Despite the fact that I tried to contact all the student members from the 2002 CUL, I only got back one more response, other than the original one from John Phillips ’02. The student prefers to remain anonymous. The entire comment is below. For me, the most interesting sentence is:

[I]t seemed like the anchor house system was going to be implemented regardless of what the students in the organization said; Mr. Phillips is right about that.

An observor might reasonably ask, “If free agency is so much better than affiliation and/or anchor housing, why has the administration been consistently intent on ending it for the last 5 years?”

Good question. Short answer: Student choice is dangerous. The more choice, the more danger. My guess is that people like Schapiro and Roseman (new to their positions in 2000) as well as long time faculty/alumni like Dew ’58 and Dudley ’89 looked at housing in 2000 and did not like what they saw. In particular, they hated the theme houses that free agency had created. They did not want houses to be all African American. They did not want houses to be all football/hockey/lacrosse players. If these were the inevitable result of free agency, then free agency had to go.

Again, this is a guess on my part, but it explains all the facts that we know. It is also consistent with some of the remarks in the CUL’s 2002 report.

Other than co-op houses, a reduction in the group size to 4 students per group, so that any special interest group may not ‘take over’ a house.

I think that the desire to prevent theme houses is good. If one of the fundamental assumptions of Williams Housing policy is that there shall be no theme houses, then something had to be done about the theme houses that had developped.

The Meta Story of the anchor housing debate is that it really has nothing to do with anchor housing. It is all about preventing theme housing. Reducing pick size, gender balance and ending WSO plans have all been steps in that direction. Alas, I just think that theme housing could be prevented while maintaining most of the aspects of free agency that students really care about, but that is a screed for another day.

Entire comment below.

I feel that he [John Phillips ’02] has perhaps misled your readers. We did discuss, in depth, the idea of anchor houses and everything entailed. He is correct that housing pick size was a big discussion (and heated at times) within the organization, but for the most part we discussed anchor housing and the addition of CLCs (Community Life Coordinators).

Onto anchor housing and CLCs. Originally, CLCs were to be implemented as part of anchor housing. They were supposed to be anchor leaders who directed/worked directly with the house presidents and social chairs within their cluster. They were to be the unifying element within the cluster that brought all house and student ideas (within the respective cluster) together to then reflect the ideas as a cluster to the rest of the campus. So, if a certain house within the (say) Agard cluster wanted to throw a party, the leaders of that particular house would meet with the CLC and, potentially, the other house leaders within that cluster and work together to make the party a possibility. Then it would be advertised campus wide that x-house within the Agard cluster was throwing said party. Additionally, if there were problems within any respective house, they could meet with the CLCs and other house leaders in the cluster to come to a resolution. I believe that is still supposed to be the role of the CLCs, the only difference is that when we originally came up with the concept of implementing them on campus, they were supposed to be with the anchor housing system. Because the CUL was not ready to implement the new housing system immediately (because of some serious opposition from many of the students within the organization, including myself), the decision was made to hire CLCs and see how they worked on campus before pressing the anchor housing idea.

Your thread, Dudley’s comments, AND your comment in this email about no mention of ending the room draw are ALL correct. I believe that there is no mention of the end of the room draw as I knew it (in 2002) because the CUL was not ready to fully propose the anchor housing system in depth. The idea was to not cause any unnecessary problems among the students if the plan was not ready to be fully proposed. But, Dudley is right too. It was discussed (in depth) on many occasions that the room draw would change. I think the confusion lies in how you are interpreting Dudley’s words. It seems that you think we proposed getting rid of the room draw all together. Instead we proposed just altering it. Students would still have a room draw, much as they did before, however, the new system would limit the number of houses students could pick into. Instead of having access to the entire campus housing system, they would be limited to the houses assigned to their specific cluster.

The idea that cluster housing was developed under was campus unity. We had noticed that the campus had become split along three factions: partiers/non-partiers, athletes/non-athletes, and age. And all three were directly reflected in housing choices. Nobody who attended when I did can refute that. You had the row houses (partiers/athletes), the odd-quad (non-partiers/non-athletes), Dodd complex (minorities), and Mission (sophomores), Greylock (juniors), and obviously all freshman housing. The idea was to throw a wrench in that trend and try to get everyone to interact outside of their comfort zones. We recognized the importance of freshman entries, but also wanted the frosh to be more involved with upperclassmen. That is why during the second semester, frosh would be assigned to an anchor house. It was to be a support system that they could go to outside of their entry. They could not only meet other frosh, but get to know upperclassmen that they would have otherwise had no access to.

I also believe that we had discussed that they would have been assigned to an upperclassmen as a mentor type relationship, but I don’t remember our final decision on that idea. Anyhow, that is basically what and why the anchor house system was proposed. Additionally, we wanted the faculty to become more involved with the students. The idea was that having a closer relationship between student and faculty would not only be good for academics on campus, but also for campus life and campus unity. We wanted to create a campus that everyone felt deeply tied to and had fond memories of. We also didn’t want certain groups of students to feel alienated from a house because a majority of the occupants were from another select group. For instance, my senior year Wood house was mostly male and Tyler house was mostly female, which is were I lived. (We had planned it so that all our friends were in the same house, and it just so happened that most of us were senior females.). We didn’t want men to feel they couldn’t pick into Tyler because it was “female” housing and vis versa. Likewise, Tyler Annex was mostly sophomore hockey and football players (and had been for some time). We didn’t want female non-partiers to feel alienated from that house because they were neither male, a sophomore, or on one of those teams.

As for my personal opinions on the matter, I was not in favor of the anchor house system. (I did, however, love the idea of CLCs.) While on the CUL, it seemed like the anchor house system was going to be implemented regardless of what the students in the organization said; Mr. Phillips is right about that. But at least we could help mold the new system to make it more appealing for our fellow students. I thought that the motivation behind the system was good. The campus was split and needed to become more united. We had seen programs such as First Fridays at Goodrich (which I personally was one of the facilitators of) and the Faculty Night dinners become huge successes on campus that brought together everyone regardless of those aforementioned factions. I think the faculty and staff on the CUL wanted to see similar results within the housing program. However, as I saw it, the anchor housing and its’ limitations would have created more of a strain on things. If you have a group of hard core partiers living next to a group of non-partiers, it seemed obvious that conflict would arise…especially on Thursdays because most people had class on Friday. Part of the plan was to eliminate the student’s ability to see who they were picking in next to. To me, it was asking for problems. Not to mention the fact that the students would have found a way to get around anchor houses and room pick changes. I also thought that if you were assigned to a certain anchor and wanted to be a part of another anchor that problems would arise. But, in-spite of the anchor house issue, I loved being on CUL. All of our other ideas and suggestions (like community service) were taken to heart. I think that the only thing the faculty and staff were not going to budge on was actually proposing the system. They seemed dead set on the idea, regardless of how students felt. And, looking back on things now, it was the only plan that they could think of that would unite the campus (which WAS a problem). I think that the idea of anchor houses are fine, I just didn’t like the room draw limitations. I think that was the bigger issue with all the students on the board (and on campus). The idea of being affiliated with a house (or cluster) is great so long as students are given free choice as to were they want to live.

Thanks to this CUL member for taking the time to write.

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