When is a liberal arts college too liberal?

When is a liberal arts college too liberal?

Alumni like to rant, especially conservative alumni. The disgruntled fellows (it’s usually a fellow) seize any chance for a complaint session alleging whatever errors the school is committing are somehow greater than errors it made in the 1980s, or even the raucous 1960s.

A few years ago, an alumnus of Williams College in Massachusetts, Thomas Klingenstein, took the opportunity of a golf game with the president of Bowdoin, a Maine college similar to Williams, to suggest that diversity received too much emphasis at Williams and that Western civilization received too little. “Common American identity,” where race and class matter less, is lost.

Klingenstein suggested the same might be true at Bowdoin. Bowdoin’s president, Barry Mills, slapped back in a 2010 convocation speech with a half-anonymous reference to a Williams man who wrecked the college president’s golf swing with harsh charges against Bowdoin. Mills said the Williams alum had alleged that Bowdoin “brings all the wrong students to campus for the wrong reasons.” Mills also dropped in a few remarks about “loyal supporters,” which probably had a chilling effect because the words suggested that any Bowdoin alum who might side with the Williams man might be disloyal.

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