When last we checked in on Williams College a year ago, a group of students had issued a petition opposing a call for Williams to adopt the free speech/free expression statement of the University of Chicago. The petition was so bad that, as I said at the time, “you have to read it, not to believe it.” It contains such gems as:
“Free Speech,” as a term, has been co-opted by right-wing and liberal parties as a discursive cover for racism, xenophobia, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism.
They forgot Islamophobia! Also schizophrenia. There’s more at the link above.
But now there’s a move afoot by Williams students (I am guessing many of the same ones) to boycott the English Department! In some ways I’m tempted to support this call, because most university English departments these days have degraded themselves by surrendering to postmodern theory and other ideological fads, and have ruined the experience of even bad literature, never mind great literature. You hardly need to call for a boycott, since students are deserting English courses in droves.
But of course, the complaint of the Williams students is that the English Department has not surrendered enough to left-wing ideology. You kinda knew this would be the story. Inside Higher Ed reports:
Williams College built its reputation on the liberal arts. Now students at the college are calling for a boycott of the English department, saying the program has long had a racist underbelly. Their comments echo those made by some past and present professors of color.
“We, the undersigned students of Williams College, pledge to an indefinite boycott of all English classes that do not take seriously the matter of race — that is, those classes which do not include more than a token discussion of race and more than a token number of writers of color,” reads a boycott pledge that is a part of a detailed pro-boycott website. The names and identities of those taking the pledge are not yet public.
“We are undergoing this boycott to create the pressure necessary to force the department, and the administration, to take these issues seriously and to redress past and current harm with urgency,” reads the pledge.
The boycott website alleges that “literatures of peoples of color effectively have second-class status in the department, as evidenced by the staffing record — a revolving door of failed searches, pretenure departures, and tenure denials.”
Scroll through the boycott website linked above at your peril. This may be my favorite sentence:
Because of our experiences of race, class, and gender in this department, many of us feel conflicted and ashamed about claiming Williams College as our alma mater.
One obvious idea suggests itself to current students. And you could save a nice chunk of cash. Williams College tuition and room and board this year is $73,000.