Defacement of posters with calls for violence

Williams students, faculty and staff,

Last night, posters in Paresky about the Israeli hostages were defaced with graffiti that, among other things, supported violence against Israelis.

Any defacement of posters is disrespectful, but the call for violence in this case is a breach of both college values and Williams policies. We have removed the defaced posters and are seeking information about the individuals responsible. If you know anything that might be relevant, please contact CSS at 413-597-4444. Any community member found to be involved will be subject to the college conduct process, which can lead to disciplinary action.

As always, our colleagues in the Chaplains’ Office and the Davis Center, among other areas, are available to talk with you if you are concerned about the impact of this incident on yourself or our community. I offer thanks to them and everyone else working hard to care for everyone right now.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has made clear that colleges and universities bear responsibility for responding to incidents of discriminatory harassment that create a hostile environment. As a matter of principle, we are going to embrace Williams’ ethical and educational obligation to maximize space for free expression—including speech that others might find objectionable—while setting and upholding limits that ensure an education free of hostility and harassment. It is possible, and arguably necessary, that we find ways to disagree passionately on topics like the Middle East conflict without descending into urging violence.

The college will continue to support programs that foster reflection, study and debate on such issues. But we will do so within a set of rules meant to ensure that everyone can live and learn here free from hostility and harassment.