Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts has been considered one of the best places in America to get an education. As Wikipedia notes: “The college was ranked first in 2017 in the U.S. News & World Report‘s liberal arts ranking for the 15th consecutive year, and first among liberal arts colleges in the 2018 Forbes magazine ranking of America’s Top Colleges.”
But I wonder how long this will hold. Under its previous President, Adam Falk, and its new President, Maud Mandel—both woke-compliant equivalents of Evergreen’s George “Invertebrate” Bridges—the College seems to have decided that socially engineering the school is a more important priority than giving its students a good education.
I’ll be reporting from time to time on the shenanigans there, but suffice it to say that many of students are strongly opposed to free speech (see my posts here and here); and minority students, who are treated perhaps better than in any college in America and many of whom are truly entitled and privileged, repeatedly and falsely claim that Williams is full of institutional racism and “violence” towards professors and students of color. There is absolutely no evidence for such violence; it’s a pure expression of Offense Culture. And—the death knell for Williams—a group of students are making the customary, largely ludicrous, and unconscionable demands to the College’s Trustees. If they give in, all is lost for Williams.
These demands include, as you can see from the students’ letter to the College Trustees below, a request for segregated housing, now given the euphemism “affinity housing.” If this continues, and if the trustees don’t show some spine (I fear the President has already surrendered hers), Williams will, like The Evergreen State College, become a place where parents don’t want to send their children. If some leadership isn’t exercised that pushes back against the relentless claims of victimhood by Williams students, then the school, among the richest colleges in America in per capita endowment, will start down the Evergreen Highway.
Here’s the new letter from a group of Williams students writing under the name of the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (click on the screenshot to go to the Google document website):
For more background on this letter, the unrest among the students and some of the faculty, and the persistent claims of violence, see this Google Drive folder on “Literature of the Damned,” including the editorial in the College’s newspaper by Tyler Tsay.
Let’s take the letter’s claims one by one, noting in passing that the second paragraph begins with a conceit that’s a riff on the Declaration of Independence. As I’ll show “the truth of discursive and institutional violence” is far from self evident, at least at Williams.
The opening sentence gives you the stand of CARE Now on free speech (their emphasis): “We are the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), an active and growing collective of student activists born out of resistance to the 2018 faculty petition on free speech.” You can see the 2018 free-speech petition here, which is basically a pretty innocuous call for Williams to adhere to Chicago’s Principles of Free Expression. That this motivated the opposition shows the censoriousness and authoritarianism of the Williams students who wrote to the trustees. It also bodes ill for the College to adopt any decent statement on free speech in the future.
Further, there has certainly not been a “mass exodus” of faculty of color from the campus. Two faculty, Kai Green and Kimberly Love, have taken medical leave, with Love having left by simply not showing up for class and abandoning her students without notice. In fact, this leave appears to be temporary, as both are scheduled to teach courses for this coming fall (see here and here). This is hardly a “mass exodus” of faculty of color!
Having read some writings of Green and Love (a good specimen is this article by the pair in The Feminist Wire) and having heard how hard the College has tried to accommodate the pair’s persistent and unreasonable requests for special privileges, the two appear to be unjustifiably aggrieved if not unhinged (see the article above as well as comment #4 at this site, a transcript of a truly bizarre Facebook narrative by Dr. Green).
Although the two claim they are victims of micro- and macroaggressions, and of violent practices by the College that make them unsafe, the only “violence” they describe is when a car mechanic—not affiliated with the College—was rude to them after their car broke down. Not only is this not evidence of racism at Williams, but it’s not even clear that the mechanic was a racist as opposed to just a jerk.
Nevertheless, rather than rebutting these risible claims, the Williams administration is bending over backwards to honor them, and a large group of students have almost beatified these two disturbed individuals, putting up shrines to them and holding them up as role models. This is a serious mistake on both fronts.
There have been a few reported instances of bigoted graffiti in the College over the past couple of years, but most of these appear to have been hoaxes. When the College investigates “hate crimes” and finds that they are hoaxes, often committed by minority students themselves, it deliberately does not announce the outcome of the investigations.
As most readers opined when I discussed this issue before, this is unconscionable. When a hate crime is reported and the perpetrator is found to be a bigot, the outcome would be announced, though not necessarily the name of the perpetrator. But when the crime proves to be a hoax, the College in effect acts as if the crime is unsolved and thus perpetuates an atmosphere of fear and distrust. This may be one reason the students claim that they feel “endangered.” Williams must announce the outcomes of all hate crime investigations and let people know whether they were hoaxes. They refuse to do this. This is a failure of nerve and a dereliction of duty.
There is not a scintilla of evidence I can find that Williams threatens the well-being of its minority students. But surely, by its deliberate inaction described above, the administration is contributing to student paranoia by not announcing the outcome of hate-crime investigations. Could it be that it’s in the College’s interest to allow such paranoia to continue? Could it be that the university wants to cover up the fact that “hate crimes” are hoaxes committed by members of the very group supposedly targeted by the crimes?
I have not been able to find evidence for the claims that “many junior faculty are considering medical leave due to the stress of living in an unsupported environment”. In fact, Williams tries very had to create a supportive environment for its minority students and staff. Nor do I know where the data about increased student admission to the psychiatric ward come from. Both claims may well be true, but of course student mental health issues are increasing across the board (Haidt and Lukianoff have an explanation for this). And it’s not clear whether these admissions occur because Williams is structurally racist and bigoted (there are no data on differential admission of students based on ethnicity), or, as the data show for the U.S., because of a general deterioration of student mental health—or at least an increase in visits to therapists and counseling services.
Nor have I found evidence that “dozens of faculty of color leave campus each weekend to avoid the emotional detriment of existing here at the College.” I’m aware that at least one minority faculty member lives in another city and commutes to the College, but the “mass exodus” seems like pure fantasy.
As for the 2009 report of the College, it does not show the “exodus” of faculty of color who, it’s implied, departed at a higher rate than did white faculty. Numbers for minority faculty are given in that report, but no comparative data. Here’s what the report says:
“according to the College’s official records, in the last 21 academic years (from 1989-90 to 2009-10), 20 full-time academic faculty members of African descent were hired by the College, seven of whom have left.”
But there is no comparison with white faculty, which is the crucial issue needed to support an accusation of structural racism. After some digging, I found such a comparison in a 2014 update of faculty diversity and inclusion data. And it shows no difference between white and nonwhite faculty in retention, tenure, or departure from the College between 1990 and 2009. That’s good, no?
This gives the lie to the claim that Williams is unsupportive of faculty of color, who are said to leave at higher rates because of the College’s violence and bigotry. In fact, these graphs show the kind of equality of treatment for which Williams is striving. One can argue that each faculty member of color is still more valuable than white faculty, and their positions more onerous to replace, but that is an expression of bigotry. High quality faculty of color are prized hires in today’s job market, and may have many job offers.
Until the students and faculty are able to document exactly how the college is unsafe for minorities, and give genuine, tangible, and convincing instances of “violence,” and until they give transparent reports about the “hate crimes” that have been reported and investigated, I cannot sign on to the students’ claim that Williams is a racist, bigoted, and violent school. I remain baffled why some administrators and faculty distort the data to make it seem that way. If this is the case, it can only be the result of a culture of offense, which I think is developing at the school. In the end that culture will bring Williams—as it brought Evergreen State—to its knees.
Now come the students’ demands (note that they compel the Trustees to act):
These demands include giving land back to Native Americans (to the Mohicans, who used to occupy that land but now occupy a reservation in Wisconsin?), more demands for hiring to accommodate the wishes of minority students and faculty, even though that has been going on at a rapid pace, the establishment of Asian American Studies, though there is already Asian Studies, and “weekend faculty-staff shuttles to New York and Boston.” They also demand “affinity housing” for Black students and other marginalized groups, which is segregated housing—probably a violation of the law since Williams gets federal funds. The students also demand three more Title IX coordinators, whose hiring is “to meet the demonstrated needs of survivors”. That is not what Title IX coordinators are for: they are there to enforce equal access of genders to education, and, in theory, to adjudicate incidents that violate it.
If Williams, its administration, and its trustees give in to these largely risible “demands,” and buy into the narrative—contrary to all evidence—that Williams is a place of structural racism and violence, the College will begin sliding down the slope to irrelevance. While all students and faculty, regardless of their gender and background, should be given equal opportunities, Williams is the most egregious case I know—save perhaps Evergreen State—of students distorting the nature of their environment to support a narrative of personal grievance.
I need hardly add that, while Williams College is weighing how to handle the free-speech issue, the “woke” students are denigrating free speech at every possible opportunity. Given the pusillanimous nature of the College administration, I predict that Williams will never approve the kind of free-speech policy outlined by the Chicago Principles of Free Expression. And shame on them if they don’t.
66 thoughts on “Williams College moves further down the road toward Evergreen State”
I think it would help clarify things if what is going on in these establishments is
described as just another form of bullying rather than “woke compliant”. I had to google the definition. Its just bullying, trying to force your opinions on others.
I hate that term bullying. It makes it seem so benign. Call it what it is: harassment. Maybe then the harasser will get the message.
Bullying is at the root of all of the worlds problems. Its only benign if you don’t think about its implication. Hitler was a bully so was Stalin and Trotsky and the list is endless. Its a great word because it exposes how they work .
How do you know Trotsky was a bully?
I know as a former Trot that wasted his youth until I grew up and realized how bullying was part and parcel of the package
“affinity housing” — worst decision since allowing annexation of the Sudetenland, since the Trojan’s accepted the gift of a wooden horse from the Greeks, oh, hell, since “the New Coke.”
“…oh, hell, since ‘the New Coke.'”
Whoa whoa whoa. Things are bad, Ken, but they’re not that bad. It’s not like there’s mass murder and pogroms. Come on, buddy. Chin up.
Why is the Williams logo reversed?
That’s the way it is on the Google Doc website. Ask the authors!
“[D]iscursive … violence” is an oxymoron; you’d think the bright boys & girls at the nation’s top-ranked liberal arts college would grasp that.
It is possible these activists are implementing a strategy that is common in negotiations between two opposing groups – ask for much more than you can reasonably expect and settle for getting what you really want. Another possibility is that they may be zealots who do not understand that in the real world one rarely gets everything that is wanted. A final possibility is that they consider the Board of Trustees so stupid and cowed that they will cave to the most absurd of demands. I think the second possibility is most likely, but I would respect them more if they are motivated by the first.
I just checked out the trustees. See comment below.
Anybody know the fuck “the Jones 2 Psychiatric Ward” is?
They involuntarily Baker Acting private college kids en masse in Massachusetts these days?
Like the professors thinking a car mechanic being rude to them must be doing so out of racism (and not because they’re just rude), this is the result of teaching people that they’re constantly under threat, constantly oppressed, and constantly being traumatized. If we want mental illness, suicide, mental fragility, etc. to continue climbing, we should stay the course on all of these things.
My guidance counselor friend says that, since she started her job nearly 20 years ago, things have changed drastically in high school. Kids are now traumatized by the slightest things (e.g. there was a huge kerfuffle because someone wouldn’t let someone else sit with them at lunch, which was “bullying” and apparently traumatized the girl very badly). The guidance call today’s parents “lawnmower parents,” AKA parents who don’t just hover over their child, but walk in front of their child pushing any and all obstacles out of the way. Combined with a mentality of being constantly oppressed and traumatized, and you get extremely underdeveloped and unready adults.
Girl probably had it coming for trying to make “fetch” happen.
In my experiences with my 2 kids so far (they are in high school now) the school administrators and teachers are more an enabler of this kind of behavior than the parents. School policies and rules have become completely ridiculous in many instances.
For a silly, but to me sickening, example in the grade school my kids went to (public) it was against the rules to hold hands or hug, or touch others in any way. The school was so serious about this rule that they frowned upon parents hugging their kids at school. This rule was so strictly enforced that other kids that witnessed me hugging my kids when saying goodbye to them were typically nonplussed. I got many stern looks from teachers and other Admin for doing so. On one occasion an Admin person quickly approached me with a frown to ask if everything was alright. What? Don’t you hug your kids? WTF is wrong with you? I don’t have any more use for a parent who doesn’t give their 2nd grader a hug goodbye after taking them to school than I do for someone who kicks their cat.
In the same vein, rules that prevent young children from normal healthy behaviors used to show affection, to stigmatize such behaviors, is damn near diabolical. Perhaps this kind of thing contributes to maladjusted young adults like those that have made some schools, like Evergreen, such wonderful places.
Then there’s the bullying thing. It’s rather disgusting. They make a huge deal of how bullying is absolutely not tolerated. They have a huge anti-bullying program. Yet, what do they actually do when there is a bullying problem? In my experience it depends. If it is a student being verbally teased by a few others it is given a disproportionate response. If it is a kid being physically bullied by another, old school physical violence, then the response ranges from ignoring the victim when they tell, to accusing the victim of being a tattle-tale, to making the victim get up in front of the class and tell in front of everyone including the bully. If it is a teacher doing the bullying, it will be ignored. Until there is such an egregious event that the law gets involved and then the teacher may finally be dealt with in some reasonably appropriate manner.
In short, kids actually being bullied these days in public school don’t seem to be any better protected to me than they were in my day.
Yes, my friend would agree that a lot of it starts with the administration, but with the culture and litigiousness of today, at least part of all these new rules probably comes down to self-preservation.
Yes, I’m sure overzealous and unreasonable parents have contributed directly too.
Reminds me of my days in primary school. In one case where I fought with the bully the Principle of the school told the parents of the bully I was the problem child and would be ‘dealt with’. Then he told my parents the bully was the problem child and would be ‘dealt with’.
He then proceeded to do nothing, but he did have to explain his comments to both sets of parents after they met in a supermarket and discussed what had been said.
But really the activists have taught people that they have to behave like the victims of severe, systematic bullying (Trust no-one, react violently to perceived threats, etc.).
Having being the recipient of bullying like that, I can testify the effects last a lifetime. Teaching people to believe that they should live their lives as if they are subject to that kind of behavior from others is not right.
I think these allegedly oppressed and traumatized adults are actually as developed and ready as the Huns of Attila, and will have a similar impact on anyone who does not resist efficiently.
I’m right with you there, BJ. Every little incident has to be dramatised into a major occurrence. It doesn’t do the ‘victim’/sufferer any good to be over-indulged. A little sympathy proportional to the event is in order. But not blowing it up into the crime of the century, thereby imbedding it deeply into the ‘victim’s psyche and implying that they ought to be traumatised by it.
(Before someone has a go at me, I’m not denying that genuinely traumatic things do happen. But there are enough of them without manufacturing more).
I just googled trustees of Williams College and scrolled down looking at their pictures and occupatations. Any hope of change from their present course can be quickly forgotten. My guess is a large part of their board is more radical than the students. I don’t know how new trustees are picked but most like they themselves nominate and vote on the new members.
Don’t look for any improvement in their policies anytime soon.
Then the college is doomed. I think that at this stage, the only way to make some use of it is to dump there the students from the admission scam scandal (e.g. the Giannulli sisters) when their current universities kick them out.
Man, have I met a lot of rude car mechanics (and rude people in every other trade and walk of life). Never once did I assume it’s because I’m pretty obviously Jewish.
I always assumed I was treated rudely because I am obviously from Southern Appalachia.
You mean it ain’t so?
Maybe if it was a car mechanic who went to Williams!
When I was a second year law student at Emory my room mate was a Williams graduate who was in Emory graduate school getting a masters. We got along well but he was disgusted with anything Southern, music, food culture, speech, etc. He could not wait to get back North. I see that as typical. These current students are a total reflection of his attitudes and point of view.
I always assumed I was treated rudely because my car was defective, they were car mechanics and I wasn’t.
I like car mechanics. I grew up working in my dad’s auto parts store. All our main customers were mechanics. They were all gruff and coynd be called rude. Just like IT peopleard miw. And surgeons. That is why they work on cars, computers or do surgery. They take a lot of pride in being able to do the repairs.
Last time my wife went with me to s garage, as we started to leave she asked me if I should leave the car there because she said the mechanic dignitaries lijd me. I told her he was a good mechanic and would fix the car right.
Never trust a smiling, friendly mechanic.
However, I have had many troubles with the sullen type as well.
“the mechanic dignitaries lijd me.”
I *think* that transliterates to ‘the mechanic didn’t like me’ ?
I don’t think your autocorrect likes you much either. 😉
You got that right. On both counts. I am not crazy about it either. And disappointed I can’t do better at spellchecking.
Back in the late ’70s, I was in Gainesville, FL, working as a short-order cook and tutoring med students in English composition while waiting to start a graduate creative-writing program. Found out I was gonna hafta wait a year to establish residency so I could afford in-state tuition. About the same time, I got a call from Key West letting me know there was a woman and boat waiting for me there. So I bought an old Dodge pickup, loaded it with what little belongings I had, and headed south.
But before I left, the truck needed a new U-joint. I took it to a local garage, owned and operated by a black fella in his fifties. I was sitting in a folding chair by the tire changer, reading a newspaper, when he put the truck on a rack and started working on it a few feet away. At one point, for some goddamn reason, I took a bright notion to mosey over and offer him some advice about the truck. He fixed me with a cold stare and said something to effect of “I can handle this.” I backed my ass into the folding chair.
At first, I was sitting there kinda steamed at what I took to be his rudeness. But as I watched him work, it was clear he really knew his stuff. Plus, he did a whole lotta extras — lubed the grease fittings, topped off the coolant and washer fluid, check the oil and transmission levels, cleaned the battery terminals — things I hadn’t asked him to do (and for which he never charged me). The more I got to thinking on it, the more it occurred to me that here was a dignified man who had come up in the Jim Crow south and had worked his ass off to start his own small business. He had earned the right not to take any guff off local wise-ass college boys like me.
When he was done, I paid the bill, went over shook his hand, and said “Thank you, sir.”
“Rude” ain’t always what it seems.
As I said, they take a lot of pride in their work. And deserve respect.
“‘Rude’ ain’t always what it seems.”
I agree. People often take gruffness or simple social awkwardness for rudeness. Plus, there are regional differences in how people engage with one another.
“About the same time, I got a call from Key West letting me know there was a woman and boat waiting for me there.”
I have no idea what this means, but it sounds like a far more interesting story, at least as I’m imagining it.
I was living in Gainesville with a girlfriend I had met in Key West. She went back down to there to visit some friends and family. She called me (at the restaurant where I was working; I couldn’t afford a phone line of my own in those days) telling me she wanted to stay, and, if I wanted to come down there too, a buddy of mine had a boat we could stay aboard.
That’s an offer I couldn’t refuse.
You may be over analyzing the situation. You could easily get the same reaction from a middle-aged white guy in the North. Tradesmen being annoyed at their customers offering helpful “advice” is pretty much universal, whether they’re mechanics or plumbers or drywall installers.
I read what Tyler Tsay has to say, and what he has to say is that “professors of color” are “having their bodies attacked” at “the hands of their colleagues.” (emphasis added)
Now, either there’s something rotten in the state of Massachusetts, or there’s a folie en famille goin’ on on the Williams College campus.
Or as we used to call it, The Weekend. It couldn’t possibly be that they were just going somewhere else because the college is in the middle of nowhere? Good lord, the nearest city is Albany. I would assume dozens of other faculty, as well as students, do the same, heading to Boston or NYC.
I saw that too and was wondering about that. I also do not teach classes or hold office hours on Saturday and Sunday. I live 30 minutes away and I can do my work via computer linked to the internet.
I find it very strange that they complain about people leaving campus on the weekends, but one of their demands is that the school provide shuttles to help people who want to leave on the weekends.
That might be a “tell” that the list was compiled by a committee.
Can there be any type of organization or institution in the developed world less likely to be infested with racists than an expensive liberal arts college in Massachusetts? The way these kids go on, you’d think the college president was the Grand Wizard of the KKK.
I’ve read many articles saying that today’s students don’t drink, take drugs, go clubbing, or have sex – all things that were among the main motivations for going to college in previous generations. Something has to fill the void left by those activities, and I think it’s pretty clear that for many, a sense of victimhood is the new drug. They just can’t get enough of it.
And they can’t get those $%@@)#@_!!! consensual condom boxes open.
Wins the thread.
I have trouble believing drugs aren’t prevalent in colleges these days. I guess it may have skipped a few years, but drugs are still very prevalent in grade school and high school right now. I’d say more so than when I was in school. At the high school level there was plenty of drugs in my day. Almost all pot. Anything harder was rare and considered very hardcore. But these days? More than once police have arrested 6th grade drug dealers at my kids middle school.
This is scary.
The Williams College student group reminds me irresistibly of “The Committee for the Rights and Justice of the Students,” a militant cadre of which I was General Secretary, and the most militant of our five members, in the 4th grade. A memoir of our brief period of revolutionary activity in elementary school long, long ago is at:
As for contemporary outbreaks, it might be comforting to bear in mind that a sampling distribution has two tails. Evergreen and Williams (and a few others) are presumably just at one tail of the distribution.
Gosh, these bullies need to be stood up to. It’s the same with Islamists who take offence at cartoons. They get their way by distortion and by bullying and fear tactics. Enough.
This has prompted an idea in my mind, however. I’m the president of the University of Edinburgh’s Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society and though campus issues are not as bad as they are here as in the US, they can still be pretty depressing. So I wonder if a campaign for the university to adopt the Chicago principles would be useful? Unlikely to succeed, maybe, but at least it gets the issue out there. And perhaps it would succeed! What a dream!
Well, it’s an idea I shall keep in mind.
Proposing it would at the very least flush out the intolerant.
Hey, dunno what’s up with the quote from the 2009 college report two graphs above the pie charts, but on my screen, it looks like somebody tried to hack a redaction into it — you know, kinda like Jefferson’s bible or a Mueller indictment. 🙂
The complete tyranny of the monstrous children over the spineless adults at places like Williams, Evergreen, and a growing number of schools, reminds me of the hellish situation in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”.
(Yes, I had to look up the title.)
Coming to a baby registry near you. Resistance is futile. (Sorry, I know that’s a little off topic but that review cracked me up. And made me weep silently. But also cracked me up. The next generation of Woke begins…)
Wow was that pathetic.
I was pleased to see you link to the resources available at Ephblog. It has become the most important resource for those seeking to defend academic freedom and freedom of speech at Williams College. For my take on how the pursuit of affirmative action hires has backfired at the school, see
I think this is exactly what one can expect from affirmative action.
The case of Kai Green might mean that Williams has an affirmative action for schizophrenics, a marginalized population whose greater presence on the faculty would certainly add to its Diversity. Actually, I suspect this group is better represented in the halls of ivy than we generally let on. But its presence in Academia has so far been without the explicit policy that Williams may soon pioneer, when it establishes the first Department of Psychotic Studies. Let us hope that the Department will include “affinity housing”, complete with padded walls.
Wow. If that was a white male professor, he’d be gone in an instant. Especially considering he got naked and entered campus property in that state.
A cis white male professor.
Haha good point.
These students should be given second degrees in hyperbolic rhetoric. Maybe Williams can create similar awards for Green and Love. These people may face some truly difficult life events and realize that they have spent part of their lives being weak, whiny babies.
“a car mechanic—not affiliated with the College—was rude to them after their car broke down. Not only is this not evidence of racism at Williams, but it’s not even clear that the mechanic was a racist as opposed to just a jerk.”
Maybe not even a jerk. We only have their account of the encounter.
If they were as aggressive as they appear to be from all the other evidence, maybe he was a perfectly normal guy who was pissed off by their attitude.
Of course we have no way of knowing this. But I wouldn’t take Love and Green’s word for anything.
[snark mode ON]: If they’re such capable feminists, howcome they can’t fix their own damn car? Or is competence at doing ‘men’s work’ no longer a mantra of feminism? [snark OFF]
I liked the old feminism better.
“If they were as aggressive as they appear to be from all the other evidence, maybe he was a perfectly normal guy who was pissed off by their attitude.”
I’d say the most likely scenario is that he treated them completely normally and they still perceived him as rude and racist. Some people can convince themselves that anything and everything that happens is x-ist and/or x-phobic.