HCAGR Statement of Opposition to Proposed 'Diversity Requirement'

Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform opposes the faculty resolution proposing the addition of a so-called “diversity requirement” for all Hamilton students. The requirement would improperly impose esoteric ideological values on the student body and fail to live up to the college’s commitment to freedom of inquiry.

The proposed resolution reads as follows:

MOVED that, starting in the 2017-18 academic year, every concentration shall have a requirement that will help students gain an understanding of structural and institutional hierarchies based on one or more of the social categories of race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, age, and abilities/disabilities. Departments and programs shall determine how their students will fulfill this requirement in a way that is most consistent with their disciplines. The requirement should encourage students to think critically about accomplishments, experiences, and representations of various social groups in the United States and/or other countries.

In addition, the [Course] Catalog language under “Educational Goals and Curriculum,” Section III. Concentration, shall be amended as follows: “Each student must meet the requirements for a concentration, including a requirement that will help students gain an understanding of structural and institutional hierarchies based on one or more of the social categories of race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, age, and abilities/disabilities.” [New language is underlined.]

Moreover, the Committee on Academic Policy (CAP) will establish a subcommittee to review proposals from departments and programs with concentrations to make recommendations to the full CAP for approval for each concentration in Spring 2017 and, further, in 2021-22 to review the implementation of the requirements by concentrations.

HCAGR encourages the Committee on Academic Policy to reject this proposed resolution, which improperly advances a prescribed ideological position and mandates its universal instruction.

Hamilton’s relative lack of course requirements is a staple of its style of open instruction, but it also makes those few requirements of particular academic and symbolic importance. They speak to the school’s core values. A requirement is therefore a weighty thing: instituting one signals that the school believes its content to be representative of and essential to a Hamilton education as a whole.

The “diversity requirement” would therefore signal that the Hamilton community as a whole takes for granted the hierarchies described therein, their importance in contemporary America, and their prevalence as overriding drivers of social and political conditions. It would take a controversial and disputed ideological proposition and elevate it to accepted and essential wisdom within the Hamilton community. Certainly large swaths of the faculty do take that position for granted, but it is undoubtedly a controversial and disputed position.

In that sense, then, the diversity requirement would erode the precise type of diversity that Hamilton should be encouraging first and foremost: that of ideas. The proposed resolution would have the effect of preempting questions about politics and society that run counter to prevailing faculty wisdom about their structures. We find that preemption intolerable and counter to the spirit of open inquiry essential to a liberal arts education and Hamilton’s history and character.

To the extent that the faculty believes these “hierarchies” should be taught, professors and academic departments should be free to incorporate them into coursework and department-specific requirements. Instruction on “diversity” as described in the proposed requirement may fit with some disciplines better than others, and professors should be free to teach such lessons, just as students should be free to take classes that examine them.

But a requirement placed on every student regardless of his or her area of study imposes the ideas inherent in such a course and improperly elevates those ideas to such a level that defines a Hamilton education in general.

Such a requirement would eclipse freedom of inquiry on the structure of politics and society in the United States and elsewhere. The course requirements at issue would begin not from a position of open dialogue, but under assumptions that carry far-reaching cultural and political implications.

As the American Association of University Professors wrote in its landmark 1915 statement on principles of academic freedom, “Genuine boldness and thoroughness of inquiry, and freedom of speech, are scarcely reconcilable with the prescribed inculcation of a particular opinion upon a controverted question.”

In that spirit, we urge the Hamilton administration to reject the proposed diversity requirement.

Posted on May 6, 2016 at 10:47AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

A new era for Hamilton College, and for HCAGR

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.


Posted on January 4, 2016 at 10:32AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

HCAGR under new management

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. 




Posted on December 2, 2015 at 10:53AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Fair & balanced?

Posted on November 19, 2015 at 07:27AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Dear Capital Campaign: Don’t Forget the Academics

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.

Dear Capital Campaign: Don’t Forget the Academics


“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.”

Posted on November 11, 2015 at 03:55PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Highlighting the Humanities at Hamilton

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



Posted on November 11, 2015 at 03:50PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Beyond the usual academic missions

Nancy Rabinowitz the Recipient of LCC Award

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.”

Posted on November 11, 2015 at 03:41PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Educational opportunities abound

From: Feminists of Color Collective <fcc@hamilton.edu>

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!

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 08:25AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

The finest of programming

Posted on October 26, 2015 at 12:24PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

In case you missed it

Posted on October 26, 2015 at 12:17PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Enquiry: A publication of the Alexander Hamilton Institute Undergraduate Fellows

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


Posted on October 19, 2015 at 05:41PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Dissident Prof blog on campus politics

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.




Posted on October 19, 2015 at 05:30PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

For the sensitive or insensitive

Microaggression Workshop: Subtle, Stunning & Automatic  
Thursday, April 9th 
4:15pm @ The Glen House

This workshop invites students, faculty, and staff to use personal stories and embodied exercises to investigate the unique and painful ways microaggressions can affect life at Hamilton College. This will be facilitated by author, scholar and activist Penelope Dane. Please email to R.S.V.P.

Co-sponsored by the Womyn’s Center, Women’s Studies and the Days-Massolo Center


Like the DMC on Facebook


Posted on April 2, 2015 at 11:39AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Tuition and alumni monies at work

Hamilton Students, Faculty Join NYC Millions March

Some Hamilton students reported that they felt as if they had embarked on a journey similar to the Freedom Rides of the 1960s. “

Posted on December 16, 2014 at 03:12PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Hamilton does the "Movement". And the Ferguson grand jury.

The uninformed reader may learn of the demands & intentions of the so called “Movement” ( the name catchy, edgy & scatological all rolled into one, don’t you think?) in it’s Constitution.
Lastly, so alumni may benefit from it, we present without comment Ms. Thompson’s all campus email sent on Thanksgiving day:
From: Nancy Thompson <nthompso[deleted]>
Date: Thu, Nov 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM
Subject: A Message to the Hamilton Community
To: NOTICES-ALL[deleted]


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,


Nancy Thompson

VP and Dean of Students
Hamilton College
Clinton, NY 13323
[phone number deleted]
Posted on December 3, 2014 at 09:07AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Your alumni donations at work

Posted on November 4, 2014 at 10:11AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

Social justice cafeteria




Posted on November 3, 2014 at 02:26PM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments2 Comments

Free doughnuts

Posted on October 9, 2014 at 08:44AM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

"Changemaker Campuses" or more jaragon?

Hamilton College - The President

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 01:27PM by Registered Commenterhb | Comments1 Comment

Get the feeling that Henninger went to Hamilton?

Henninger perfectly captures the general form of the malaise in higher education in his piece today, Bonfire of the Humanities, and we recommend a full reading.  Many of the particulars of this phenomena as relates to Hamilton College are documented on this site, which spans too many years. 
Our excerpt below of his article may well push the “fair use” doctrine for reproduction. Somehow we don’t think he’ll mind.

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.

This is your children’s education or used to be. Parents pay for it, but once the child is attending a school they have no way to change the governance of those corrupted institutions, nor anyway to change the professoriate.  Alumni pay for it with generally indiscriminate, unconstrained, emotionally driven donations. Donor intent rarely attaches in form of performance covenants or post audit requirements.
Organizations like the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education have made significant contributions to sensible reform, but these wheels grind slowly.
And how did it happen? Simple: governance. The trustees are responsible for the institutions they governed over the years. 
Posted on May 15, 2014 at 01:28PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment
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