East Berlin by the James

It’s sad to see what’s happening at the College of William & Mary. When my daugther was admitted there in the spring of 2002, I asked a government professor about the politics of his department. He responded that, as with nearly all government departments, the professors are liberal but that they do not teach from a liberal perspective and have no use for political correctness. That was good enough for us.
My daughter went on to major in government, and found that the department was true to the professor’s word. More generally, she found William & Mary to be a harmonious place, and one that was reasonably free of the stifling leftist orthodoxy that plagues many other colleges.
This happy state of affairs began to change with the appointment of Gene Nichol as college president. Readers will recall the firestorm Nichol ignited when he unilaterally removed the cross from the Wren Chapel. Eventually, a compromise was reached which, though not necessarily satisfactory, at least offered the hope that the college once again would be free from needless political strife.
Now, however, I learn from Stanley Kurtz that President Nichol has set up a mechanism, the Bias Reporting System, whereby students can turn in other students who make statements they think exhibit “bias related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected conditions.” The College helpfully points out that a view can be offensive or inflammatory without constituting “a bias-related incident.” But the College fails, as it must, to explain where that line is. Presumably, this judgment call will be made by the administration, under the direction of President Nichol who thought that displaying an historic cross in an historic chapel was intolerable.
A website protesting the bias reporting system has been established. One of the forms of protest it suggests is to “confess your offending thoughts preemptively to President Nichol and beg for his forgiveness for your sins.”
UPDATE: A few other unpleasant issues are swirling around at William & Mary. First, the college’s philosophy department apparently has been “placed in receivership,” which I assume means losing its right to run its own affairs. This move resulted in significant part from allegations of a hostile attitude on the part of the department’s faculty members towards women and junior faculty. Yet it seems that the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences had concluded, after conducting his own internal investigation, that

Responses