Williams College student council rejects formation of pro-Israel group

The College Council of Williams College, a student-run group that regulates and votes on student initiatives, has just voted to reject registration for the group “WIFI” : Williams Initiative for Israel.  You can read the article by clicking on the screenshot, though I’ve put the entire text below:

The report:

Last night, College Council (CC) voted 13–8 with one abstention to reject a request from the Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) to become a registered student organization. The vote came a week after the club’s request was tabled at a previous CC meeting, and the meeting involved nearly two hours of protracted and heated debate among both CC members and a large number of guests attending.

Before the debate began, numerous members and guests expressed concerns that publicly revealing the names of those speaking, as CC has previously done to some extent through livestreams on its Facebook page and published minutes accessible to students at the College, would make students feel unsafe and prevent them from fully expressing their opinions. Several members and guests cited national news coverage of College events in recent weeks, including cases where specific students were mentioned by name, as justification for these concerns. CC ultimately decided to publish anonymous minutes accessible only to students with College emails.

This is a developing story, occurring exceptionally close to our print deadline.

23 Comments

  1. Ty Gardner
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I usually dismiss this stuff as kids being kids, but Holy Shit! Unless the proposed group has a constitution calling for the elimination of Palestinians this seems like a step too far, even if unsurprising given recent actions. Where are the adults (yes, I know they are all supposed to be adults)

  2. Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    That is pretty shocking even for Williams. New England was founded by the puritans back in the 1600s. I am descended from some of the early arrivals. New England has a history of irrational behavior. In the 1600s they were hanging people for being witches. I can’t say they have improved a great deal.

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    If students are required to pay an activity fee of some sort, then the student government should not be able to refuse them funds for activities, beyond certain objective requirements, like sufficient student interest and accountability for expenditures. There should not be a political aspect. In Williams case it is actually called a Student Activities Tax, and is $121 per semester.

    These are the requirements for approval of a student organization on the Williams College Council’s Website:

    1. The organization must not be substantially similar to an already registered organization.
    2. It must demonstrate a reasonable level of widespread/sustained interest.
    3. Its existence and constitution must not be in violation of CC or Williams College policy.
    4. Note: funding will not be taken into account during the student organization registration process. Approval as an organization does not guarantee funding.

    I don’t know on what basis they refused WIFI. They probably claim number three, and say it’s a hate group.

    Interestingly, the link to the form to submit an application is broken.

  4. Malgorzata
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    sub.

  5. Caldwell
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    the whole discussion is being kept secret

    Their list of registered student organizations is semi-secret:

    Click here for the current list of registered student organizations.

    Then it says: “You need permission

    Want in? Ask for access, or switch to an account with permission. Learn more”

    After providing an email address they say they’ll let you know if you have permission.

    • Ty Gardner
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      That in itself is really messed up. If I were the admin I’d pull the plug on the people in charge immediately and restore transparency.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    … numerous members and guests expressed concerns that publicly revealing the names of those speaking, as CC has previously done to some extent through livestreams on its Facebook page and published minutes accessible to students at the College, would make students feel unsafe and prevent them from fully expressing their opinions.

    I’m generally in favor of full public disclosure on such matters, and of the opinion that far too many people seek anonymity, in far too many contexts, simply to avoid personal accountability for their views. (But then, every so often, I remember how The Klan — and its daytime alter-ego, the “White Citizens’ Councils” — sought legal access to the membership rolls of the local NAACP chapters during the civil-rights era, and I hesitate to call myself an absolutist on such matters.)

    Anyway, I absolutely agree with you that, if SJP is an accredited student organization, then WIFI damn well ought to be one, too — subject-matter censorship is bad, but viewpoint censorship is intolerable.

    • Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’ve now determined that SVP is indeed an accredited student organization. I’ll add this above.

  7. Larry Cook
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, like people being tortured or killed for their opinions, anyone unwilling to attach their name to their words ought to keep quiet. I can’t imagine having the expectation that I could influence an ongoing debate by putting my opinions where people would be likely and maybe even obliged to see them while I refused to attach my name to those words. Fecklessness and cowardice do nothing to foster responsible decision-making. Stand up and be counted or sit down and allow others to make all the decisions; the latter is the path to self-serving and self-perpetuating governance that has been given the all-clear to ignore the will of the people. Until they begin to destroy those who disagree, tell the world what you think and find out if maybe most agree with you or prepare to have pro-Israel, pro-Jewish groups denied their place in colleges and universities along with any groups with conservative points of view and groups with other ideas that make college children feel unsafe.

  8. Larry Cook
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Williams still has a great golf course – Taconic Golf Club. I wonder if it’s permitted to exclude jews and I wonder if Williams’ students, some of the brightest college students we supposedly have, might want to.

  9. Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Is Williams unraveling? I hope not.

    I just surveyed the student groups. It would be incredibly fascinating to see when these groups were created.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nw44gewz0SQWrssOW98qYtCHcetQ3fm4kJ3g6h_sSbI/edit#gid=0

    This list is formal recognition that the students truly want to be segregated in the most special of ways. It is Money Python bifurcation all they way down…the People’s Front of Judea but just for Judeans but not for all the People of Judea only the Children of the People of Judea who lived on the West Side of the Judean Bank but without a Latrine in Late Summers….and on and on….

    • DrBrydon
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I count SIX acapella groups. That’s weird, isn’t it?

      • Ty Gardner
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        All acapella groups are weird.

        • Larry Cook
          Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          And gee, item number one on the requirements for approval states: “The organization must not be substantially similar to an already registered organization.”

          They must sing in different keys from each other.

  10. rickflick
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Students can be pathetic.

  11. Jon Gallant
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    The characteristics of the woke/snowflake generation of college students raise some interesting socio-psychological questions. Jon Haidt argues that certain of their behaviors stem from “helicopter parenting”. I’m always interested in technology-based explanations of human behavior, but I am not convinced that helicopters are the key technological element here. I would think that smartphones, or video games, or even
    the recent introduction of 3D movies, might explain more—if we only knew how.

  12. loren
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Where is the proof SJP is a hate organization?

  13. Legal_Eagle
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for always speaking out when Israel is attacked. A lot of people on the left ignore this stuff. I too am a Democrat and on the left but the hate Israel gets is horrifying. I’m not Jewish, I’m just a believer in secularism and although I have plenty of criticisms of Israel, the opposition we’re seeing is not a disagreement about policy but of the nation’s very right to exist and defend itself against terrorism.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      +

  14. Posted April 26, 2019 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Playing favorites with which viewpoints get to have a platform, is a very bad sign in a college that’s also talking about banning “hate speech”. Or maybe we should say, no need to worry about the latter leading to censorship; they’ve already got censorship.

  15. Derec Avery
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    “(I’m assuming SJP was approved, but I might be wrong.)”

    —–

    According to Williams’ public Google Docs list Students for Justice in Palestine is a recognized student organization (RSO).

    Public List of Recognized Student Organizations 2018-2019

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nw44gewz0SQWrssOW98qYtCHcetQ3fm4kJ3g6h_sSbI/edit#gid=0

  16. Derec Avery
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    And I would assume from the vote to exclude the Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) from recognition that not many students participate in or support the Jewish Studies program at Williams College?

    https://jewish-studies.williams.edu/

    I also wonder what the President of the College actually thinks about the vote to exclude the Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) from recognition given her very substantial background in Jewish history and culture.

    https://president.williams.edu/about-the-president/


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