Claiming Williams Day 2020
Reconceiving, Regrounding, and Reclaiming
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. Since this initial event, the Day has become part of a process where Williams celebrates diversity and inclusion, while not necessarily confronting and critiquing systems and practices of exclusion. This year’s theme, Reconceiving, Regrounding, and Reclaiming, aims to harken back to the sentiments, motives, and intentions of the original Day. The goal is to interrogate and reconceive perceptions of the Williams experience, to invite all members of the community to an inclusive discussion of how to reground the institution, and to provide a platform for lost stories to be reclaimed.
The hope is that Claiming Williams will invite community building through the process of critique, and that in the process it will provide a platform for authentic expressions of experiences at Williams, reflect on the relationship between Williams and those experiences, and work towards inclusion through the lens of critique and vulnerability. Going back to the mission of Stand With Us and the first Claiming Williams, the objective of Claiming Williams 2020 is for the community to work proactively to unpack harmful and hateful incidents, not just respond to them.
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.
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.
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.