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The End of the Central Fund

Cluster housing now has another reason to be disliked. As reported in the Record here the central fund is no more. For those who don’t know how the central fund works, it was where all the money from bracelet sales went to pay for alcohol so that the school funds would not be involved. THe central fund existed under the old social chairs comittee, but grew much larger when we decided to send out direct mail to students over the summer in 2003 when ACE began.

Now with the start of cluster housing, ACE’s role in collecting funds and planning social events is being phased out. The plan is to replace the central fund with house dues, but from my experience, the amount of people who pay house dues is very low. I don’t see anyway that house dues could replace the central fund. Also clusters are supposed to plan their own events which is supposed to replace ACE’s central planning.

Another concern the school has is keeping alcohol purchases separate from the school for liability purposes, but won’t having dues collected by a student paid by the college like a house coordinator be even more of a liability problem? The question I have, does this mean that the entire social scene will end up being phased out? Or could cluster housing actually revive the scene? My sources at school have told me that the social scene has gotten worse and worse over the last few years so I’m not going to write off a new idea, but I have serious concerns of the ability of cluster housing to properly raise the necessary funds.

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#1 Comment By Alexander Woo On April 28, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

There was no central fund when I was at Williams (graduated ’97). We had house dues. Some houses did well collecting dues; others did not. Generally, smaller and more-cohesive houses did well in dues collection, as did houses with more drinkers. As far as i can recall, Currier did not even bother my senior year, nor did West my sophmore year. Then again, those houses did not drink. But other houses did collect.

#2 Comment By frank uible On April 28, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

Bring back the simple, direct and, above all, effective fraternity system!

#3 Comment By hwc On April 28, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

I agree. I think a fraternity/sorority system would be a huge plus for Williams.

#4 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On April 28, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

When I was in Dennett (73-75) we never paid dues yet were drowning in money, to the tune of 10s of thousands of dollars in the house account. We raked in the cash via two pinball machines (the only ones on campus).

Wall Street titans in the making, we then took that money and made more money — we bought a high-end stereo system, and rented it out to other houses for their parties. We also converted a soda vending machine so it would dispense beer and made a profit from that. So I think a low house income only displays a lack of imagination.

#5 Comment By rory On April 29, 2006 @ 12:04 am

I’ve always respected you Guy, but a beer dispensing soda machine has made me view you as a demigod. There’s brilliant, and then there’s beer dispensing soda machines!

#6 Comment By Jonathan Landsman On April 29, 2006 @ 12:14 am

History has shown that the college would only sink so much money into social planning (a limitation I’m all for) and that they will reallocate resources from places that students had come to count on for new pet systems they wanted to promote (a policy that, to me, makes it plain why “no harm in trying” does not apply to experiments like Anchor Housing). The case in point that showed me this was when the Director of Campus Life was hired, and 10k of discretionary funds (held by Security, I believe) that had always gone to SAC (which became ACE) was redirected that year to Campus Life’s purview, primarily going to the HC system. ACE complained about this at the time and made it known campuswide that their budget for the year had included this money.

So when I heard of all the new student boards and “middle level” planning structures that the CUL intended to come with Anchor Housing, I knew they also must have forseen the resources for it coming from somewhere else. Sure enough, here it is, it seems.

Far as I can tell, the Central Fund has always been a pool of money steeped in a little bit of mystery, much like the CC “Slush Fund.” I, too, heard that its funds came from the sales of bracelets, and that its purpose was to provide alcohol monies that did not come from the College. However, from the touchiness of ACE members about mention of the Fund in the CC minutes, and from the CC treasurer’s remarks to me that College money did in fact make it into this fund somehow, I suspect there’s more to the story. If the administration suspects Anchor Housing will help it do away with a treacherous Central Fund, I imagine that’s a huge plus to the system for them.

The linked Record article says that ACE, despite already having successfuly applied for funding from CC for next year, has not yes completed its self-audit. Would the books of the Central Fund be included in this audit? Are there records of it?