I recently was critical of students at Trinity College opposing the recognition of a club on Western Civilization named after Winston Churchill. Now, the same content-based bias is evident at Williams College where the student body has refused to recognize a pro-Israel group.
The Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) supports Israel. However, other groups have political elements to their subject matter. Yet, this was the first student group in more than a decade to be denied recognition despite stated conditions, according to The Williams Record.
The College Counsel voted against recognition by a 13-8 vote at its April 23 meeting.
In a public letter last week, Williams President Maud Mandel chastised the College Council for rejecting the club on “political grounds.”
Minutes from the meeting reportedly show that students objected to the views of the club. Later. Omar Kawam, the student contact for the Muslim Student Union, said the presence of a group “who says they support the [Israeli] government that is currently enforcing those oppressive policies [against Palestinians] seems to be watering down the experience of Palestinian students at Williams.”
The Muslim Student Union’s Kawam said that “having a pro-Israel group is supporting the right of Israel to continue enacting policies that have been drowning out Palestinian people.”
No, having clubs does not mean that the university is supporting their inherent views. Indeed, the opposition to the views of these clubs shows that there are a myriad of different views on the subject of Israel. Once again, the focus of some students and faculty today seems to be silencing opposing voices rather than advocating for their own viewpoints. It is antithetical to our academic mission and ultimately reflects not just an anti-free speech approach, but an anti-intellectual trend on our campuses.