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Against Race Theology, 1

Former Williams History Professor Eric Knibbs wrote “Against Race Theology, or: Williams College is Everywhere Now,” the most scathing attack on the culture that is Williams in years. (Hat-tip to John Drew.) Let’s spend a week going through the highlights of the article, centered around last year’s controversies about White Male Vigilantes, self-CARE Now and Green/Love Black Joy.

Let’s start with some of Drew’s comments:

Eric describes what it was like to be a recently tenured history professor at Williams College during the 2018-2019 school year, a year in which white liberal professors found themselves under attack for not being woke enough. He does a particularly compelling job of working for the institution while it was under siege by radical CARE Now students. These students were opponents of modest efforts to bring the Chicago Principles to Williams College and acolytes to two of the most ridiculous black professors to ever teach at the campus.

what is most alarming to Eric Knibbs today is that the madness he saw taking place at an obscure outlier like Williams College now seems to be straightforward vision of what Antifa activists, enraged peaceful protesters, and statue molesters apparently want to impose on the entire country.

I think it is important to read his article in full. Mainly, it demonstrates that it is not so funny to be face-to-face with leftist, extremist students who quick to assert racism as the motive for anything they dislike. These students have little to lose and nevertheless appear to have more influence with the administration than a well-meaning professor like Eric Knibbs. I should add that the article also displays Knibbs’ entertaining writing, ability to explain things simply, and his conscientious research. This article is a reminder of what an elite Williams College professor would be like in a culture that promoted merit rather than identity politics.

Exactly right. I was very sad when Knibbs announced that he was leaving Williams.

There is a great Record article to be written about Knibbs and his critics.

Note: Comments which pick a personal fight with JCD will be deleted instantly. Better topic: Do you agree or disagree with his summary of Knibb’s article?

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Reopening, 4

Two years ago we were sure that the most important aspect of Maud’s presidency — the topic which historians would focus on 50 years from now — was her efforts to bring free speech (back) to Williams. How wrong we were! Maud’s decisions during the CV-19 pandemic will define her place in the history books. Let’s spend a week or two discussing her latest message.

Three cheers for Maud Mandel!

EphBlog sometimes gives the impression that we don’t like the decisions that Maud makes. And, it is true! We don’t like (some of!) her decisions. Yet there have been two critical issues in Maud’s three years as president: Ensuring free speech and bringing back all students. She got both of them correct! Hooray for Maud! Indeed, there have been no more important sentence written by a Williams president in the last decade (or more) than this one:

I’m writing to inform you that Williams plans to convene an in-person semester for fall 2020.

This was the correct call. Yet it was also a call that could have gone differently, that Maud could have messed up. (This was not the case with her decision to send students home in March. That was important, of course, but, since every elite college did the same thing, it was (essentially) impossible for Maud to mess it up. No college president deserves major credit for making the same decision as all her peers.)

Consider Bowdoin:

We will have some students back in the fall, but not all students. The group on campus will be:
our new first-year and transfer students;
students who have home situations that make online learning nearly impossible;
a very small number of senior honors students who cannot pursue their pre-approved projects online and require access to physical spaces on campus, and can do so under health and safety protocols; and
our student residential life staff.

All other sophomores, juniors, and seniors will remain off campus for the fall semester and will take their courses online. With priority given to seniors, if the fall semester goes as we hope, we expect to have our seniors, juniors, and sophomores return to campus for the spring semester, with the added possibility that our winter and spring athletes may be able to engage with their sports in some way. We expect that our first-year and transfer students will study remotely in the spring.

And Amherst:

However, after lengthy and careful deliberations, we conclude that we can adhere to the best public health guidance and offer an excellent educational experience to students who are on and off campus if we bring approximately 1,200-1,250 students to campus in the fall. This represents just over 60 percent of our total enrollment and between 70 and 75 percent of those who indicated interest in returning to campus for their studies. We hope to bring back even more students in the spring, ideally all who wish to be here. Should that prove unwise, those students who could not be here in the fall will have priority in the spring. With this structure, we can provide the opportunity for every student who wishes to be on campus to spend at least one semester here and, if things go well, both semesters for a large number of those students.

For the fall, we will give priority to all first-year students, all transfer students, all sophomores, any seniors who are scheduled to graduate at the end of the fall semester, and seniors who are returning to campus after spending the fall and/or spring term of the 2019-20 academic year studying abroad. In addition, two categories of students may petition to study on campus: senior thesis writers whose work requires access to campus facilities or materials that would otherwise be unavailable; and students whose home circumstances impede their academic progress.

Amherst and Bowdoin have similar wealth (and similar physical plant?) to Williams. Maud could have done what they did. But she didn’t’. Yeah Maud! Comments:

1) How different are the number of singles between Amherst/Bowdoin and Williams? It seems like this might have played a major role in their decision-making. Does Williams plan/promise a single to every student on campus this fall?

2) What effects will this have on enrollment at Amherst/Bowdoin? I would be sorely tempted to take a gap year if I were a student there, especially if I were an athlete, especially if a bunch of my friends were taking gap years. Indeed, what advice would you give to seniors at these schools? The job market will certainly look a lot better in the fall of 2021 than it will this fall . . .

3) Do you agree with Maud/EphBlog that this was the correct decision?

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Remote Learning Does Not Belong at Williams

What is the biggest mistake which Williams is making right now? The insistence that every course support “remote learning.” From this excellent Record article:

Faculty members have been asked to inform the College by yesterday, June 20, whether they would teach in person or remotely if the campus were to reopen in the fall. The academic subcommittee of the working group tasked with determining what an on-campus fall would look like sent an all-faculty email on June 10 to address curricular planning in the case that campus reopens in the fall. The College has not yet decided whether or not to open campus in the fall, with the decision deadline still set for July 1.

If faculty choose to teach in person, the subcommittee has advised them to design “hybrid” courses to accommodate those students who must continue learning remotely even if campus is open. In addition to anticipating that some students may opt to remain off campus for personal reasons or travel restrictions, the email raised the possibility that “the entire campus may need to switch to remote learning at some point as we did this spring,” or that some students or faculty who begin the semester in-person may need to switch to remote learning during the term. Depending on the development of the public health situation, “we may still need these hybrid models next spring or even the following year,” the subcommittee wrote.

As we have discussed several times, this is a bad idea. First, any student who can’t be on campus should take a semester off. Williams is a residential college. If you can’t be in Williamstown, you can’t get a Williams education. Second, faculty are hired to teach Williams students in classrooms on the Williams campus, not via Zoom. Of course, temporary emergency situations can allow for flexibility on a handful of occasions each year. But anything more than that is nonsense.

This nonsense might not be so bad if it were optional, if students were allowed to come to a classroom and faculty were allowed to teach them. Almost all students/faculty want to be on the log together! But it sure looks like the College is doing its best to make this impossible.

Some faculty members have raised the concern that requiring hybrid courses might discourage faculty from choosing to teach in person. “My strong preference all along has been to teach in-person,” Associate Professor of Political Science Justin Crowe ’03 said. “But the insistence on hybridity for all courses has me resigned to teaching remotely.” He explained, “To have the College compound the extra health risk of in-person teaching with extra workload — and the hybridity requirements are a substantial amount of extra work for anyone who chooses to teach in person — is disappointing.”

Though Crowe acknowledged that some students would need to continue remote learning regardless, he said the presence of other faculty who were already planning to teach remotely would provide “a decent number of courses for remote students to take.” Crowe added, “On an institutional level, I know there are lots of moving parts and conflicting interests, but it seems odd, given the dissatisfaction most students experienced with remote instruction, that we’d bring students back to campus and yet disincentivize faculty from teaching them in person.”

Exactly right. If the College insists on demanding that all courses allow for (simultaneous) remote participation, then faculty have no choice but to Zoom everything. Is that really what Maud wants? Perhaps!

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Dunce Hats

Professor Darel Paul’s twitter account has gone to a dark place:

In a world in which Steve Hsu is forced out at Michigan State, how can Darel Paul be safe at Williams?

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Fight Anti-Black Racism

Maud’s letter on recent protests is about as “conservative” as such a letter could be. (Contrary opinions on this claim are welcome! But, as someone who expected much more action, I was very pleased to see Maud offer so little.) Key section:

Philanthropy: Williams will invest at least $500,000 over the next five years to specifically support racial justice organizations and efforts nationally and in our region. This, too, is consonant with the college’s long tradition of philanthropic support for our region and the world, as summarized in the recent report of the Williams in the World Strategic Planning working group.

1) This was the only dollar figure mentioned. It was lower than I expected. Recall my recommendations:

1) Don’t embarrass yourselves. If you feel you need to give money to appease the mob, give it to a reputable organization, not to the fools and grifters at something like 8 Can’t Wait or Campaign Zero. Recall when Williams, in a similar fit of moral piety, gave money to scam outfits in the name of carbon offsets. Don’t make that mistake again.

2) If you have to give money, give it to organizations with a direct Eph connection. Such organizations are (obviously!) more likely to be trustworthy and effective. Such gifts are less likely to rise the ire of non-BLM supporting alums.

3) Avoid excessively partisan organizations as much as possible. Consider the Innocence Project, an organization which helps to free wrongly convicted prisoners, many of them Black. Even a right-winger like me is supportive of those efforts.

4) Don’t write checks, support students. I, and many other alums, hate it when the College takes our donations and then turns around and donates that money to some other non-profit. If we wanted out money to go to, say, MASS MoCA, we would donate to it directly. Don’t take our money — which is meant to support Williams students and faculty — and send it to your favorite charity.

Nothing in Maud’s letter directly contradicts any of my advice, at least as of now. We will see what happens with the details.

2) Most of the rest is the usual collection of virtue-signalling and preaching to the choir. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Indeed, in the same way that Mark Hopkins, if he wanted to keep his job, had no choice but declare his fervent belief in the divinity of Christ, the President of Williams, in this year of our lord 2020, has no choice but to profess agreement with BLM.

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“‘A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not the purpose of a ship.'”

From iBerkshires; full article here:
Williams Mathematician Steven Miller, a member of the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee, is advocating for a cost-benefit analysis: the complete reopening of Williamstown Schools …
“Hopefully, we’ll know more next week as to what’s coming,” he said. “But that also doesn’t give us a tremendous amount of time before then to try to provide our input as to — are we going for a one solution, one-size-fits-all commonwealth or are we going to say that a rural district that has not had as many [COVID-19] cases maybe would have a back to school different plan than Boston.
“We should consider trying to advocate … all students coming back to classes and what that would entail.
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“There are plenty of unknowns, but one of the things we have observed right now is that there is a tremendous cost to what we’re doing,” Miller said, referring to school closures. “To me, as a mathematician, it’s a cost-benefit analysis. What are the costs of having a lockdown versus not having a lockdown? What are the costs to doing the remote learning versus bringing students back? What would be the cost to having some of the students come in where you … keep the classrooms at a minimum?
“Unfortunately, there’s no solution that will get us everything we want and still be perfectly safe. The expression I’ve been using is: ‘A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not the purpose of a ship.’ At some point, life has risks, and we have to decide what level of risk is acceptable. What are the benefits of going forward and what are the costs?
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Prefer to Teach in Person or Remotely

Latest e-mail to the faculty.

Even though the decision concerning whether the college will offer all-remote or some in-person instruction will not be made until July 1, all departments and programs (and thus all of you) are working hard to determine what kind of curriculum will be offered in either of these paths.

How much time is being wasted by the continuing delusion that students might not be on campus in the fall? They will be. Why pretend otherwise?

We are asking you to let the Office of the Dean of the Faculty know by June 20, 2020 whether you would prefer to teach in person or remotely should the institutional decision be to allow students back to campus in the fall semester. This deadline will allow chairs to submit both an all-remote and a return-to-campus version of the course offerings to the Registrars’ office by late June. Very shortly after Maud’s announcement on July 1, the Registrar will make available to students an abbreviated form of the catalog that, if the decision is a return-to-campus one, will indicate the modality of the course offering (remote, hybrid, in-person).

You do not need to submit any documentation concerning your decision, as it is entirely up to you and need not be related to your age, health condition, etc. If you wish to have a conversation about this decision, Kashia Pieprzak, Sara Dubow, John Gerry, or either of us would be happy to speak with you.

This seems very weird to me. Are other colleges doing this? Mine isn’t. Nor have I heard of any others that are. Since when does anyone, without providing any reason/justification, allowed to perform their job however they see fit?

I am certain that, at almost every elite college, the Administration is sensitive to faculty concerns. Any faculty member who came to them with a good reason for why they needed to teach remotely — or take a leave of absence or move to a different office or anything else — would be listened to sympathetically. But to phrase the issue in this way opens the door to abuse.

Perhaps more important is this:

Nonetheless, even if the college opens for in-person instruction, some students will still need to take classes remotely and some faculty will still need or want to teach remotely.

It seems like madness to insist on a system in which students can take (some? any?) classes remotely. Williams is a residential college and it requires a students physical presence. If, for some reason, a student can’t be on campus — either because of travel restrictions or because of health issues — then the student should take a leave of absence.

It is madness to require that every class be set up to enable virtual attendance. Or am I misreading this?

In a recent survey of faculty, those of you who responded indicated that about 75% of you would be willing to teach students in person. Many of you also noted that such willingness is contingent on factors such as the availability of childcare and PPE.

As always, imagining that the College is run by a cabal of corrupt insiders is not a bad method for predicting its actions. Your childcare is not Williams’ responsibility.

Anything else in the e-mail worth discussing?

Thanks to our anonymous source! Full e-mail below:

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#DEFUNDPOLICE

Violent insurrection Peaceful protests make for strange bedfellows. Professor Kai Green tweets:

I certainly don’t want to defund all of law enforcement, but Williams College should stop giving money to the police.

Williams College has announced a $400,000 gift to the town to help build the new police station on Simonds Road.

Can we all just agree to stop nonsense like that?

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Falò Delle Vanità

Phrase coined by an Eph in 2020 most likely to gain wide currency? I will go with “Bonfire of the Authorities,” from Professor Darel Paul.

Background:

A bonfire of the vanities (Italian: falò delle vanità) is a burning of objects condemned by authorities as occasions of sin. The phrase usually refers to the bonfire of 7 February 1497, when supporters of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola collected and burned thousands of objects such as cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy on the Shrove Tuesday festival.[1][2]

Francesco Guicciardini’s The History of Florence gives a first-hand account of the bonfire of the vanities that took place in Florence in 1497.[3] The focus of this destruction was on objects that might tempt one to sin, including vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics, fine dresses, playing cards, and even musical instruments.

The phrase “bonfire of the authorities” is, on its face, perfect. This really is an age in which trust in authority figures is being destroyed. To the extent that non-leftists used to place some faith in NPR or public health professionals, that faith is being squandered.

But, is there a deeper connection, to the original meaning? Are NPR, public health, leading magazines themselves “vanity items?” I hope we never find out.

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Imagine

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The Significant Beauty of Nonessential Work

Lovely article by Economics Professor Greg Phelan.

“Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”

That’s the question Sam Gamgee asks an exhausted, starving, and despondent Frodo Baggins as they struggle to march through Mordor. Frodo has lost hope that he’ll reach the end of his journey. But rather than saying, “Muster up your strength! We have essential, important work to do,” Sam simply asks: “Do you remember the Shire?”

Do you remember the butter and bread, the flowers in the orchards, the songs and the rain, the laughter around tall pints of brown ale? While the important mission in the world is destroying the Ring—defeating Lord Sauron and all evil—Sam reflects on strawberries and cream.

Why? Because their way of life in the Shire was worth saving. Oh, you can live without beer and bread and strawberries. Sam and Frodo made it through Mordor without them. Those things are far from essential.

And yet.

Those nonessential things are worth preserving, worth protecting, worth marching into Mordor for. Sam finds courage because of the frivolous joys of the Shire, not despite them. They are not essential, but they are significant.

On a visit to the American Museum of Natural History one day, my wife noted the deep-sea creatures that live in darkness miles below the water’s surface. We humans never see them, and we barely know anything about them—God must have made them just for himself out of sheer delight. In wonder at the numerous creatures God made for seemingly no other purpose than his own pleasure, my wife was struck by this thought: And of all that God created, people are his treasured possession.

Recently, as my daughter toddled around our backyard laughing in the sun, I was overwhelmed anew by the knowledge that life is beautiful. A baby’s giggles, like strawberries and cream and orchards blooming in the Shire, are worth living and dying for.

Significant and good, they inspire us to live for what is most important, most essential. I find strength and courage to sacrifice for my children, to attempt the hard work of laying down my life for my wife, and to labor for peace and prosperity in our world because the splendor of God’s beauty breaks through in my children’s playful smiles.

Even after the pandemic passes and our economy shifts back into gear, we’ll still be in Mordor. May we always ache for something more. And while we wait, may we find in the laughter of children, the beauty of sea creatures, and the taste of strawberries not only a promise of what is to come, but also the motivation to keep going.

Your work may be nonessential. But it is absolutely significant.

Read the whole thing.

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Under the Rainbow Banner

Latest from Professor Darel Paul:

In June 1970, America’s first gay pride parades hit the streets. Four U.S. cities—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco—hosted crowds ranging from several hundred to a few thousand marching with homemade signs declaring “pride,” “power,” and “liberation.” Like the 1969 Stonewall riots that inspired them, early parades began as intentional acts of disruption, combining political protest with cultural defiance. Fifty annual marches later, Pride parades are backed by our most powerful individuals and institutions. Fortune 500 corporations bankroll them. Senators, governors, and mayors campaign through them. Major league sports teams, churches, hospitals, government bureaucracies, protective services, universities, and K–12 schools march in them. In the largest American cities, over a million spectators line the streets to wish and be wished “Happy Pride.”

The 2020 coronavirus lockdowns have dramatically interrupted public life throughout the United States. Easter and Passover celebrations were shunted online or cancelled outright. So, too, the central public liturgy of the contemporary cosmopolis, the Pride parade. For our leading cities and their elites, this is of far greater consequence than suppressing any traditional holy day. While cities will certainly miss the economic benefits, the greater consequence is an interruption of the cultural work of expressing our society’s core dogmas and reenacting our society’s central myth.

Why and wherefore this annual national carnival of queerness? Mainstream society’s enthusiasm for Pride is no doubt motivated in part by marketing and virtue signaling. Some have argued that corporate America’s “performative wokeness” is a legitimation strategy aimed at culturally left elites who might otherwise support the breakup of tech giants or the taxation of Wall Street. Others have noted that rich consumers with ample disposable income tend to be cultural progressives, and therefore it simply makes commercial sense—especially for luxury brands and high-end consumer services firms—to embody the progressive values of their most desirable clientele. These arguments aren’t wrong, but they say nothing about what attracts elites to progressive causes in the first place. They are silent, in particular, on what makes an association with queerness so alluring. After all, Americans are not turning out in the millions for annual civic celebrations of abortion rights, slavery reparations, or gun control. In the annals of performative wokeness, Pride holds pride of place.

Queerness has conquered America because it is the distilled essence of the country’s post-1960s therapeutic culture.

Read the whole thing. Is Professor Paul the most important public intellectual on the Williams faculty today? If not, who is?

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Have a Commencement

The decision to cancel Commencement is a mistake, the worst of Maud’s tenure. From the Record:

Yesterday, the College announced its decision to reschedule the commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 to an undetermined future date, ruling out the option to hold a virtual ceremony on June 7.

After the College cancelled in-person commencement at the start of the month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor of Chemistry and College Marshal Jay Thoman ’82 sent a survey to the class of 2020 asking their opinions on whether to organize virtual proceedings in June or a rescheduled ceremony in the future. The form had a two-thirds response rate among seniors, more than 90 percent of whom preferred a rescheduled in-person ceremony with traditional senior-week and class-day events.

“There seemed little support for a faux Commencement in June,” Thoman said. He explained that while no official commencement will happen this spring, the College is soliciting student comments for a few virtual celebrations during the first week of June.

1) There is no way to know if an in-person ceremony will be possible in 2021! If CV-19 is still around (and why wouldn’t it be?), odds are that Massachusetts will still be outlawing large gatherings.

2) Scores (hundreds?) of members of the class of 2020 (and their families) won’t be able to attend a ceremony in 2021, even if one is held.

3) There is no reason we can’t have both a virtual ceremony in June and an in-person ceremony in 2021. A virtual ceremony is free! It costs nothing beyond the time of the faculty/staff who organize it, time that Williams has already paid for.

4) It is possible to make a virtual ceremony meaningful. Here is a plan under discussion at a competing institution. It is excellent! Williams could do even better.

For all these reasons, it was absurd for Thoman/Williams to frame the question as a choice for the senior survey. Is the explanation incompetence? That is always my first guess! But never discount laziness. Whatever else is true, Jay Thoman and the other staff/faculty involved in graduation planning just saved themselves from having to do hundreds of hours of work this month . . .

Side note: The Record‘s coverage of this and other issues has been excellent all spring. Kudos to all involved! Full article below.

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Calexit

Latest from Professor Darel Paul:

The California roadmap is the latest in a long line of policies practically and symbolically distancing the Golden State from the rest of the country. California has long been the only state granted the right to maintain its own auto emissions standards. Since 2017 it has prevented state employees from traveling on official business to other states that, in the evaluation of its Attorney General, maintain legal “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” California is a self-declared “sanctuary state” limiting the degree to which state and local law enforcement may cooperate with federal immigration officials. In 2019 it began covering certain illegal immigrants in its state Medicaid program, and this year created a state-based coronavirus relief fund specifically for residents who are in the country unlawfully.

There is no doubt that California is both very peculiar and very large. Yet neither quality lends it the status of a nation, nor does it make California a state in the international legal sense of the term. Nonetheless one day it could become so, and the coronavirus pandemic is creating novel opportunities for California to travel down just such a path.

California has already begun to erase the distinction between resident and citizen. It allows non-citizens (both legal and illegal residents) to vote in some local elections, to serve on state government boards and committees, and to receive state-based coronavirus relief funds. A California with its own immigration policy on top of its own nascent sense of ‘residentship’ would be a California that has taken a real step toward independence. And much like the plurality of English voters now looking at Scotland’s continuing demands for independence, the rest of the United States could be perfectly willing to let such a California go.

I certainly would be. States’ rights forever!

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Alumni Letter

Solid letter from Maud to alumni last Friday. I appreciate the shout-out to Dr. Craig Smith ’70, an EphBlog favorite.

To the Williams alumni family,

Earlier today I sent a community-wide message, a copy of which you will find below, announcing the decision to cancel this spring’s in-person commencement and alumni reunion. However disappointing, the news is unlikely to come as a surprise, and we can now begin looking at alternate ways to honor your milestones. I will enjoy celebrating them with you in any format.

While I have been communicating steadily with students, faculty, staff and families about the college’s effort to address and respond to the huge challenges posed by COVID-19 (you can read those messages here), this message, even with the sad news about reunion, gives me a welcome opportunity to speak with you directly for the first time during the pandemic.

First and foremost, I want you to know I have been thinking about you and your fellow alumni even more than usual these last few months. Each of you is in some way joined in the fight against this pandemic: some as frontline healthcare providers or public health experts, others as policymakers and advocates for the sick and vulnerable, and all of you as family members and friends caring for people around you. My heart and gratitude go out to you all.

I hesitate to single out any one person’s work amidst so much dedication. But there is inspiration and wisdom to be found in the blog of Dr. Craig Smith ’70, chair of surgery and surgeon-in-chief at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Hospital. Dr. Smith’s writings, published from a tragic center of the COVID-19 crisis, evince a spirit of compassion, wisdom and leadership that can make us all proud to count him as a member of our Williams family.

Second, I want you to know that, no matter where you are in the world or what your circumstances, your college is a community to which you can turn for support. For many of you, your Williams friends and connections are already helping you weather these exceptional times. Our duty is to help facilitate those connections when we can. To that end, I invite you to explore the list of COVID-19 resources collected for you by our Alumni Relations team. It includes links to social media channels, a growing list of resources offered by fellow alumni, and a form that you can use to share additional resources that you think would be helpful. I also encourage you to look at EphLink, the college’s online career mentoring platform, which offers a great way to support undergrads and your fellow alumni. However you prefer to engage, thank you for doing what you can to support each other and your college.

Sadly, we have begun to hear about members of our Williams alumni family who have lost their lives because of COVID-19. The situation is heartbreaking, and my condolences go out to the loved ones of those who have passed away or are ill. More than at almost any other time in our recent history, this feels like a moment when we need reaffirm our bonds and support each other as a community.

Reunions help strengthen those bonds. And while we unfortunately cannot reunite on campus in June, college staff are already thinking about other ways to bring us together. We will aim to confirm any new plans once we regain a stable sense of the future—a level of normalcy that is hard to imagine right now, but which will come in due course. When it does, it will give us yet another reason to honor and celebrate this great Williams family of ours.

Until then, I wish you good health and strength from Williamstown,

Maud

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Graduation and Reunions Cancelled

Full letter from Maud below. The decision was inevitable. I was struck by this passage:

My heart goes out especially to the class of 1970, whose own senior spring term was canceled due to protests over the bombing of Cambodia, and who are now having their 50th reunion disrupted by a global pandemic.

1) I don’t know this history as well as I should. I know that there was a student strike, but was the “senior spring term” really “cancelled.” What about the other students? Junior spring term went on fine, but not senior spring term. How is that even possible?

2) There is a great senior thesis to be written, tying events at Williams across this 50 year divide. Indeed, kudos to Maud, the historian, for making that connection.

Williams students, families, faculty and staff,

Over the last few weeks Williams has been assessing the question of whether or not to hold commencement and reunion, in light of the pandemic’s progress and impact. I have decided, reluctantly and with significant disappointment, that the college cannot safely hold a traditional in-person Williams commencement or reunion in June.

Every year I share in the joy of seniors who are celebrating the successful completion of their Williams education, and their excitement about embarking on their next adventures. Seeing the delight of parents and families, who have supported their students in remarkable ways, is equally moving. A week later, I welcome alumni who are returning from adventures of their own. We often say Williams is more than a campus: it is a worldwide community. Commencement and reunion together demonstrate this truth.

Seniors, while I am heartbroken that graduation cannot happen in the conventional way at the conventional time, I am determined that you will have your moment. Rather than deciding for you what that should look like, my colleagues and I want to start by asking you. Following this message, you will receive an email from College Marshal and J. Hodge Markgraf Professor of Chemistry Jay Thoman ’82, with a questionnaire you can use to share your ideas. Your responses will help inform our thinking about the options.

While the result almost certainly will not look exactly like a traditional graduation, Professor Thoman and all of us are determined to create something memorable and meaningful. Seniors,please complete the questionnaire and tell us what that might look like for you.

Alumni will shortly receive a separate note from me about Reunion 2020. Our colleagues in the Office of College Relations are going to work with the classes of the “aughts and fives,” including our 25th and 50th reunion classes, on alternate ways to get together. My heart goes out especially to the class of 1970, whose own senior spring term was canceled due to protests over the bombing of Cambodia, and who are now having their 50th reunion disrupted by a global pandemic. I promise that we will find other ways to celebrate these milestone anniversaries, which are so important to alumni and college alike.

You have no idea how much I wish we could come together in the customary ways, to celebrate as a community. But I am confident that we can work together creatively to make the most of even this unprecedented challenge. Seniors, I hope you will share your thoughts and hopes via the questionnaire. Together, we will craft celebrations befitting the great class of 2020 and all our reunion classes.

Wishing you and your families all the best in the weeks ahead,

Maud

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Four Letter Word, 15 Years Later

This post was originally written 15 years ago. More true today than ever?

In the era of CV-19 and remote learning, where is the Log?

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What is the stupidest, most out of touch statement by a senior faculty member to be published in the Record in the last year? Good question! Given all the misrepresentations concerning anchor housing, the competition is a tough one. But I am going with this.

To bring discussion [on racial incidents] to a more public arena, Schapiro and Roseman are hosting an open forum in Griffin at 8:30 p.m. tonight. Roseman said she felt that WSO blogs are ultimately limited in lasting value, despite the good content they sometimes contain. “They’re not really a dialogue,” she said. “They always degenerate over time.”

Pathetic. Roseman was also reported to refer to “blog” as a “four letter word” — i.e., something that she thought was not just useless but positively harmful.

First, does Roseman even read the WSO blogs? In other interviews, she has claimed not to. How can she know that they are “not really a dialogue” if she doesn’t read them regularly? How does she know that they “always” degenerate? Now, she is under no obligation to read the blogs, but if she is ignorant on the topic she has no business being insulting.

Second, the WSO blogs have many, many examples of incredibly lucid and subtle dialogue. Consider Katherine Dieber ’07 on campus racism:

In my opinion, the crime is not fearing, but letting that fear dictate actions. I’m always questioning whether or not I’m subconsciously racist or afraid, and if that’s the deeper reason for the way I interact with people of different backgrounds. Here’s my confession: I question most my interactions with black people. I wonder if I should be taking bigger steps to blend white American culture with black American culture, and this sort of worry colors my interactions with black people (until/unless I get to know them fairly well). Frankly, I’m intimidated. Am I the privileged white kid that black kids see as their enemy, or at least opposite?

Or Nick Greer ’08 on the Odd Quad:

We’ve built our own culture, we built the kind of tightly-knit “cluster” that you want for yourself, but one that excludes you. We built a culture that accepts even the most socially awkward. First years that have already given up on their entry? They’re in Currier common room hanging with us. People like you Kati- I mean Jessica, you make up 80% of this campus so from your perspective clusters aren’t that bad. I mean you may share a bathroom with that frumpy girl who plays D&D but it’s not like she hangs out with you or anything. No, Friday nights when your cluster is having another OC party she’s in her room. Oh, you’re so nice, you’ll invite her to come? Well she’s not interested, she hates you remember. Not everyone on campus likes that sort of thing and when you assume everyone on campus is like you, you exclude the people who are not.

Or Diana Davis ’07 on athletics at Williams:

My childhood friend, who is a year younger than I, looked at Williams when she was considering her college choices. She plays the oboe and the piano, sings, dances, acts, and does all sorts of wonderful things, but she is not an athlete. On her tour, she and her dad report that her tour guide repeated three times the impressive statistic that Williams wins 77% of its games. She was turned off by this athletic focus, and nothing I said could get her to reconsider and apply to Williams. This is sad. Are we alienating many such prospective students? Look on the bright side — that leaves more spots for athletes!

Or Cassandra Montenegro ’06 on Queer Bash pornography.

i didn’t know what to expect going into my first queer bash, but it wasn’t that. i was in no way warned. i dressed up for (what i was told was) the semester’s best party and left feeling the victim. i was so confused as why someone would do that to me–with no concern for my feelings. i couldn’t ‘just look away’ if i didn’t like it, like my friends told me to do. it was more than that, it was the principle. why porn? why on a screen? why at a campus party?

If Roseman doesn’t think that this sort of writing — and the larger dialogues in which they are embedded on the blogs — is the heart and soul of what a Williams education should be, then she is an idiot. More importantly, dozens of similar examples are available for all to see.

Third, it’s not that similar dialogues don’t occur over Mission lunches and late night pizza, just as they did 30 years ago. There are few better parts of a Williams education than the talks/arguments you have with your fellow Ephs. But the blogs provide an extra dimension that we lacked back in the day. They give students a chance to think for a moment about what they want to say, to pause and reflect on the opinions of others. The blogs are not a substitute for other dialogue, they are a complement.

Fourth, any regular blog reader will tell you that the blogs have two big advantages over in-person dialogues. First, they often bring together Ephs who don’t know each other well, who don’t share a dorm or classroom together. Second, they provide a way for the rest of us to listen in, to learn from the conversations among our fellow Ephs.

Why is Roseman so blind to the benefits that the blogs bring to Williams? Tough to know, but I’ll freely speculate. I think that there is a certain kind of administrator who does not really trust the students, who thinks that any discussion on a controversial topic needs to be supervised and moderated. This sort of administrator likes campus forums and classroom discussions because some adult is in control, someone is running the show. For this sort of person, the blogs are anarchic, out of control, always degenerating, making more trouble. A real dialogue includes a teacher, a Socratic figure who guides the benighted students.

Blogs are messy. They aid the students in doing for themselves what the College is unable and, often, unwilling to do for them. They represent a loss of control for Hopkins Hall.

I don’t know if Roseman is this sort of administrator. Perhaps there is some other explanation for her ridiculous comments. But, regardless of the explanation, the messiness is here to stay. The Dean of the College today has much less control over conversation on campus than the Dean did 20 years ago. Nothing can stop that trend from continuing. Embrace the Blog, Dean Roseman. We are the future.
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Fifteen years later, we have some updates.

1) Nancy Roseman, being an idiot, was an utter failure as Dickinson’s president. Where is she now?

2) Williams students are still discussing things, but those discussions are less open and inviting, more narrow and restricted.

A well-run school would urge WSO to bring back Discussions and make them readable by all. In fact, if WSO is too atrophied for that to happen, Maud should have OIT do it. Given that they have all the login information, it is a one-day job, at most.

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Close the Borders, 3

Professor Darel Paul commands our attention again.

Have you been paying attention to EphBlog on this topic? You should have been. Recall where we were on February 25th:

Long-time readers will not be surprised to know that the EphBlog bunker is well-prepped for pandemic mayhem. Have you replenished your supplies recently?

The two previous pieces in this area have been as prescient. Read them. Where are we now?

Any geographic area — any village, town, city, county, or country — can allow either open migration from the outside or freedom of internal movement. You can’t have both, or you will, unavoidably, be on the way to widespread infection. Only walls of some sort can stop the descent to herd immunity, and a million or more American deaths.

Paul understands that, of course. What he fails to see, however, is that limiting internal movement enough to matter in the US is impossible.

First, our governing class is incompetent. Second, our country is too wide open. How could the governor of Pennsylvania, even if he wanted to, close all the border crossings with New York State? Third, our politics are broken. Even if Trump tried to create internal borders, the Democrats would go crazy.

My recommendation to Trump is the same now as it was on March 14. Close the borders to the outside world. (We are now 90% (98%?) of the way there anyway.) Would that matter much to the course of the infection? I don’t know. But it can only help. It is also the best way for Trump to increase his odds of re-election. (I am honestly interested in contrary opinions to this claim.)

What will happen? I don’t know. On some dimensions, I am more optimistic than I was three weeks ago. Who would have predicted, say, California’s ability to stop the exponential growth of infections? Some treatments seem promising. Bill Gates is doing amazing work with vaccine production. On other dimensions, things are much worse. CV-19 is now everywhere. Even with closed borders, it might be impossible to find every carrier. Cases will explode again in the fall, just as they did with the Spanish Flu, for which the second wave was much deadlier than the first.

And what would that mean for Williams, come September 2020?

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Williams Reads One Idea

Professor Nate Kornell tweeted a link to this article:

Saying that such a dialogue was essential to the college’s academic mission, all the more so as students were scattered around the world by the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams College president Maud Mandel confirmed Monday that the school encourages a lively exchange of one idea. “As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing a single homogeneous opinion,” said Mandel, adding that no matter the subject, anyone on campus is always welcome to add their support to the accepted consensus.

This year, the one idea will center around the benefits of immigration, especially undocumented, from formerly colonized countries. The College will explore this one idea through a required reading of Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario ’82, via the Williams Reads program.

Developed by the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), Williams Reads is an initiative offered as an opportunity for us to explore a book together that will help us to celebrate and deepen our appreciation of diversity.

Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom noted that “Although we appreciate diversity quite deeply at Williams, we can never appreciated diversity enough. Every day, every month, every year, we must work harder to deepen our appreciation. This is all the more true in the aftermath of the recent Taco Six incident, in which 6 undergraduates failed to demonstrate in sufficient depth to their appreciation of Mexican Culture.”

“Whether it’s a discussion of a national political issue or a concern here on campus, an open forum in which one argument is uniformly reinforced is crucial for maintaining the exceptional learning environment we have cultivated here,” continued Mandel. She also told reporters that counseling resources were available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.

Here at EphBlog, we have been praising Enrique’s Journey for more than a decade. Too cheap to buy the book? Nazario won the Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper articles that form the core of the story. Read them here for free.

Highly recommended.

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Disingenuous Things

Former Williams Professor KC Johnson on the up-coming changes in Title IX regulations:

Many disingenuous things have been said during the coronavirus crisis, some of them by the president of the United States himself. But right near the top must be three letters issued last week — from the American Council on Education (ACE), activist groups led by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and 18 Democratic attorneys general — calling for the Department of Education to halt the release of long-anticipated regulations that will restore due process to the handling of sexual-assault cases on college campuses. DeVos’s proposed rule would ensure basic rights for accused students — notice, access to evidence, a live hearing, and the ability to have a lawyer or advocate cross-examine adverse witnesses — that are often or almost always absent in the current Title IX process imposed by Obama-era guidance. That system has yielded more than 170 university setbacks in lawsuits filed by accused students in state or federal court.

In its letter, ACE argued that “at a time when institutional resources already are stretched thin, colleges and universities should not be asked to divert precious resources away from more critical efforts in order to implement regulations unrelated to this extraordinary crisis.” The NWLC letter spoke similarly, but leaned harder on the supposed harm to students: “Finalizing the proposed rule would also unnecessarily exacerbate confusion and uncertainty for students who are currently in pending Title IX investigations and hearings, which have already been delayed and disrupted by the pandemic.” The letter from the attorneys general expressed similar language.

While it’s hard not to admire their chutzpah, their arguments are provably nonsense.

First, the universities have known for more than 16 months — since November 2018 — that these regulations were coming. They have had ample time both to tell the government what they think of the regulations and to start planning for their inevitable release. If some of them have failed to plan ahead, hoping that the regulations would never be released or that a lawsuit by victims’ groups would enjoin them immediately following their release, that isn’t the fault of the coronavirus.

Second, do you know who’s going to have a lot of time on their hands in the next six months? Title IX coordinators. Why? Because the number of Title IX cases is about to drop precipitously.

Indeed. Allyson Kurker’s income is about to take a big hit. So sad!

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Close the Borders, 2

Professor Darel Paul notes:

Recall our discussion from last week. (And note some of the over-taken-by-events nonsense in that comment thread.)

The point that Paul is making, and that is very little discussed, is that there is no (plausible, short-term) solution which does not rely on vast restrictions on movement and behavior. Don’t the readers of EphBlog see that?

Imagine that we magically made every person in the US free of CV-19 tomorrow. Problem solved? Crisis averted?

No! The crisis would just be (briefly) delayed. Tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, someone would come into the US, unknowingly infected with CV-19, and the spread would just start again. We haven’t (even today!) closed the borders. We haven’t (even today!) set up 14-day quarantines for new arrivals into the US. I don’t even see any discussion of those (necessary!) policies outside of EphBlog.

We have no (public?) plausible plan for the sort of extensive contact tracing and electronic monitoring which countries like Hong Kong and Singapore are using. (To be fair, this is now a topic of discussion in certain parts of the internet.)

Paul’s point is that, without these policies, it is inevitable that CV-19 will work its way through the US population, at least until we reach herd immunity or develop a vaccine. Anyone who isn’t discussing that mathematical fact is not serious.

UPDATE: Even the New York Times is still writing nonsense:

If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for 14 days while sitting six feet apart, epidemiologists say, the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt.

The virus would die out on every contaminated surface and, because almost everyone shows symptoms within two weeks, it would be evident who was infected. If we had enough tests for every American, even the completely asymptomatic cases could be found and isolated.

The crisis would be over.

No. In a world of global travel and open US borders, the spread would just start again. If the Times (and the “experts” it talks to?) is still this clueless, on March 23, what hope is there?

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Kudos to Cohen

We have had our differences with Professor Phoebe Cohen in the past, but this is good stuff!

Kudos! Any other faculty involved in the fight? Tell us some stories.

#OurFinestHour

I worry a lot about Berkshire Medical Center. What is the latest news?

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Show Them The Money

My co-bloggers here at EphBlog, along with other Ephs of goodwill, often take issue with my complaints about the College’s gifts to charity. As many times as I ask, I have trouble finding anyone who will specify where $250,000 should be cut from the College budget to fund worthwhile programs at Mt. Greylock High School.

But perhaps I should turn the question around. Assume that the College has decided to spend an additional $250,000 this year (or even every year) on attracting and retaining the best college teachers in the country. How would I spend this money, if not on gifts to the local schools and hospital along with realestate development?

Call me crazy, but I would . . . Give the money to the very best teachers at Williams!

Show them the money. Would that really be so hard? Establish “Ephraim Williams Awards for Teaching Excellence.” Five would be given out every year, each consisting of a cash prize of $50,000. Winners would be selected by a committee dominated by students. The only restriction might be that the same person can’t win two years in a row. Nothing would prevent truly exceptional teachers from being recognized several times each decade.

Of course, there is a lot that could be done with these awards. Perhaps one of the awards should be reserved for excellence in advising senior theses and/or individual projects — thus ensuring that not just the best lecturers win. Perhaps 2 of the five awards could be determined by former students — ideally committees centered around events like the 10th and 25th year reunions. This would nicely bias things toward professors who make a career at Williams, thereby giving folks like Gary Jacobsohn and Tim Cook a(nother) reason to stay.

If you want great teachers to come to and stay at Williams, then giving them special prizes is almost certainly the most cost effective way of doing so.

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Close The Borders

Professor Darel Paul wakes me from my dogmatic slumber by tweeting:

Assume that President Trumps has three goals: protect the the health/lives of US citizens, minimize the damage to the US economy and win re-election. (Fortunately, achieving the first two will be great help to the third.) Note also, that there is nothing that businesses hate more than uncertainty. As long as the crisis rages, they will want to cut back. They would prefer a scenario in which things are very painful for two months and then finished. Nothing is worse than a somewhat painful period for an unknown length of time.

It is the interaction between business behavior and uncertainty which highlights the importance of Paul’s question. Even in a world in which COVID-19 turns out not that bad over the next few weeks, as long as it is bad enough, business can’t get back to normal. Even if we knew Orlando were mostly OK today, it is hard for people/businesses in Orlando to return to work as long as a bunch of travelers from Seattle could show up tomorrow. Given those facts, Trump’s optimal strategy is fairly obvious: Close the borders in April. Crush COVID within the US by June. Reopen the US for business on July 4th with a big party. Keep the borders closed till the election.

March: There is not much to be done in March beyond what Trump and every governor/mayor is doing. We need tests. We need masks. We need ventilators. We need to prepare for the unstoppable wave of very sick people. The die is cast. Trump should not be overly political, but he should keep a list of every bonehead decision made, by both Democrat and Republican officials. How could Governor Doug Ducey allow the Arizona Renaissance Festival to go on? Why did NYC Mayor Bill DeBalsio wait until day X to close the bars? Don’t make a big deal of those things now. Stay above the fray. Offer to help. Invoke federalism. Insist that you should not be making decisions for every school district in America.

April: Disaster strikes. This is now inevitable, no matter what Trump (or anyone else) does. Math plays no favorites. When things appear at their worst, have a televised address. (With no other speeches before this. Indeed, avoid the cameras for the two weeks prior.)

My fellow Americas. The wolf is at the door. Our mothers and fathers are dying in the hallways of our great hospitals. Our doctors and nurses are fighting the tide of death each day and night. Their bravery is that of our greatest battlefield heroes. Never, in our 200 years as a Nation, has the future looked so bleak.

This will be our finest hour.

I am taking personal command of the fight against COVID-19. The buck stops with me. I will, with your help, either conquer this threat or resign the Presidency.

Today I am ordering the closing of all US borders. We can no longer allow even a single infected person into our country. The borders will stay closed until we can be certain that only healthy people are allowed in.

And so on. Many more things will be done, of course. Wuhan and South Korea show how COVID-19 can be contained. We should follow their playbook. Test everyone all the time. Isolate the ill. Confine people to their homes. Federalize the National Guard. Recall our troops from Japan, South Korea and Germany. And so on.

Yet the border closing is the key political maneuver. It is consistent with Trump’s message. Only he would even consider it. Joe Biden is on record against it and will probably object when it happens. Make the election of 2020 all about whether a US president has the right to close the border — and about whether doing so was justified in the case of a global pandemic — and Trump wins.

May: Things get better on the health front, not least because the initial set of social distancing directives in March had a significant effect and because hospitals are ramping up their capacity and skills. Indeed, the reason for giving the speech in April is that, again because of math, you can be mostly certain that things will look better in May. But the economy is still frozen. How to fix that in a world where people can’t go out? UBI will probably be popular. Perhaps incentives to companies to maintain their current payrolls. But those are just delaying actions while the virus is brought under control.

June: Another televised address, either one to three months after the first one.

My fellow Americans. We are winning the war against COVID-19. The bravery of our doctors and nurses, the ingenuity of our scientists, the dedication of our public servants, the individual contributions of every citizen in every neighborhood have swung the battle in our favor. We are at the beginning of the end.

Today, I am declaring July 4th to be the re-opening of America for business. You will be able to leave your house, go out for a meal, take the family on a vacation. Life can start to return to normal.

Does this timing make sense? I don’t know. Yet regardless of the timeline, the key trick is for Trump to provide a focal point, a specific date, given a few months in advance, at which things can return to normal. The hardest part of coming out a recession is the coordination it requires. I won’t go out to eat if none of the restaurants are open. You won’t open your restaurant if no one is going out to eat. If the whole country knows that on, say, September 1, we are back in business, then all the restaurants and bars and hotels and amusement parts will open and all of us will go to them. It will be a giant national party.

Whether the “re-opening” — and we need a better phrase — happens in July or in September does not really matter. The key is that Trump gets to declare victory, in a clear fashion, to claim credit for a battle won, to cite some of the (un)popular decisions he made in leading the country. The economy will do nothing but zoom forward, from that day until the election. Trump wins in a walk.

Quibbles:
Read more

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Faculty Advice

From The New York Times:

To the Editor:

When Cambridge University in England closed in 1665 because of the bubonic plague, a young man named Isaac Newton went home to the countryside. And there he sat under the famous apple tree and realized that the same gravity worked on the apple and the Moon.

Let us hope that the current situation leads one of today’s scholars to make a breakthrough that will help future generations.

Jay M. Pasachoff
Williamstown, Mass.
The writer is a professor of astronomy at Williams College.

Let us hope!

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Domineering State

Great book review from Professor Darel Paul:

About halfway through his new book, ­Christopher Caldwell quotes John Stuart Mill on the relationship between diversity and democracy: “Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities.” This sentiment haunts The Age of Entitlement. Ostensibly about “America Since the Sixties,” the book is really about rights—in particular, civil rights—and the national consequences of their expansion during the past sixty years in the context of deepening diversity. Race occupies center stage, particularly as the book reaches its concluding chapters. Yet Caldwell also shows how the civil rights movement of the 1960s set the “template” used by every group claiming rights in its wake: women, immigrants, gays and lesbians, transgendered persons. The outcome has not been the more perfect union promised by civil rights, but social inequality, political polarization, and a domineering state.

A yearning for less bureaucratic and judicial rule and more self-government animates The Age of Entitlement. I have the same desire. In the balance between liberalism and democracy, Caldwell is correct to say that America today has too much of the former and too little of the latter. Yet the way to get more democracy is not through more rights talk. It is instead through recovering (and inventing anew) an alternative vision of responsibility and sociality. Only with such a vision can we cultivate the fellow-feeling that is necessary for democracy.

With luck, that vision will be Paul’s next book.

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President Sanders?

If I were Trump, there is no one I would rather run against than Bernie Sanders.

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Wokeness is Whiteness

Professor Darel Paul has coined the phrase “wokeness is whiteness.” Example:

Another:

Is this stupid or genius or offensive? To be honest, I am not even sure what it means . . .

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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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