In the Nov. 14, 2012 Record, you published a fine op-ed by Carrie Tribble ’13, “Faults in the System.” May I suggest an addition to one of Ms. Tribble’s statements. She wrote, “ … we all – students, administrators, faculty and staff of all races and ethnicities – have the same goal in mind: to create a better, more inclusive and welcoming College community for those who call the purple bubble home.”
Let’s add alumni to that list, as they have a big stake in the college community’s well being, too – let’s not forget the real purpose of homecoming. Moreover, alumni interests and values are less frozen in time than some here in the purple bubble might think. Remember, it’s called a “bubble” for a reason. Despite the dynamism that ebbs and mostly flows here, a large numbers of alums feel welcome and at home when they return. I understand though, how sometimes on campus a different overall impression of alums might be created.
In the spring, a porn star gave a film screening and lecture at the College. A rash of opposing Record op-eds and letters appeared. Some pitted students and alumni stridently against one another, a face-off that historically has been anathema at Williams (see op-ed “Establishing Our Roles,” May 9, 2012 for sage advice on how crucially important each branch of the Williams family tree is to the other). To use a mixed metaphor and the apt words of Ms. Tribble, readers of those Record pieces might have said, “They have ‘an angry glare’ to them.”
In concert with the Claiming Williams Day theme, “Dare to Dig Deeper,” it is worth the risk, even the danger, the Gaudino theme, to dig deeper with now-cooler heads into issues raised by that spring event. Such an excavation could yield tremendous results if we join Ms. Tribble in aspiring, when encountering offensive remarks, to “find the courage and strength to respond with a conversation starter rather than an angry glare.”
On Claiming Williams Day, a presentation by invited Professor Diane Rosenfeld will be just such a conversation starter. Her presentation and discussion will address issues broached in those springtime Record pieces, Ms. Tribble’s op-ed and more. Professor Rosenfeld, Lecturer on Law and Director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, has extensive experience leading campus audiences through a civil, yet lively, productive discourse of such issues.
I am optimistic that Professor Rosenfeld’s event will launch a discourse that will continue this winter and spring right through Take Back the Night Week in April. With Professor Rosenfeld’s expert facilitating, a deeper understanding, and healing, can emerge between students with opposing viewpoints, and between students and alumni.
I will attend Professor Rosenfeld’s presentation with my co-class president. I promise to do my best to ensure the student-alumni relationship stays as “glare-free” as possible.
David J. Shufelt ’83