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Diversity Sit-In at Wooster

Latest news on Sarah Bolton’s Wooster presidency:

Students held a sit-in at the College of Wooster Wednesday, leaving at 10 p.m. after a series of discussions with administrators. Racist postings to a private Facebook page prompted the sit-in, but many other issues were also at play. A list of demands included new funding for diversity efforts, required training in cultural competency for all students and faculty members, changes in the way certain violations of campus rules would be punished, and the creation of a student-led board that would report on enforcement of campus rules.

President Sarah Bolton issued a statement that said in part, “We have had extremely productive conversations with the students about the concerns they raised, and we have committed to address them. We began developing the plans to do so today, and will share them with the community over the coming days, as they become more fully developed. Those plans will include more comprehensive educational efforts in the areas of cultural competency and sexual misconduct; more effective and easily accessible reporting and response mechanisms for all types of bias-related harm; and new resources for student groups engaged in work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”


1) Some Eph faculty go on to successful post-Williams presidencies, e.g., Steve Lewis at Carleton, Mike McPherson at MacAllister and Cappy Hill at Vassar. Some faculty fail, e.g., Nancy Roseman at Denison and Charles Karelis at Colgate. Any forecasts for Sarah Bolton?

2) Bolton was a social justice warrior at Williams. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Some of my best friends are social justice warriors. Her biggest sin, in my view, was her absurd handling of the Taco Six case.

3) My advice for Bolton: Be careful! Yale and Williams and other elite schools can get away with lots of PC nonsense because they are, at the end of the day, still Yale and Williams. Wooster is not. Handle situations like this poorly and you could create an Evergreen/Missouri scenario.

The demands of the protesters include:

There are multiple Faculty and Staff members such as Nathan Fein, Robin Shreck, Diane Uber etc. that continue to perpetuate anti-blackness, stereotyping of minority groups and simply hate speech.

We expect the college administration to hold faculty and staff to the same standards as students when it comes to racists, sexist, bigoted, misinformed, and stereotypical comments. These individuals are also members of our campus community and must be held accountable – thus, students should be able to press judicial charges against faculty and staff who violate our community standards.

Good luck with that!

If Bolton does not stand up to the social justice warriors on her own campus, things might turn out very poorly . . .

Thanks to an anonymous source, a source that is, alas, to modest to join EphBlog as an author!

Other links:


Library Streaking & Life Safety Issues

An all-student e-mail from Steve Klass and Sarah Bolton begins:

Students streaking through the library during Reading Period has been a tradition for many years. We’d like to call your attention to a couple of significant risks involved with it and ask you to reconsider this activity.

Entire e-mail is below the break. Comments:

1) When did the streaking tradition start? Presumably it was after co-education began in the early 70’s . . .

2) I was surprised at how big a deal it has become:

The streaking in Sawyer Library during last December’s Reading Period put a huge number of people at great risk of bodily injury. Thanks to social media, the building was well beyond fire code capacity by the time the streaking began. The marble steps and connecting walkways on the upper floors were absolutely jammed and impenetrable, blocking all egress. Students leaning over the railings on those connectors were crushed up against the waist-level restraining walls, putting them in danger of breaking through or falling over the railings.

Was it really that bad? Can anyone send us a picture (not of the streakers, obviously, but of the crowding)?

3) Will this plea cause students to change the tradition? Predictions welcome!

So, we ask you to please take the well-being of others to heart and come up with another way to achieve the same fun objectives in a safe and responsible manner.

The obvious replacement would be an outside event, perhaps a circular route around the new green space at the center of campus, or perhaps around the Science Quad. Suggestions from readers?

Entire e-mail below.
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Latest Sexual Assault Report

From Dean Bolton:

I write, as I do each year, to update you on our work in sexual assault prevention and response, and to report how our disciplinary processes and other accountability processes have been used over the previous year. On the advice of the student members of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Group (SAPA), we present data from the previous year (in this case 2014-2015) each spring.

The more transparency the better. Key paragraphs:

In the 2014-2015 school year, the college received 10 reports of sexual assault, as well as one of dating violence, three of stalking, and one of retaliation. Of these 15 cases, 13 involved people who were still members of the college community, and so were eligible for college accountability processes. The other two involved individuals who are now alumni or were not members of the Williams community.

Of the 13 individuals reporting these incidents, six have chosen to take part in investigation and adjudication through the college as of now (three cases regarding sexual assault, two cases regarding stalking, and one case regarding retaliation.) Investigation and adjudication through the college remain an option as long as the respondent is a member of the college community.

Two of the three cases of sexual assault resulted in findings of responsibility, as did one of the two cases of stalking and the case of retaliation. All students found responsible for these violations were separated from the college. One student was expelled, and the others were suspended for terms ranging from one semester to two years.

My comments will be similar to last year’s, starting here. Regular readers have noted that I only got through 8 of the promised 10 days of analysis. Shall I give it another shot?

Entire e-mail is below the break.
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Bolton to Wooster

News from last fall:

Today is a great day for Williams and an even better day for The College of Wooster. That’s because the people at Wooster have made the extremely wise decision to ask Sarah Bolton to be their next president—and she has made them very lucky indeed by saying yes. She’ll begin in her new role July 1, 2016.

Entire letter from Falk is below the break. Comments:

1) Is anyone else surprised that Bolton settled for the College of Wooster? Senior Williams administrators who seek college presidencies usually do better than 61 on the US News rankings. Nancy Roseman to Dickinson, Cappy Hill ’76 to Vassar, Steve Lewis ’61 to Carleton and Mike McPherson to Macalester are all examples of Ephs going to colleges with more resources, prestige (and higher presidential pay, probably) than Wooster. Perhaps Bolton has family in the area or some other personal reason for the move? Perhaps the market for college presidencies has gotten more competitive? Perhaps Bolton does not do well in an interview setting? Perhaps she settled too quickly? Informed gossip welcome!

2) Overall opinions on Bolton’s tenure? EphBlog had many fewer problems with her than we had with Nancy Roseman, but that is a low bar. Athletes (especially football players) I have talked to had some negative things to say about Bolton, especially in regard to how she investigated the infamous football skit of a couple of years ago and how she dealt with a couple of sexual assault investigations. Surely it counts in Bolton’s favor that she did not fight to preserve the neighborhood system, although I am not sure if she was the primary mover in bringing back the campus wide lottery. If she was, kudos!

3) Predictions/advice on her successor? The Dean of the College has been a woman over 10 (?) years. (And isn’t it annoying that there is no place to look up the list past Deans and their tenures?) Falk, like all Williams presidents, would like to ensure that at least one of the big three administrative positions (Provost and Deans of College/Faculty) is filled by a woman. But, since the current Dean of the Faculty (Denise Buell) is female, he could go either way for Dean of the College.

4) EphBlog nominates Professor Eiko Siniawer ’97! She is a former chair of CUL, so she has at least some interest in administration. She is an alum, so she has an excellent understanding of student life. And she is an excellent person!

Other nominations?

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Censor Student Speech

Professor Sam Crane’s comments (and here) about Uncomfortable Learning merit further criticism. See last week for background.

I was, in fact, trying to restrain my anger at the immediate presumption that Williams faculty routinely censor student speech. Such a serious assertion should be accompanied by concrete evidence, not snide guesses about our favorite caffeine drinks.

What more concrete evidence can we offer besides Professor Crane’s own comments? Critics claim that Williams faculty/administrators don’t want students to invite speakers like Venker to campus. (I hope that Sam won’t rely on weasel words like “routinely” and “student.”) Isn’t that exactly what Sam wants, to deprive Uncomfortable Learning of funding so that they can’t afford to bring speakers to campus? If this isn’t what he wants, then just what is his complaint?

But that is not today’s deliciousness. Sam has been spewing invective about the students (and alumni) behind Uncomfortable Learning, suggesting that they have broken all sorts of college policies. Fortunately, random political science professors are not responsible for enforcing the rules. That honor goes to Dean of the College Sarah Bolton. So, all Sam needs to do is to inform Bolton about his concerns. She will surely jump in to bring the right wing rabble to heal!

Not so fast! Dean Bolton was asked about the Venker Cancellation during a conference call with class agents last week. You can listen to the entire call here. Go to the 16:40 mark to here the question and Bolton’s reply.

Too lazy to listen? Allow me to summarize: Dean Sarah Bolton likes Uncomfortable Learning! She had (almost) nothing negative to say about them. She seemed to share none of Sam’s concerns about their lack of registration, their shadowy sources of funding or their contact with alumni. In fact, she was sad that Venker did not come! “There is no need to rescind that invitation.” She wants Williams to “be there for them,” i.e., for the student leaders of Uncomfortable Learning. She wishes that they had reached out to her before cancelling. She is interested in “How we can bring conversations that might be difficult or uncomfortable to campus, and have that go well.”

So, sleep well Professor Crane! Dean Bolton is firmly on Team Uncomfortable Learning. You have nothing to worry about when it comes to rules and regulations. If Dean Bolton has no objections, then why would you?

UPDATE: Post changed to provide link to Williams’ page with the call audio.


Fairness in Discourse

Professor Sam Crane’s comments about Uncomfortable Learning merit further criticism. See Monday for background.

Maintaining a certain fairness in discourse, not privileging some voices because they have more access to money than others, is a principle that, I suspect, Gaudino would defend.

Agreed! But this is precisely the principal that Williams, to some extent, fails to uphold. Neither Williams College, nor the Political Science Department, nor the Lecture Committee succeed to “[m]aintaining a certain fairness in discourse.” Indeed, all of them are much more likely to bring progressive/liberal/Democratic speakers to campus. Would even Professor Crane deny this fundamental reality of campus discourse? Other than speakers brought by Uncomfortable Learning itself, how many libertarian/conservative/Republican speakers have come to Williams in the last three years? If Professor Crane doesn’t believe in “privileging” left-wing “voices” over right-wing “voices,” he is doing a very bad job of acting on those beliefs.

Consider a concrete example: Rutgers Professor Donna Murch ’91 gave the 2015 Davis Lecture last week. Excellent! The more speakers with diverse viewpoints, especially alumni, that Williams brings to campus the better. But where is the speaker this fall or in all of 2015 or 2014 — outside of Uncomfortable Learning itself — who is much an Eph of the right as Murch is an Eph of the left?

Nowhere. Professor Sam Crane has done nothing to bring non-liberal/progessive/Democratic voices to campus in the last few years. (Contrary opinions welcome.) And that is OK! Sam is a busy guy, with teaching and research obligations. But, if he is not going to take the trouble to help maintain a “certain fairness in discourse,” the least he could do is to stop attacking those Ephs who are working on it.


Code of Conduct Changes

An all-student e-mail from Dean Bolton:

From: Sarah Bolton
Date: Friday, 9 October 2015
Subject: Something Important to Read this Reading Period

Dear Students,

I hope you are well as we head into the weekend. I’m writing today to invite you to do another kind of reading. Attached below is important information; the Code of Conduct, rules about file sharing and copyright (particularly important for downloading movies and music) , and the Honor Code. While some of what’s here may be familiar, there’s also new information. Here are some highlights of changes.

-The definitions of sexual assault, relationship abuse, retaliation and consent have been updated based on recommendations from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness committee.
– An amnesty policy has been created for students reporting sexual assault, which means that students reporting assault that took place in the context of the use of alcohol or drugs won’t face any college consequences regarding alcohol or drug use.
-A new medical amnesty policy has been created for students seeking medical help for themselves or others in the wake of alcohol or drug use.
-New information about how to download movies, music and other media while staying within the bounds of law is being provided.

Of course, all of this information is also available online, but since we have these important updates, I wanted to send it out to you as well, so that you can easily review it.

My best wishes to you for a good long weekend and reading period,
Dean Bolton

Here (doc) is the document. Should we spend a week going through it?


Sexual Assault Report I

The most recent annual report on sexual assault is out. Let’s spend 10 days talking about it! Today is day 1.

1) Below the break is the version mailed to students. I think that this is the same as the web version. And, as always, thanks to our sources!

2) Why isn’t Meg Bossong ’05, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the author of this report, rather than Dean Bolton? Bossong has been at Williams for almost a year and has, by all accounts, committed herself fully to the job. Bolton is a busy person, so why doesn’t she delegate this important and time-consuming work?

3) This gets to the question of Dean Bolton’s attitude toward sexual assault at Williams. Being a charitable person, I want her attitude to be a good one: Williams should fight to decrease the incidence of sexual assault, but not at the cost of due process for accused students. If an informed observer, like former faculty member KC Johnson, thinks that Bolton is balancing these concerns in a reasonable way, than kudos to her! But I am concerned — and more than one (male) student has echoed similar sentiments — that Dean Bolton is more of a social justice warrior (SWJ) Dean, someone less interested in due process than she ought to me.

Comments from readers?

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NESCAC Alcohol Survey

The latest from Dean Bolton:

From: NESCAC Deans
Date: Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 4:19 PM
Subject: We need your help! An important message from the NESCAC Deans
To: X

Dear X,

Williams, along with the other institutions in NESCAC (Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Conn College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Tufts, and Wesleyan), is conducting its second-ever survey to understand current students’ alcohol use and the alcohol culture on each of our campuses. Your participation in this project, whether you are a drinker or non-drinker, is critically important. Your response will be completely confidential, so please answer all questions honestly. On Sunday, you will receive an email with a link to the online survey, and we hope that you will take 10-15 minutes of your time to answer the survey when you receive it.

Your contribution is crucial for us to obtain an accurate picture of the role of alcohol in the student experience on our campuses. The results of the common survey will enable us to assess the current state on our individual campuses and then be able to compare those results to true peer schools. Our hope is that the results will help reveal best practices, allow us to develop and implement better services, programs, and policies to meet your needs, and suggest innovative initiatives for our campuses. The survey, which we have developed, is one that we will aim to administer every three years, allowing us to measure changes in the alcohol culture on our campuses.

We want to assure you that your responses to the survey will be kept strictly confidential. All data collected will be shared in aggregate form only.

We hope we can count on your participation in this important project and want to thank you in advance for taking the time to do so. If you feel uncomfortable answering any question, please feel free to skip that item. If the survey does bring up any questions or concerns for you, please contact your Dean’s Office or your Student Health or Counseling Center.

Thank you for your assistance in completing this important research project. Your honest responses to the survey questions will enable us to develop programming, policies and services that further promote and safeguard student health and well-being.


Sarah Bolton
Dean of the College
Williams College

NESCAC should make the aggregate data public. Transparency is a hallmark of serious academics. Will they? I doubt it.

If I were a student, I would ask Dean Bolton. If she/NESCAC refused (or even refused to say), I would campaign against the survey by encouraging students to answer it with extreme responses.

Below the break is the (poorly formatted) list of other NESCAC signatories.

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Racial Stereotype

Another absurd e-mail from Dean Bolton:

From: Sarah Bolton
Date: Monday, December 8, 2014
Subject: Concern From the Weekend, and Support

Dear Williams Students,

I write to inform you about a concern that has arisen over the weekend. As many of you are already aware, on Saturday night several students reported to me a photograph showing six Williams students who appeared to have dressed in costumes imitating a racial stereotype, including [What Do You Think Goes Here?].

As is the case when any concern is brought to the attention of my office, we are looking into this matter in order to understand fully what took place and how it may relate to the college’s code of student conduct.

This is a very difficult time for many students, and we are setting up a variety of opportunities for gathering or supportive conversation this week. In addition to their regular daytime operations, the Davis Center will be staffed for the next three nights from 7-9 pm and the Chaplain’s office will be open in the evenings as well, from 8-10 pm. There is a workshop for students wondering how to be allies from 7-9 pm at Hardy House. There is a Stress-busters tonight at Paresky. And, the deans are available to work with students who are struggling to move forward their academic work in this difficult context. Please don’t hesitate to come by or contact any of us.

Dean Bolton

Obviously, I have left out the key phrase. Here are some options:

1) gang colors and grillz.

2) false mustaches and sombreros.

3) Irish country hats and shillelaghs.

4) horned helmets and fake braids.

5) Indian headdresses and “war paint.”

The cynics among you will instantly dismiss 3) and 4). No Dean at Williams would complain about dressing up like this or this. Those are white caricatures! Making fun of white people is OK!

Answer is 2! Can you believe it? I would have thought this was a spoof. (And maybe a student is spoofing me! Corrections welcome.)

My thoughts on this are the same as always.

First, we need an Eph Style Guide. That was a good idea ten years ago. It is a good idea now.

Second, does Dean Bolton enjoy these mini-controversies? (Insider comments welcome.) If I were Dean, I would find them boring and annoying. If she does not enjoy them, she could decrease the number of complaints that come to her office by not sending out so many all-campus e-mails. The bigger the deal she makes about these stupidities, the more of them will come to her door.

Third, if I were a trouble-making non-liberal student. I would come to Dean Bolton with a similar complaint (about, say, a student wearing a Che Guevara or hammer-and-sickle t-shirt) and demand that she send out a similar all-campus e-mail about that.

Does anyone have a copy of the photo? Send it in. Future historians will thank you!


End Racism

Is this the most ridiculous all-student e-mail by a Williams administrator in a decade or an EphBlog spoof?

From: Sarah Bolton <>
Date: Mon Nov 24 2014 at 9:34:50 PM
Subject: Tonight
To: <>

Dear Students,

Tonight the grand jury announced that there would be no indictment in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. No one will be held legally responsible for his death, and yet he was killed, and terribly so. Tonight communities across the country stand together in solidarity, seeking justice and an end to racism, so that all people can be safe from harm in their communities.

I write tonight in support of all who are thinking of Ferguson and of Michael Brown’s family, whether in gatherings or alone. And, I write in hope that all in the Williams community will continue to work to end racism in all of its forms — with all that we have.

Dean Bolton

1) EphBlog has a long history of parodying administration communication. If we just showed you this e-mail without commentary, would you think it real or fake?

2) It is real! Let’s examine the e-mail that Dean Bolton did not send:

From: Sarah Bolton <>
Date: Dec 1 2014 at 9:34:50 PM
Subject: Tonight
To: <>

Dear Students,

Tonight police charged a third person in connection with the brutal murder of Zemir Begic. Tonight communities across the country stand together in solidarity, seeking justice and an end to racism, so that all people can be safe from harm in their communities.

I write tonight in support of all who are thinking of St. Louis and of Zemir Begic’s family, whether in gatherings or alone. And, I write in hope that all in the Williams community will continue to work to end racism in all of its forms — with all that we have.

Dean Bolton

Background reading from CNN here. Why does Dean Bolton write all students about the death of a black man but not the death of a white man? Because the central rule of public morality at Williams is that black deaths matter but white deaths don’t.

3) Just a service to our readers, here is Michael Brown robbing a convenience store minutes before his encounter with officer Wilson.

Of course, robbery (especially of short, brown, immigrant shop keepers?) does not merit getting shot by police, but Bolton seems blind to the complexities of this case, to the fact that lots of people — probably including a majority of Americans — think that “justice” was, in fact, served by the grand jury’s decision to not indict Wilson.

4) A better Williams Dean would not send out this e-mail in the first place. Instead of worrying about events in far-away Missouri, she would worry about events on campus, events that she is responsible for and might even have some control over.

5) A better college would, instead of e-mailing students vacuous calls “end to racism,” organize a campus conversation, or even debate, about the Brown shooting, would challenge all sides in the dispute to re-examine their assumptions and conclusions. Is Williams that sort of college? I don’t know.


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