At the faculty meeting scheduled for May 12, the faculty will vote on the recently crafted Claiming Williams motion put forth by the Claiming Williams steering committee. The motion suggests making Claiming Williams Day a permanent part of the academic calendar, on the first Thursday of every spring semester.
According to Wendy Raymond, associate dean for institutional diversity and professor of biology, the steering committee and the Claiming Williams faculty leadership team decided on the motion with input from many others. The faculty leadership team included Katie Kent, professor of English; Ed Epping, professor of art; Carmen Whalen, professor of history; and Leslie Brown, assistant professor of history.
The motion stipulates that, as has occurred for the past two years, “The first class meeting of all Thursday spring semester classes will occur on the Wednesday immediately preceding Claiming Williams Day. On Claiming Williams Day, no classes are held, and all students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the events of this community-building day.” The motion adds that this model requires shortening the dead week between Winter Study and spring semester by one day, as with happened year.
According to the motion, Claiming Williams Day provides a unique opportunity to come together and discuss important issues and has a positive impact on the campus as a whole. The motion states: “Interrupting the usual academic schedule makes a powerful statement about Williams’ commitment to addressing these issues. Not only does it provide a focused opportunity to bring together the entire campus, but it also sends a message to the outside community and has proven itself a catalyst for positive change in a variety of ways.”
Epping voiced his endorsement for a regularized Claiming Williams, saying he supports it as he would support any “effort on the part of any community to reflect on its actions, policies [and] privileges.”
Claiming Williams grew out of the 2008 Stand With Us movement. The first Claiming Williams Day occurred in February 2009, and was followed by the second event earlier this semester.
To be passed, the motion will need the support of a majority of the faculty members present at the May meeting.