Williams College Alum Blasts Lack of Intellectual Diversity on Campus · 16 February 2004

ARNE H. CARLSON
22005 Iden Avenue North
Forest Lake, MN 55025

September 10, 2003

Alumni Review
PO Box 676
Williamstown, MA 01267-0676

To the editor:

Once again the Alumni Review entitled Looking Ahead contains a number of delightful articles that make most Alumni very honored to be a part of the Williams' family. However, it seems to consistently circumvent some of the more burning issues that are increasingly a part of campus life.

For instance, Williams College celebrates diversity and goes out its way to make certain that each incoming class is diverse both in terms of geography as well as race. However, I have yet to see any mention of intellectual and political diversity. When President Shapiro first came to Williams, I wrote him a letter relative to the issue of political diversity and received a card back indicating that my concerns were unfounded. In a letter I wrote in the spring of 2002, I noted that the Association of American Scholars seemed to think that Williams College was one of the more politically correct campuses in America and its faculty rather lacking in political diversity. I further cited an Ivy League poll that indicated that only 3% of Ivy League faculty members in the broad area of humanities identified themselves as Republicans and 0% as Conservatives. I further noted that "if this diversity issue were related to race or religion, it would in fact constitute de facto discrimination. This type of discrimination is abhorrent to education in a democratic society."

This letter produced a three sentence card from President Shapiro assuring me that the Williams College faculty in fact was "not diverse" and in order to offset this lack of diversity he assured me that faculty members do not "indoctrinate" and that the campus works hard to attract Conservative speakers such as Pat Buchanan.

Suppose this issue were related to race or religion? Would the President's response be acceptable or would there be an immediate uprising from the more Liberal community?

President Shapiro writes in the Alumni Review that Williams College has an obligation "to serve the public good." He then goes on to mention that Williams' graduates are better informed and more able to cope with the challenges of society. I truly wonder if students are well served when their learning experience is so one sided.

Certainly, the goal of Williams College is not to have a student body where students look different and think alike. Why not apply the instruments of affirmative action in the hiring of faculty so that we can truly have a diverse faculty? It should be noted that Stephen Lewis ('60) as President of Carlton College corrected a serious political imbalance and created a truly politically diverse faculty particularly in the areas of Political Science and History. That is what leadership is about.

It is a shame to see Williams simply brush this concern aside with a flip three sentence postcard from the President. This suggests to me that the Administration believes that alumni exist to give money and little else.

Sincerely,

Arne H. Carlson