Williams College, the private liberal arts college in Williamstown, MA, officially recognized the pro-Israel group Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI) as a student group on campus May 14.
On April 23, the Williams College Council voted against designating WIFI as a Registered Student Organization (RSO), meaning that the group wouldn’t receive full access to the college’s funds and resources. Williams President Maud Mandel said in a statement May 3 that she was “disappointed” at the council’s “political” decision.
Williams College Director of Media Relations Greg Shook told the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in a statement via email that on May 14, a committee “of administrators and CC [College Council] reps” voted to recognize WIFI as a RSO. This committee was an alternate way to recognize a student group as a RSO, and Williams was legally obliged to provide it at WIFI’s request.
“This experience has pointed to the value of a discussion with Williams students about student governance,” Shook wrote. “As we move forward, we will continue to support students in thinking about the kind of governance they want and deserve. In addition, we will be working alongside the current Council to identify best practices relative to bylaw creation and support, managing meetings effectively, and any other structural issues that will be helpful for good student governance.”
WIFI said in a statement to the Algemeiner, “WIFI looks forward to contributing its perspective to campus dialogue and critically engaging with the campus community about Israel.”
StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein told Jewish News Syndicate, “While it is good that WIFI has finally been registered as a student group, it is outrageous that they were denied their rights in the first place. The administration must unequivocally condemn the original decision and ensure that a similar incident never happens again.”
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