A Week in Williams history

In light of this week’s election, this “Week in Williams History” is all about past elections at the College. While we at the Record put together Wednesday’s paper on Tuesday nights, we keep a close eye on national politics. From Goodrich get-togethers to watch the results to controversy over George W. Bush’s election to student demonstrations, let’s take a look at how presidential elections have affected the College in past years.

November 9, 2004

An article published in the Features section of the Nov. 9 issue of the Record took a unique perspective on the election, reporting George W. Bush’s victory and examining the two different events at which students watched election results. Professor of Political Science James McAllister organized an event in Goodrich Hall which was generally attended by liberal Democratic students, while the Garfield Republican Club arranged an event in Wood House for those students’  more conservative peers. Although the Goodrich event was purportedly non-partisan, Jared Powell ’06 remembers the Wood function as being especially inviting. “I was told by several liberal friends who stopped by that the attitude of the students at our party was so different and so much more inviting than most of the students at Goodrich, and that was encouraging to me,” he said. The article also noted that the two groups opted to watch the results via different news stations: While the students at Goodrich Hall watched MSNBC, occasionally switching to CNN, Powell said, “‘We watched the proceedings on Fox News, largely as a symbolic gesture of defiance against those who are so assured that Fox is the brainwashing tool of the Republican party”(“Campus on edge as Campaign ’04 draws to a close,” Nov. 9, 2004).

November 14, 2000

The Record did not report on the results of the controversial 2000 election, seeing as a final verdict was yet to be decided at press time. There were, however, four Opinions articles published about the proceedings. One op-ed by Timothy Karpoff  ’01 criticized the two parties for battling over the presidency: “The process we’re witnessing should end sooner rather than later, if only because the longer it continues, the more damage is done to our public confidence in the electoral process” (“This year’s election is worth losing,” Nov. 14, 2000). Another article by Dan Elsea ’02 called for the abolition of the Electoral College, saying, “The Electoral College dilutes the votes of millions of Americans … The president should have a direct link to the American people. Currently, though, he is actually elected by the 50 states. America is one country, not 50 – its citizens should choose their president directly” (“Election aftermath reveals need to modernize U.S. civic infrastructure,” Nov. 14, 2000).

November 12, 1996

An article in the Nov. 12 issue of the Record reported the entirely uncontroversial election of incumbent President Bill Clinton, saying ironically, “Journalists and spin doctors around the country are still reeling from what may be remembered as the most boring Presidential election in American history.” The article cited Republican candidate Bob Dole’s campaign gaffes, including his “resignation from the Senate to campaign full time” as reasons for Clinton’s landslide victory, as well as “a healthy economy with low unemployment rates.” However, Clinton’s re-election also saw the election of a majority Republican Congress, and the article commented on the difficulty that President Clinton would experience in making policy changes (“Election Day ’96 News Analysis,” Nov. 12, 1996).

 November 12, 1980A small article in the Nov. 12 issue of the Record began with a dramatic response: “‘We’re all going to die!’ cried one student as President Jimmy Carter acknowledged defeat to President-elect Ronald Reagan last Tuesday night.” The article acknowledged that many students at the College, a generally liberal place, had very negative reactions to Reagan’s election. One Reagan supporter quoted in the article opined, “I don’t think it will be bad as the average Williams student thinks.” Two different opinions about the third-party candidate, John B. Anderson, were cited. “In my secret heart I thought we’d do better than we did,” Anderson supporter Jeff Trout ’81 said. Professor of Political Science Fred Greene believed that “more voters were lost to [Anderson] by Carter than by Reagan” (“College reacts to Reagan win,” Nov. 12, 1980).

November 5, 1968