Richard Dunn ’02 asks:

[W]ould an increase in international students affect the ethos at Williams. And again, even Prof. Crane seems to be missing my argument. The question isn’t whether internationals excel, its whether they would have adopted the same attitude in the presence of classmates who were 30-40% from nations other than the US with substantially different education systems. Instead of attacking my empirical claims, lets address that question.

Good question! I think that Richard raises legitimate points. I have certainly heard tales from students of very different norms in other countries when it comes to cheating. But, optimist that I am, this seems a small concern because no one is recommending that we go from 6% to 30% over night. Start by going to 10%. Perhaps stay at that level for a couple years. See if campus norms change in unfortunate ways. If all looks OK, go to 15% and so on.

Another observation is that, if Williams is to remain an elite college, an increase to 30% international is inevitable. Why? The definition of elite school includes having very high standardized test scores. (Name an elite school that doesn’t.) As more and more schools except more and more international students, schools who do not do so will, almost by definition, have lower averages.

Twenty years from now, Williams will either by 30% international or no longer be in the top 5 (20?) of US News. It can not have one without the other. Imagine a highly ranked school in 1950 which tried to keep the percentages of Jewish and Asian students at historical norms. It might have succeeded, but it would no longer be highly ranked.

So, for those who want Williams to be highly ranked in the future, the question is not should Williams become 30% international, the question is when. For me, the answer is sooner rather than later, as a leader rather than a follower. There are significant advantages to becoming the first truly global liberal arts college. Williams should seize them.

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