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Culture of Open Antagonism

One of my favorite conservative blogsites,, has helped spread the word about what Maud Mandel has referred to as a “culture of open antagonism” at Williams College. Glenn Reynolds posted:

They told me if Donald Trump were elected president, America’s institutions would become hotbeds of racism and hate. And they were right! Black students explode in anger at white students in vulgarity-laced rant (VIDEO).

Plus: “We try to create space for us, it don’t work. We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***king chicken and be n*****s for once, it don’t work. I just don’t get it.”

The folks who commented on Reynolds’ above post seem to a better grasp of the origins of this culture of open antagonism than she does.

The message, boiled down: “Give me money, and don’t ask any questions about it, or I’m going to brand you a racist.” These black students don’t ultimately care that they got the money. Instead, they are making a bid to rule the campus with fear.

This is the environment the Left is creating. It is ugly and chilling.

No one in the room had the decency to tell him his behavior was inappropriate and he should come back and speak when he calmed down? We are raising a generation of kneeling subjects…



“Why Aren’t You Listening?” — Full Livestream Reupload

For anyone who cares about the past, present, and future of Williams College, this video is a vital historical document of campus life in 2019. College Council’s decision to remove it from their Facebook page was, I assume, an unfortunate concession to student activist demands that all this stuff be kept under the table. I’m a current student who luckily saved a copy of the livestream from that meeting just before they took it down this weekend.


The Purple Rubble

The College Council has removed from its Facebook account a controversial video. This video captured an example of profane, incendiary, anti-white bigotry directed at white student representatives by one of the most prominent black student leaders at Williams College on June 9, 2019.

The video featured a long, stream-of-consciousness rant saying, in part, “…to be here is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day.”

“You want a discussion and dialogue. Here’s the f***ing dialog. We don’t have dialogue, because every time we try to talk to you we get shut down by the white moderate, white liberal bull***t.”

A link to the video was published on Ephblog on April 15, 2019. A partial transcript appeared at the Anonymous Political Scientist blog on that same day. Finally, The College Fix published a link to the video on April 19, 2019. The College Fix is a national-level conservative website where student journalists write on topics in higher education.

NOTE: A heavily redacted transcript of the June 9, 2019 meeting is still available at 4_9 Minutes.

According to the Williams Record, black student activists planned a demonstration to protest their treatment by the College Council. It was canceled, however, after links to the video rant were published at various on-line sites.


The Left Eats Its Own Café

Over at The College Fix this morning, there is an article by Rory Walsh reporting on the  shocking livestream video posted on Facebook by the College Council.

Black students explode in anger at white students in vulgarity-laced rant (VIDEO)

In his article, Walsh provides us with redacted examples of the profane language used by I.B. as he called out liberal white student representatives for the way they dealt with an earlier request by S.O. for funding for a preview event for black students.

“… It’s time for you’all to figure this sh*t out and check yourself because I’m really losing it,” he said. “We are f***ing tired of having to come and beg and suck d***. And of course when we come and do it we face problems all the f***ing time.”

“… Every time to be here is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day,” he said. “Closing our mouths every f***ing day just to be here. And if we dare ask for a little bit of time, money and space we gotta suck some more d***. … It is so frustrating. It’s so tiring … to be here. To deal with you’all.”

“We keep our heads down, it don’t work,” he said. “We try to create space for us, it don’t work. We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***king chicken and be n*****s for once, it don’t work. I just don’t get it.”

Walsh cites comments I made at my Anonymous Political Scientist blogsite too. He notes I had observed the video “…is an excellent example of the sort of political abuse that tore down Evergreen State College.”

Walsh reports that The College Fix attempted to reach several members of the College Council as well as administration for a statement. They have yet to respond.

The comments on Walsh’s article are generally adverse to the student activists.

Another tasty serving at The Left Eats Its Own Café.

What the Alt Left doesn’t understand is that white people aren’t out to get black people; they are just exhausted with them. They are exhausted by the social pathologies, the violence, the endless complaints, the blind racial solidarity, the bottomless pit of grievances, the excuses, and the reflexive animosity.

Williams is about as left wing as a functioning college can be. Blacks need to move across the river to SUNY Albany.

You’re not trying to create a community. You’re trying to create a segregated, black racist bubble. The campus in its entirety is your community, and if you don’t like it, you can always transfer.

Just for the record: I’m not Black and I love fried chicken.

According to his biography, Rory Walsh studies industrial labor relations, American politics, and business at Cornell University. He has interned for former New York Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. After completing his undergraduate degree he plans to study law and business.



College Censorship Anniversary



On or about two years ago today, Williams College began to censor historic artifacts founded by previous generations of Ephs. This mural in the log came from the World War Two generation. A war memorial that depicted Chief Hendrick Theyanoguin standing over a map being inspected by Ephraim Williams on the morning of the Bloody Morning Scout, during the battle of Lake George in 1755. Hendrick and Ephraim were both killed in combat during this joint reconnaissance mission.


Read About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Williams

King - record The Williams College Libraries conveniently maintain a PDF of the Williams Record coverage of Dr. King’s 1961 visit to Williams College.

John Kifner ’63 did the reporting for the Record. He would go on to receive the Williams Bicentennial Medal in 2002 after a storied career as a New York Times reporter at home and abroad, and in his reporting on Dr. King’s visit, readers can see a preview of his later reportage:

“Life at its best and as it should be lived is complete on all sides,” came the deep, vibrant voice from the pulpit.

A free chapel cut last Sunday brought the irony of the first [standing room only] audience at chapel within recent memory, with WMS piping the sermon to a large overflow in Baxter Hall…

The curious came away satisfied, for Dr. King is a vigorous and compelling speaker. After chapel, another overflow crowd awaited in Jesup Hall for a question and answer session on civil rights. Many had already attended his talk on the philosophy of non-violent resistance at the WCC dinner.

The reference to the “free chapel cut” is a reminder that — although students began to protest against mandatory religious worship even in the late 19th century — chapel remained compulsory at Williams College almost until the College became coeducational. By the 1960s, even the clergy were suggesting a change. Here’s Rev. Nicholas B. Phelps ’56, assistant rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, later in 1961 (also in the Record):

“A religious service is designed as an expression of the life of a community. The college chapel uses it as a means of education, which is fundamentally treacherous to the tradition to which you are trying to expose people.”

Back to Dr. King’s visit. In contrast to the usual newspaper format where the lead article would provide the facts of Dr. King’s visit, the longer of Kifner’s two Record articles is really an overview on Dr. King, the civil rights movement, and non-violent civil disobedience, leaving an account of Dr. King’s speech and activities to the brief sidebar, quoted above. That article gives only the briefest description of the substance of Dr. King’s sermon:

At chapel, King spoke on the “Three Dimension of the Complete Man.” The first dimension, length, he defined as the development of a rational and healthy self-interest. “Before we can love others adequately, we must love ourselves properly,” he stated.

Breadth, he defined as “concern for others . . . the ability to rise above individual concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” He cited the Good Samaritan as one who “projected the I into the Thou . . . . God, he said, is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.

The last dimension, height, is the ability to rise above the mere sensate of life, to grope for God and Faith…

Surprisingly, the Record ran no follow-up commentary to Dr. King’s visit, although in February, 1962, it did identify his speech as one of the four most newsworthy Williams moments of 1961 (alongside President Sawyer’s installation, an upset win over Amherst in football, and a run of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” at the AMT). And over time, it proved an occasion long remembered at Williams, one worth remembering as we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and legacy.


Throwback Thursday: Class of 1916


One hundred years ago, these men made up the Class of 1916 at Williams College. Not a very diverse group in appearance — or in ideology. As seniors, 70% identified as Republicans; just 10%, as Democrats. There were famous names, such as James A. Garfield, grandson of the American President and nephew of the then-College president, and Ferris M. Angevine, whose brother Jay’s name would forever be associated with the end of Williams fraternities.

The Class of 1916 was the last sophomore class to experience the Cane Rush, the class that sought abolition of the Gargoyle Society alongside establishment of student government, and was the last class to graduate Williams before the United States’ entry into the First World War.

I hope to present further snapshots (figuratively, as well as photographically) of the class of 1916 in the year ahead.


A Glimpse of Homecoming ’72

Homecoming 2015 is this weekend, marking the first visit by Amherst to the new Farley-Lamb Field. In the Williams of today, I hope there’s no need for advertisements like the top right one, published in the Williams RecordAdvocate during Homecoming Week in 1972:

1972 was still early in the coed transition at Williams, with the first female graduates walking the stage in 1971. Women would have been concentrated in the underclasses, making up about one-quarter of the freshmen and sophomore classes, and a lower proportion of the student body as a whole.

Do we have any readers who remember this ad (or maybe even someone on the “Ad Hoc Committee to promote social interaction”, and the social sense that triggered it? Perhaps dating patterns for Williams men were changing too sluggishly to accommodate the influx of women?

Eph men who got to know the first-year women of the class of 1972 met some remarkable (and lovely) Eph women. Among them, Susan Schwab ’76 and Carla Craig ’76, pictured below in the 1976 Gulielmensian.



Bronfman Science Center as a “Dubious” Proposition

50 Years Ago in the Williams Record, an editorial:

“The Smallness of Bigness”

With the Karl E. Weston Language Center, the Roper Public Opinion Center, the Van Rensselaer Public Affairs Center [and] the soon-to-be-constructed Bronfman Science Center . . . Williams College is running the risk of fragmenting the academic life of its students — much as the fraternities were criticized for fragmenting the student body and for mitigating against intergroup communication.

This is not to say that any of these centers is detracting from the general educational process. But there is, nevertheless, the possibility that Williams may soon offer programs as specialized as those offered in larger universities. The Bronfman Science Center, especially, seems dubious by the very fact that so few undergraduates will reap the benefits of its multi-million dollar facilities.

Williams must never sacrifice humanistic scope in favor of specialized obscurity. Already it has begun to succumb to the pressures of “bigness” and the need for fragmentation so apparent in contemporary educational trends… We certainly do not need a Berkshire Berkeley.

How has this critique held up today? Bronfman is coming down in 2018, to be replaced by an upgraded facility that will complement the equally-specialized Morley Science Laboratories, and, as foreseen, we have an array of ever more specialized buildings. Arguably, it is the humanities that have strayed into “specialized obscurity.” But the liberal-arts ideal seems has survived at Williams — the physical separation of academic spaces across majors and programs not imposing a boundary of academic experience.


The Haystack as a Living Symbol

Snow on the Haystack Monument, captured by Orion Howard via Flickr

Snow on the Haystack Monument, captured by Orion Howard via Flickr

For most Ephs, the Haystack Monument carries nothing more than historic and aesthetic significance.  And it is those things: it serves as a picturesque stop on a snowy campus snowshoe tour and a reminder that Williams College attained national significance far before U.S. News began publishing college rankings, before Mark Hopkins became a renowned educator, even before Henry David Thoreau visited Greylock.  But how many appreciate the Haystack Meeting and the Haystack Monument as a live religious symbol, an inspiration to millions of faithful Christians nationwide?

That’s the Haystack Monument as understood by Ronnie Floyd, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination of Protestant Christians in the United States (approximate membership: 16 million).  Floyd recently drew on the example of Samuel Mills & co. in a powerful address laying out his vision:

We must remember that it really all goes back to the Haystack Prayer Meeting. After praying, these five young men sang a hymn together. It was then that Samuel Mills said loudly over the rain and the wind, “We can do this, if we will!” That moment changed those men forever. Many historians would tell you that all mission organizations trace their history back to the Haystack Prayer Meeting in some way. Yes, these men turned the world upside down. And it all began in a prayer meeting under a haystack.

At the place where this meeting occurred, a monument stands today commemorating this historic God moment. At the top of that monument is the phrase, “THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.” Underneath those words is the following statement: “The Birthplace of American Foreign Missions. 1806.” It all happened from a prayer meeting.

This reminds me of the words written in Acts 4:31: “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.” Prayer, the power of God, evangelism, and missions all go together. We need to get ourselves back under the haystack!

Over the rain, wind, lightning, and claps of thunder when Samuel Mills declared to the other four young men, “We can do this, if we will!” he saw something before anyone else saw it. He saw that THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.

For Floyd, the Haystack is not just a matter of historical interest, as he actively draws on the example as he makes a call to the faithful to:


Before the awakenings and great movements of God in the past, many times God’s people have prayed as long as a decade or more before God moved mightily among the people. Therefore, I call upon us to return to the haystack!

We need to stop being so content doing ministry without moments under the haystack. We must return to the haystack, calling out to God extraordinarily, experiencing Him supernaturally, and exploding with a robust vision and commitment to advance the Gospel exponentially everywhere…


Sometimes we conduct ourselves like a bunch of theological Universalists who believe it will all work out okay for everyone. We must begin to believe in lostness again.

People need the Gospel of Jesus Christ beginning in our own villages, towns, and cities. Our pastors need to be injected with a vision and strategy to reach their own villages, towns, and cities.

According to missiologists, we live in a nation where three out of four people do not have a personal relationship with Christ. We live in a world with 7.275 billion people. Of these 7.275 billion people, just over 3 billion of these people are unreached. There is an additional 1.25 billion of these people who are engaged nominally. If we even come close to understanding the spiritual condition of our world and the need for the Gospel, we are facing a daunting challenge.

This is why we need to return to the haystack and come out from underneath it with a renewed belief and commitment to the power of God. Without His power, the task is overwhelming. Without His power, our insufficiency is exposed to the world.

It is time we emerge from underneath the haystack again and with the vision: THE FIELD IS THE WORLD. It is time we emerge from the haystack again with convictional, God-inspired leadership that declares as Samuel Mills did in 1806: “We can do this, if we will!”

With God’s power, we can reach America’s villages, towns, and cities. With God’s power, we can reach the world, penetrating the darkness of lostness globally. The field is the world… We can do this, if we will!

Even — or perhaps especially — for those of us who rarely look at this Williams icon through a religious lens, Floyd’s reliance on the legendary encounter among Ephs and God is enlightening. Read the whole thing.


Throw Back Thursday: Private Phones Arrive at Williams

In the pre cell-phone days, Williams College students reached their fellow Ephs by dialing their dorm rooms — often from outdoor phone boxes like the one pictured above.

That began fifty years ago this week, when the class of ’69 arrived on campus and benefited from the newest technological improvement to freshmen entries: dorm room phones. Prior to 1965, each entry had a shared phone, but over the summer of 1965, the College spent several thousand dollars to install private phones in every freshmen dorm room, and began charging students $5.28/month for phone service.

As College Business Manager Shane Riorden explained to the Record, the College heoped to “get students used to ‘accepting the responsibility of a private phone’ by introducing the students to them as freshmen.”

All of a sudden, calling up that Vassar student you met at a recent mixer became a much more private affair!


Julian Bond at Williams

2005 Commencement (Source: Williams College Archives)

2005 Commencement (Source: Williams College Archives)

Civil rights giant Julian Bond passed away last week at the age of 75. Co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, enactment of the Civil Rights Act enabled Bond to be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives — which refused to seat him. Bond took the legal fight over his election to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor 9-0, and Bond remained in the Georgia Legislature for the next two decades. A civil, calm, and eloquent face of the civil rights movement, he later became a professor at the University of Virginia and chairman of the NAACP, a post which he held for a decade.

During his career, Bond wasa repeat visitor to Williams. In April, 1969, he came to Williams to advocate “Community Socialism,” speaking in Thompson Chapel to a standing-room crowd. Later, he returned as an Arnold Bernhard ’25 visiting professor in 1992, a keynote speaker for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2000, and the Baccalaureate Speaker in 2005.

According to the April 15, 1969 Williams Record (pdf) Bond’s 1969 speech focused on his rejection of capitalism:

“Income for the many instead of profits for the few” should be the rationale of economic reform. Bond told the standing-room-only Chapel audience. He stated he was strongly opposed to the principle of single ownership. President Nixon’s
call for Black Capitalism, now termed Minority Entrepeneurshlp, would force the Black
poor “to adopt an economic systsm which hasn’t even worked for the whites,” Bond said. Unfortunately, a policy of “wholesome lives for many rather than profits for few” would not get a politician far in this country today,” Bond stated…

At present, “America’s Black poor constitute a colony within the larger white nation,” Bond continued. In this system of colonialization the mother country steals from the blacks and gives nothing in return, he said.

Bond, as pictured in the Williams Record, 1969

Bond, as pictured in the Williams Record, 1969

In his 2000 address, Bond began, as he often did, with the story of his grandfather’s rise from slavery to valedictory speaker, and then with the history of the NAACP, before moving into a strident condemnation of modern-day American society as racist and a demand for equality of outcome. Here’s an excerpt from the Record’s coverage :

After Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus James MacGregor Burns ’39 introduced Bond as a “healer” and unifier of the civil rights movement, Bond began his lecture by asking, “How do we speak about race in America without making people uncomfortable?” Race issues, he said, make people uncomfortable, but they must be discussed in spite of this.

Bond noted that only his father’s generation separates him from slavery. His grandfather was born in 1863 in Kentucky. At age 15, he walked across Kentucky to Berea College. Fifteen years later he graduated and gave the commencement address. Bond said his grandfather demonstrated the attitude that will change race relationships in America.

He berated those who want to replace race-based affirmative action with economic based affirmative action. “As long as race counts in America, we have to count race,” Bond argued.

He disparaged the failure of many cities to compile statistics on race motivated crimes, noting that without data, “there is no discrimination.”

The end of “American apartheid” in the 1960s has made it too easy to believe discrimination has disappeared when, in reality, Bond said, it has not. Polls have shown that inequalities still exist in educational opportunities and rates of success for minorities in America.

According to Bond, “race is a central fact of life for all non-white Americans.” He warned the audience about a “dangerous nostalgic narrative” in recent movies and books that eliminate civil rights violations and racial complexities from their portrayal of the past.

Bond’s 2005 Baccalaureate address began in the same place, with the story of his grandfather and the history of the NAACP. But it ended far more optimistically:

Most of those who made the movement were not famous; they were faceless. They were not notable; they were nameless – marchers with tired feet, protestors beaten back by fire hoses and billy clubs, unknown women and men who risked job and home and life.

As we will honor you graduates tomorrow for what you have achieved, so should you honor them for what they achieved for you.

They helped you learn how to be free.

They gave you the freedom to enter the larger world protected from its worst abuses.

If you are black or female, their struggles prevent your race or gender from being the arbitrary handicap today it was then.

If you belong to an ethnic minority or if you are disabled, your ethnicity or disability cannot be used to discriminate against you now as it was then.

If you are Christian or Jewish or Muslim, your faith cannot be an impediment to your success. As you grow older, because of what they did then, you will be able to work as long as you are able. Your job – your responsibility – is to make these protections more secure, to expand then for your generation and for those who will soon follow you.

Wherever you may go from here, if there are hungry minds or hungry bodies nearby, you can feed them. If there are precincts of the powerless poor nearby, you can organize them. If there is racial or ethnic injustice, you can attack and destroy it.

The choice is yours.

Not every choice you make will be momentous. But in order to be ready for the momentous, you need to be guided by moral principles in the mundane.

Don’t let the din of the dollar deafen you to the quiet desperation of the dispossessed. Don’t let the glare of greed blind you to the many in need.

You must place interest in principle above interest on principal.

An early attempt at ending illiteracy in the South developed a slogan – “Each One Teach One” until all could read.

Perhaps your slogan could be “Each One Reach One.”

As you go forward, remember these final lines from James Russell Lowell’s poem:

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ’tis truth alone is strong.
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong.
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And beyond the dim unknown
Stands God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.

May He watch over you.

I don’t have any information about his stint as a visiting professor, so if there are any readers with recollections, please share.


Williams Medal

How different was Williams one hundred years ago? This different:

At the conclusion of World War I, a proposal was made on 15 July 1919 to Williams President Harry A. Garfield and the Williams trustees:

“The war record of both graduates and undergraduates of our college is one of which all Williams men are justly proud and has, wherever it has been made known, brought deserved prestige to the college as standing for the highest traits of American manhood. We think it would be a fitting and gracious thing if the college were to show its gratitude to its soldier and sailor sons and its pride in their achievements by some public corporate act. We suggest that a Peace Celebration be arranged for some time in October, at which there shall be one or more addresses commemorating the achievements of Williams men in the war, and that the Trustees should, at that time, confer honorary degrees on such Williams men, whether graduate or undergraduate, as have won special distinction in the service; or, in lieu of academic degrees, should award a commemorative medal which could be struck for the occasion, and which might be known as the ‘Williams Loyalty Medal.'”

This proposal resulted in the Victory Celebration and the Williams Medal. The celebration was the first commemoration of its kind at an American college, and was covered in news publications outside of the Berkshires such as the Boston Transcript.

Could something like this happen at Williams today? Should it?

With speakers Major General Leonard Wood, a 1902 Williams honorary degree recipient, and Bliss Perry, a graduate of 1891 and professor of English at Harvard University, the Victory Celebration was held 1 October 1919. It was an occasion infused with gravitas. At ten in the morning, students gathered in the Berkshire Quadrangle and marched to Hopkins Hall where faculty members joined the procession. The larger group then proceeded to march to Grace Hall (now Chapin Hall) for the ceremony where those who had served were duly recognized. Men were asked to wear their uniforms to the ceremony, and Doring’s Band of Troy played.

If Adam Falk were to propose a similar occasion when the last US soldier leaves Afghanistan, what would the faculty say?

The medal itself is cast in bronze, and was designed by James E. Fraser of New York. Fraser is also known as the designer of the Victory Medal given by the U.S. Congress to members of the American military, and the buffalo nickel. On the obverse, or front, of the medal is depicted a line of doughboys, or infantrymen in the U.S. Army, going over the top, the inscription “For Humanity, 1918” behind them. On the reverse, the College’s legend, “E Liberalitate E. Williams Armigeri, 1793” [Through the generosity of E. Williams, soldier] and the text “The Williams medal” flank a representation of Colonel Ephraim Williams in continental uniform on horseback. The recipient’s name and his rank at discharge were engraved on the medal’s edge.

The medal was awarded to those alumni and undergraduates who had served in the war, and was deemed a fitting and proper recognition of the “Williams Warriors” of World War I, the “dream sons” of Ephraim Williams, who himself was a soldier.

Williams men and women have been fighting our wars for more than a decade now. How many have been awarded a Bicentennial Medal by the College? Zero.

The “dream sons” (and daughters) of Williams today are very different from their counterparts a century ago. Progress or decline?


Hitler Effigy Fight

Read the story (pdf) of the undergraduate fight over a Hitler effigy in 1938.

Adolf Hitler, in brown-shirted effigy, disappeared suddenly from the Williams College campus this evening as a group of pro-fascist conservatives made off with the image of Der Fuehrer which has been prepared for destruction at the stake.

There is a great senior thesis to be written about Williams in the 30’s. Who will write it?


Why did Herbert Lehman not get an honary degree?

Four years ago, Henry Bass ’57 wrote:

I do think Ephdom has a problem with excessive decorem. Perhaps considerable decorem is necessary to get faculty particiapation in this blog. I only hope the faculty will allow a little more controversy than they find really comfortable.

Some will, and some won’t.

Years ago I wrote the Willliams administration saying they should allow a little more controversy in trustee elections by allowing long campaign statements such as those in Harvard elections. I got a polite letter back telling me that, “Harvard grads may run for the office overseer, but that Williams grads stood for office of trustee.”

A great line! There is something to be said for the Williams tradition of decorum and — Dare I say it? — gentlemanly behavior. This tradition is one reason that the Williams campus is less riven by ideological disputes than other elite colleges. Still, we ought to at least allow trustee candidates to tell us what they think! Back to Henry:

Williams once did have a candidate with deep beliefs, Herbert Lehman, who ran for the US Senate in New York and was elected several times on very liberal platforms. And his family gave Williams lots of money. But, Williams was so offended by his brashness and liberal beliefs that it never even gave him an honorary degree.

True story? There is a great history thesis to be written about Williams and the Lehman family. Who will write it?


Treating Germans Badly

From reader BHC:

In the early 1980s, there was an old stone bench somewhere on Stone Hill, dedicated to the memory of man with a German name who had died circa 1917. As I remember it, the story was that the bench commemorated an instructor in German at Williams. After the US entered World War I, he was treated as a pariah by the Williams community, and he committed suicide as a result.

Don’t know if the story is entirely accurate, but Google found the following in a reference to Stone Hill:

“A gravel road leads through a fence to a stone bench, placed there by local citizens in memory of a resident as an apology for treating him badly during World War I because he was of German ancestry.”

Do any readers know the full story? Writing the history of Williams and Williamstown during World War I would make for a great senior thesis.


Wikipedia at Williams

From Inside Higher Ed:

Some professors believe Wikipedia has no place in the footnotes of a college paper. But could it have a place on the syllabus?

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that does fund-raising and back-end support for the popular open-source encyclopedia, says yes. So do the nine professors at prominent colleges who have agreed to make creating, augmenting, and editing Wikipedia entries part of their students’ coursework.

“We’ve known for a long time that students are the fuel of Wikipedia,” said LiAnna Davis, a Wikimedia spokeswoman. “…We feel there is a place for Wikipedia in the classroom.”

Indeed. Read the whole article for details. Wikipedia should have a bigger role at Williams:

For starters, move all the Williams history material on to Wikipedia. For example, instead of maintaining our own page about Ebenezer Fitch, move that material onto the Wikipedia page devoted to Ebenezer Fitch. College Archivist Sylvia Brown is wonderful and intelligent but, like too many people at Williams, she seems to think that the more control she has, the better. Alas, the exact opposite is probably true.


Mark Hopkins and the pew: Into the woods …

This article by John Fea reports an interesting side of this remarkable Williams president just studied in our Winter Break.

For us older boys, required chapel was a part of our life and the no-cuts system (if you were on no-cuts). Attendance was taken, any place of religious worship was accepted. Not too long before the easy-going of the ’50’s, daily attendance was the mode.

I recognize that Hopkins’ influence on the life of the college has diminished in daily detail in the decades since his presidency. Still, I wonder if readers can see any remnants of the particular belief in the ethos of Williams today?

At the Sixth General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, which brought evangelical Christians from all over the world to New York City in on October 2,1873, … Reverend Mark Hopkins, the former president of Williams College, urged the federal government to pass laws protecting the observance of the Christian Sabbath (Sunday). Hopkins argued that the Fourth Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy”) should be embedded in American law in much the same way that commandments prohibiting murder, stealing, and “bearing false witness” were staples of the legal system.

If that was not enough to convince naysayers, Hopkins emphasized Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27—”The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”—to argue that the human body was created by God in such a way that it required a day of rest. “Men and animals,” Hopkins wrote, “will have a better health and live longer; will do more work, and do it better, if they rest one day in seven, than if they work continuously.” Since rest was a human right endowed by God, how could a nation with Christian roots not endorse the Sabbath?

This seemed particularly apt for this Sunday morning. While no sermon will be given on the blog, attendance will be taken! dcat … this means you!


“Always tough to know if”: Redux and a side bar to the post above this …

Ed Note. It has been some time since 7 February, 2004. Yet this post, “Always tough to know if”, from that date shows up with a current comment yesterday and another comment follows adding further detail to this inspiring story. Lucy Terry Prince: what an interesting sidebar extension to the discussion above, perhaps suggesting that the ability to perform is not the issue.

Always tough to know if stuff on the web is reliable or not, but this article caught my eye.

I would like to introduce you to the first Black in America to compose a poem. No, not Phyllis Wheatley, but rather her name is Lucy Terry Prince. She could not read or write, but in 1746, she composed the poem, “Bars Fight.” This poem was verbally passed down until it was published in 1855. Although Lucy Terry Prince was not a literary genius her contribution to Black history is unquestioned.

Lucy Terry Prince was an eloquent speaker. She argued to get her son Festus, into Williams College. This, “illiterate” former slave debated in front of the hyper-educated board of trustees to the college. Although unsuccessful, she later was successful in arguing a property dispute before the U.S. Circuit Court in 1796.

I had never heard this story before. If true, it would make for a great senior thesis. It would be especially interesting to know where the descendants of Festus Prince are today.


When Williams Had a Medical School, Part IV: The End

Thanks to Jeff for the unintentional reminder that I have one part of the story of the Williams College medical school has not yet been told. (See Parts One, Two, and Three).

Ebenezer Emmons, Williams Class of 1818, Berkshire Medical Class of 1830. Photo from RPI Earth & Environmental Sciences

This series would read very differently if Williams still had an associated medical school today. So what happened to Berkshire Medical, and why isn’t it a part of Williams today?

As noted in Part I, the origins of the association between Williams and the Pittsfield-based medical school are unclear, but that association appears to have aided in obtaining the medical school’s charter from the legislature and may have served two purposes: to legitimize the degrees granted by Berkshire Medical, and to provide some assurance of stability by anchoring it to an existing institution (albeit one that had just narrowly survived the Moore defection).

Within a decade, it became clear that the alliance of Williams and Berkshire served neither purpose.

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Sand Springs Closes (Again)

Early photo of the Springs

A rough winter for Williamstown businesses continues, with The Springs the latest to announce its closure:

Pete Scerbo, who represented The Springs Pool and Spa’s owner, Amy Patten, said the business won’t operate this summer during a meeting of the Community Preservation Committee Tuesday night.

“At this point in time, we’re not going to be opening the pool. It’s something we’re not taking on this year,” Scerbo said Wednesday morning.

The business’ website states it’s closed and up for sale.

The current owners took over in 2003 from the George family, which had owned it since 1950 and operated it as the “Sand Springs Pool & Spa.” And the 74-degree lukewarm springs have been a public ammenity for much longer. According to the Depression-era Federal Writer’s Project’s Guide to Massachusetts People and Places, Sand Springs Pool had a bathing hut erected “as early as 1800,” and “had been used for hundreds of years” by Native Americans before the settlement of Williamstown by Europeans.

When I was a student, Sand Springs Pool was a popular stop among local businesses on the advertising solicitation rounds. But because Williams has long had its own recreational facilities, Sand Springs Pool has rarely loomed large in the minds of students. (it’s a separate business, the Sand Springs Bottling Company, that has provided Williams students with ginger ale, club soda, and  bottled water).

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CGCL VII: Francis Christopher Oakley

EphBlog is honored that President Emeritus Francis Oakley has joined this Winter Study group to comment on his own induction speech (pdf) in 1985. His biography may be read with great interest!

Again,it is necessary to say:


By Francis Oakley, President Emeritus

Re-reading the document:

I should report that that process was for me an exercise of “emotion recollected in tranquility”—or, at least, quasi-tranquility. Given the passivity (politically speaking) that set in during the mid-nineties among college students nationwide and has continued on into the present, it is easy to forget now that the years from the sixties to the early-seventies and then from the late-seventies on into the mid-nineties were marked by a good deal of student activism whether political or micropolitical. In this respect Williams was no exception. As a result, when I stood up in Chapin Hall to deliver my address I had to do so without being secure in the knowledge that the orderly student protest against the College’s investment policies that the Williams Anti Apartheid Coalition was mounting outside the building would not modulate into some sort of messy disruption within—something that had in fact happened at other places. Happily, it did not , and I was able to concentrate with no more than marginal unease on the message I wished to deliver.

Rehearsing the educational “verities”:

As for the verities touched upon in the first section of my discourse, they were a matter for me then of passionate conviction. A quarter of a century later, they remain for me a matter of no less passionate belief.


In the remarks on modernization/secularization with which I led into my affirmation of those verities, I can detect in retrospect the impact on me of the old secularization hypothesis stemming from the Enlightenment , developed later by Max Weber, and popularized in the 1960s and 1970s by people like Peter Berger and Harvey Cox. I.e. the notion that the remorseless progress of technological modernization /secularization necessarily brings with it the privatization of religion or an actual decline in religious commitment. And that means that for the mid-eighties I was a bit (though not all that much) behind the theoretical curve. That hypothesis in its older form had seemed verified by the Western European experience, but events have since proved it to be inadequate to encompass the complexity of developments both in North America and in other parts of the world—e.g. Poland, Iran. Among other things, running counter to its claims was the 1980s re-entry of Protestant fundamentalism into the political arena here in the United States, as well as the historic recovery of vitality by Islam in so many parts of the world, Europe not excluded. The secularization hypothesis in its original form appears thus to be no more than provincial in its explanatory power as many parts of the world experience once
more the “de-privatization “ of religion.

Liberal Arts/Arts and Sciences:

I find that people are sometimes prone to equating the liberal arts more or less with the humanities alone, Read more


CGCL VII: John Wesley Chandler

It is challenging to offer a view of a President of Williams College. By definition these men are all leaders and scholars, administrators and planners, and the recipients of respect from students, faculty, and alumni.

For me, the subject is John Wesley Chandler, still very much with us! In the off-chance he should see this, my sincere apologies in advance for whatever I have misunderstood.

I am struck by President Chandlers’ having presented analyses
of the accomplishments and styles of performance of Presidents Mark Hopkins, Harry A Garfield, and John E Sawyer at the convocation on September 25, 2010 for the induction of President Adam F Falk.

To have served as President for twelve years, to view the past 34 years after his own inauguration as President, and now to offer these views to an incoming president is passing on a heritage and a sense of responsibility to the college. This may be what Chandler himself felt and received at his own convocation.

It occurs to me that what Chandler selects as most important to import to Adam Falk in his histories of the three past presidents, has been shaped by his own time past to the minute he stepped to the lectern.

And how did these life-time conclusions compare with his own induction speech
and presentation of the future after so many years gone by?

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CGCL VII: John Edward Sawyer ’39

This discussion on President John Edward Sawyer ’39 is being led by his grandson Rob Sawyer ’03

Thank you for joining me today to discuss the induction speech of President John “Jack” Sawyer. If you haven’t had the opportunity to examine the speech you can find it here. Reading the speech I was struck by three themes that are interwoven throughout his induction.

The first theme is Change and the importance of Strong Principled Institutions. He illustrates these points by relating how far America has come in just under two centuries of existence and how it is as important as ever to stand up to her ideals. He also focuses on the need to be able to adjust and change institutions so that this can be accomplished.

The second is how the speech foreshadows the transformational changes he accomplished during his presidency, many based on these same idealistic principals of inclusiveness, equal rights and opportunity.

The third is his focus on the Williams faculty and how they can add value to students and the broader educational establishment.

I will go into each theme in much greater detail, however to put his speech in context I will give you a brief overview of President Sawyer’s background Read more


CGCL VII: James Phinney Baxter ’14

‘Aliu’ is Andrew Liu ’11

President Baxter graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1914, went on to pursue a PhD in history at Harvard, and then after teaching for several years returned to serve as President of the College from 1937 to 1961. He begins his speech by talking about World War I, and how “none [in the Class of 1914] realized that [they] were on the eve of a world war, whose consequences would shape our lives.”
He continues: “we who were leaving this Berkshire valley perceived that we were about to enter a world of more rapid change. We were still ignorant, however, of the lengths to which that acceleration would go.”

The Purple Bubble has been around for at least 100 years, it seems. So, “what can we do in our colleges and universities now to help the next generation do better?”
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CGCL VII: Tyler Dennett ’04

(Ed Note: I am moving Eric Soskins’ piece on President Dennett back to the top of the page. I have been trying to give each of the essays on the Williams presidents their moments at the top during their two-day first appearances. I further call readers attention to the post from Ken Thomas immediately following. DS 19 Jan 3:03PM PST)

As with our previous installment on President Garfield, today’s connection between author and president was inspired by the naming of a Williams residence. In the days when the houses of Mission Park served as sophomore dorms (from roughly the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s), I spent a year living the good life in the dorm named for Tyler Dennett, the shortest-tenured Williams president, aside from Carl Vogt (who despite being understood as a one-year interim president, nonetheless is counted in the official enumeration of Williams presidents).

Dennett’s bio in a nutshell: a transfer student from Bates, Dennett starred on the football team and was a Gargoyle before graduating in 1904. Briefly a Congregationalist minister and a journalist, Dennett eventually became a scholar of American foreign policy in Asia, earning a doctorate from Johns Hopkins in 1925. Dennett then served as the first head of today’s Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton before becoming Williams president.  His scholarship is best recalled for John Hay, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, but his Roosevelt and the Russo-Japanese War has arguably been more important, refuting the traditional claim that TR had negotiated the Treaty of Portsmouth in furtherance of his own ambitions and convincingly arguing that Roosevelt sought to conclude the peace to serve American purposes rather than his own.

Dennett’s speech, delivered in Chapin Hall on October 5, 1934, can be downloaded here. Tyler Dennett was a good orator. Or at least his induction speech reads well.

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CGCL VII: President Garfield’s Address

I chose to discuss Harry Garfield’s 1908 speech because I lived in Garfield house one summer at Williams, and because his father James Garfield is the only American president to have come up with his own original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. I’m happy that Garfield’s chosen topic was, “What is the chief end of the American college?” because it is quite an interesting question.

Garfield’s answer is that “the chief end of the American college is to train citizens for citizenship.” I am not surprised that Garfield was concerned with students’ becoming good citizens, not only because his father was President (presiding over all citizens), but also because as teenagers, Harry Garfield and his brother watched in horror as their father was assassinated (by a bad citizen).
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CGCL VII: Henry Hopkins

This is the start of the discussion on the inaugural speech of Henry Hopkins
This discussion is being led by Patrick Spero of the University of Pennsylvania

Patrick Spero will be an assistant professor of history and leadership studies at Williams this fall. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 and is currently the Pew Post-Doctoral Fellow in Early American History at the American Philosophical Society. In the fall, Spero will teach a course on the American Revolution and one on leadership from the colonial era to the Civil War.

On June 24, 1902, Henry Hopkins became the seventh president of Williams College. To mark the occasion, Hopkins delivered an inaugural speech that laid out his vision for Williams’ future. When Hopkins took the stage, it was the dawn of a new century, a time of buoyant optimism, a time before the world knew of the Great War or its sequel and of their horrors. Hopkins captured this hopeful feeling in the opening of his speech, declaring that “this is an age of amazing and intense educational activity … so rapid as to amount in some quarters to a revolution.”

Revolutionary times bring about great changes, some of which threatened an institution that Hopkins held dear: the liberal arts college. The rise of the American university in the late-nineteenth century, as well as other trends in intellectual circles, had led to greater specialization in higher education, a development that challenged the traditional curriculum of liberal arts colleges. Many claimed that a liberal arts education was a thing of the past. Such a college, the argument went, did a disservice to students by leaving them ill-equipped for the modern world. One professor at the University of Massachusetts reportedly argued that “the college is no longer needed” in American education and that all students seeking education beyond high school should Read more


CGCL VII: Carter: Discussion (1)

Ed note: This is the conclusion of the discussion of the inaugural speech of President Carter, except for comments readers may wish to make. Please use ‘comments’ at the bottom of this piece below the fold 5:59am PST DS
Discussion (1):
Seeking Interpretations

Dean Swart has asked that I provide some editorial remarks.  Ask and you shall receive.

Now first– Dean Swart has also commented that he’s not sure that my interpretation of Carter,   would have been his.

To which my immediate thought is,  I’m not sure I’ve revealed any interpretation.   I hope not.  I distrust interpretation.  I’ve spend most of my life,  working in traditions,   which suggest that the only possible interpretation is something like interpretation against interpretation,   or interpretation that works against itself.

Oddly,  I think if you look closely,  you’ll see that Mr. Carter’s text,  may be caught up in this dynamic.  But of course I’m not sure.

Equally– in the sense of Satterthwaite’s voyages– just don’t look,  stare.  You might learn something.  So– stare hard at what Carter says.

All too often,  I think we have a tendency to a rather superficial and “vague” interpretation,   in which we skim over some material from a period distant in space and time,  apply our current understanding of things and terms,   and conveniently deceive ourselves that we’ve done something.

Not only is there no rigor in such an approach;  it’s also not all all clear to me,  that what happens in the many Colleges and Universities of the United States today,  even at the level of graduate studies,  and even at Williams College,  is much more that this exercise of writing our interpretive prejudices onto the text.

What I’m also saying is that this series,  as framed so far,  strikes me as rather superficial,   and rather pointless.  And that any serious study of Mr. Carter,  even a cursory one–  requires both a different format,  Ed note: break added at 9:18PM PST DS Read more


CGCL VII: Carter: (P,1) Selecting Professors

Passages, #1:

On Selecting Professors

Ed note: A second reading selection originally appearing as a separate post has been appended to this post for the readers convenience DS
Passages, #2:

Impending Secularization follows the first reading selection below the fold.

“It is just here that the difficulty of securing the right men for college professorships arises. This difficulty consists in the rareness of the perfect combination of head and heart, of the ardent scholar and the patient, helpful teacher. The university will select the most eminent in letters or science. It may generally with safety appoint professors according to this single principle. The university may suffer little from grotesqueness, moroseness, or narrowness of character in its professors, if it asks of them the instruction of but few pupils and no responsibility for their character– the college, will suffer immensely.
Read more


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