Now that anchor housing has been delayed, what can Anchors Away do to achieve its goals? Excellent question! Consider this follow up advice to previous offerings.

  1. Select some officers. You need leaders with actual positions. It doesn’t matter whether it is a president or co-presidents or a 5 member tribal council. You will better interact with the College and alumni if you are more than a mob. When a trustee wants to talk to someone, who does she call?
  2. Change names. “Anchors Away” is cute and clever, but you now need to be for something, not just against cluster housing. No one believes that Williams housing is perfect. At the very least, you should be in favor of more co-ops. The best way to frame this debate is as a contest between two competing visions: cluster housing and . . . your proposal.
  3. Work on the vision thing. Message: You care. You don’t need some crazy radical plan, but you do need a counter-proposal, something to rally around. Your primary message is not that cluster housing is bad (although that is true). Your primary message is that your plan is much, much better in the way that it harnesses the power of student choice in the creation of residential communities of meaning. Or something like that. Ideally, this vision will be something that almost all the opponents of anchor housing can agree on. I have the ideal plan, but all you really need to know is the Davis Conjecture. Everything else follows therefrom.
  4. Solidify your core membership. Who are the 25 people willing to put in the time to make this happen? They should all have titles, or at least roles. At least 10 of them should be put to work on reaching out to alumni. List the core membership on the website.
  5. Recruit an Advisory Board of alumni and professors. This does not need to consist only of people who agree with you. The only requirement is that they be willing to sign up to advise you. Highlight the Advisory Board on the website. Ideal candidates would include former administrators like Steve Fix or Peter Murphy. Again, you are just looking for advice on how to improve Williams. Folks like Fix and Murphy might/should be willing to advise you even if they think anchor housing is wonderful.
  6. Apply for Gargoyle. The Gargoyle Society, love it or hate it, occupies a unique niche at Williams. You are more likely to get a hearing with alumni and the administration if you come calling as a member of Gargoyle. Your application to Gargoyle should say that your focus project is to re-think housing at Williams. It would be great to get a couple members on Gargoyle, especially a rising junior.
  7. Organize your note cards. It is great to have a physical thing that you can bring to meetings and show people.
  8. Organize a Yes/No vote on CUL’s plan with the aid of College Council. Demonstrating that 80% or whatever of the student body votes (you hope!) against the plan this spring won’t end it, but it will be a great talking point to use next fall. This should occur during the spring election. I don’t think that the administration can prevent this from happening. CUL, having published its plan in all its baroque glory, will not longer be able to complain that students are misinformed.
  9. Kudos on a fine website. By providing a one-stop location for information on the debate, you demonstrate your goodwill and seriousness. Given that the rest of this campaign will play out over the next 6 months, you don’t need a blog or daily updates. (Although you might want a “latest news” section and/or a mailing list.) You should organize this as a one-stop location for the alumni that you are about to start reaching out to. I am now web designer, but it should presumably fit on one page and highlight a paragraph overview of your vision. Keep all the great links to CUL stuff that you already have. The fairer and more reasonable you appear, the more likely you are to prevail.
  10. Prepare a briefing book. If you could give a trustee 25 pages to read about your proposal. Again, this is not about tearing down anchor housing. It is about campaigning for your ideas. Send this (electronic pdf file would be fine) to boards members of the Society of Alumni. Call them up for feedback. Solicit there advice. For the most part, you don’t need to write 25 — 50 would be better, assuming that it was well-organized with an executive summary — pages. You just need to put together all the stuff that you and others have already written.
  11. Anchorize this spring’s CC election. You might want to run your own candidates. You might want to just survey the candidates to see how they stand on anchor housing. Ideally, you want every candidate to answer two questions: If the choice came down to CUL’s proposal and the current system, which would she choose? What about if the choice were between CUL and your new vision? You want to ensure that only candidates who vote against CUL in both hypotheticals are elected. Note that the more that your vision includes things that students like — more co-ops, larger pick groups — the easier it will be to get CC candidates to choose your side.
  12. Put 5 supporters on CUL for the spring/fall. This appointment process occurs this spring so the time to organize is now. Since CC does the appointments, you should seek to get all CC candidates to commit before the election to appoint only students who “insist that any broadbase change in social policy at Williams be consistent with student opinion” or some such language. That is, you can’t require that candidates commit to appointing only Anchors Away members. You can get them to commit to not appointing people who don’t care about the majority of student opinion.
  13. The CUL’s well-intentioned attempts to create a “high-profile roll-out” for cluster housing in the fall will be ripe for counter-programming. Organize boycotts of the events. Organize counter non-cluster get-togethers. Pass out Anchors Away armbands so that people can eat CULs food while expressing their disapproval of the plan.
  14. Reach out to the trustees, but not until after you have accomplished much of the above. You only get to cold call a trustee once, at most. You need to first demonstrate that the campus is behind you and that you are serious about your plans.

Good luck. Only a handful of students at Williams are ever given the opportunity to affect life at the College for years to come. You are among those lucky few. Seize the chance.

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