Members of the Ad hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion drafted the following collaborative response to questions posed to individual committee members by Samuel Wolf, Executive Editor of the Williams Record. Mr. Wolf’s questions are included below in italics.
What motivated you to join this committee, and what potential do you see for it to improve campus dialogue around free speech on campus?
President Mandel’s process for constituting this group of faculty, student, staff and alumni representatives involved allowing each group to use their own governing bodies to nominate potential members. Knowing that the issues involved are complex and that the process would be challenging and time and energy consuming, we all still agreed to join the committee because it presents an opportunity for a diverse group to chart the first steps on a path toward, in the President’s words, “building the most vibrant educational community possible.” Working together as a committee will in fact involve establishing a working model of inclusive dialogue among a diverse group.
If you feel comfortable sharing, what is your stance on the Chicago Statement? Were you a signer or in favor of either the student-led petition or the faculty-led petition?
Some of the committee members signed the faculty-led petition, some removed their names from it, some signed the student-led petition, and some did not sign any. While we cannot ignore the concerns raised by the two petitions and the campus events involving the Chicago Statement this past Fall, our primary charge is to “recommend a set of speaker invitation guidelines that . . .demonstrate our full commitment to both inquiry and inclusion.” (Mandel Charge Statement). To that end, we intend to design and implement a process that is both transparent and inclusive. Moreover, the framing questions posed by President Mandel in her charge underscore the importance of finding ways to enhance opportunities for truly inclusive and open inquiry.
The Committee hopes to reach consensus on a set of recommendations that reflect our concerted efforts to find multiple and engaging ways to seek input from any member of the Williams community with ideas or opinions to share.
In what ways would you like to influence this committee as it works toward providing President Mandel with a recommendation? Again, if you feel comfortable sharing, what kind of recommendation would you like to see given?
While each of us may have our own views about what we envision as the optimal outcome, we have agreed to be open to listening and learning as the process unfolds. It is too early to speculate about what type of recommendation will emerge from the many discussions ahead.
The committee’s page on williams.edu claims that it will seek to gain input from the college community — how do you plan to do this?
We have already begun soliciting and generating ideas, and will have more information in the coming weeks. We do know that we will be posting articles, policy statements, historical background materials, and other resources on the Committee’s webpage so that everyone who is interested can be aware of the materials that we find relevant to our work. We welcome suggestions for posts from members of the community as well.