The more that I learn about the process by which we have come to the current debate over anchor housing, the less impressed I am with the College’s actions. After providing a reasonable summary of goals for the social life at Williams, the April 2002 CUL report wrote:

Our thinking as we sugmit [sic] this report is that this system [anchor housing] has great merit, but we believe implementation should not be undertaken until our Community Life staff is on board, the new room draw procedures have gone into effect, and the reorganization of the House Presidents is complete. These new initiatives may be sufficient to accomplish our residential life goals; only time will tell. If they prove inadequate to the task, then we believe the Administration, in concert with the Community Life staff and the then-sitting CUL, should very seriously consider implementing the Anchor House program.

This is perfectly fair. But it is now 3 years later. Can the CUL demonstrate whether the proposals it adopted “prove[d] inadequate to the task” or not? No!

The CUL failed, as far as I can tell, to provide any reasonable metrics by which to judge whether or not Williams has “a sense of community that crosses existing social boundaries.” Even if it had provided such metrics, it failed to measure them in 2002 so that we might have a baseline sense of where Williams stood prior to its “improvements.” Even if it had measured them in 2002, it has failed to measure them in 2005 to see if the changes it has already implemented actually did any good.

I speculate that the changes as a package did more harm then good, although I agree with some of them (like gender balancing). But the CUL has no business foisting anchor housing on an unwilling student body given that it has failed to demonstrate that the set of changes it proposed 3 years ago haven’t already worked.

I don’t object to social engineering. I object to unprofessional social engineering.

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