberty will be open to guest contributors (anonymous or not). Guest contributors will be restricted to existing or prior William’s College faculty and students. Comments will be welcome from all.

It may reserve a few spots for student contributors who will be picked on a competitive basis at the beginning of the school year or who have done a good job as guest contributors.

If you would like to submit an article for publication at Williams Liberty, please contact me through the contact form available on the blogsite or give me a call at 949.338.5921. By the way, you can follow Williams Liberty on Twitter at @williamslibert5.

 

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Professor Gibson on Fox

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Sentence Served

Students moving into the Horn Residence Hall should ask themselves if they feel at peace living in a building named for a pair of criminals, Joey Horn ’87 and Ragnar Horn ’85.  The Horns recently served a 75 day sentence in prison as punishment for exploiting and abusing four young Filipino au pairs. As a consequence of this scandal, Joey resigned from the Board of Trustees after eight years of service.

Working as an au pair is supposed to be a cultural exchange program. Joey and Ragnar, however, broke the regulations by using their au pairs as low paid housekeepers. They worked their Filipino au pairs 11 hours a day and then four hours on both Saturday and Sunday. In Norway, an au pair is supposed to work no more that five hours a day and no more than 30 hours per week.

The Horns also gave false information to the immigration administration in Norway, failing to report they would have more than one au pair at a time. At the trial in 2017, two of the au pairs reported that they felt like “slaves” and “in prison” in the Horns’ home. Evidence showed Joey Horn ’87 referred to her au pairs in derogatory terms and threatened to send one of them back to her “straw mats in Manila.” Read more

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Poor Taste Wins

Williams College political scientist, Laura Ephraim, is scheduled to present a paper at the upcoming  Conference of the American Political Science Association (APSA) entitled: “Everybody Poops: Human Waste in Lockean Liberal Capitalism.” As I recall, Locke was concerned about waste in general and about organizing human activity to prevent it. In this sense, his views seem quite sensible. It is difficult for me to understand what, if anything, he had to write about human waste.

The title of Ephraim’s paper reminds me that the APSA’s war on view point diversity is going as strong as ever even as the war bad manners and poor taste has apparently been lost.

A first rate article by Bruce Gilley, published by the National Society of Scholars in 2017 provides Ephblog readers with other over-the-top examples of poor taste and extraordinary ideological bias:

“Pussies Grab Back: Feminism in the Wake of Trump”?

“Disavowing Violence: Imperial Entitlements, From Burke to Trump (Fuck That Guy).”

If you want to understand why the APSA’s overall hostility to even the idea of viewpoint diversity, it is useful to read all of Bruce Gilley’s article. According to Gilley, his departure from the APSA was due to the rejection of a panel suggestion he put together on “Viewpoint Diversity in Political Science.” His take on the absence of viewpoint diversity is chilling for free speech advocates,

Much has been written about the general problem of a lack of political diversity in political science and its drift to the far left. The ratio of Democratic/left-of-center to Republican/right-of-center professors in political science is variously estimated at around 15 to 1 nationwide, not counting moderates and centrist independents. In my home state of Oregon, I believe the ratio is infinitely large because I do not know of a single Republican or conservative in our profession here (I am a swing voter and independent).

Sadly, modern education is now so increasingly useless and out-of-touch with reality that we have turned once venerable and prestigious institutions into lame, second-rate madrasas. This, of course, is just the kind of waste that would have shook John Locke to his thrifty core.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He received the William Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association for the best doctoral dissertation in the nation in his field in 1989. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010. 

 

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Casino Kids

Williams College economist, Owen Thompson, sees a strong link between the growth of tribal gaming and improved educational outcomes for American Indian children. Specifically, children lucky enough to be born around the same time their tribe built a casino gained more years of education and saw better graduation rates from both secondary (5%) and post-secondary schools (14%). His study assembled data on the educational outcomes of 11,647 American Indians across 36 counties.

Tribal Gaming and Educational Outcomes in the Next Generation

Thompson took a B.A. in economics in 2005 from one of the most famous schools in the nation, Evergreen State College.  I’m sure the Williams community would benefit from hearing his take on his alma mater, especially its decision to host a no-whites “Day of Absence” in the spring of 2017. Despite my natural curiosity, I recommend Thompson restrain from discussing the foibles of Evergreen State College. Wait until you have tenure. CM

 

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Weepy Futch Potato

Over on Twitter, Franny Choi announced that she had accepted a two-year fellowship in English at Williams College. “I’m so so so excited to work with the fierce students at Williams,” she wrote. Here’s how she describes herself on her website:

Franny Choi is a queer, Korean-American poet, playwright, teacher, organizer, pottymouth, GryffinClaw, and general overachiever.  She is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014), as well as a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017).

I imagine the prolific Choi will feel right at home given her hatred for Trump, her advocacy for illegal immigrants, and her hostility to the second amendment. Inexplicably, her tweet indicates her surprise at her new appointment. “Can you believe,” she tweets, “they wanted to hire this weepy futch potato?”

Out of curiosity, I looked up “futch.” It means she sees herself as midway between being a feminine lesbian (femme) and a masculine lesbian (butch). There is even an attractive, multicolored chart for this.

I’ll leave it to others to figure out why she refers to herself as a “weepy potato.”

I think the readers of Ephblog are not as surprised as Franny about why the English department wanted to hire her.

I suspect we would be a good deal more shocked if the English department hired a high femme. Personally, I would consider it progress if the English department hired a poet – maybe even a stone butch – who composed poems that rhymed…like the way poetry used to be, back when it was popular and everyone liked it.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010.

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A Six Month Experiment

EphBlog is like a keg party at Perry.

And I am the host.

What do I want? A fun party for everyone, with intellectual conversation, a little music, a lot of dancing and the moderate consumption of adult beverages.

But parties are tricky! I want everyone to be (and feel!) welcome, to have a good time, to come back next week. Yet, conflicts will arise. Some people want the music louder. Some want it quieter. Some want no music at all. The balancing act falls to me, as it has for last 6,013 or so days.

Which bring us to my co-blogger, former Williams professor John Drew (JCD). His contributions to EphBlog, while enjoyed by me and others, have caused great consternation among many people who I very much want at my Perry kegger. What to do?

With JCD’s kind indulgence, we will be running an experiment for the rest of 2019.

1) JCD will continue as a valued author at EphBlog, posting content directly related to “All Things Eph,” just as he has done for many years. Indeed, I think his last 20 or so posts have been exactly what EphBlog needs more of.

2) JCD will turn comments off on his posts. (Any author can turn off comments at any time on their own posts. It just seems to me that the comment threads in JCD’s posts have . . . uh . . . not always been very productive.)

3) JCD will not comment on any other posts. As much as I enjoy most of JCD’s posts over the last few months, his comments have . . . uh . . . not always captured the spirit of a good Perry party.

4) Comments about JCD will be deleted. There is nothing new that anyone could possible say on this topic that has not already been said before. Good parties are never boring.

What if JCD posts something that either a) you want to talk about or b) you think is wrong/misleading? You have three options. First, you can join EphBlog as an author! Authors write about whatever they want. Second, you can make a comment in another thread. Third, you can ask me to create a new post about the topic on which all might comment, as I did here, in reaction to this comment. But don’t forget Rule 4 above!

Comments on this (and predictions about) this experiment are welcome! But don’t forget Rule 4 above!

Picture from the Williams Record of September 13, 1988.

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Punishment Now

Over at First Things, Darel Paul tears into the Supreme Court for its failure to fully protect us from leftist extremists who insist on punishing all who “…dissent from the dictates of our culture’s permanent Sexual Revolution.” See,

Accommodating Injustice

Paul asserts,

State public accommodations law has long been used to suppress unwoke speech and behavior. Targets are usually small businesses inclined to settle and accept silence rather than fight back, although even corporate giant Chick-fil-A has been the subject of suits charging a “hostile public accommodations environment” due to nothing more than the owners’ Christian values.

Darel E. Paul is professor of political science at Williams College and author of From Tolerance to Equality: How Elites Brought America to Same-Sex Marriage.

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KC Johnson on Oberlin

As a follow up to JCD’s post below (and to WW’s interest in a discussion location), here is a snippet from former Williams professor KC Johnson’s article about Oberlin:

The story, by now, is well-known. A few days after Donald Trump’s election, an underage black Oberlin student attempted to purchase a bottle of wine. The white proprietor of a local store, Gibson’s, refused to sell the wine, prompting the student to try and shoplift it. He and two friends fled the store with the proprietor in pursuit. The arrests of the students prompted protests by other Oberlin students suggesting that the shoplifters were innocent (they weren’t) and that Gibson was racist (it wasn’t).

A senior Oberlin administrator, Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, joined in the protests. The college ceased purchasing goods and services from Gibson’s—causing the victims of a crime economic harm. And after the college refused to apologize or release a statement denying Gibson’s racist intent, the store, and its owners sued.

Both sides presented mounds of evidence in the 11-day trial. But three items especially stood out.

First: Raimondo maintained that she was a neutral observer at the protest, acting in her official capacity as an Oberlin administrator and only seeking to safeguard the First Amendment rights of the student extremists. But testimony at the trial showed Raimondo handing out flyers denouncing Gibson’s as racist, indicating that she (and through her, the college) endorsed the protesters’ message. Raimondo was also subjected to a brutal cross-examination in which she refused to concede that it was harmful to a business to be falsely accused of racist behavior.

Should we worry? Probably not.

1) Williams has such a strangle-hold on Spring Street that there are very few non-College owned properties for students to protest at. And students are not engaged enough to protest someplace further away.

2) Williams is a much more “conservative” institution than Oberlin, so this SJW nonsense is less a part of the administrative culture.

3) Steve Klass is about a million times smarter than Meredith Raimondo.

4) With Oberlin as an abject example, schools will learn their lesson.

5) Williams students are not nearly as left-wing as Oberlin students.

Or am a too sanguine?

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Oberlin Verdict

Former Williams College professor K.C. Johnson has provided his take on the adverse decision and steep punishment a jury recently dropped on Oberlin College. The bottom line? It’s good to be a Gibson.

The $44 Million Verdict Against Oberlin

Johnson is especially critical of the way the New York Times covered the trial (it didn’t) and the way it misrepresented the results (it did). You can follow Johnson on Twitter at @kcjohnson9

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin, a graduate of Oberlin, offers an observation which may be applicable to Williams in the light of the April 9, 2019 verbal attack on white College Council members.

For decades, grievance-mongering Oberlin elites have bullied and defamed innocent white people without consequences in their multicultural Ohio enclave. False racial allegations and toxic identity politics are the bread and butter of Oberlin campus life.

To which she adds: “I’ve documented multiple hoaxes, stoked by Oberlin’s campus outrage industry, which have exploited fake hate by phantom white bigots to expand the affirmative action empire.”

Given the results of this lawsuit, it might be useful to re-examine the role Williams College played in forcing a small, local bottled water producer to change its Indian-themed label.   It might also be a good idea to think through how Dr. G. and Dr. Love went after a hapless, politically incorrect local tow truck driver.  Assuming critical race theorists believe the campus is already a lethal environment, it is difficult to see how they might justify showing any restraint at all in protecting non-white students from the seemingly peaceful denizens of Williamstown, MA.

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EphBlog Loves Love

EphBlog’s favorite member of the administration, Provost Dukes Love, continues his admirable commitment to transparency by posting all his presentation materials. The latest was “Opportunities for Impact: Supporting our Students (April 2019)” (pdf). Should we go through this report, or any of his others, in detail?

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Great Awokening, 10

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Last day.

In ages past, administrators and academics believed the mission of higher education to be the pursuit of knowledge (University of Chicago: “Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched”; University of Cambridge: “Hinc lucem et pocula sacra”) or even truth (Harvard University: “Veritas”; Yale University: “Lux et Veritas”). Today, they pursue Social Justice. Under that banner, anti-racist activists hope to do to higher education what Soviet communism did to fine art, literature and music. Under officially approved socialist realism, art was judged first and foremost by how well it depicted Soviet ideals, parroted Communist Party doctrine, and cultivated loyalty to the Soviet system. Not even science was exempted from serving a primarily ideological purpose during the thirty-year reign of Lysenkoism over Soviet biology and agronomy. Substitute critical race theory for Marxism–Leninism, whiteness for capitalism, and racial justice for dictatorship of the proletariat, and you will understand much of what the Great Awokening truly offers.

Would the Awoke of Williams disagree?

Just as critical race theory can destroy knowledge, it can likewise destroy institutions premised upon the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Thanks in large part to the influence of critical race theory, Evergreen State College melted down in Spring 2017. The concrete results of that meltdown included numerous faculty resignations, a catastrophic collapse in enrollments, layoffs, budget cuts and worldwide humiliation. Every institution of higher education should learn the lessons of Evergreen, for history is wont to repeat itself―the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Does this argument apply to Williams? I chatted with a Williams faculty member (not Paul) last week about the Evergreen comparison. I made the case that, however similar the woke rhetoric, Williams was unlikely to end up like Evergreen.

First, wokeness is affecting all of elite higher education. A student less interested in this attitude won’t find respite at Swarthmore.

Second, Williams is less woke than most of its peers. Indeed, we have always been among the most “conservative” institutions in elite education. (One could argue that the last 8 months show that this is changing. I bet not.) To the extent that there will be market movement away from the woke, we will benefit.

Third, wokeness has been with us for years, if not decades. The demands of the students who took over Hopkins Hall in 1969 were very similar to the ones that CARE Now made this year. Williams has been fine throughout.

Fourth, I have a great deal of (naive?) faith in the “hard men” of Williams, the ones who would step forward and prevent SJW nonsense from permanently hurting the institution. Ephs like Greg Avis ’80, Michael Eisenson ’77 and Andreas Halvorsen ’86 have a lifetimes worth of making tough decisions. They would not shirk from doing what needs to be done. I have the same (naive?) faith in the two hard women who now run Williams: President Maud Mandel and incoming Trustee Chair Liz Robinson ’90.

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Great Awokening, 9

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 9.

Sensoy and DiAngelo identify whiteness as the primary barrier to hiring non-white faculty in North American higher education. They use the term whiteness as a label for “a range of unnamed and exclusionary institutional practices” that are “intrinsically linked to dynamic relations of white racial domination.” Never mind that whites make up the same percentage of US college and university professors as they are a percentage of the general population, while persons of Asian descent make up 11% of all professors, despite being only 5% of the country’s population.

1) Again, this article (pdf) is not just (only!) some random SJW nonsense. It was distributed by Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell to Williams professors.

2) Imagine that Buell distributed an article entitled ““We Are All for Diversity, but . . .”: How Faculty Hiring Committees Reproduce Jewishness and Practical Suggestions for How They Can Change.” That might lead to some interesting conversations!

3) My sense is that the Williams faculty is at least 11% Asian, although I can’t find the latest data.

Paul continues:

Sensoy and DiAngelo are nonetheless intent to “unsettle whiteness” and disturb, not only in order to promote the hiring of job candidates of color but to radically transform the university itself. Practices of whiteness they seek to unsettle include:

“research in the form of peer-reviewed journal publications and the acquisition of grant monies … [as] barometers of the most-valued work driving salary and career progression”;

“White European enlightenment epistemology … the privileging of particular forms of knowledge over others (e.g. written over oral, history over memory, rationalism over wisdom)”;

“a call for a general position in any field … [this] reinforces the idea that some aspects of the job are core, foundational, and thus presumed neutral, while other aspects are additional, extra, and specialized”;

“counting only candidates’ output (the number of publications) and not input (the time it takes to build the relationships that grant access) … such as relationships with communities and activism/advocacy work”;

“the discourse of merit”;

“bas[ing] quality solely on factors such as the tier of publication … Might we instead consider research that does not further the cause of racial justice to be, in fact, lesser quality research?”

In the view of Sensoy and DiAngelo, none of these practices seek out academic quality on fair and objective, if debatable, grounds. They are instead the socially constructed racist values of white culture and, for that reason, must at minimum be unsettled and at maximum abolished. Sensoy and DiAngelo want “traditional fields” with their “old classifications” to be swept up into “forward thinking” through “an interrogation of … disciplinary fields and their borders.” As they “decolonize predominantly white university campuses”―aka “white/settler–colonial institutions”―and pursue the “decolonization of the academy,” Sensoy and DiAngelo call for a transvaluation of all academic values. Their aim is to eradicate the traditional mission of academia and the nature of the academic life. Their goal is to turn the decolonized university into a radical fundamentalist sect.

Would Denise Buell be willing to engage Darel Paul in a public debate?

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So to Speak – Luana Maroja

I’m happy to report Nico Perrino at FIRE now has a transcript of his podcast interview with Williams biology professor, Luana Maroja. A number of things popped out at me when I read the transcript. The first is that Maroja comes from a family of Marxists. To escape political persecution in Brazil, her father had to burn his Marxist books. She has talked about growing up in a dictatorship. This is the first time, as far as I know, she has shared how she and her family were impacted by that dictatorship.

Luana asserts  she sees no evidence minority professors are the victims of violence on campus.

In one of these meetings, I asked – we need to know what is the violence that is happening on campus and I was told by another professor that even asking what is the violence is a violent act. So, basically, you cannot discuss anything. You just have to take everything at face value and, of course, there are problems with that. Serious claims need serious evidence, right?

Nico recounts how another hero for free speech, Zach Wood, reported he felt ostracized on campus due to his views. Luana reports a similar uncomfortable feeling, “I know that students sometimes turn their heads when I pass and you don’t know if they are on my side or not.” The full transcript is below the break.

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Great Awokening, 8

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 1.

Whiteness and the Violence of Critical Race Theory

Decolonization intends to uproot Western academia’s supposed foundational characteristic: whiteness. According to critical race theory, whiteness is the social construction of white culture as socially normative. White supremacy, an unequal race-based distribution of power and resources, naturally follows. In the words of well-known activist-scholar of Whiteness Studies Robin DiAngelo, whiteness is a “racist worldview” into which all white people are socialized and effects “an unequal distribution of basically everything between people of color as a whole and white people as a whole.” The evil of whiteness animates the views of anti-racist student activists: “Whiteness is the most violent fuckin’ system to ever breathe!” (Evergreen); “I charge the white man with being the greatest murderer on earth” (Williams);

Paul does not provide a link, but this is a famous quote from Malcolm X. Was it included as part of one of Kyle Scadlock’s ’19 guerilla art projects?

“We demand that the College offer classes that embody intersectionality, as defined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and address the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community instead of centering whiteness” (Sarah Lawrence). Never mind the superior performance of Asian students on white standardized tests, the strong overrepresentation of Asians in white supremacist higher education, that fact that Indians are the United States’ highest income ethnic group or that Nigerians are one of the most successful new immigrant groups in the country.

Exactly right. The average SAT score of Asian-American students at Williams is 1520, higher than white students. I also suspect that Asian-Amnericans have higher GPAs at Williams, but I have not seen any data.

College administrators, too, have taken up the task of decentering whiteness, helping their white faculty and staff in “processing whiteness” (Williams),

The link which Paul provides does not work. I suspect he is referencing this:

Processing Whiteness

Organizers: Ruby Solomon, Integrative Wellbeing Services; Seth Wax, Chaplain’s Office; Gail Newman, Professor of German

The Processing Whiteness group will provide opportunities for faculty and staff to analyze and understand white identity, white privilege, and racism in a supportive environment that focuses on the experiences of the participants. Through a series of facilitated discussions, the group aims to help participants learn to speak about the historical and contemporary implications of white identity, examine race and racism, identify implicit bias and feelings of shame, and explore and practice allyship and interrupting racism.

Is that a parody I just made up of Williams wokeness? Or reality? You make the call!

Paul continues:

“unpacking whiteness” (University of New Hampshire), conducting “conversations in whiteness” (University of Michigan), “understanding your whiteness” (University of Iowa) and “understanding and unlearning whiteness” (Evergreen). In a 2017 article in Harvard Educational Review, DiAngelo and her co-author Özlem Sensoy (both PhDs in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington) lay out what in their view whiteness is and how it operates in US and Canadian academia. The focus of their article is how whiteness is supposedly reproduced through faculty hiring and how that process may be interrupted. Thanks to its anti-racist frame, this article has, not surprisingly, become quite popular among American college administrators. In fact, it came to my attention because my own Dean of Faculty distributed it for my edification when I recently served as chair of a departmental hiring committee.

Denise Buell might be the most woke Dean of the Faculty in NESCAC. And I bet that she would consider that a compliment!

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Great Awokening, 7

Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 7.

Racist violence on campus is said to go deeper still. Anti-racist activists claim its foundation is the very curriculum and pedagogy of the university: “the question of what counts as ‘good literature’ or ‘good art’ is not easily separable from feelings of exclusion from a majority culture of privilege and ‘value’” (Williams);

Check out that link! It goes to the Faculty-Staff Initiative Final Report of 2009 (pdf). These claims are not just made by some radical student fringe. They are core beliefs of many (most? almost all?) Williams faculty and administrators.

And maybe they are right! Certainly, if teachers have been telling non-white students (for their entire lives!) that Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dante are “white” and can’t really speak to the experiences and hopes of non-white people, it would hardly be surprising if those students came to Williams with “feelings of exclusion” toward Western classics. That does not strike me as a good thing.

How long until those names are sand-blasted off the front of Stetson/Sawyer?

Maybe we can keep Homer (brownish?) and Cervantes (Hispanic?) . . .

Side note: Had a conversation with some faculty about the Katie Kent ’88 and Dorothy Wang dust-up. Their comment was that if Katie had not been the one accused of racism, she would have been leading the charge against whomever was accused. Fair?

More from Paul below, and you really ought to read the whole thing!

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