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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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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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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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Great Awokening, 6

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 6.

Speaking with anti-racists and engaging terms such as racism and violence involves entering an interpretative thicket. When the boundaries of racism expand to include the statements Make America Great Again (Skidmore College) and It’s OK to be white (Bates College, the latest of dozens of examples of this form of trolling) and the dictates of cultural appropriation forbid white people from teaching yoga (University of Ottawa) and performing Indian dance (American University), one despairs of ever extricating oneself from the entanglements of meaning.

Indeed. Again, if I wanted to make trouble at Williams, I would first put up a bunch of posters “It’s OK to be black.” Nothing bad would happen! Then, in the same locations, I would put up posters “It’s OK to be white.” Williams would melt down, as Northwestern has under former Williams President Morty Schapiro’s leadership.

Also, recall the saga of The Taco Six.

Sadly, I don’t know nearly as many of the details of the Taco Six (fall 2014) as I should. (See here for excellent discussion and debate.) I think that the students were never “punished” by the College except to the extent that they were threatened/tortured by the Dean’s Office. (In many of these cases, the process itself is the punishment.)

Woke culture came to Williams before the Fall of 2014, but the Taco Six is still one of its earliest and clearest manifestations.

More from Paul below:

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Dean of Prejudice

In a recent tweet, political scientist Darel E. Paul has revealed more about the anti-white, anti-male agenda of Williams College. According to Paul, the dean of faculty – most likely Denise Buell – announced at a faculty meeting that the less white and less male Williams College gets, the better it will be.

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Great Awokening, 5

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 5.

Thankfully, this seems to still be a minority response to requests for evidence. A more common one is that campus racial violence skeptics listen. Both at Yale and Evergreen, white male professors at the center of the campus storm were repeatedly told to listen and repeatedly accused of failing to listen. At Williams, all faculty have been encouraged to “be listeners. Talk less, listen more.” This is an exceedingly reasonable request. Before skeptics, in particular, speak, they should indeed first spend time listening to protesters. But many do listen. Nicholas Christakis spent hours on the Silliman College quad at Yale listening to (and speaking with) student protestors, and many more hours in structured listening sessions. Bret Weinstein attended hours upon hours of meetings of both faculty and students in which he mostly listened―and during which he was openly pilloried as a racist. So what exactly does listen mean in the context of the Great Awokening?

Via Steve Sailer, I think this photo captures what CARE Now has in mind for professors like Darel Paul.

From listening to a great deal of anti-racist discourse, my strong sense is that listen means two rather different things. Its first meaning is eminently fair and consistent with the everyday meaning of the word: to listen means to hear my story. Minority students and faculty are keen for white students and faculty to listen as they describe their experiences. Experiences are not only external and material but also, and even more so, internal and mental, and thus involve both actions and emotional reactions. Both together make up the story being told. To listen also includes doing so attentively with neither defensiveness nor interruption. I submit that every person of goodwill should do as much.

Agreed. But listening is a two-way street. I am happy to listen to you for X minutes, in precisely this manner, as long as you are willing to listen to me for X minutes. If you think that only your views are worth listening to, then . . .

Listen does not end there, however. A second meaning is attached to the first and follows in its wake. One heard this clearly on the Silliman College quad at Yale University in 2015. Students who were upset over Christakis’s defense of the position that students should police their own Halloween costume choices through “self-censure” and “social norming,” rather than submit to “bureaucratic and administrative” control asked for—and received—an apology for hurting their feelings and causing them pain. This was not enough. Students further demanded an admission from Christakis that both his wife’s original email and his own defense of that email were violent and racist. “Let us tell you if you’re being racist,” said one student. Another insisted, “Empathy is not necessary for you to understand that you’re wrong. Even if you don’t feel what I feel ever, even if nobody’s ever been racist to you―’cause they can’t be racist to you―that doesn’t mean that you can just act like you’re not being racist.” If Christakis had truly listened to those students at Yale, he would have accepted their definitions of racist and violent. He would have endorsed their interpretation of the world as socially normative. Because he refused to do so, one student concluded “all I see from you is arrogance and ego … You are not listening! You are disgusting! I don’t think you understand that.”

Exactly right. The way that CARE Now can be sure that you have really — truly and with empathy — “listened” to them is if you agree with them. If you don’t agree with them, then, by definition, you never really listened.

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Great Awokening, 4

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 4.

The Evidence of Racist Violence

Charges of violence are the most serious that can be leveled against an institution and a community. Therefore they should be supported by the most clear and compelling evidence possible. It is precisely here that anti-racist campus activists fall woefully short. Former Evergreen State College biologist Heather Heying observes “we keep on hearing that we are an incredibly racist institution and we have yet to hear any credible evidence for racism here on campus.” This gulf between personal experience and publicly available evidence is at the heart of the disagreements over racism on campus today.

This is a recurring theme at EphBlog. A large percentage of the “racists” incidents at Williams over the last 20 years — perhaps even a majority — have been “hate hoaxes,” incidents in which an Eph sympathetic to leftwing and anti-racists views stages an attack to appear to have been committed by a racist. The most dramatic of these was the 2011 “All Niggers Must Die” graffiti in Prospect House by African-American/Hispanic student Jess Torres ’12. The Record has never reported on this fraud and the College, to this day, continues to insist that this was an actual hate crime.

Adam Falk’s pathetic response to that nonsense was the first clear evidence that he was dramatically out of his depth as Williams president.

Part of the communication problem is rooted in anti-racist discourse. Activists often speak in emotionally charged generalizations: “we want to dismantle anti-blackness campus-wide” (Evergreen); “injustices [are] imposed on people of color by this institution on a daily basis” (Sarah Lawrence); “We, however, simply ask that our existences not be invalidated on campus” (Yale); “We charge this man with the destruction of black existence on this campus” (Williams). When asked what evidence supports these judgments, an increasingly popular response is to rule such questions out of bounds on the grounds of racism: “To ask marginalized students to throw away their enjoyment of a holiday, in order to expend emotional, mental, and physical energy to explain why something is offensive, is — offensive” (Yale); “We hold the truth of discursive and institutional violence to be self-evident.” (Williams); “accept the grievances of faculty of color without question” (Williams). According to former Evergreen State College biology professor Bret Weinstein, he was told by one of the most radical faculty of color at the college “to ask for evidence of racism is racism with a capital R.” Why? “We must stop asking them because we are inflicting harm on them asking for evidence.” Philosopher Nora Berenstain has invented a name for such evidentiary requests: “epistemic exploitation.” From such a perspective, blind faith is the only acceptable response.

Exactly right.

Darel Paul is the most prominent critic of this trend on the Williams faculty. Who are its most prominent/eloquent proponents? Which faculty members should we be reading to get the other side of the debate?

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Great Awokening, 3

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 3.

Threats to life are now commonplace accusations. A black faculty member at Evergreen claimed “My ability to speak and my ability to be heard is a matter of my personal survival, and so, for me, this is about my teaching but also my life.” This is not a figure of speech, for the same faculty member also claimed “This shit is literally going to kill me.” Student graffiti at Williams claims “Nos están matando!” [They are killing us!], and two black Williams professors insist “What we have been doing to fit our bodies in these institutions is killing us.”

Paul does not provide a link to the matando graffiti. Was this reported somewhere? Any photos?

The infamous 2015 incident at Yale University, in which dozens of students argued with Professor Nicholas Christakis on the Silliman College quad in the wake of an unwelcome email from Christakis’s wife regarding Halloween costumes, crystallizes the claim:

Christakis: “So I have a vision of us, as people, as human beings, that actually privileges our common humanity, that is interested not in what is different among us, but what is the same … I believe even though I am not like you in the sense of my superficial appearance, that I can sit down and talk to you and understand your predicament, that I can listen to you. If that’s not true, if you deny that, then what is the reason that you ask to be heard, by me or anyone else?”

Student: “Because we’re dying!”

Did you watch the video of Christakis? It is amazing! Highly recommended. Paul continues:

No surprise then that the language of safety has become ubiquitous among anti-racist protestors: “I feel unsafe” (Williams); “I don’t feel safe here and that’s on you” (Yale); “This school is unsafe for marginalized students and you know it” (Evergreen); only after students “dismantle systematic oppression” will the school “be sustainable or safe for marginalized people” (Sarah Lawrence). Rather than push for greater police presence on campus, however, students instead demand an expansion of mental health services―usually emphasizing cultural competence or, more crudely, racial hiring. This began with the very first protests of the Great Awokening at the University of Missouri in 2014. There, one of seven student demands was “increases [in] funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals; particularly those of color.” Activist students at Sarah Lawrence demand “at least” one new black, Asian and Latino/a therapist, “unlimited therapy sessions” on campus and free transportation for students to attend therapy sessions off campus. Those at Williams demanding the College “hire additional therapists, with a focus on trans therapists and therapists of color” are simply the latest instance of this pattern.

I have two contradictory views on the therapist issue. First, I want more money spent of things that students want/use and less money spent on everything else. If students want/use therapists then, by all means, hire more therapists.

Second, the bureaucracy at Williams continues to grow out of control! Health Services has 35 employees. That is bonkers! There are 15 therapists. (I realize that some of them must (?) be part-time.)

Is there data about the use of therapists? How many Williams students are seen by a therapist in a given year? How many sessions does a typical Williams student in therapy receive? How have those numbers changed in the last decade? Does therapy help?

Keep in mind:

1) Every dollar that we spend on another therapist is a dollar that we are not spending on an additional faculty member. I want more faculty and smaller classes.

2) Williams should focus more on preparing students for life after Williams. I am ready to believe that therapy is helpful and that we should employ some therapists. But is providing a senior with unlimited therapy — with no co-pay! — a good idea if, the day after graduation, she will have no more therapy? I am not sure that it is.

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Great Awokening, 2

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 2.

The preachers of the Great Awokening claim to desire racial equality.

Paul only (?) considers racial issues to be part of the Great Awokening. Is that accurate? I would consider Title IX, sexual assault and #metoo to be almost as important issues on campus. Perhaps also transgender issues? As with racial controversies, Williams has seen sex/gender debate in the past, but nothing as intense as we have seen over the last few years. And what about environmental concerns and the associated debate about Divestment? Again, I am happy to give race the lead part in the Great Awokening, but I think we can’t understand the broader cultural changes without looking beyond race.

Is this true? Or are they more interested in casting sinners into the hands of an angry mob? While it is difficult to discern another person’s ends, it is far easier to know her means. These involve a wholesale transformation of language, the academic curriculum, standards of judgment, disciplinary content and boundaries, academic freedom, even the definition of knowledge itself. This is no passing storm or simple outburst of youthful exuberance. The Great Awokening is a truly revolutionary project. Like all revolutions, it promises considerable destruction on the way to its final destination.

Indeed. Is the French Revolution a better historical metaphor?

Consider this article from the October 13, 1987 Williams Record. A central aspect of the French Revolution was its tendency to eat its own young. Robespierre may have helped to start the revolution, but that didn’t save him from the guillotine. Thirty years ago, Katie Kent ’88 was, perhaps, the single most important leader of the campus left at Williams. She was a force!

Try to put yourself back at the Williams of the 1980s. Many of today’s debates, especially about race and gender, are similar, indeed, almost identical, to those we had back then. Katie was in the midst of it, castigating those to her right with vim and vigor.

If Nostradamus had appeared at a Gargoyle meeting in the fall of 1987 (Katie was a Gargoyle) and predicted that someone in the room was, 30 years from then, going to be the sort of college professor that would cause left wing students to seek their ouster, we would have believed him! Gargoyle had a right winger or two with dreams of an academic career. But none of us would have thought that he was talking about Katie!

This semester, the Thermidorian Reaction came for Professor Katie Kent ’88. Who will they come for next?

Back to Paul:

The Charge of Racist Violence

The foundational claim leveled by anti-racism protestors is that violence is ubiquitous on campus. This claim dominates discourse at Williams. It is said that students and faculty “suffer from the college’s violent practices” as a matter of routine. Dozens of white tenured professors are supposedly “perpetrators of institutional violence” and “fight for a legacy of violence to be maintained” at the college. Minority professors’ “bodies [are] attacked,” and all people of color suffer “intentional violence that comes with being affiliated with this institution.” At Evergreen, even “white silence is violence.”

Violence is not meant to be taken metaphorically. While reports of racially motivated assault or even property crimes like larceny or burglary almost never surface, protestors and activists claim to suffer physical trauma nonetheless. For example, one Williams professor argues “In an abstract world in which you are not a pariah, collective violence is figurative. For targeted groups, in the real world, it is material (stress in emotional circuitry destabilizes the body).” In 2017, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett expounded this claim in the New York Times, insisting that spending “a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety … brings on illness and remodels your brain. … A culture of constant, casual brutality is toxic to the body, and we suffer for it.” This is precisely the kind of climate that anti-racist activists say dominates the Anglosphere’s colleges. Hence the insistence that “our very right to speak/breathe” is at stake (Williams) and the cry “You feel stressed? You feel fuckin’ pressure? This is my every day! … I have a fuckin’ right to live!” (Evergreen).

Is Paul’s description of the Williams of today a fair one?

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Great Awokening, 1

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.

Colleges and universities across the English-speaking world are caught up in the enthusiasm of a Great Awokening. Its dogmas are structural violence, systemic racism, racial stress, white privilege, white fragility, implicit bias and microaggressions. From the University of Missouri to Evergreen State College to Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, faculty and students are ablaze with the fire of social justice.

Would most observers agree that the Williams of 2019 is systematically different than the Williams of yesteryear? I would. Of course, it is easy to think that “this time is different,” that what you are seeing is new. Most of the time it isn’t. Human foolishness is always with us. And Williams has had social justice warriors, at least for the last 30 years, if not the last 50.

Lacking programs in fields such as business, medicine, engineering and agriculture, liberal arts colleges by their very nature have a higher than average percentage of students and faculty proclaiming this new faith.

I am not sure that this is true. Yale, one of the main examples that Paul uses throughout the article, has all of the above, except for agriculture. Evergreen State, another Paul favorite, has agriculture and business.

So, true to form, this spring the Great Awokening finally came to my home institution, Williams College. Administrators and other campus leaders have encouraged white members of the college community like myself to listen.

Administrators and campus leaders have been telling white Ephs to listen for decades. That is nothing new. But, I agree with Paul that 2019 feels different. There were isolated controversies in the past, but nothing like the sustained turmoil we have seen this year.

Over the past two months, I have striven to do exactly that. In fact, I’ve done quite a lot of listening (and reading). I have spent dozens of hours listening at meetings and reading copious documents produced by activist students and faculty. I have also watched videos and read documents resulting from the racial blowups at Yale University in 2015, Evergreen State College in 2017 and Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. Listening to these views from multiple campuses helped me realize that what seems to be a local discourse responding to local issues is actually a local manifestation of an international social, political and ideological phenomenon. All the accents and cadences of critical race theory can be identified. Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen and Yale could really be Any Residential College in Any Town.

Agreed. Again, my favorite historical analogy to the current campus hysteria is the Second Great Awakening. From Wikipedia:

Like the First Great Awakening a half century earlier, the Second Great Awakening in North America reflected Romanticism characterized by enthusiasm, emotion, and an appeal to the super-natural. It rejected the skepticism, deism, Unitarianism, and rationalism left over from the American Enlightenment, about the same time that similar movements flourished in Europe.

Postmillennialism theology dominated American Protestantism in the first half of the 19th century. Postmillennialists believed that Christ will return to earth after the “millennium”, which could entail either a literal 1,000 years or a figurative “long period” of peace and happiness. Christians thus had a duty to purify society in preparation for that return.

CARE Now is going to purify Williams, whatever it takes . . .

Entire article below the break:
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We Do Wonder

Thanks (?) to Professor Paul for pointing out this letter to President Mandel.

We write as colleagues and advocates of Professor Dorothy Wang, in response to her encounter with Professor Katie Kent, Chair of the English Department, on April 17. We are deeply troubled by that incident, and by the administration’s response to it, especially given that an increasingly public eye has now turned to the climate of adversity at Williams College for faculty of color (FoC) and the students they mentor, particularly students of color.

Paul writes “Just when you thought things at Williams College couldn’t get any more ridiculous . . .”

Do readers agree?

Enter letter is below the break. Note this paragraph:

We do wonder whether you have reached out personally to Professor Wang to begin a conversation as to how she and others might feel better supported, as per your pledge, and “able to work, and to live all aspects of [one’s] identities without hostility or limitations.” We wonder whether you discussed with Professor Wang your intention to make allusion to “a matter between two colleagues in an all-faculty email.” We wonder whether you provided her with an account of the rationale that led to your position regarding what you describe as an “interaction…in a hallway three weeks ago.” We do wonder, insomuch as to characterize in the neutral language of “interaction” what evidence suggests was rather a verbal assault is not to stand by students, faculty, and staff of color—who feel unsupported at best and denigrated at worst—but to side precisely with “the structures and practices that have allowed inequity to take hold and persist.” We wonder whether such panic was merited in advance of the May 10 student action, as reflected in your letter about the Williams College “code of conduct,” or whether such language served the effect of distracting from the structural causes that have prompted us to write you today.

The authors are almost certainly friends of Dorothy Wang. What are the odds that they didn’t talk with her ahead of time? Approximately zero. If so, then their “we do wonder” pose is absurd.

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Crafty Students

Professor Darel Paul tweets “Some crafty students hung this banner outside my office building overnight. Can anyone in the Twitterverse make heads or tails of this? Greek maybe?”

Perhaps our readers can help . . .

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Listening at the Great Awokening

The great Darel E. Paul, professor of political science, published a well-researched and thoughtfully organized article at Areo on how the new identity politics has taken hold at schools across the nation. He connects the dots which show how identity politics has become a staple at schools as different as Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen State College and Yale.

Listening at the Great Awokening

Colleges and universities across the English-speaking world are caught up in the enthusiasm of a Great Awokening. Its dogmas are structural violence, systemic racism, racial stress, white privilege, white fragility, implicit bias and microaggressions. From the University of Missouri to Evergreen State College to Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, faculty and students are ablaze with the fire of social justice.

In Paul’s view, liberal arts colleges are particularly likely to get wrapped up in the dogma of critical race theory because they lack – by definition – traditional STEM programs like business, medicine, engineering and agriculture. He reports that predictably “…this spring the Great Awokening finally came to my home institution, Williams College.” Unfortunately for Williams, Paul writes that the school seems unpleasantly close to being another Evergreen State College.

Administrators and other campus leaders have encouraged white members of the college community like myself to listen. Over the past two months, I have striven to do exactly that. In fact, I’ve done quite a lot of listening (and reading). I have spent dozens of hours listening at meetings and reading copious documents produced by activist students and faculty. I have also watched videos and read documents resulting from the racial blowups at Yale University in 2015, Evergreen State College in 2017 and Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. Listening to these views from multiple campuses helped me realize that what seems to be a local discourse responding to local issues is actually a local manifestation of an international social, political and ideological phenomenon. All the accents and cadences of critical race theory can be identified. Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen and Yale could really be Any Residential College in Any Town.

Paul notes that the folks promoting critical race theory are ultimately leading us into a Soviet Union style educational system where truth matters very little. All that matters is whether research and teaching supports the dominant ideology.

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.

Areo is an opinion and analysis digital magazine focused on current affairs — in particular: humanism, culture, politics, human rights, science, and free expression.

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Paul on Free Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right on all counts.

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Paul on Gay Rights

Professor Darel Paul writes in First Things:

Culture wars are never strictly cultural. They are always economic and political struggles as well. Elites rule through an interlocking political-­economic-cultural system. The mainstream media certifies whose political ideas are respectable and whose are extremist. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, academia, and white-shoe professional firms are all part of the postindustrial “knowledge economy” that allocates economic rewards. As American elites become increasingly integrated and culturally ­homogenous, they begin to treat their cultural rivals as subordinate classes. The same thing happened nearly a century ago to the rural and small-town Protestants whom H. L. Mencken derided as the “booboisie.” Many would like to see it happen again, this time to anyone who challenges the dogmas of diversity and progressivism that have become suspiciously universal among the richest and most powerful Americans, dominating the elite institutions they control. If cultural traditionalists want to survive, they must not only acknowledge but embrace the class dimensions of the culture war.

Indeed. Is Professor Paul simply describing these dynamics or is he also a participant, doing his own small part to fight these battles at Williams?

Should we devote more time to Paul’s article? It is an interesting read throughout.

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Paul’s Questions on Faculty Growth III

Professor Darel Paul has some questions about the College’s claims about faculty/staff growth since 2002. Let’s spend 3 days answering them. Today is Day 3.

I can say definitively that the faculty of the Political Science Department has not grown 31% since 2002. In fact, since the 2002-03 academic year it has grown either 7% (# of tenured and tenure-track professors) or 0% (# of tenured, tenure-track, and visiting professors, plus visiting fellows) depending on your definition of faculty.

Can we confirm Professor Paul’s numbers? From the 2002–2003 course catalog (pdf), we have:

ps2002

I count 20 faculty members: 15 tenured/tenure-track (TTT) and 5 other. Compare that to 2016–2017 (pdf):

ps2016

I count 19 faculty members: 16 TTT and 3 others. That sure doesn’t look like the 31% faculty growth that the College is bragging about. Instead, in Political Science at least, there has been a 5% drop in faculty. Comments:

1) Not sure why Professor Paul sees total political science faculty as steady whereas I see a 5% drop. Suggestions?

2) Notice how top-heavy (old?) the Political Science Department has become. We have gone from 7 to 10 full professors. This is consistent with the analysis we looked at last winter. For fun, we might use that code department-by-department. I would not be surprised if the average age of faculty members in political science has increased from 45 to 50 since 2002. Not that there is anything wrong with being 50!

3) The basic story is the same as it has been for 50 years. Recall my rants from 6 years ago (start here, finish there). Key point:

EphBlog’s Maxim #6: Every hire of a senior administrator weakens faculty governance.

If Professor Paul and other faculty members want to truly “govern” Williams than they should draw a line in the sand. No increases in senior staff! My guess is that they don’t truly care. They like to complain and whine (nothing wrong with that!) but, when push comes to shove, they will roll over for this increase just liked they rolled over for the hiring of Steve Klass, Collette Chilton, Mike Reed and on and on.

4) Should we spend more time on this topic?

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Paul’s Questions on Faculty Growth II

Professor Darel Paul has some questions about the College’s claims about faculty/staff growth since 2002. Let’s spend 3 days answering them. Today is Day 2.

How are faculty defined here? Does it include visiting faculty? Visiting fellows, lecturers, and teaching associates who frequently teach only part-time?

My experience with the (highly competent!) people in the Administration who keep track of this data — folks like Courtney Wade, James Cart ’05 and John Gerry — is that there are sensible answers to Paul’s questions. The Administration needs to answer all sorts of related queries from various outside organizations — US News, the NCAA, the US Government — so it keeps careful track of these details. Perhaps the College could clarify for Paul?

Although there nothing wrong with diving into these details, they miss the central debate: Should the faculty have more or less control over what happens at Williams? The major move over the last 50 years — perhaps accelerating during the Falk administration? — has been to make the faculty less powerful relative to the administration/president. The Record‘s reporting is particularly blind to this dynamic. (Actually, the whole article deserves a thorough fisking. Would readers be interested?) Consider just one sentence:

In addition, faculty governance will remain intact because the new dean will report to the provost, a member of the faculty

Faculty governance at Williams is about as intact as Iraqi sovereignty. Just because someone reports to some other person does not necessarily make the reported-to more powerful than the reportee, especially when the provosts come-and-go while the senior staff stays put. (Essay assignment: Compare “faculty governance at Williams” with Yes, Minister.)

Ignore the new position and consider the reality of the power wielded by, say, Steve Klass, vice president for campus life. He gets paid 100% more than the typical faculty member at Williams. He has had orders of magnitude more conversations with Adam Falk (and powerful trustees) than even the most senior of Williams faculty. (Don’t believe me? Ask them!). In theory, Williams has “faculty governance” because Klass “reports” to Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom. But does he really? Does she evaluate his work? Have a meaningful say in his compensation? I have my doubts.

But, as always, the dollars tell the tale. Steve Klass was paid (pdf) a total of $367,428 in fiscal year 2014. Then Dean of the College Sarah Bolton was paid $278,656. Who do you think reports to whom in that relationship?

If the Record were a competent paper, it would do a story about who is paid how much at Williams. There is a lot to write about!

UPDATE: A reader points out that Klass does not now report to the Dean of the College. In fact, he has always reported directly to the president, first Schapiro and now Falk. Of course, this makes claims about “faculty governance” at Williams even weaker! The College has a bunch (5? 10? 15?) of well-paid professionals who report to no member of the faculty other than the president. This was not the case 30 years ago . . .

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Paul’s Questions on Faculty Growth I

Professor Darel Paul has some questions about the College’s claims about faculty/staff growth since 2002. Let’s spend 3 days answering them. Today is Day 1.

It would be nice to see comparisons of the numbers of full-time equivalent faculty to full-time equivalent senior staff over the 2002-2016 period. I don’t think anyone suspects the number of custodians or dining service workers per student is ballooning across American higher education.

Indeed! Faculty like Paul are not overly concerned about the number of custodians that Williams employs. They are concerned about the ranks of senior staff. The trick (?) that the College pulls is to mix the senior hires — like the proposed Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid — in with the custodians and use the overall total as the divisor.

Doing some math, we can calculate that the college increased the faculty by 81 since 2002 and the staff by 138. So, a different (better?) summary would be that staff has grown 70% more ((138 – 81)/81) than faculty. It makes less (?) sense to divide both these numbers by their starting values since what we really care about is the absolute level of growth. Every new staff member hired means that we can hire one less new faculty member. Those 138 staff could have been, say, 100 new faculty members (given that faculty members make, on average, more than staff).

Given that scores of faculty members (like Paul) object to this trend, why is it continuing? Why is Williams about to add to its bureaucracy even though, by all accounts, the current heads of admissions (Nesbit) and financial aid (Boyer) do a fine job?

1) Bureaucracies always grow. This is not a Williams-specific phenomenon or even just a high education phenomenon. This happens everywhere. Fighting this tendency would be my number one priority if I were a Williams trustee. The easiest way to fight it would be to institute a cap on the total number of employees. Williams has 1204 (!) faculty and staff. That is more than enough!

2) Adam Falk wants to hire more senior administrators. He did this when he started (Steve Klass, Fred Puddester, Angela Shaeffer and so on). He has promoted these people, slowly giving them more and more power, relative to the faculty. Creating a new position like Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid is just another step down that road.

UPDATE: A reader points out that this very sloppy, for several reasons. First, Steve Klass was already at Williams. Falk did not hire him. Second, it is, at least, disputable whether or not the power of the senior staff has grown during Falk’s tenure. Puddester does, more or less, what Helen Oullette used to do. Schaefer was a replacement, first for Jo Proctor (who EphBlog misses!) and now for Jim Kolesar. Fair points!

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