In all our many discussions about Williams housing, a recurring claim (see Mike’s comments here) has been that, back in the misty past of affliation, “Williams traditions” were more robust and important in campus life. A subsidiary claim is that one of the primary reasons for this robustness is that seniors living with sophomores passed on these traditions.

Color me skeptical.

But, rather than polemics, I am interested in data. The two most commonly cited examples are the decrease in participation in snow sculptures and in Trvia. Leave aside snow sculptures for now. Question: Is is true that participation in Williams Trivia is lower now than it was 10 or 20 years ago?

A priori, I am certainly ready to believe that it is. Students today, what with all this technology stuffery, have many more entertainment options than we had back in the 80’s. But consider the Williams Trivia site.

Compare the final scores from Spring 1992 and Winter 2004. As best I can tell, Trivia was as about as widely played in these two eras. As best I can recall from the 1980’s, Trivia was no more popular then. I certainly don’t recall anyone playing in Carter House during my three years there.

To do a thorough study, we would need to know more, of course, about the size of the teams, the number of current students who were playing and so on. But, poking around the site, I see no evidence that would support the claim that Trivia today is much less widely played than it was 10 or 20 years ago. See also David Ramos’s ’00 comments here.

If there is such evidence, I would appreciate knowing about it.

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