Claiming Williams Day Engages Campus

lenelle moise

Lenelle Moïse

It was a daunting schedule: 26 lectures, forums and performances taking place over the course of 12 hours, all exploring the theme “Examining privilege, building community” during Claiming Williams Day on Feb. 5. But the campus community responded in droves, from the athletes who ended practice early for a 9:30 a.m. lecture by sports guru Peter Roby to dining services staff who came out en masse for the standing-room-only talk by activist writer Tim Wise.

Claiming Williams Day brought speakers, facilitators and performers from all over the country to Williams for a frank discussion about privilege, leadership and inclusiveness. It was also the start of what many hope will be an ongoing and sustained dialogue campus-wide.

The idea for the jam-packed day, for which classes and other campus activities were canceled or rescheduled, evolved over the past year in response to an incident of derogatory graffiti in Williams Hall E last February, something writer Dorothy Allison noted in her talk, “Making Home Among Strangers,” which packed the ’62 Center’s MainStage. “Let us be grateful for the act of screwing up,” she said. “You have to give each other permission to screw up and remake.”