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Class of 1970 Presidential Forum: Free Expression & Intellectual Diversity

Updated: Oct 6, 2018


Society President John DiGravio '21 speaks at the panel on Free Expression and Intellectual Diversity

On September 27th, members of the class of 1970 convened in Williamstown for the Presidential Forum in anticipation of their upcoming 50th reunion.


At an afternoon session titled "Can I Say That? Free Expression at Williams", the alumni assembled in Paresky Center Auditorium to learn about ways that the College can foster productive, open debate on a wide range of ideas and beliefs. Speakers on the panel included:

  • Susan Engel, Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Class of ’59 Director of Program in Teaching, Gaudino Scholar

  • Steven Gerrard, Professor of Philosophy

  • Chris Gibson, Stanley Kaplan Distinguished Visiting Professor of American Foreign Policy, former U.S. Representative, retired U.S. Army colonel

  • Prince Hunt '20

  • John DiGravio '21, President of the Society for Conservative Thought

The professors shared how their experiences in the classroom influenced their perspectives on hot-button topics such as viewpoint diversity and free speech zones. Professor Gibson, for example, explained how he appeals to students of all political persuasions by using Newt Gingrich and Martin Luther King Jr. as models of successful coalition-builders in his leadership studies classes. Prince spoke about lessons learned in Professor Gerrard's class on free speech, while John recounted his experiences as the leader of the Society for Conservative Thought and articulated the conservative mission of the liberal arts. A string of lively and impassioned alumni questions filled the remainder of the time.


The Society extends gratitude to the 50th Reunion Program for hosting this event and contributing to the ongoing campus dialogue on intellectual diversity.

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