Dear President Falk,
In light of the recent concerns expressed by students, alumni, faculty and staff about this year’s commencement speaker, the Minority Coalition (MinCo) asks for your help and support in pushing forward with necessary changes to make our campus more inclusive and empathetic. You detailed two very important aspects of Williams culture in your most recent statement made in the Record, entitled “Enlightened Dialogue” (April 30, 2014). MinCo and its constituents strive for nothing less than for Williams College to be a place where every individual experience is valued equally, a goal we hope you share. Likewise, we want the administration to work with us in an effort to ensure that voices of marginalized students on campus are not dismissed, especially regarding issues that directly affect them.
First, we see great value in appointing two student representatives from the Minority Coalition to the Honorary Degrees Committee to ensure more representative student voices. The active participation of these individuals would engage the Committee to further consider and understand issues of diversity with respect to the selection of speakers and honorary degree recipients.
Second, we ask that you and the Board of Trustees actively pursue increased transparency within the voting process; specifically, to provide more avenues for student participation in decisions that primarily affect them. Such discussions will be pivotal in increasing the productive discourse and shared decision-making that the Williams community claims to value so strongly.
Third, we request that you make a public statement that expresses your commitment to seeing the success of these goals in a timely manner. Due to our upcoming Commencement, the matter of engaging with the Board of Trustees is urgent and deserves serious and immediate attention. We ask that you call for a meeting between our trustees and the Committee members before the end of the 2013-14 school year to begin work in implementing these changes.
These three simple requests have been devised by MinCo in solidarity with the all-too-often overlooked viewpoints of some minority students on this campus. While we hope to work with you to ensure their completion, it is our belief that every student on this campus deserves an equal platform for his or her voice to be heard as well as an equal chance for success both at Williams and beyond. As such, we will continue to push for changes regardless of official institutional support.
The Williams College Minority Coalition