Note Diana’s interesting comment from yesterday.

The other day when I walked into Hopkins Hall, I was surprised to see a multitude of nearly-identical 8.5×11 posters, each saying “I want a Women’s Center at Williams” and signed, big, in marker, by a different student or other person. I found this quite obnoxious and thought about starting my own “I don’t want a Women’s Center at Williams” postering campaign, but before doing this, I wanted to know who was behind it — a student group, or the administration?

I walked into the Campus Life office and asked the woman there, and indeed, someone in that office was responsible for this eyesore. So that’s why Campus Life is so busy, because apparently part of their job description includes conducting this kind of useless postering campaigns.

Which CLC is most likely behind the push for a Women’s Center but, at the same time, wants the College to pay some student to put up her posters for her? Sara Ansell. Recall her contribution to the WSO blogs last spring.

I need to jump in here and clear up a few things. The Women’s Center is planning on using a space in Hardy House. Nancy Roseman has given approval and I am setting up a meeting with the MCC to confirm the space. There will be a meeting on Monday at 1:30 (not 1pm – time change) in Goodrich with pizza to organize the Women’s Center (or whatever name is decided upon) and to organize students who would like to volunteer as Women’s Center staff members.

As always, it is hard to tell from a distance just how central Ansell’s role in this has been. Please tell us details. My sense is that Ansell played a critical role in the formation of a Women’s Center at Williams (I think that there is a prototype of one now) and that she continues to lead the push to expand it — establish a separate building, hire dedicated staff and so on. Comments:

1) This does not mean that Sara Ansell is a bad person! I have no doubt that I would like her, that she works hard at her job and hopes to improve the lives of Williams students. She leads the fight for a Women’s Center at Williams because she thinks a Women’s Center would be a good thing. Indeed, judging from her involvement in community service, Ansell strikes me as just the sort of young woman I hope my daughters will grow into someday.

2) Before there was an Office of Campus Life, with its Director, Assistant Directors, Campus Life Coordinators, House Life Coordinators and so forth, the fight for improvements at Williams was led by students. It was students who created the Black Student Union and led the efforts that secured Rice House. It was students who created the QSU and won the right to use Hardy House. I witnessed the protests which led to the creation of the MCC. The students who led that effort learned more about life and leadership than any course at Williams could ever teach them. (If anyone knows the details of this history, please share them.) Now, perhaps these improvements would have occurred sooner if, counterfactually, the OCL had existed 30 years ago; perhaps the presence of paid College employees leads to desirable change more quickly.

But the leadership opportunities for Williams students are less; their chance to change the College for the better more limited. Every time that Sara Ansell does something for students which students used to do for themselves, the Williams experience for those students is less than what it should be.

3) Is there a written statement about what the duties of CLCs are? What are they supposed to do and what are they not supposed to do? It seems obvious that CLCs should not take the lead in anything. They should, perhaps, support student efforts, but if anyone is to lead the fight for a Women’s Center at Williams, it should be a Williams student.

4) The continuing assault on student autonomy is a favorite EphBlog theme. Remember those tablecloths!

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