Williams College's ad hoc committee on inquiry and inclusion
Following faculty calls for school-wide adoption of the so-called Chicago principles on free expression in fall 2018, Williams College President Maud Mandel created an Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion. The purpose of this 13-person committee—consisting of five faculty members, four students, and other staff, including a librarian, a rabbi, and a therapist—was to recommend a set of speaker invitation guidelines that supported the school’s commitment to both free inquiry and inclusion. Mandel announced in June 2019 that she accepted “in full” the committee’s recommendations, which ultimately went beyond the Chicago principles to draw on the work of numerous individuals and organizations, including the American Association of University Professors and PEN America.
What we like about these recommendations
- Balance the rights of speakers and protesters while stating that disinviting a speaker is only to be done in the rarest of circumstances.
- Recommend a variety of policies that can be adopted.
- Support dialogue, stating that the college should facilitate conversations across differences and hold workshops to help students plan events and keep them peaceful.
- Ask groups inviting speakers to articulate the intended goals and educational purposes of such events, without suggesting that the institution could veto such invitations.
- Emphasize a sensitivity toward inclusion, safety, and educational programming to build on the ideals articulated in the Chicago principles.