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.”
The article puts the school's rejection of the Chicago Principles into historic context by recounting the dis-invitation of John Derbyshire, my long-standing complaints about the suppression of conservative and Christian speech on campus, the efforts of free speech proponents like Zach Wood '18, the campaign to deny a Jewish student group, WIFI, official recognition and the shocking anti-white rant leveled by enraged CARE Now activists at the April 9, 2019 College Council meeting.
The article cites portions of a recent Ephblog article I wrote that was critical of the Sawicki Report. As you may recall, the Sawicki Report indicated, only half of students “feel comfortable expressing their opinion without fear of judgement,” and slightly more believe there is a problem with freedom of expression at Williams. The committee said it found repeated concerns about self-censorship, the “lack of conservative voices on campus and the erosion of respectful agreement.”
The Fix shares my concern that the report recommendations seem to have missed how “dis-invitations have been solely focused on harming conservative speakers whose ideas interfere with the college’s institutional commitment to identity politics, feminism and critical race theory,” Drew (below) wrote:
As I read the report, it is telling stakeholders there are no real problems with free speech at Williams, the administration should still be free to limit conservative speakers to appease campus activists, and the school’s worst venom should be targeted at its off site enemies, the social media activists and reporters who are holding the college accountable.In contrast to the authors of the Sawicki Report, I'm grateful conservative students at Williams College now have high visibility, national-level news outlets reporting on how they are being pressured, intimidated, yelled at and suppressed on campus. When I taught at Williams College, we did not have capacity to leverage social media or alternative news sources. We were largely on our own. In an era where intolerant leftists routinely threaten to boycott and de-platform even the most innocuous public conservative, I'm grateful The College Fix is paying attention to what takes place at Ephblog.
The article is worth saving and reading in full as a useful prediction of what will happen in the fall of 2019.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.