I like the CUL Report.
I like the CUL Report.
I like the CUL Report.

Maybe if I could just find my ruby slippers and start clicking my heels together, this mantra would come true. Somehow, I doubt it.

Full disclosure: I have still not read the entire report. Every time that I try, I come across incredibly annoying or misleading claims that cry out for a fisking. EphBlog’s work is never done.

In its history of Williams housing, CUL claims that:

In the early 1990s, increasing numbers of students grew dissatisfied with living for 3 years in the houses that have less desirable physical space.

Untrue! The CUL provides no evidence for this claim, mainly because there is none. Does it even make sense? Why would the percentage of students “dissatisfied” with, say, Mission go from 25% or whatever in 1981 to 75% in 1991? Did students in the 1990s start getting out more than earlier students and suddenly discover, “Hey! Some of these row houses are nice!”

No. The claim is ludicrous on its face. But note the rhetorical purpose that it serves. CUL has an incentive to down play the strengths of the current system, especially the support that it received from students at the time of implementation.

In 1992-93 this was addressed by instituting, for the first time in the history of the college, an all-campus room draw.

Wrong! If CUL can’t get the basic dates correct in a simple history of housing at Williams, why should we even bother with its recommendations? The first all campus room draw was in the spring of 1994. But more important than getting the date wrong by a year or two is the (intentional?) misrepresentation of the history.

No one has ever claimed that the purpose of all campus room draw was to “address” the (non-existent) problem of students becoming increasingly dissatisfied with 3 years of life in Mission or Prospect. This is a positively Orwellian in its twisting of the facts.

The affliation system ended because students killed it. First, by not caring much about the houses in which they lived.

According to Tom McEvoy, former housing director, the house affiliation had become meaningless when he assumed the role of housing director in 1988. “If you asked a student, they were affiliating by club or team sport,” McEvoy said. . . . “We thought the affiliation by that time had pretty much died on its own,” McEvoy says.

Second, by doing so much trading of spots that the system was close to breaking down.

The process of swapping was, in theory, a simple one. However, students found ways to manipulate the process to their advantage. While there have been students tricking the housing system for decades, by 1990 hundreds of rising sophomores were involved in some sort of swapping scheme.

Again, we have still not figured out exactly what happened between 1988 and 1993 or so. How did Mission go from 30% sophomores to 90% sophomores? However, it is clear that this change occured without any change in the housing rules. The students decided, in aggregate, that it made a lot more sense to organize themselves by class than by building.

Now, it could be that they were wrong, that this was a mistake. It could be that the College is worse off under the free agent system. But the CUL does itself and its readers a disservice when it gives a largely inaccurate description of Williams history.

CUL continues with

Intended as a modification to the house system, the all-campus room draw accidentally put an end to the long history of residential affiliation at Williams.

“Accidentally”?!? That’s right. Beavis and Butthead were just sitting around in 1993, playing with the housing rules, decided to try out a lottery and — D’oh! — failed to see that this would end “affiliation.”

No. The folks who implemented the campus wide room draw were not Beavis and Butthead. They knew that free agency would end affiliation de jure, but they saw (correctly!) that students had already ended affiliation de facto. There was nothing accidental about it.

I like the CUL Report.
I like the CUL Report.
I like the CUL Report.

Help me out here Toto.

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