As President Mandel wrote in a recent letter, “ … we have a problem at Williams.” What I see is indeed problematic, for some groups have been claiming that violent practices of racism occur daily at our school. Two lines of evidence are given to support this claim: an article published on The Feminist Wire and a 2009 faculty report on retention of faculty of color.
During the Claiming Williams “free expression” panel, it became evident that some students have serious misconceptions about the nature of the Chicago Principles. One particularly troubling misconception is the belief that the Chicago Principles do not protect the rights of students to protest speakers they disagree with.
Standing with the free exchange of ideas: Understanding the Faculty Petition and the Chicago Statement
We welcome the discussion of how the College should best support freedom of inquiry as part of its educational mission and applaud President Mandel’s formal response to the faculty petition by her creation of an ad hoc committee on speakers, inquiry and inclusion. Here, in the interests of full clarity and fair consideration of the faculty petition, we wish to comment on some points that have arisen in discussions about the Chicago Statement.
This statement is best understood not as “a series of policies regarding the disinvitation of speakers” but as a set of principles for institutions of higher education.
We want free speech, and for the most basic of reasons: so that we may listen, inform ourselves, ponder and decide. And so that we too may speak, debate and try to persuade.