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This page lists titles and brief descriptions of the controversies that have torn this campus. If an event will be discussed in a dedicated page, please make the heading here a link to that page.
After the debut of the Williams Students Online Wiki, 'Willipedia', students and alumni debate the merits of publicly displaying emails and other information relating to past campus controversies.
Impact of athletics
How athletics affect academic and social life at Williams has been an issue of perennial public debate. At the second to last College Council meeting of the year, 5/3/2006, the topic of what next year's CUL should discuss was raised. The impact of athletics on Williams was a possibility which was hotly debated in council. The Record learned of the debate and published an editorial in their last issue which inflamed a large portion of the campus. ()The article drew a strong correlation between athletes, destructive behavior, and the suffocation of academics and non-athletic social activities. In particular the editorial cited tipped athletes as particularly problematic, and perhaps undeserving of admission to the college. The editorial sparked a heated debate, much of which focused on the journalistic integrity of the editorial and the fact that it had been inserted into the last issue of the year, thus offering no opportunity for rebuttal. There are no current plans for CUL or any other body to discuss the effect of athletics, especially in light of the thorough examination the topic recieved in 2004. For that repot, click here.
Debate over new system of residential life devised by the CUL to replace free agency reaches a crucial point, and all sectors of Williams from the administration, to the students, to the trustees enter the debate over the future of residential life at Williams. Student opponents of the system organize themselves as Anchors Away. See the History and Student Opinion sections of the main article.
A flyer for the music department's annual spring cook-out at Professor David Kechley's house used the title "Kechley Krazy Kookout" and highlighted the initials KKK. Many found the initials (identical to those of the Ku Klux Klan) offensive and insensitive.
A comment using the term "nigger" made by a studio art professor at a department meeting in Spring 2004 was the spark for a number of events of campus-wide publicity and importance that, together, are probably rightly called a scandal.
An email sent by Nate Winstanley '04 on behalf of the Queer Student Union (QSU) to all-campus to publicize the fall 2003 Queer Bash drew vehemently disapproving emails from two first-year students. When the text became public it was a spark for campus-wide discussions on homophobia and how insensitive speech should be handled at Williams.
Responding to growing concerns about the role of fraternities at Williams, the college chose to eliminate the fraternity system, over the protests of many students and alumni.
One night in April 1958, a shotgun blast destroyed the window on the family home of William Sloane Coffin, the College Chaplain. Because Coffin was an outspoken opponent of fraternities, the police investigation focused on student members. Eventually, two students in Delta Kappa Epsilon came forward and confessed. They were fined by the town and expelled by the College.