Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Williams Political Environment?

torinn818torinn818 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I visited Williams this summer and really liked what I saw, and so I was super enthusiastic about applying. But in the latest edition of the Princeton Review's college guidebook, it says something like "conservative views are not welcome on campus". I'm not really that conservative, but it sounds like I might lean farther in that direction than the average student. Is there a problem with more conservative views being excluded or looked down upon at Williams?

Replies to: Williams Political Environment?

  • EphmanEphman Registered User Posts: 440 Member
    I guess the question is, in comparison to where? At every elite school, you will be decided minority as a conservative student on campus. The reality is that highly-educated young people are overwhelmingly liberal to begin with, and that is only exacerbated at the top of the educational food chain. There are probably more conservatives at Williams (among the students) than many of its peers, like say Swarthmore, or certainly Wesleyan or Oberlin, even probably Amherst. There are probably less than at some others, like Dartmourth or Davidson or Princeton.

    Now, there were a few high-profile controversies involving speaker cancellations last year, which is what the guidebook may be seizing upon. But there is some important context there. An outside group of alumni (who have chosen to remain largely anonymous) have been funding speakers on campus with the primary goal of essentially provoking the administration and student body into an embarassing response. Most notable among them was John Derbyshire (the guy who was fired by the right-wing National Review for being too racist, after suggesting that parents tell their kids not to associate with black people). Now, it's fair to agree or disagree with how that event was handled by the administration, which was really in a no-win situation (the talk, which was scheduled at the last second without college knowledge, was cancelled), but it is hardly indicative of a larger trend specific to Williams.

    In fact, I'd argue that Williams has historically been more hospitable to conservative voices than many of its peers. Williams has a slew of high-profile conservative alumni, among them Arne Carlson, Dave Kensinger, William Bennett and Mike Needham. An alum from the 1990s, Cheryl Stanton, was recently nominated for a high-profile position in the current administration. There are plenty of others. Williams recently hired, to I believe a two-year visiting term, a recently-retired Republican member of Congress: https://leadership-studies.williams.edu/profile/cpg2/. Jane Swift, a former GOP Governor of Massachusetts, regularly teaches Winter Study classes at Williams. And I think this report of a talk provided on campus a few years back by Jonah Goldberg (who I find intellectually lazy and generally repugnant, but that is neither here nor there) is pretty instructive of the type of reception even the snarkiest of far-right pundits will receive on campus, so long as they are roughly within the mainstream of conservative thought rather than an out-and-out racist like Derbyshire: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/376580/america-eats-itself-jonah-goldberg

    Again, as a conservative you will be a distinct minority among students at Williams. But again, that is true at just about every, if not every, school of Williams' academic caliber. But you most certainly won't be alone. I distinguish conservative from "loud and proud Trump supporter." I'm guessing life as such might be pretty uncomfortable for a Williams student right about now. I'll leave to others to judge whether that is a good or bad thing.
  • torinn818torinn818 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thank you for your lengthy response! This was very helpful and makes me feel a lot better.
  • EmpireappleEmpireapple Registered User Posts: 553 Member
    Its a problem in the Northeast (can not comment on other areas). Its unfortunate that many students want an education and the college experience, yet political climate (often coming in the forms of official statements from institutions of higher learning) are clouding that. My rising senior has a political viewpoint but really wants a college or university where there isn't political tension and would prefer the administration stay out of politics.
Sign In or Register to comment.