If it is a rainy day at the end of August, it must be First Days at Williams. Throughout the 80’s the day of then freshmen now first year arrival seemed to always be a day like today, overcast with a bit of rain but not enough to make moving in too hard. At least, that was the weather 21 years ago.

But, from EphBlog’s point of view, there are two key questions: First, is anyone blogging the First Days experience? We are most interested in the presentations that the College makes. I heard some negative comments about last year’s speakers and wonder if things will be better this time around. Second, is anyone taking pictures?

Previous posts on First Days here and here. And, of course, I wonder if the class of 2009 will be learning The Mountains?

The central goal of First Days should be to ensure that every first year makes at least a friendly acquaintanceship with 50 or so other members of the class. A week is not enough time for friendship, of course, but it would be nice if everyone knew enough people well enough that there was always a table for them to join in Baxter (or wherever it is that first years are eating now). Also, it is best if these meetings are as randomized as possible. Ephs of specific interests and backgrounds will have no doubt congregate in the years to come. First Days is the time to meet those who you might not ordinarily meet.

The College already starts this process in the right direction by ensuring that entries are a microcosm of Williams as a whole. There is nothing wrong with well done social engineering. It is also wise to provide a week for the first years to do things as a class, without the pressure/distractions of other obligations. (Am I right in thinking that first year athletes don’t start practicing with their teams until after First Days are over?) I hope that the JA’s also mix up people (perhaps via entry-pairings?) in the discussions after the various speakers. And, certainly, every discussion should begin with the sort of learn-everyone’s-name game that is a staple of summer camps and retreats.

It would be also good to see more of this forced mixing. I hope that WOOLF groups are, for example, not organized by entry but instead mix up the entries as much as possible. It would be even better if the College put WOW later in the semester so that URMs are not (self-)segregated from the very start of their Williams experience.

We are all purple first.

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