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Who decides?


… many campus buildings were constructed in eras quite different from our own, at times they were decorated in ways that seem problematic in a modern context. The same is true of some of the monuments that are found on our campus. How do such forms of decoration, conceived in an earlier time, affect our capacity to be a fully inclusive community in this century? And what should be done about historical images that portray Williams as less welcoming than we are or aspire to be?




A New Spring Street, (revis)?

Perhaps we might consider some alternative or comparative visions–

Potential Goals of an Academic Program

Critical thinking skills: the ability to grasp ideas quickly…

The ability to read: …to cultivate the art of thoughtful, patient, critical reading.

The ability to speak: …students should be able to discuss complex topics in clear, organized, and accessible language…

The ability to listen: … to understand where different people are coming from, to find a grain of truth in different or even clashing perspectives, and formulate opinion

The ability to write: …students should be able to articulate their thoughts in writing in a clear and simple way… to …lay out an argument in a coherent sequence of steps[,] … not simply as an academic exercise but as a means [to] comprehend and discover,  what is true and what really matters.

Leadership skills: …to foster the qualities essential to leadership: to be organized; to … see things that need to be done and to initiate projects to do them…

Appreciation:  … of different modes of inquiry and different kinds of knowledge (humanities, social and natural sciences);  of different modes of creative endeavor (writing, painting, sculpting, music, cooking);  of different modes of vocational and recreational endeavor (horsemanship, mechanics,  sailing).

How would Williams fare, if the above were the criteria upon which its Accreditation Committee judged it?

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Coming Out @ Williams – the context

Further my post of a few days ago, Coming Out @ Williams in 1972, here is more detail on Mr. Pinello, the author of the piece, and the background of the article and its aftermath. As you can read here, he spent the summer before the article in New York:

Walk by the door. Hesitate. Turn around and look as though by chance something on this desolate block has caught your eye, although there’s not a soul on the street to see you. Read the tiny sign pasted on the door, “Gay Activists’ Alliance, 99 Wooster Street,” act like the inquisitive tourist always willing to see a new show, boldly uncatch the lock, and walk in.

After that summer in New York, he became convinced of the need to focus some attention on homosexuality at Williams. He was also “tired of celibacy” and wanted “an identifiable gay community in which to socialize.” The pitch to the Advocate was controversial:

Then the fit hit the shan, as Charlie Rubin says. The evening had droned on, but ears pricked up at mention of a heretofore unmentionable subject at Williams. Immediately John Enteman vowed the advertisers would revolt: Cary Walsh would have nothing to do with queers or even the mention of them. Such an article would end the House of Walsh [a Spring Street clothing store] patronage for which, John claimed, he had worked so hard. Tempted to say to hell with Cary, I only replied that a paper’s first responsibility is to its readers and not to its advertisers. Well, John announced, don’t plan on any funds from advertising then.

However, the project was picked up. Even after that, it became difficult to get any good information – the senior staff at Williams was in some ways unaware and in other ways unwilling to be quoted on the subject.

When our interviews with Messrs. Booth, Crider, Frost, Gates, Hyde, Rudolph, Talbot, and Van Ouwerkerk proved almost bootless, I decided that an attempt to dredge up any campus gay history was futile and that I knew more about the homosexual’s plight at Williams than anyone else. Since I then knew who the expert was, I sat down one afternoon and interviewed him. And that, along with minor revisions and additions Mitch recommended, became the Advocate’s homosexual lead article.

As you may recall, Dan’s number was attached to the end of that article. He did receive calls, almost immediately. Some were pranks; others were supportive, but no one responded in the way Pinello has hoped for. A few weeks later, he put together a panel of gay activists from New York, with a large attendance of over a hundred. At the end of the panel, all interested in forming a group on the subject were invited to Griffin that night – twelve came. Pinello wrote about the experience in his senior honor thesis, which I will quote once more:

My personal liberation has been great. Just over a year ago, I had difficulty saying the word homosexual. That was something never mentioned in my experience: the word was almost foreign – too specific yet nearly meaningless. Hazy, nefarious connotations sprang up at its sound. My own prejudices thus were one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome. GAA exposed me to the gay world’s diversity. My coming out at Williams forced me to defend my actions, to scrutinize all my past assumptions about human phenomena. When confronted, say, with Biblical quotations, I had to know the answers. When eyed in the Snack Bar or on the street, I had to evaluate my commitment. When heckled on the phone, I had to find the spunk to face the oppressor and fight back.

The group might not have had the success Dan hoped for, but it succeeded in gaining backing from College Council for adding “sexual orientation” to the college’s non-discrimination statement. That resolution was defeated by the faculty with resistance from senior staff as well, though another resolution pledging non-discrimination was adapted. The following day, a lecturer in Art came out to his students and wrote to the New York Times as a representative of the group, which had yet to meet openly. Nowadays, sexual orientation is discussed openly on campus, but it’s worth remembering how far this campus has come.

I wrote Dan, and he sent this in return:

Every decade or so, my coming out article is rediscovered at Williams. The Williams Record republished it sometime in the 1990s.

By the way, your readers may be interested to know that I’ll be in
Williamstown on the weekend of May 1, 2, and 3. The College’s LGBT alumni
group is planning a panel of speakers then about same-sex marriage, and I’ve
been invited to participate.

I hope to publish more from Perspectives in the future, but am trying to avoid the need to transcribe whole pages – watch Ephblog for updates to this series.


Job Hunting

There’s a job and internship fair coming up soon on campus, and the signs are everywhere: people are editing their resumes, insuring that they can be contacted for interviews, and buying clothes suitable for such activities. The tension is high, due to the lower job market – fellowships for three in some places have been reduced to one position.

20 years ago, Mika Brzezinski ’89 was in the same predicament.

(The Setting: Morning Joe on MSNBC)
At the end of an interview with Don Browne, the President of Telemundo, Brzezinski came on the air to ask him if “you might remember one interview with a very young, naive, not ready… ah girl… interested in being in television. I’d say, probably exactly twenty years ago.”

An amused Browne responded, “I told you that I thought you had tremendous potential. And I gave you a little advice. And look where you are now!”

Source w/ video. We all start somewhere.


July 4th: On Seeking the Good (revisited)

(for FM & SC)  (–it is five minutes to midnight)

…From this day forward,  to the final day of my administration,  I pledge my life and my actions… to accomplish… and to forge a new course of nationhood through the patterns of human events…

3)  To secure the future of PeMex as an inalienable national asset…,  to be managed to the greatest benefit of all citizens, … to eliminate its corruption by…,  … to raise production by…

7)  To immediately suspend… the agricultural provisions of the NAFTA protocols,  … and to renegotiate the provisions…

11) To withdraw from all but formal diplomatic relations… with the United… and seek a new relationship… on equal terms…

… y ni… ni… pero, qué puede ser que creemos, juntos¡

Inaugural Address: “A New Covenant for National Renewal:  the 11 Points Speech,”  (“Alternative Course,”) 4th July,  —-,  (planned,  draft;  undelivered)


Isolationism’s End

In the previous hours, a regular commercial transport truck originating within the United States of Mexico was inspected and cleared towards its final destination far inside the United States of America.

If the underlying political-economic agreement proves stable, certified commercial transport originating at any point within our two nations will now be free to traverse our common territories. In the coming weeks, many of you will see the emblems of Mexican companies for the first time, on trucks traveling the roadways of our forty-nine northern states. As will shortly occur, in converse, for the citizens of our thirty-one southern states.

In the Federal District of Mexico City on Friday, several economists and planners paused to look at the diplomas of Maynard Keynes and Redvers Opie, and consider the meaning of this landmark event upon the long paths we have undertaken toward open trade and free societies, and, against cynicism and pessimism borne of experience, to hope and dream again in the face of this natality.

My thanks to the many Ephs who played various roles in, and fought for this achievement. It has given both pride and immediate hope to the peoples of the thirty-one southern states, but its ultimate meaning may well be found in its impact on the identity and future of all the Americas, its role in buttressing the security and survival of our democracies, and its impact on our common sense of what we may accomplish, together.


Jessica Park Mail Room

This subject has come up a few times recently (see comments by Laura ’92 and Jonathan Landsman ’05) so I thought I’d point out the College’s press release on the subject, and the upcoming ceremony:

The Paresky Center mailroom will be formally named the Jessica H. Park Mailroom, on Thursday, May 10, at 4 p.m. at a dedication open to the public.

“The college is thrilled to honor Jessy Park for her many years of dedicated service to Williams students and for her wonderful accomplishments as an artist,” Williams President Morton Owen Schapiro said.

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ephEssay: Thankgiving, 2006

About here, Diana asks a perhaps simple question which I was somewhat taken aback by. I think I gave a somewhat curmudgeonly and conceited response.
For here, today, the below may be an appropriate narrative response to her question, though I must also apologize, in advance, for its conceits, formal and otherwise.

04:00:00 AM CST exactly, Colonia San Miguel Chapultepec, Mexico City, D.F. I awake from deep sleep to the simultaneous sound of three different alarm tones. Each is highly annoying.

This was planned by me, yet not quite what I planned.

There is a disadvantage to the “Network Time Protocol,” which allows any device connected to the Internet to synchronize its clock mechanism with the version of time maintained by our world’s atomic clocks. Its disadvantage is its exact precision, which allows me to state the exact moment I woke.

I had not considered this disadvantage when, four hours previously, I had set three pieces of electronic gear to sound their alarms at four, and programmed them to require me to go through a cognitive task– a password entry, a small graphical game, a mathematical calculation– to disable the alarms.

I thought this routine would get me awake, but it didn’t quite.

I also thought that one alarm would sound, and that I would have time to disable it, then to shut off the alarms on the other devices before they went off. And that this series of tasks would require my brain to be half-functioning by the end.

But I wasn’t entirely present when I set this up.

Now all three are going off at the same time, and I hope I haven’t woken Nessie up.

By the time I disable them all, my head is hurting, I am conscious, but I am not awake. And I think Nessie is still asleep.

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Election Day

Al Gore has just given his concession speech in Centennial Park, and I listened, intent not on his words, dry as they were, but on the crowd which gathered to support him, to their mood and reactions, to their hopes, vain and dashed. Gore had not carried Tennessee.
I returned to the Seton Lodge beside Baptist Hospital, amid patches of rain and forgotten hopes. My mother had open heart surgery that morning, another surprise, and this would be the first election day I did not spend at Williams, nor vote in Williamstown.
As I exited the elevator to the balcony, a woman crept toward me, awkwardly. Her hands felt her way, as she crawled, slowly, hand by hand against the painted brick of the building’s exterior. My eyes turned to her face, and found her eyes in turn blank, staring empty into the night, without focus or direction. I thought she was blind.
She wore a simple handmade dress, a patchwork of material, and the man who followed her, a farmer’s blue overalls and scratchy beard. I looked at her face again, and found cracked skin behind her searching eyes, her cheeks sunken, and weak, as wrinkled as her forehead.

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Breaching the “Washington Consensus”


Vanessa recently pointed me to David Rieff’s interesting article in Sunday’s NYT magazine, The Populist at the Border. While well-written and intriguing, the article’s historical thesis, and interpretations of Obrador, seems to me to rest on a series of assertions that are, at least, at best, imprecise.

Among them:

Lpez Obrador is… arguably the most significant of all the new Latin American populists. If he succeeds… his victory would cap one of the most important global developments of the past five years: the… ascension to power of the left in Latin America. Already it is clear that a serious challenge has arisen to the norms of the modern globalized economy [emphasis mine]… [W]hether Mexican voters realize it or not, their decision on July 2 will serve as a… referendum on how far this revolt is going to go. Will it turn out, in retrospect, to have been just a few rogue Latin American countries challenging the global system? Or is this a rebellion that will stretch all the way to the Rio Grande?

[Obrador’s] economic team is led by Rogelio Ramrez de la O, a Cambridge-educated economist who is well respected in international business circles… Carlos Slim… who is Mexico’s richest man … has let it be known… that he finds nothing alarming about [Obrador’s] candidacy.

if Lpez Obrador really [is] someone who can change Mexico through a combination of his own force of will and the support of the masses, technocrats like Ramrez de la O will be unable to rein him in if he is elected.

The first quotation is from the second page; the second from the fifth; the third from the sixth and final page.

I have been trying to find a way to tell a complex version of the story here; let me try the opposite, to tell a simple version, and ignore that my errors in doing so will be greater than Rieff’s.

I would switch the order of narrative.

In 1977, British economist Redvers Opie, one of the convenors of the Bretton Woods conference, founded eCanal S.A. in Mexico. eCanal is currently led by Rogelio Ramirez de la O, Redvers’ student, and the first Mexican to attend Cambridge.

I take extreme exception to the description of Rogelio as a “technocrat,” which is as tired a stock metaphor as “the masses” and the threat of “leftist revolution” it implies. (Given the reference to Castaneda here, Castaneda’s recent opinion piece in the NYT, and Vincinte Fox’s recent visit to the US– rather obviously an attempt to influence not only US policy but the course of the Mexican election– I might aslo question whether the NYT is under inappropriate foreign influence. And if anything, Obrador’s “right wing” opponents are the heirs of the corruption of the Soviet Union, and their recent forays into the US, the legacy of the ComIntern).

Stated in brief, eCanal’s Mission has been to guide Mexico into the economic hegemony developed at Bretton Woods, and the rational and open allocation of resources, and the significance of the Obrador campaign should be judged from the perspective of the Bretton Woods.

I hope I will not breach confidence to claim that the Obrador campaign is not a result of the spectre of leftism spreading over Latin America, but of the dreams of integrating Mexico with the economic hegemony created at Bretton Woods, and that de la O’s role in Obrador’s candicacy has been much more central than suggested above, or by Reiff’s (otherwise often insightful) political history of Obrador.

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GAC 2006: Closing Remarks by Ian Browde

[Ian ended his speech:]

Now, I don’t know how you’re going to receive this, and again my words are my own and not Nokia’s, but if you will give me two more minutes, I’m going to say what I’ve been thinking.

In this country we have the word “illegal” and we apply it to immigration. We have been speaking of people who come to the United States as illegals and of building borders between the United States and these “illegals,” and of turning them away entirely.

I do not understand this.

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This entry is a stub. It may be deleted. It is also an experiment in using ephBlog in new ways.

Via private email:
Jeremy, Noah, Aidan,

and it CC is not able to give any money to “external political organizations.”

First, I wonder if this is a constitutional change since MassPIRG was a central organization on campus.

Next, my very specific problem with MassPIRG was that when I canvassed for them as a freshman, they conveniently chose to omit that the legislation I was canvassing would eliminate the use of radioisotopes in much of medical research in Cambridge.

My next problem, some time later, was their quasi-cultish “regional meeting” at Williams, supposedly to gather input for projects. There is no such think in MassPIRG; it is not a democratic organization; all policy is determined by the Party in Boston, and forced downward. And the Party is always right.

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Eleven Days…

Our current email/forum message:

Dear Citizen,

In July of this new year, Mexico will conduct an historic Presidential election– historic not in the least, because for the first time, nearly 12 million Mexicans living in the United States will be eligible to vote via absentee ballot.

This is a moment when the concerted actions of a dedicated few can change the course of history.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 87% of these Mexican-Americans will vote if they have the chance, and that nearly half have the documents to register via mail for absentee ballots.

These applications must be mailed by January 15th.

But most of the Mexican Americans I have talked to do not know this.

How do you reach these voters?

How do you deliver this message– in 9 days– to the Mexican population in North America?

This is a moment where the concerted efforts of a few can change history. One way or another, the coming election will determine Mexico’s future relationship to the US– and thus the future of the United States and our world.

And this a time when amazing power of email and electronic communications can be re-proven.

Simply forward or re-post this message where appropriate. Or join us our other efforts, via the email below.

We need your help. American needs your help. Mexico needs your help.

Now is the time to change history. Now is the opportunity.

Nine days.

Kenneth Thomas, FrequencyTen Technologies
on behalf of the Instituto Federal Electoral (


— Forward this email. Repost it to other Craiglist’s sites or forums. Send it to appropriate websites, media, talk radio, spanish language radio, or other.
— Translate (or help us translate) this message into language and media appropriate to Spanish sites, and get it to those sites.
— Join us in making sure the Public Service Announcement below is brought to the attention of the 693 Spanish-language radio stations in the United States, and to telivision and print media. (Email for info).
— Print and distribute the form linked below to Mexican Americans who do not have easy web access. Help simplify the process of completing and this form.
— For the geeks among you, create and implement new and innovative strategies to get this message to the Mexican American population.
— Let us know about your efforts. This is about we, the IFE and others can better connect Mexican Americans to Mexican politics.

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