Well, it’s been a few weeks in the making, but the Administration has sent out its letter on anchor housing. Again, why doesn’t the College archive these communications and make them public? The entire letter is below. It seems a sensible enough document. A detailed critique will have to wait until later.

But note that this is probably exactly the same letter that the Administration would have sent out even if College Council had not caved in. Indeed, if College Council had fought — had at least insisted that the CUL do a better job of addressing the unanswered questions raised by Anchors Away — CC would be no worse off today. Instead, they have positioned themselves as administration lapdogs, as sycophants who don’t agree that anchor housing is a good idea but still want to hang out in the big house where the important people live. What a shame.

Again, if CC actually believed that anchor housing was a good idea, then going along is fine, even praise-worthy. But the individual students on the new task forces that the Administration is creating would have still had input. After all, do you think that the Administration cares of each cluster has two or three co-Presidents, or whatever bit of arcana these task forces will deal with? No. Every administration needs and will find collaborators. I expected more courage from CC.

I hope that Schapiro/Roseman were thinking, at least partly, of EphBlog when they wrote:

We also thank the many members of the Williams community who have made substantive, even passionate, contributions to these conversations. We urge you all to remain engaged to help make the final form of the proposal the best it can be.

You can count on it.

To the Williams Community,

As part of the College’s strategic planning process, the Committee on Undergraduate Life has been engaged since 2000 in an evaluation of student and residential life. In 2002, the CUL, chaired by Charles Dew, recommended changes that the College made. It also recommended substantive changes to residential life, which the College delayed to allow the newly created Office of Campus Life time to develop. This year, the CUL, under the leadership of Will Dudley, studied the complicated issue of the structure and organization of residential life and has put forward its proposals for a new Williams House System. The proposed system presents considerable challenges and opportunities for students and for the College. We believe that it has the potential to successfully combine the best aspects of the current free-agent system with the spirit of the previous house era and that it represents a substantial improvement over the status quo.

If you have yet to read the CUL report, we encourage you to do so at:

http://www.williams.edu/resources/committees/cul/housesystem.html

In the decade in which the current system has been in place, those who know the College’s past have noted a loss in student autonomy; less vibrant and varied social life and social opportunities; reduced faculty participation within residential life; and the melting away of Williams traditions that had long served to build community through common experiences.

We have asked the CUL in the year ahead to refine its proposal and continue to engage the College community in a dialog on the remaining details. To do this, the committee will expand into a larger task force. We will look to College Council and others to help identify students to join the effort. We also ask the task force to continue consultations with Junior Advisors, the JA Advisory Board, MinCo, College Council, and others as needed.

The issues that we ask the group to make recommendations on include:

a.. The best student governance structure for houses and housing groups
b.. The appropriate level of financial and staff support
c.. How to provide equity of infrastructure among housing groups
d.. How academic advising and support, including peer support, might be
integrated into the system
e.. The best relationship of first-year entries to housing groups
f.. The appropriate role of coops
g.. The impact of study away
h.. How the efforts of ACE and other campus programming entities can best be integrated into the new system
i.. How the system can take advantage of the new student center
j.. How the 2006 room draw should be structured
k.. How best to involve faculty in house life.

We very much thank members of the CUL, past and present, who have worked over the years on developing and implementing improvements to student life outside the classroom. This process began with the creation and evolution of the Office of Campus Life, a substantial increase in financial support of student programs, and the decision to build a new Student Center. It continues with implementation of a new house system.

We also thank the many members of the Williams community who have made substantive, even passionate, contributions to these conversations. We urge you all to remain engaged to help make the final form of the proposal the best it can be.

Morton Owen Schapiro
President

and

Nancy Roseman
Dean of the College

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