Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform could not have picked a more auspicious time to re-launch.
We are a group of alumni from varying class years, backgrounds, professional fields, and intellectual persuasions, united by a common belief in the importance of the liberal arts in general and Hamilton College’s commitment to it in particular. We are all tremendously proud of and grateful for our time on the Hill, and hope to preserve the best of that experience for current and future students – and help to encourage and facilitate change where it is needed.
The academy is currently at a crossroads in America, and we feel duty bound to add our voices to conversations within and outside of the Hamilton community over the future of higher education and the liberal arts. Weighty questions of academic freedom, free speech, diversity and inclusion, financial opportunity, and Socratic dialogue are animating debates at Hamilton and elsewhere over the nature of education and campus life. As alumni with deep commitments not just to our alma mater but to the philosophy that it represents, we would be remiss if we did not use what voices we have to advocate for the values and practices that we feel are indispensable to a liberal arts education and part and parcel of Hamilton College’s character and reputation.
We watched with anticipation as Board of Trustees chairman Stephen Sadove announced Hamilton’s new president last month, and we were delighted at the board’s choice of University of Minnesota Law School Dean David Wippman as the 20th individual to lead this fine institution. Dean Wippman is a widely respected academic with extensive experience in applying his work in the professional world. His tenures at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University offer encouraging signs that he will fill what many of us considered a void of leadership at the college.
We are also very encouraged by Dean Wippman’s strenuous public support for free expression on campus, voiced most cogently in his response to campus protesters who attempted to shut down a university-sponsored lecture in November due to the identity of the speaker:
[I]t is unacceptable that [student protesters] should seek to deny other students and community members their own opportunity to hear an invited guest speak. Values of free speech and academic freedom are central to the University’s mission; we disregard them at our peril. … As members of a University community, we should welcome—indeed, insist—on hearing a wide range of viewpoints, and we should condemn any efforts to silence free speech through protests of the sort that took place at the Law School yesterday. The Law School will continue to do both.
That is the sort of affirmation of liberal values that is desperately needed on all campuses these days, Hamilton’s included.
Unfortunately there are forces on and off campus that do not hold those values in high esteem, or oppose them outright. It is imperative that the Hamilton community resist efforts to stifle free expression on campus, both for the sake of those students’ own educations and to maintain Hamilton’s reputation as a national leader in promoting critical thought, informed argument, and intellectual curiosity.
To that end, HCAGR will serve as a watchful eye of alumni who wish to preserve the values that have made Hamilton what it is. We seek to be a positive force: one that promotes, encourages, and rewards beneficial campus policies, rather than one that simply obstructs, complains about, or makes demands of college administrators. Our member alumni all interact with and support Hamilton in their own ways, and at their own discretion. HCAGR will seek to keep them abreast of campus developments so that they can make informed decisions about that support and maximize their voices as members of the Hamilton community.
HCAGR was launched in 2004 by alumni with objections to high-profile administrative issues at the time. While we share many of the general concerns that they have voiced in the decade since, we seek to apply those shared ideals to issues affecting campus today. In doing so, we will strive to be as inclusive as possible. We believe liberal values are universal, not confined to any ideology, political faction, or identity. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the goings-on at HCAGR, please subscribe to our newsletter and bookmark our website (which will be undergoing an overdue redesign in short order).
With your help, we hope to make HCAGR a force for positive change on the Hill and to ensure that Hamilton’s promise is preserved and expanded for years to come.
We’re flipping the keys to the next generation
More later, but first a stroll down memory lane, a review of our very first posting of an email of 2/5/05 at 2:25PM. It marked the beginning of … well, whatever it was. Excerpted below:
Let’s look at the governance and stewardship of Hamilton’s good name over the last few years:
· In 2001 visiting professor, Brigitte Boisselier, was allegedly forced to quit after it was revealed that she was a member of the Raelian cult, which evidently believes, among other things, that the human race is the result of cloning of aliens.
· In 2002 Eugene Tobin resigned in disgrace after he allegedly admitted to plagiarism. His severance package didn’t get much publicity but maybe it should have: “This year’s (2002-2003) salary list topper, Eugene M. Tobin from Hamilton College in New York, earned $1.2 million for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, with $315,000 in salary, $827,354 in benefits and $21,059 in expenses, making him the only $1 million-plus president.” I may not have the full facts here but I suspect serial plagiarism by a student would be otherwise rewarded.
· In 2004 we have the Susan Rosenberg affair (SR indicted as an accessory to murder in 1981 and convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment having been caught unloading a cache of weapons—including 740 pounds of explosives—at a storage facility in Cherry Hill, N.J., in November 1984 - WSJ Dec 3 04).
· And now Hamilton, via the Kirkland Project, contracted to pay honoraria, evidently recently waived, to Ward Churchill who lauds ‘the “gallant sacrifices” of the “combat teams” that struck the Pentagon and World Trade Center, asserting that the people who worked there (“little Eichmanns…braying … into their cell phones”) and died that day deserved what they got.’ (WSJ below).
The broader issue is serial failure of administration and governance. Fundamental insults to the ethical fabric and reputational foundation of the institution are matters of fiduciary responsibility of the Trustees. They have been, it would seem, ineffective in safeguarding the institution.
I suggest it is time to demand significant changes in governance of the school to include in all likelihood significant changes to the composition of the Trustees and possibly Administration and faculty. The cumulative insults to the credibility and ethical fabric of the institution will threaten its viability: its time for some changes.
Opinions may vary on both the virtue and success of the initiative. We do now have the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) and a host of top quality traditional scholarly programming from it. We do have Enquiry, a wonderful publication of the Alexander Hamilton Institute Undergraduate Fellows. More importantly we have a remarkable group of students who have participated in the programs of the AHI and have a significant fondness for it. By that measure, I think a success.
Now that the inanity of recent events at Yale, University of Missouri and Hamilton have brought the fruits of radical progressive pedagogy to the national attention, which is to say now that the phenomena has become a national embarrassment, we see some trustees backing away from it. Hamilton seems to have lost some of its leadership, though not whole hog participation, in such abject stupidity.
Consider the new found wisdom of Mr. Barry Seaman as quoted in Hamilton’s very own alumni news. Seaman said he is “disturbed that people stole copies of a conservative-leaning newspaper on campus” and that “people say they feel unsafe because an idea is disagreeable.” He argues that this way of thinking is not conducive to developing a useful and productive mind. In contrast, part of the liberal arts education should be to “get uncomfortable” and to “grapple with ideas that challenge your point of view.” The largest problem in this single-minded perspective, Seaman argues, is that “if no one challenges assertions—if skeptics are not welcome—dogma sets in stone.”
Seaman is shocked, shocked, we say, to discover what has happened on campus, the politicization of the classroom and balkanization of culture & academic life at Hamilton. Of course, as Trustee he presided over the creation of the problem he now decries. Do tell why is the AHI off campus? And the astute would note that to this day Hamilton College will not provide proper attribution to the AHI for the programs it sponsors for the students of Hamilton. And that leads us to the governance issues.
Of course, perhaps it is unfair to single him out, but timing is everything, particularly for one who monitors and rides on the surf of popular opinion. As Marilyn Monroe noted in Some Like It Hot, “It’s different for girls.”
Back to the website
As to HCAGR, we purposely let the site go dormant to drive the traffic to the AHI, and it has been dormant for some time. Some responsible, tech savvy and younger alumni, some of whom are former AHI Student Fellows, have expressed an interest in taking over the site. They will no doubt bring more energy, wit, wisdom and information as to the issues at hand. Their identities are theirs, not mine, to disclose.
So effective with this publication, new ownership & management of HCAGR is in place. Terms of the transaction are confidential, but it will be very good scotch, I assure. I may contribute from time to time, but it is their show now to do with as they will.
The Global Refugee Crisis:The Current State of Affairs, How We Got Here, and Why the West is to Blame
Read this wonderful article in Enquiry, the student run newspaper sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute. Contributions, by the way. would no doubt be welcome.
“Meanwhile, standardized composition courses no longer exist, and prospective students everywhere are wondering why a “national leader in teaching students to write” no longer has an English major. We have to work harder if we’re going to live up to our reputation.”
Highlighting the Humanities at Hamilton
Please join us for the next talk in our Memory and Identity series.
Moorish Girls and Cross-Dressing Pages: Chasing the Nymph in Cervantes’s Don Quixote
Maria Willstedt Hispanic Studies, Hamilton College
Thursday, November 12, 4:10 pm
Taylor Science Center 3024
The nymph is an ambiguous character whose history spans from ancient mythology to the modern video game. There are many types of nymphs, but most commonly she is imagined as a beautiful maiden who inhabits the woods and is associated with a body of water (spring, well, pond, etc.). Neither human nor divine, her defining trait is an in-betweenness that assimilates her to other alluring female sprites like fairies and mermaids. The exact nature of the nymph’s in-betweenness is buried in her name, but its purpose is to veil rather than manifest her meaning. Cervantes, creatively appropriating a long-established allegorical tradition, both explores in earnest and exploits in parody this character’s cultural and psychological function. This lecture commemorates the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote II (1615), Cervantes’s sequel to his original Don Quixote published in 1605.
Maria Willstedt is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at Hamilton College. Her field of study is early modern Spanish literature and culture with a special interest in the framed narrative tradition. She is currently working on an article about that most enigmatic of Cervantean characters, Zoraida.
Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
For more information contact Barbara Gold, Classics Department
315-859-[removed] • [email address removed]
Sponsored by the Dean of Faculty and the Hispanic Studies Department
from the release:
Professor of Comparative Literature Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz was recently named the winner of the 2016 LCC Activism Award by the Lambda Classical Caucus (LCC) of the Society for Classical Studies for her “tireless work promoting the rights and well-being of sexual minorities.”
According to the LCC website, the Activism Award “honors an LCC member who has worked to promote the rights and well-being of sexual minorities in ways that go beyond the usual academic missions of teaching and scholarship.”
One purpose of the LCC is “to promote research that reflects the personal and intellectual interests of queer scholars, and provide a bridge between Classics and the interdisciplinary fields of LGBT/Queer Studies, the history of sexuality, cultural studies, and gender theory.”
From: Feminists of Color Collective <email@example.com> Date: Sun, Nov 8, 2015 at 3:56 PM Subject: Pro-Sex Feminism? To: EVENTS-ALL@listserv.hamilton.edu “Rose’s SlutWalk and the women and men of varied gender expressions who attended were a beautiful reminder of the nuances and complexities inherent in the ongoing issue of slut-shaming and victim blaming. There are women of color in need of that kind of solidarity and understanding. There is room for women of color in the SlutWalk movement — and it has to be on our terms.” — Zeba Blay for HuffPost Women (x) What does intersectional sex-positivity look like? In recent years, sex-positivity has become a prominent element of mainstream feminist and LGBTQ culture But the sex positive ideal is not without its potential dangers and complexities Further, sex-positivity cannot be one-size-fits-all across differences of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and nation What does sex-positivity look like if you are not white and cisgender? What happens when sex-positivity includes women from various cultural/religious backgrounds, survivors, trans people, asexual people, and people with mental and/or physical disabilities? What does sex-positivity mean to you? Join us tomorrow @8pm in the ALCC to discuss! __________________ Look In the Mirror: Confronting the Contradictions of LGBT Organizations and Our “Leadership”, Christian Emmanuel Castaing for Black Girl Dangerous (x) Reclaiming The Word ‘Slut’ Is An Entirely Different Beast For Black Women, Zeba Blay for HuffPost Women (x) ___ [names removed by ed] Feminists of Color Collective Hamilton College “Like” our Facebook page to stay in the know on everything FCC!
From: Feminists of Color Collective <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, Nov 8, 2015 at 3:56 PM
Subject: Pro-Sex Feminism?
“Rose’s SlutWalk and the women and men of varied gender expressions who attended were a beautiful reminder of the nuances and complexities inherent in the ongoing issue of slut-shaming and victim blaming. There are women of color in need of that kind of solidarity and understanding. There is room for women of color in the SlutWalk movement — and it has to be on our terms.”
— Zeba Blay for HuffPost Women (x)
What does intersectional sex-positivity look like?
In recent years, sex-positivity has become a prominent element of mainstream feminist and LGBTQ culture
But the sex positive ideal is not without its potential dangers and complexities
Further, sex-positivity cannot be one-size-fits-all across differences of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and nation
What does sex-positivity look like if you are not white and cisgender?
What happens when sex-positivity includes women from various cultural/religious backgrounds, survivors, trans people, asexual people, and people with mental and/or physical disabilities?
What does sex-positivity mean to you?
Join us tomorrow @8pm in the ALCC to discuss!
Look In the Mirror: Confronting the Contradictions of LGBT Organizations and Our “Leadership”, Christian Emmanuel Castaing for Black Girl Dangerous (x)
Reclaiming The Word ‘Slut’ Is An Entirely Different Beast For Black Women, Zeba Blay for HuffPost Women (x)
[names removed by ed]
Feminists of Color Collective
“Like” our Facebook page to stay in the know on everything FCC!
There is an alternative to the Spectator for news on campus. The Enquiry is a publication of Student Fellows of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Their goal: free thought and discourse.
Check out the new website, which by the way was built by the students: Enquiry
Hamilton alum, read their About us
See the blog of Dissident Prof for a factual run down on Planned Parenthood’s Campus Empire for an update on some events on campus.
Thursday, April 9th
4:15pm @ The Glen House
“Some Hamilton students reported that they felt as if they had embarked on a journey similar to the Freedom Rides of the 1960s. “
“The author of this article fails to mention that during this protest, two police officers were assaulted, and the entire police force was accused of killing children, and compared to white supremacist groups. Many protesters were literally chanting that they wanted to see more dead cops.” - an alum of Hamilton College
One wonders if the Hamilton students are being urged by sponsoring faculty & the administration to cooperate fully with the investigation of the assault on the NYC police officers?
Date: Thu, Nov 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM
Subject: A Message to the Hamilton Community
On Tuesday evening, November 24, we learned of the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, Missouri not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. in August. This decision may bring about various reactions from people in our community, including anger, sadness, confusion and fear. These responses may be (and very likely are) compounded by people’s experiences of racism, oppression or privilege that may have occurred on or off College Hill.
I write today to share my hope that this difficult moment in our nation’s history will motivate us to come together as a community. A community founded on learning and the exchange of ideas is, perhaps, one of the best forums in which to process what occurred in Ferguson. Classrooms, the Days-Massolo Center, the Counseling Center, the Dean of Students Office, and residence halls are places where these conversations aboutFerguson and our current cultural moment can happen. With the grand jury’s decision, we have an opportunity to engage in an important dialogue about race, racism and privilege in the United States. Additionally, I hope that we have the courage to consider how the racial dynamics in Ferguson might be reflected at Hamilton. It is challenging to look squarely at dynamics in our nation and on our campus that may be unjust, unfair and inequitable. It can be painful to bring them up if we’ve been the targets of inequity and shameful to bring them up if we’ve experienced social advantages. I know that we are capable of doing this important work together and am grateful to be a part of the Hamilton community.
It is important to consider the role of social media in these dialogues. A critical aspect of the courage I mentioned earlier is the courage to align ourselves with the ideas we share online. Anonymous posts do not further our efforts to become a more aware, thoughtful and engaged community. On the contrary, they may alienate and silence voices that are integral to these conversations. I hope that you will keep this in mind over the break and in the days following.
Please consider attending the Days-Massolo event, “Ferguson Verdict: What Now? A Community Conversation” on Monday, December 1st at 5:30 pm in the Red Pit.
Wishing you a restful break and looking forward to your return to the Hill,
It appears that the link to the letter has been rendered “inoperative” or otherwise busted, perhaps by technological chance… or perhaps by embarrassment after someone actually read it. We’ll try to find our copy and replace the posting in full.
Years ago, when the academic left began to ostracize professors identified as “conservative,” university administrators stood aside or were complicit. The academic left adopted a notion espoused back then by a “New Left” German philosopher—who taught at Brandeis, not coincidentally—that many conservative ideas were immoral and deserved to be suppressed. And so they were.
This shunning and isolation of “conservative” teachers by their left-wing colleagues (with many liberals silent in acquiescence) weakened the foundational ideas of American universities—freedom of inquiry and the speech rights in the First Amendment.
No matter. University presidents, deans, department heads and boards of trustees watched or approved the erosion of their original intellectual framework. The ability of aggrieved professors and their students to concoct behavior, ideas and words that violated political correctness got so loopy that the phrase itself became satirical—though not so funny to profs denied tenure on suspicion of incorrectness. Offensive books were banned and history texts rewritten to conform.
No one could possibly count the compromises of intellectual honesty made on American campuses to reach this point. It is fantastic that the liberal former head of Berkeley should have to sign a Maoist self-criticism to be able to speak at Haverford. Meet America’s Red Guards.
These students at Brandeis, Smith, Haverford and hundreds of other U.S. colleges didn’t discover illiberal intolerance on their own. It is fed to them three times a week by professors of mental conformity. After Brandeis banned Ms. Hirsi Ali, the Harvard Crimson’s editors wrote a rationalizing editorial, “A Rightful Revocation.” The legendary liberal Louis Brandeis (Harvard Law, First Amendment icon) must be spinning in his grave.
Years ago, today’s middle-aged liberals embraced in good faith ideas such as that the Western canon in literature or history should be expanded to include Africa, Asia, Native Americans and such. Fair enough. The activist academic left then grabbed the liberals’ good faith and wrecked it, allowing the nuttiest professors to dumb down courses and even whole disciplines into tendentious gibberish.
The slow disintegration of the humanities into what is virtually agitprop on many campuses is no secret. Professors of economics and the hard sciences roll their eyes in embarrassment at what has happened to once respectable liberal-arts departments at their institutions. Like some Gresham’s Law for Ph.D.s, the bad professors drove out many good, untenured professors, and that includes smart young liberals. Most conservatives were wiped out long ago.
Where does one find an example of compelling leadership & vision? Here’s one:
We invite readers to compare & contrast with items you ‘ve received from Hamilton.