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Claiming Williams Day February 18, 2021

From Racial Injustice to Restoration

Theme Statement

Claiming Williams Day was born from a student-run movement called Stand With Us, a group formed in response to hateful incidents involving racism and homophobia in 2008. Every year the Claiming Williams committee, composed of students, staff and faculty, dialogues with campus constituents to create a day of programming that  confronts and critiques systems and practices of exclusion at Williams and beyond. This year has been particularly unsettling. It has seen the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others, the uneven impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and the intensification of racial inequity over the last four years. Claiming Williams acknowledges the impact of these events and recognizes that Williams College is far from immune to the racial injustices that occur outside of our campus. Therefore, the CW committee has chosen the theme From Racial Injustice to Restoration. We aim to explore the ways in which structural racial inequities, racism, and bigotry on campus and in the wider world have shaped the Williams College experience for students, faculty and staff.

A Brief History

Claiming Williams was born after a series of racist and sexist incidents in January 2008 sparked a grassroots student movement that was joined by staff and faculty, and became known as Stand with Us. The hope was that the community would work pro-actively to prevent hurtful, hateful incidents, rather than just responding afterwards.

The College celebrated the first Claiming Williams Day on February 5, 2009. Read more on the Mission & History and Archive pages.

Claiming Williams Day

Claiming Williams Day occurs on the first Thursday of the Spring semester. Classes are suspended and the campus engages in events and discussions about building and sustaining a more inclusive community. Claiming Williams Day takes shape around proposals generated by students, staff and faculty.

We urge you to get involved – by serving on the Claiming Williams Committee, by proposing an event, or by participating in the events of the day. The Claiming Williams Steering Committee is eager to assist members of the community who want to propose an event or discussion: please contact us if you have an idea.

Mission Statement

Claiming Williams invites the community to acknowledge and understand the uncomfortable reality that not all students, staff, and faculty can equally “claim” Williams. By challenging the effects of the College’s history of inequality that are based on privileges of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion, we will provoke individual, institutional, and cultural change.