Although the move to these stylish new digs makes it hard to follow the debate from a few weeks ago on housing systems at Williams, interested readers could always begin with Mike Needham’s orginal column, my thoughts on what metrics might matter in this debate, and my claims as to why a lottery system does more to improve the depth, breadth and variety of community on campus than the house affiliation system proposed by Mike (and lived in by me and my 1985-1988 cohort) would.

Mike finishes up the debate here. I have just two further comments. First, Mike claims that

The bottom line is the house affiliation system provides not only the opportunity to meet an array of people, but more importantly a real incentive to get to know this array of people you live with. Under the current system, there’s no incentive not to ignore the rest of your house because you’re only living with them for one year.

I know that this is the theory, but even in an affiliation system, it didn’t really work out that way, at least from 1985-1988. I think that the mass dislocation of junior year, with so many people either JA’ing or going abroad, makes affliation in practice much different from Mike’s prediction. Again, what we really need is a good senior thesis that would document (via interviews) how Carter House today differs from Carter House 20 years ago. But, my gut sense is that Carter then is about as much a community as Carter now.

Second, Mike notes that

In terms of “breadth,” David largely falls back on citing a blind assertion in place of analysis. He claims in the late 1980s the average Williams student knew “50 to 150 members of her class” while now the typical senior knows “125 to 225 (perhaps more) members of her class.” This is such a silly, baseless assertion that I don’t even know where to begin. There’s just literally no way on earth to know whether people know more names and faces now then they did 15 years ago.

I good place to begin is wth the facts. How many members of her class does the typical Williams senior know today? How many of his fellow seniors does Mike know? With the handy comments feature now at EphBlog, it is easy for our readers to help us get a sense, even a rough one, of the breadth of the Williams community today. I could be very wrong, but it is an empirical question.

Also, because there are a fair number of readers from the 1980’s, we could also solicit their (foggy?) memories.

So, how about it readers? How many of her fellow seniors did a “typical” senior in your graduating class know? [What makes you think that anyone is going to bother to reply to this? — ed Nothing, but it can’t hurt to try!]

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