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Prof. Miller's suggested consequences for students who disrupt speakers and panels at Williams

Two weeks ago, on Friday, April 26, in an e-mail to the campus community, President Maud S. Mandel announced that after the disruption of the third program on the War in Gaza and the International Context, "the matter will be referred to the College’s standard disciplinary process."


Math Professor Steven Miller, a member of our Steering Committee, suggested consequences which, we believe, would help broaden the disrupters horizons and deepen their understanding of world events:


There have been numerous protests at campuses across the nation, ranging from civil sit-ins to violent seizures of buildings and students barred from academic halls. Additionally, speakers have been silenced through the heckler's veto. Below is a proposal which I think would be an excellent way to engage with these students, shall we say a constructive punishment; many thanks to my colleagues who gave feedback on earlier drafts.


Proposal for dealing with students/staff/faculty who violate speech/protest codes on campus:


I am particularly worried about the lack of civility and the heckler's veto; we are an institution of higher learning, and it is terrifying when we go from legitimate protests and conversation to disrupting other people's right to be heard or even to live (we are such an inter-dependent society that any small group can shut us down if they are not happy with what is being done).


You have to write at least one paper, well documented and well researched, supporting the view you tried to silence, and you then have to publicly present that.

I want to suggest a possible action that could be done to people who disrupt free and civil discourse: before you can continue at your school you have to write at least one paper, well documented and well researched, supporting the view you tried to silence, and you then have to publicly present that. (You may write two papers if you want, with the second being one that supports your view.) I have talked to several colleagues, and many of us believe that an academic approach like this, which would hopefully engage students, would be in line with our mission as educators.



Steven Miller

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Williams College

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