Making Purple Out of Red and Blue – Ainsley Hayes


In the wake of President-Elect Trump’s victory, students have vehemently vocalized their fear, asserting that he is “not our president.” In doing so, they disavow the same American political system that they had participated in, and applauded, up until Trump won Ohio. But this presidential election isn’t a step backward; it’s a look in the mirror. It puts on display the divisive nature of the identity politics that have come to dominate discourse on campus and in Washington. We have strayed far from the days of “ask not what your country can do for you,” wandering into a political climate in which special interest groups ask, “how can my country make me more comfortable?” … Read more

Colorful Language: The Problem of Diversity in the Williams College English Department – Quentin Cohan


One day in an English class last spring, the professor introduced, according to a student in the course, that day’s session as the one set aside to discuss the unique qualities and issues that come up with authors of color and stories that are about people of color. In theory, this was all well and good, but why, the student wondered, did a specific day have to be scheduled for this discussion–was it not relevant any other day? … Read more

“Warring Against a Neighborhood”: A Conversation With David Simon on Police Brutality and the War on Drugs

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 19: David Simon, creator of the television show "The Wire", poses for a portrait on September 19, 2010, in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images for the MacArthur Foundation)

Editor’s Note: David Simon is a former police reporter for the Baltimore Sun, which enabled the research for his book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. He is best known for his Emmy Award-winning show “The Wire,” which detailed the institutions and lives of Simon’s native Baltimore. He spoke at Williams on Wednesday, September 14, as part of the Class of ’71 Public Affairs Forum on Inequality. While visiting, he set aside some time to speak with the Alternative. Below is an unedited transcript of that conversation.

Williams AlternativeWell, let’s just begin. Obviously you’re a police reporter from from Baltimore. So my first question is how do you feel that Black Lives Matter has affected Baltimore and the way you think about Baltimore?Read more

Board of (dis)Trustees – Mariah Widman, ’15


On February 22nd, I received an email from Alumni Relations inviting me to participate in the election of this year’s Alumni Trustee. I was a bit surprised. So that’s how trustees are selected? Although I spent a good portion of my four sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated years at Williams serving on college committees, and familiarizing myself with the school’s governing structure, I was unaware of the Trustee selection process. It took graduating and being sent an actual ballot for me to realize how much power members of the Williams community have over the direction of the college. … Read more

The Williams College Student Art Gallery is Officially Open – Quentin Cohan


After three months of thinking, planning, negotiating, community out-reach, self-doubt, protracted procrastination, laziness, and self-congratulating, the Williams College Student Art Gallery is officially open! The gallery features 18 pieces from 5 artists–John Okemah, ’16; Sarah Weiser, ’17; Tiluna Nocito, ’18; Gabriel Wexler, ’19; and Yours Truly, Quentin Cohan, ’17–and is located in the first-floor TV lounge in Spencer House (not the Spencer studio art building–which is to say, right in the middle of campus, in a student space, not halfway to Timbuktu).Read more

Purple Bruises: My Thoughts on Mob Rule at Williams College – John C. Drew


As one of the last conservatives to have ever taught at Williams College, I feel vindicated in reporting that this once prestigious school has now devolved into a form of mob rule. Based on the aggressive language used to intimidate students like Zach Wood, it looks to me like the college is now dominated by hard leftists who have more in common with Joseph Stalin than with FDR. … Read more

CW: Trigger Warnings – Kristen Johnson

explicit content

For those who have suffered from trauma, a trigger/content warning (verbal or otherwise) is not indicative of emotional sensitivity or an inability or unwillingness to engage with difficult content, but, rather, an unfortunate necessity born from a desire to have some measure of control over one’s emotional/psychological response to a stimulus that, for most, may be unpleasant, but, for trauma survivors, crosses the boundary from unpleasantness into emotional re-victimization. … Read more

‘Racism Is a Pathetic Excuse for Disinviting a Speaker from Campus’ – Zach Wood


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the website The Fire, and has been republished here with the author’s permission.

In my time at Williams, President Falk has been an analytic and deliberative leader. However, I cannot help but think that Falk’s decision to cancel John Derbyshire’s speech at Williams not only does a disservice to the intellectual character of our institution, but is antithetical to the principles of free speech and intellectual freedom that he has previously claimed to endorse. This cancellation evidences the fact that President Falk has failed to show support for student efforts to instill and promote political tolerance at Williams. … Read more

A Williams College Education Doesn’t Require Random Acts of Racist Speech – Sam Crane, W. Van Alan Clark ’41 Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the author’s blog, Useless Tree, and has been re-published here with the author’s approval.

I am a teacher. Every day I make decisions about what my students read and write, and what kinds of speech are intellectually meaningful in our classroom discussions. Within the limits of my pedagogical goals, I encourage them to freely explore arguments, push and pull ideas in unexpected directions, make mistakes. When it works well, it’s like John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things: marvelous innovation within the limits of the melodic structure. … Read more

8 Tips For Seniors on the Job Hunt – Alex Sun ’15


I remember the palpable fear of senior year at Williams. The last three years had been a hell of a ride, and I was grateful for the unforgettable memories. But, now, I was only months away from being smacked in the face by the Real World. Having my parents spend over $60,000 every year for four years so I could walk away with a diploma and no job was not an option. … Read more