In the spirit of non-partisan kibitzing, here is my advice to students/faculty in favor of the cluster house proposal. Of course, this is mainly of use to those with some power (i.e., CUL) and they are all smart enough to know this without hearing it from me. Still, kibitzing is fun and, drat, I can’t make the forum. (Too bad WCFM isn’t broadcasting it.)
- If there isn’t a ton of student complaints, the deal is done. You have nothing to worry about if only a small group, however well organized, is complaining. If a large majority of the students would vote No on the proposal, you have work to do.
- Implement the change this year. This is the key goal. If you fail to do it, then this spring’s CC elections become a referendum on the plan and almost all the candidates who win will be dedicated to its defeat. This is a headache that you do not need. In all likelihood, all the new student members of CUL would be confirmed opponents. What a nightmare!
- Use student apathy to your advantage. Seniors don’t care. Most students, especially as second semester starts, will have higher priorities. Co-op the juniors. After all, for them, there is nothing but upside! They get to live wherever they want but with the added benefits of larger group size and other perks. In fact, there is a sense in which the transition time allows for current students to create some very special clusters. If all students of type X (race, sport, religion, wealth, whatever) want to pick into Cluster II, there is nothing to stop them. Encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity even if it means selling out future generations of Ephs.
- Have forums until they get tired of coming. Have a different one on each aspect of the proposal. Have them every day of the week. Wear out the opponents. If, by the end of February, you can honestly claim that only 30 or so students are still showing up to complain then, ipso facto, you have demonstrated that the vast majority of students are comfortable with the proposal. Students have short attention spans. You can out listen them.
- Repeat over and over again that CUL (and other bodies) have been working on this for 5 years. Five years. Five years. Emphasize that the proposal has been a long time in coming and imply, without saying so directly, that critics should have spoken up sooner.
- As a last step ploy, offer to implement the plan 3 years from now. That is, the plan is officially passed today, but no current student is hurt by it. You can save face by claiming that this is done so that the rules of the game are not changed for students who entered Williams expecting to live under the current system. Or better yet, offer to implement the parts that current students like (group size to 6 rather than 4) now and the other parts later. Again, this is a way to get today’s students to screw future students. This shouldn’t be the first option, but it might save a failing plan.
Best of luck.