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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Ken Adelman: unwelcome then, unwelcome now.

“Immediately five or six guys, led by [Ken] Adelman and supported by “Brow,” forced their way into the room, despite the efforts of both Adrienne [Lemmons] and David [Dillon] to resist them at the door”

In 1967, the College’s Interim Student Court “socially expelled” Kenneth Lee Adelman, a now successful diplomat and author, for throwing eggs and water balloons as well as dumping water and beer under the blockaded door of an interracial couple on campus, Lemmons and Dillon. He was asked to leave campus and not to come back, taking his senior year finals at home. The message was clear: you are not welcome.

But on March 2 and 3, because of the College’s disturbing lack of institutional memory, the College welcomed back Adelman as a guest of the Program in Practical Political Education. This program serves a needed role and will likely be appreciated back on campus, but Adelman’s return spits in the face of the College community, not to mention to the victims, Lemmons and Dillon.

Adelman was told to leave, and his apology did not express any true regret when he claimed the victims would “get over” his despicable behavior before he would, yet when he was confronted today, he had the audacity to tell our community, the one from which he was expelled, that his apology then was still good enough. 

We didn’t hide this information from our administration. Professor Barb Trish knew about the expulsion, Dean Mike Latham knew about the expulsion and President Raynard Kington knew, and defended, the actions of Adelman. While Andrea Connor told us that we were not allowed to interrupt Adelman during his speech, the program was shut down within the 10 minutes in which we brought up our concerns. We had been given permission from Connor, who reportedly represented Adelman, that these questions were expected and permitted. We heard him speak for 45 minutes about Reagan, but after 5 minutes of confrontation, he was shuffled out of the room. President Kington then told students who had expressed their opinion at a talk on political activism that they brought shame to the campus, were closed-minded, and did not have “brains” like he does.

This is not about politics. Any other UN Ambassador and acclaimed author, no matter how conservative their politics are, should be a welcome voice on campus. But Adelman is unwelcome here. He has been unwelcome here long before he worked for Reagan or Nixon. When did the Interim Student Court reverse their decision on Adelman’s social expulsion?

Adelman, a white man, threw eggs and water balloons at a black woman in 1967, an era when mass racial violence was particularly potent and plagued our country. There are disturbing questions to be raised about the racial motive behind this action.

You were expelled, Adelman. This is our community, not yours.

-Riley Murphy ’19

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    Mary '69Mar 4, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Here’s to the students and shame to the administration. I remember Adelman — didn’t know him — but we all knew what he did. It was horrible, then, and no less so with the passage of time. What was the point of having him back — to feed his abundant ego, which (judging from his unwillingness to address the issue and even to offer a mature and heartfelt apology) is as full now as it was in the 1960s