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April 2019 Faculty Meeting Notes

Here (pdf) is a rough draft for the official faculty meeting notes for April.

1) Make these public! Given that they are distributed to scores (?) of Ephs, and describe an event that 300+ people were invited to and that is (?) open to the public (or at least to Record reporters?), there is no plausible reason to hide them.

2) By not making them public, Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell just drives more traffic to EphBlog. Thanks! I guess . . .

3) I “worry” that, at some point, there will be a spoof/fake version of these notes which appear to be real but which have been altered for nefarious/pedagogical purposes. Without a public record of the real notes, how can we (or the Record!) know the truth?

4) On admissions:

I don’t like this.

We should accept the best students, those who did well academically in high school and are likely to do well academically at Williams. We reject 100s of AR 1s each year. We should never accept an AR 2 (or 3? or 4?) just because she is a veteran or older or has gone to a community college.

5) On graduate programs:

Meanwhile, President Mandel said that she had been reading the various suggestions she had received with respect to new academic initiatives. A number of those initiatives – twenty-three in all, ranging from the very broad to the quite specific – had come from small groups of faculty working together. Some, she said, would fall into the “teaching and learning bucket,” such as the suggestions both for a formal teaching and learning center and for the more adequate teaching of writing. Other academic initiatives, she said, focused on sustainability, development, and global climate change, with proposals for a graduate program, such as that offered by the Center for Development Economics.

One of the working groups should answer this question: How many graduate programs should Williams offer? This is an important strategic question which smart Ephs should study for 6 months and then report back to us. What is the history of such programs at Williams? How do such programs work at peer schools? What are the precise economics of current programs? And so on. This is an issue which merits the adjective strategic.

It is highly unlikely that the optimal number of graduate programs is two: precisely the number that we currently have!

Odds of this happening? Less than 5%. Williams does not seem equipt to ask, much less answer, such big questions.

My answer: We should drop our two current masters programs: Center for Development Economics and Clark Art. Neither makes any more sense than the old Chemistry Masters which we offered fifty years ago. We should have a laser-like focus on the quality of the undergraduate education we offer. Everything else is a side-show.

What parts of the faculty meeting notes stand out to you?

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Form 990 History

The leadership of Williams was modestly paid back in 1977.

Forty one years later, things are different.

Purpose of this post, updated once a year, is to maintain our history of the Form 990s issued by Williams. (Thanks to John Wilson ’64 for leading the charge on these efforts.)

Form 990 is an IRS requirement filed by all US non-profits. It is a confusing document that has changed significantly over the years. See here for background reading. Williams only provides versions going back to 2009. Future historians will thank us for archiving older versions: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In fact, because Williams occasionally hides things that it once made public, let’s go ahead and save the more recent filings: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The College archives include earlier versions. At some point, we need to scan them. In the meantime, the wonderful Sylvia Brown provided one page (pdf) of the 1977 submission, from which the above screen shot is taken.

Inflation from 1977 to 2018 was a little over 400%. Professor salaries have kept pace. Administrator salaries have exploded.

I will ask the same question I asked Morty Schapiro in 2004.

Grant for the moment that Morty’s $400,000 annual package is fair and appropriate. But, certainly at some point, the President’s salary would be too high. How high is too high? At what point should I, as an alum asked to donate time and money, start to worry that the College is paying its President too much? If I am at this same event five years from now, would there be any problem with the President’s salary being $500k or $800k or $2 million?

If a complete mediocrity like Falk, the worst Williams president since World War II, is being paid $750,000 all-in, where does this trend end?

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“PEN America Applauds ‘Well-Formulated’ Guidelines on Campus Free Speech…” (pen.org)

https://pen.org/press-release/new-well-formulated-campus-free-speech-policy-by-williams-college/

PEN America responded favorably to the committee report at Williams in the press release linked above:

“This is a well-formulated document which offers solid recommendations for future policies and their implementation. We are gratified that our work proved useful to the Committee and hope that these new Williams guidelines provide a solid foundation for the firm defense of free speech and open discourse in the years to come.”

The press release emphasized the importance of prioritizing inclusion along with free speech:

“…we read its report to affirm an unshakeable dedication to precepts of academic freedom and protection for speech, while going beyond that to reflect how these values can be robustly defended in the context of the College’s principled commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion.”

Importantly, PEN America pointed out that it can be beneficial for colleges to form their own policies rather than adopting the policies of other institutions, such as the Chicago Statement:

“We have also recognized the need for institutions to develop their own policies through deliberations that engage students, faculty, administrators, and staff and yield results that enjoy a sense of ownership across the campus community. Williams has modeled such an approach.”

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Banned in Chicago

I was a little startled to learn that DDF has been banned over at the Why Evolution is True blogsite.

This is the on-line home of Jerry Coyne, one of our nation’s most outspoken  public intellectuals. He is a Harvard trained evolutionary biologist. Along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, Coyne is one of the world’s most prominent “New Atheists.”

Coyne’s blogsite, Why Evolution is True, reportedly has over 50,000 e-mail subscribers. Lately, Coyne has been especially supportive of Luana Maroja, a fellow biologist. He has used his highly visible site to bring the free speech standards of the Chicago Principles to Williams College.

Earlier, Coyne cited a number of my comments on the Sawacki Report and published them on his site. I was surprised when DDF subsequently went after Coyne and accused him of being a fool. What?! I later got an e-mail from Coyne indicating he was offended by DDF’s words and that the intellectual skirmish had continued over at Why Evolution is True. Coyne posted the following statement on his blog:

After letting you use my site to direct traffic to yours, I will ban you for insulting the host (what a rude person you are in your post, a characteristic you must have gotten from the woke Williams students).

First, though, since you had the temerity to call me a fool, let me reply that you are an arrant jackass. The only “mistake” I made in my post was characterizing the universities who use the Chicago Principles as “adopting them” rather than, as the FIRE site says, the 65 schools “Have adopted or endorsed the Chicago Statement or a substantially similar statement.”

Read more

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Fox News Alert

Jonathan Butcher just posted a piece at the Fox News website criticizing the failure of Williams College to protect freedom of speech by adopting the Chicago principles.

Freedom of speech? Not allowed at politically correct liberal Williams College

He is alarmed about an article in The College Fix that reported one of biology professor Luana Maroja’s colleagues had “threatened violence” if Williams adopted the Chicago statement. As Butcher writes:

No, Williams is not a public school. Its trustees and administrators have the right to set whatever campus policies they see fit. But considering how quickly the campus “conversation” on free speech escalated from a discussion of mutual respect to threats of violence, Williams’ students and faculty are right to ask: “Will I be threatened when I speak out on campus? And do I want to live in a place like that?”

Butcher’s recommendation is the school require mandatory sessions on free speech during first year orientation – and “…explain that hiding from ideas with which you disagree is a poor strategy for life.”

Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy.

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Jerry, Luana and Me

Unfortunately, I think DDF is overly optimistic about the eventual results of the Sawicki Report. I read the report looking for evidence freedom of speech was perfectly safe and I didn’t see it. Neither did Jerry Coyne.

As you may know, Coyne is one of our nation’s most influential public intellectuals. He is a Harvard trained evolutionary biologist who is now most well-known as a prominent anti-theist. Along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, I think of Coyne as one of the world’s most prominent “New Atheists.” Coyne’s blogsite, Why Evolution is True, reportedly has over 50,000 e-mail subscribers. I’m grateful Coyne has focused attention on the free speech conflict at Williams College. He has been especially supportive of Luana Majora and has used his highly visible blogsite platform to publicize her plight.

Nevertheless, DDF went after Coyne. He went so far as to suggest Coyne is a “fool.” As far as I can tell, DDF believes the Sawicki Report will lead to a rebirth of freedom of speech because,  as DDF notes, the report ties the school’s policies to the standards set by both the AAUP and PEN. The central issue is whether this is enough?

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Global Warning

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The College Fix

The College Fix torched the Sawicki Report this morning and highlighted the reactions of those of us who were hoping Williams College would adopt the free speech absolutism of the Chicago Principles including Jerry Coyne, Luana Majora and me.

Ethan Berman, a student at the University of Texas-Austin, criticizes the Sawicki Report saying “…this ad hoc committee on ‘Inquiry and Inclusion’ instead gave the administration plenty of loopholes to regulate both student and faculty speech, including a ‘feedback’ protocol that resembles a community-wide heckler’s veto.”

The article favorably quotes the pessimistic views of Jerry Coyne, a top leader of the New Atheist movement, who asserts it is impossible to reconcile freedom of speech and inclusiveness, and silly to think the Sawicki Report will fix things. “If Mandel and the committee thinks that this policy will quell the discontent of Williams’s woke students when they return this fall,” Coyne writes, “they are sorely mistaken.”

On a positive note, the article report  Coyne was pleased that the committee report dropped an idea floated earlier that would have required each student group to have a faculty advisor who would discuss “the appropriateness of a speaker and its effect on the College community.”

The College Fix interviewed Williams biology professor Luana Majora who indicated she was “relieved” the report was “not as terrible” as she feared it might have been. Maroja told The Fix that she agrees with Coyne’s take “for the most part.” “I thought [the report] would require an ‘advisor’ approval all invited speakers,” as Coyne feared, Maroja wrote in an email. “We will see what the fall brings to us.” Read more

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Sawicki Report, 6

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 6.

What follows are many small comments. If you think I should expand this into another week(s) of posts, speak now. Otherwise, this series ends today. It is possible that the free speechers on the Committee would agree with many of these but were forced by committee dynamics to pull their punches in order to reach consensus on the AAUP/PEN standards. If so, I withdraw my criticism.

1) Including PEN as part of the discussion with AAUP was a mistake. AAUP is, by far, the most important US organization concerned with academic freedom. It will be fighting this fight, and on the right side, 100 years from now. Will PEN? I have my doubts.

2) Why was PEN’s work so prominent in the Report? Presumably because committee member Eli Miller ’21 worked there last summer. Or maybe Miller was picked because his work at PEN suggested he would be a free-speecher?

3) Note how often the Report references and quotes from the College’s ​2017 Accreditation Self-Study (pdf). Key line: “Williams starts from a presumption of absolute intellectual and academic freedom as one of our foundational values.” Who put that there? And was it intended to set the stage for the repudiation of Falk’s decision? If so, well played Steve Fix!

4) I appreciate that the Report includes an extensive appendix. Future historians will thank you! But that makes it all the more desirable/possible that the main body of the Report be concise. Put all the extra stuff — Maud’s charge to the Committee, the list of groups met with — in the appendix.

5) How does a well-written report start?

That is from the Self-Study. I hope that the authors of the forthcoming “statement on expression and inclusion” can be as eloquent.

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Sawicki Report, 5

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 5.

This isn’t over until John Derbyshire speaks at Williams.

Consider this a public service message to the Williams administration. I, and the thousands (?) of other Ephs who value academic freedom and “uncomfortable learning” are pleased that Mandel has fixed Falk’s failure. But we are concerned. Has Williams really turned the corner on this disaster? Is the College really committed to this old/new policy? We hope so. But we can’t be sure until the policy is tested, until John Derbyshire, or someone just as “extreme” comes to Williams.

Why? Because I don’t want to fight this battle again in five or ten years. I want to ensure the supremacy of academic freedom at Williams for a generation. Some smart observers, like abl, believe that insisting on Derbyshire’s return is more likely than not to hurt the cause of academic freedom at Williams. Perhaps. But I have a more Marine Corps view of the world . . .

John Derbyshire speaking at Williams will shut down the speaker-banners for years. If Derbyshire can come to Williams — and somehow the College continues to thrive — then there is no reason why person X can’t come.

Given that fact — that Derbyshire is coming, one way or another — what should Williams do? Invite him, of course! It is much better that Derbyshire’s speech be organized (and controlled) by Williams than that it occur as a half-assed student-run disaster. There are many options:

1) Invite Derbyshire to give a stand-alone speech, ideally the same speech he was planning to give three years ago. (Derbyshire’s opinions about immigration are among his least problematic.)

2) Arrange a debate, perhaps using the format of the old Williams College Debate Union, between Derbyshire and a member of the Williams faculty, each partnered with a student. If Williams is smart, it would make the topic of the debate be something like: Trump should be re-elected. This will focus the discussion on topics on which Derbyshire’s opinions are positively mainstream. (A majority of white Americans will probably vote for Trump.)

3) Schedule a week-long conference on a broad topic, like “American Populism,” perhaps looking to Darel Paul’s course PSCI 360 Right-Wing Populism for guidance on topics and speakers. Derbyshire would speak, but he would just be one voice among many. There would be just as many critics of populism as supporters.

Again, it is not for me to pick the format. My only promise is that Derbyshire is coming to Williams, one way or the other. Better that the College embrace this latest bit of uncomfortable learning. Make Gaudino proud!

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Sawicki Report, 4

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 4.

One key message from the Sawicki Report: The kids are not alright. From the student survey:

20% supported speaker disinvitation

22% consider themselves or others to be disrespected or hurt when certainoutside speakers are brought to campus

19% responded that, by inviting a speaker to campus, Williams is implicitlyagreeing with that speaker’s beliefs.

It gets worse:

Is nonsense like “foolish white liberal thought” the result of poor high school educations or the fault of poisoning from social justice left Williams professors?

Maud makes the point that students today are different than students 30, perhaps even 10, years ago. They are much less committed to academic freedom. True! And shouldn’t that make us worried, both for the future of Williams and the future of the West? How long before we lose the traditional rights of every Englishman?

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Sawicki Report, 3

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 3.

The smartest thing that the Committee did was to pretend that there wasn’t a problem:

Very clever! But also a little dishonest . . .

The “official policy” at Williams for the last three years is that the Williams President reserves the right to ban speakers. Then-President Adam Falk began this disaster in 2016 with:

We [Williams College] have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it. We’ve found the line.

Then-Interim-President Tiku Majumder re-affirmed this policy in 2018 — just last year! — insisting that Williams would ban speakers who “provide no benefit in moving forward the conversation we are interested in fostering.”

This policy, consistent over the last two Williams presidencies, was never changed. Sawicki et al (conveniently!) pretend that it has changed or (even better?) pretend that it never existed in the first place. “Majumder” does not appear in the 75 (!) page Report. The body of the Report mentions Falk exactly once, never quotes him and fails to provide a single citation to anything he said or wrote.

Falk was airbrushed out of the history of free speech at Williams. And that was pretty clever! Why bother meeting your intellectual opponents on the field of battle when you can just pretend they don’t exist? Declare victory and move on.

Again, given its goals, this was a politically adroit decision by the Committee. But I would still like to see the College have a wide open discussion. How about a debate between Majumder and Shanks? How about inviting Falk back to campus?

That is what Gaudino would do . . .

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Sawicki Report, 2

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 2.

The two biggest failures of the report — given their recommendation that Williams, in essence, adopt the Chicago Principles — were to not discuss a) Mark Hopkins’ decision to ban Ralph Waldo Emerson from speaking on campus, and b) Robert Gaudino’s claims about the importance of “uncomfortable learning.”

1) The Report, while well-written in places, was disjointed, clearly the result of a committee, perhaps a committee which was not as united as it ought to have been. A better chair than Sawicki might have recognized this and used her power as chair to, at least, write an Introduction which told the story of Mark Hopkins and Ralpha Waldo Emerson.

That is from page 162 of ​Mark Hopkins and the Log by Professor Frederick Rudolph ’39. The Report cites this book, but did anyone actually read it? I have my doubts. How about?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most important thinkers of the 19th century, was banned from speaking at Williams in November 1865, by Mark Hopkins, legendary president and occupant of one half of the proverbial Log. For more than 150 years afterwards, Williams upheld the highest standards of academic freedom, never banning a book, an idea or a speaker. Are we a College which bans or are we not?

OK, OK. This is not so good. But it isn’t bad! And the basic idea — that a well-written description of the most important example of speaker-banning in Williams history is the best way to start the Report — is spot on. Indeed, whatever committee is charged with writing “a statement on expression and inclusion” should steal this idea. You’re welcome!

2) Robert Gaudino is the one of the most important faculty members of the last 100 years. But don’t believe me! Recall Adam Falk’s (?!) Induction Address:

Liberal education strengthens the mind and spirit so that a human being may more fully engage the world. Since Mark Hopkins’ time a string of Williams educators has further developed this idea. In the middle of the last century Professor Robert Gaudino pushed his charges to learn uncomfortably, in India, in rural America, in situations within the classroom and without that challenged the safe and familiar worlds they’d brought with them. If Mark Hopkins was the first professor to ask his students, “What do you think?” then Gaudino and others, including faculty of today, have raised the asking of that question, with all its implicit challenge, to a form of art.

Our faculty walk in the footsteps of Hopkins, Gaudino, and so many others.

Falk recognized, correctly, that Gaudino was one of the most important figures in recent Williams history, second only to Mark Hopkins in his influence on how Ephs think about themselves and about the education they receive. Gaudino’s notion of “uncomfortable learning” is central to the debate about free speech. This excellent article (pdf) from the Alumni Review provides a sense of what Robert Gaudino would do if a controversial speaker were invited to campus.

gaud1

And yet the Committee seemed not to know about this! There are no (meaningful) mentions of Robert Gaudino in the report, no acknowledgment that the very name of the student group — “Uncomfortable Learning” — that invited Derbyshire was a direct reference to his vision of a Williams liberal arts education.

What a missed opportunity!

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Jerry Coyne is a Fool

My co-blogger JCD approvingly quotes from this pile of nonsense from University of Chicago Professor Jerry Coyne. Sadly, our new experiment means that I can’t comment on JCD’s post. So, I need to post here.

Note that Coyne and I are on the same side of the barricade when it comes to free speech at Williams and Chicago. Yet his comments are too ignorant to let stand.

The committee’s statement does not constitute a policy.

This is simply false, as I explained in detail this morning. Williams has accepted the AAUP/PEN recommendation of allowing any Williams student/professor to invite any speaker. Admittedly, there is plenty of turgid prose and SJW verbosity in much of the report but such sins do not provide Coyne with free rein to mislead his readers.

Associate Professor of Biology Luana Maroja wrote a post calling for Williams to adopt the Chicago Principles of Free Expression, which have already been endorsed by 64 American colleges and universities.

This is highly misleading. I realize that Chicagoans, like Coyne, think that their “Principles” are super-duper cool but — News Flash! — schools believed in academic freedom before the Chicago faculty whipped up a poorly worded statement in 2014. Trying to claim credit for changing/strengthening/affecting the views of every other school is nonsense. The list that Coyne links to includes Amherst, and yet a search of the Amherst website reveals zero hits for “Chicago Principles”. How can then be if Amherst has “endorsed” it? Answer: It hasn’t! Amherst has its own statement. In fact, its statement references the AAUP, just like Williams’.

On some dimensions, it is a small thing for Coyne to not know which schools have approved the Chicago Principles and which have not. But he is holding himself out as someone with a clue about this topic, someone qualified to opine on what is happening at Williams. He isn’t.

The 13-person committee appointed by Mandel included just five faculty, as well as four undergraduates, a rabbi, a librarian, a staff therapist, and, bizarrely, the director of the 50th reunion program.

Don’t you just love Coyne’s snottiness? Jerry Coyne is an intellectual, a man with ideas. Mark Roberston ’02 (the director of the 50th reunion program) is a . . . what, exactly?

I happen to know Mark. He is every bit as smart, every bit as thoughtful as Coyne (appears) to (sometimes) be. In fact, I would much more trust Mark to get the facts correct. Coyne is, at least in this post, absurdly sloppy.

But the report isn’t great, as it simply won’t unqualifiedly endorse the Chicago Principles.

As if the Chicago Principles are so wonderful? As if the first page of ass-kissing quotes of former/current Chicago Presidents isn’t an embarrassment? Consider:

What folderol! What would it even mean to “endorse” such trivialities? Think that I am cherry-picking the worst paragraph in a two (!) page report? How about:

Of course, College presidents spout a lot of feel-good nonsense. It is a part of the job. But for Coyne to pretend that the “Chicago Principles of Free Expression” are some sort of magical tablet, brought down from the Mountain by the intellectual giants on the Chicago Faculty is just absurd. Mark Roberts ’02, despite (because of?!) his lack of a Ph.D., could come up with something much more impressive.

There are another half-dozen mistakes/misunderstandings/stupidities in Coyne’s post. Shall I go through them? Let me know!

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Fatal Flaw

CHICAGO – The distinguished free speech absolutist, Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, has reviewed the Sawicki Report and found it disappointing. To be more precise, he calls it “lame” and labels it “long and turgid.”

The only thing Coyne likes about the report is it dropped the suggestion floated earlier by Jana Sawicki at Inside Higher Education that each student group should have a faculty adviser who would “…talk with the club members about whether they’d thought through how the speaker’s views would affect their peers.”

Ultimately, Coyne asserts it is impossible to combine freedom of speech with inclusion and diversity.

Setting an example of simplicity and grace, Coyne introduces his article with a short and easy to understand summary of the Sawicki Report and its most significant and fatal flaw. “The committee’s statement does not constitute a policy,” he writes. “…it’s a farrago of good intentions and desires to balance free speech with diversity and inclusion. But it offers no guidelines about what speech is to be seen as “hate speech” that threatens “dignitary safety” and therefore subject to institutional action.”

Fans of Ephblog will note that Jerry Coyne quotes liberally from my recent Ephblog article accessing the Sawicki Report. As you may know, Jerry Coyne is a prominent “New Atheist” along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Reportedly, Coyne’s Why Evolution is True blogsite has over 50,000 e-mail subscribers.

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

 

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Sawicki Report, 1

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 1.

I agree with 90% of the report. Read it and you’ll know what I think. But that’s not why you come to EphBlog! What follows are all the usual quibbles, complaints, idle speculations and endzone dances . . .

The Sawicki Report recommends that Williams “[a]dhere to policies and principles regarding campus speakers articulated by AAUP and PEN America.” This is the most (only?) important recommendation. Once you have tied your policies to the free speech absolutists at AAUP and PEN, everything else is boring details.

May I take a victory lap?

1) Maud has done exactly what I advised Falk to do three years ago:

Smart presidents use committees! With luck, Falk has already learned that lesson in the debate over the log mural. He should follow the same strategy in dealing with free speech. Create a “Committee on Freedom of Expression at Williams.” Appoint a cross-section of faculty/students/alumni, but with a sotto voce emphasis on free speech. Charge the Committee with reviewing the history of free speech debates at Williams, meeting with members of the College community, and recommending policy going forward. Best person to put in charge? Philosophy Professor Joe Cruz ’91.

This is precisely what Maud did, although she used a different professor of philosophy (Sawicki instead of Cruz) and a different committee name. (The key sotto voce free speechers on the committee were Strauch, Shanks and (maybe?) Nelson and Sawicki herself.)

2) I predicted this outcome last fall. Maud wanted to move Williams back to free speech. She followed EphBlog’s advice — actually the same advice would have been given by any knowledgeable observer of elite education — and, unsurprisingly, succeeded. Well done!

3) Kudos to abl who wrote:

If I were trying to engineer a committee to achieve my desired result, I would stack it with faculty members who I know agree with my position and students who don’t (but aren’t so entrenched to be unpersuadable–like students who have signed the petition but not taken more of a public role in the issue), and hope to get to a “bipartisan” proposal that relies on persuading the students in question.

Which is exactly what happened. (I was, incorrectly, much less sanguine about the Committee’s likelihood of success.) Although student members Michael Crisci ’21 and Rachel Porter ’21 had signed the student/alumni position against the Chicago Principles, Shanks/Strauch/others were able to bring them around.

4) Note that reliance on AAUP, first (?) suggested by EphBlog in February.

The best way to solve the controversy over “free speech” (and controversial speakers) at Williams is to reframe the discussion around one of our core values: academic freedom.

First, every Williams faculty member will agree that every Williams professor deserves untrammeled “academic freedom.”

Second, every Williams faculty member will agree that the best definer and defender of “academic freedom” is the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Academic Freedom -> AAUP -> All Invited Speakers Welcome

And so on. Did Sawicki get this idea from EphBlog? I don’t know. Great minds think alike, after all. But I did send it in via the Committee’s handy submission form . . . and note this line from the Report:

Given that no one has written more words, read by more students/alumni/faculty, about free speech at Williams over the last three years, at least one footnote to EphBlog would have been nice. But we will take what we can get!

4) Apologies for the navel-celebration. But this has worked out exactly how we wanted, in exactly the manner we forecast.

And that is why — I hope! — you read EpgBlog . . .

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Free Speech Wins at Williams

John Derbyshire will be coming to Williams.

BREAKING NEWS: Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, free speech has returned to Williams.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion — chaired by Professor of Philosophy Jana Sawicki — has issued (pdf) their final report. Key paragraph:

In the absence of an institutional statement on the foundational values of intellectual and academic freedom, the College has aimed to follow the guidelines of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). These hold that academic freedom affords faculty members unfettered discretion in inviting speakers to campus, and that students, too, should be able to “invite and hear anyone of their own choosing,” as long as the events are “conducted in a manner appropriate to an academic community.” Current Williams policies for speaker invitations are consistent with these guidelines.

There is a lot of material here. Should I spend one, two or three weeks going through it? Reader preferences sought!

Td;dr: Hooray, Maud! The old policy at Williams — the Falk Rule — was that the Williams College president could ban speakers. The new policy — the Mandel Rule? — is that any Eph (including staff?) may invite any speaker.

And that is just what EphBlog has always recommended.

UPDATE: See below for Maud’s message.

For branding purposes, I vote that we go with “The Sawicki Report.” This is a nice parallel to the two other most important documents out of Williams in the last twenty years: The MacDonald Report and The Dudley Report.

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EphBlog Loves Love

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

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College Council Meeting Notes

The College Council provides a solid archive of meeting notes, going back to 2009. Still, I am very sad that it does not go back further. Who else remembers the glorious notes of Jonathan Landsman ’05?

Sadly, CC refuses (?) to make the notes for current meetings publicly available, even to alumni and local residents. Pathetic. Fortunately, we have our sources!

The April 16 minutes are available to students. The central debate about WIFI is covered fairly well.

The April 23 minutes are not available for download, even to students. But our sources are clever, so they provided some screen shots. See below the break. Example:

A full zip archive of meeting notes since 2016 is here.

Key points:

1) It was stupid for the Falk administration to change the rules and force student groups to seek recognition from College Council even if they were not seeking funding. (Falk and Co did this to make life more difficult for dissident groups like Uncomfortable Learning.) Student organizations can be trusted with many important decisions — selecting JAs, distributing funding — but not with this one.

2) Excessive student powers will be used against all unpopular groups, not just those unpopular with the Administration. By the way, BDS has yet to hit Williams in a big way. What happens when it does?

3) If Maud is smart, she will change the Student Handbook this summer to allow any student group to be created by simply submitting a form with the Dean’s Office. This will allow the group access to all the basic tools — like room reservations — that it needs to function. CC does not need to fund it, but they can’t ban it.

4) There are plenty of rich Jewish alumni that Maud will try to raise money from over the next few years. What do you think their views are on this topic?

5) College Council should just make its meeting notes and livestream public. The truth will come out anyway and, perhaps more important, a public livestream encourages better behavior from your guests.

Screen shots of minutes for April 23:

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Official College Reports

We have not done a good job of archiving various College reports over the years. (And, of course, it is beyond pathetic that Williams itself mostly fails to do so.) So, as a reminder, let’s review some of them here.

1962: The Angevine Report (pdf). This is the single most important Williams document of the last 100 years. It led to the elimination of fraternities at Williams. Isn’t it embarrassing that the College doesn’t host a copy of the report on its own servers?

2002: The MacDonald Report (pdf). This led to a dramatic decrease in the admissions preferences given to athletes. The College actively refuses to make this report publicly available. This discussion was updated in the “2009 Report by the Athletics Committee: Varsity Athletes and Academics” (pdf).

2005: The Dudley Report (pdf) which led to the creation of Neighborhood Housing, the single biggest failure at Williams in the last few decades. Note also the CUL reports from 2002 and 2003 which paved the way to this disaster.

2005: Williams Alcohol Task Force Report. Sadly, I don’t have a pdf of this report. Does anyone? The issue of alcohol is a perennial one at places like Williams. Whatever committee tackles it next should start by reading this report. I think that this was a follow up to the 2004 Report on Alcohol Policy (pdf).

2005: Diversity Initiatives. I think (but can’t find it right now) that the College does maintain a (pdf) of this report. The Record should do a story about what has happened in the last decade.

2008: Waters Committee Report (doc) which led to the elimination of the Williams in New York program. Professor Robert Jackall, creator of WNY, wrote this response (doc) and this memorandum (doc). See the October 2008 faculty meeting notes (pdf) for more discussion. Future historians might argue that this report was more important than the MacDonald report since it highlighted a turn inwards by Williams.

2008: A Report from Williams is a summary/celebration of the Aim High capital campaign.

2009-2010: The Neighborhood Review Committee began the process of dismantling the Neighborhood system. There were two interim reports (part I and part II) and two final reports (part I and part II).

2016: The Merrill Committee Report (pdf), also known as the “Report and Recommendations on the Log Mural” from the Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History. This committee showed Williams at its very best, handling a potentially difficult situation with thoughtfulness, in an effort featuring significant student leadership (especially from Jake Bingaman ’19 and Matthew Hennessy ’17). Kudos to all involved!

There are other reports that should be added. Suggestions? I think that I will turn this into an annual post, with updates as needed. Would any readers like to spend a week going through the details of one of these reports?

If we won’t remember Williams history, who will?

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October 17 Faculty Meeting Agenda

Dear Colleagues:

We look forward to seeing you at the faculty meeting on October 17 at 4:00 p.m. in Griffin 3.

The agenda and related materials are attached to this email.

Best,

The Faculty Steering Committee & Maud Mandel, President of the College
Sara Dubow (Chair), Division II
Colin Adams, Division III
Michelle Apotsos, Division I
Matt Carter, Division III
Aparna Kapadia, Division II
Amanda Wilcox, Division I

———–
Here are the materials (pdf), well-written and thoughtful as always. Any insiders with opinions?

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Report of the Honor Committee 2016 — 2017

Reports from the Honor Committee are always worth reading. Let’s save permanent copies for the last three years: 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Below the break, I have saved permanent copies going back 15 years. Comments:

1) The last three years have featured 19, 18 and 23 cases, similar to the 10 year average. Recall our discussion about the 34 cases in 2017-2018, for which we do not yet have a report. Are Williams students cheating more or is the College more diligent in catching them?

2) The Committee deserves praise for being so transparent in telling us what happened and why. Example from 2016-2017:

Transparency is wonderful, because it both discourages future cheating and helps build community consensus about unacceptable behavior and the appropriate punishments thereto.

3) But even more transparency would be better. In some reports (as above) they make clear the gender of the student. That is good! If cheating is more male than female (or vice versa) then we have a better idea about where to devote our educational efforts. Another location for increased transparency is reports like this one:

Besides gender and class year, it would be good to know the specific course, or at least the department. If cheating is more common in Chemistry or in Division III, then that is where we should focus our efforts.

What is your favorite case from 2016 — 2017?

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Form 990 History

Purpose of this post, updated once a year, is to maintain our history of the Form 990s issued by Williams. (Thanks to John Wilson ’64 for leading the charge on these efforts over the years.)

Form 990 is an IRS requirement filed by all US non-profits. It is a confusing document that has changed significantly over the years. See here for background reading. Williams only provides versions going back to 2009. Future historians will thank us for archiving older versions: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In fact, because Williams occasionally hides things that it once made public, let’s go ahead and save the more recent filings: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Should I spend a week going through the latest version?

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Faculty Meeting Next Week

Given that this material, sent out to 300+ people, is essentially public, the College ought to just publish it on the web page for the Dean of the Faculty.

Dear Colleagues:

We look forward to seeing you at the first faculty meeting of the semester on September 12 at 4:00 p.m. in Griffin 3. At the end of the meeting, there will be a small reception in Griffin to welcome the new faculty.

The agenda and related materials are attached to this email.

Best,

The Faculty Steering Committee & Maud Mandel, President of the College
Sara Dubow (Chair), Division II
Colin Adams, Division III
Michelle Apotsos, Division I
Matt Carter, Division III
Aparna Kapadia, Division II
Amanda Wilcox, Division I

Notice anything interesting in the pdf?

I enjoyed this whine:

1. Apparently (?) some faculty complained that the tuition grant is not as generous as they had assumed because other colleges discount financial aid awards accordingly. Questions:

a) What is the current tuition grant? I have a vague memory that it is half of Williams tuition. Or is it half of whatever the tuition charge is?

b) Is this grant just for faculty or for all staff? If it is for everyone, that it must be pretty expensive. If it is just faculty, then how does the College get away with such a benefit? (My understanding is that any organization needs to be very careful when it makes benefits non-uniform across employees.)

c) How does the College handle this for employees who send their kids to Williams? The right approach is to treat all students/families the same.

2) I like the explicit statement that the College reserves the right to change/end this absurd program. (And note how unfair it is to faculty who either don’t have children and/or don’t send their children to college.) We ought to end it now, at least for new hires.

The best way to predict the behavior of Williams is to imagine that it run by a cabal of clever insiders, intent on milking the institution for everything they can, financially and otherwise. Further evidence:

It is bad enough that the College offers any mortgage assistance at all. What are we running? A bank? Faculty should borrow money just like the rest of us! But notice the increasing levels of sleaze here. It used to be that the College would only subsidize your primary residence. Now, you can have one house wherever you like — and, of course, it is pathetic that the College has faculty who reside elsewhere — and then the College will subsidize a second home for you in Williamstown.

Perhaps the good news is that, when the next financial crisis hits, there will be plenty of fat to cut . . .

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MacDonald Report

Lest it disappear forever, here (pdf) is a copy of the 2002 MacDonald Report, originally entitled Report on Varsity Athletics by Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Athletics. (Thanks for Professor Alan White for providing EphBlog with this copy, a much easier to read version than the one we have been using for the last decade.)

Should we spend a week on changes Williams athletics in the 16 years after the report?

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Provost Presentation at Alumni Leadership Weekend

Provost Dukes Love kindly shared the slides (pdf) from the presentation he gave on Saturday May 5 to the muckety-mucks at the Alumni Leadership event. Thanks! Dukes is EphBlog’s favorite member of the Williams Administration because he is so committed to transparency, as every real academic should be. (Provost Will Dudley ’89, on the other hand, refused to share his presentations from similar events.)

Lots of interesting material, like this chart:

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.16.19 PM

Worth spending a few days going through in detail?

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April Faculty Meeting Materials: No More Sex with Students!

From: Faculty Steering Committee
Date: Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 1:26 PM
Subject: April 11 Faculty Meeting Agenda
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues:

We look forward to seeing you at the next faculty meeting on April 11 at 4:00 p.m. in Griffin 3. The agenda and related materials are attached to this email.

Best,

Tiku Majumder, Interim President of the College
The Faculty Steering Committee
Safa Zaki (Chair), Division II
Colin Adams, Division III
Matt Carter, Division III
Annelle Curulla, Division I
Edan Dekel, Division I
Gregory Mitchell, Division II

Materials here.

Biggest change (I think) is from the current faculty handbook which says: “All faculty are in a position of power with regard to students; hence, sexual relationships between faculty and students are almost always inappropriate.” Proposal is to replace this with:

All faculty are in a position of power with regard to undergraduate students; hence, sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students are prohibited. Sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students put claims of consent in question. It is difficult for a student to be certain of the motives of a member of the faculty. A person in a position of authority cannot be certain that the student’s consent is genuine, rather than motivated by an unspoken fear of the consequences of not consenting. In addition, a sexual relationship with a student may raise questions of unfair academic advantage or of unwarranted negative evaluation. These questions may adversely affect the educational environment of other students, as well as the student directly involved. Should any of these questions arise, sexual discrimination is at issue.

I expect the change to pass and would vote Yes. I hope that the Record follows up on this:

The Dean of the Faculty may grant exemptions to this policy in reasonable cases of pre-existing relationships. Any faculty member who wishes to request such an exemption should submit a written statement to the Dean of the Faculty explaining the reasons for the request. The Dean of the Faculty shall provide a response in writing to the faculty member and the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX coordinator.

Does Professor Jim Shephard’s relationship with his wife (and former student) Karen Shepard ’87 require retro-active permission from the Dean of the Faculty? Just curious!

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Report on Building

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 11.24.57 AM

The March 2018 Report on Building (pdf) is an amazing document. Kudos to Provost Dukes Love and his staff (especially friend-of-EphBlog Chris Winters ’95) for putting this together and for making it public!

There are a dozen days or more of material here. Should I go through it in detail?

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March Faculty Meeting

The March faculty meeting is tomorrow. See (here) for the relevant material. Comments:

1) Thanks to our sources! At some point, we will create a full collection of faculty meeting material. To see what we already have, start here.

2) Given that these documents are sent to 300+ people, they ought to just be posted publicly, especially since they represent Williams at its best.

3) I don’t see much of interest here. Do you? I would probably vote against this:

In addition to the divisional motions, there will be motions for proposals by the Theatre Department and the Dance Department to provide a record of student participation in productions and in studio courses, respectively, in the form of a 0.5 partial credit fifth course that would not count towards the 32 courses needed for graduation, analogous to the credit offered for lessons and some small ensemble participation in Music.

I don’t see a reason to load up the transcript, or bother the registrar, with this sort of stuff. Contrary opinions welcome!

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December 2016 Faculty Meeting Notes

These (pdf) are the notes for the faculty meeting held in December 2016, as distributed at the next faculty meeting in February 2017. Worth going through in detail?

Perhaps an anonymous source could send me these notes for the last year or so (daviddudleyfield at gmail)? Given that these documents are distributed to 250+ (300+?) people at Williams, there is no reason to keep them hidden. More transparency, please!

UPDATE: Here (pdf) are the Faculty Meeting Notes for October 2008.

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