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Guide to Shoe Tying

The nice folks at the Office of Campus Life have been busy.

The Office of Campus Life has published their Winter Campus Life Newsletter as an activity guide, full of information on the amazing events, parties, lectures, meetings, dinners and movies happening on campus. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it has a calendar of almost everything going on during Winter Study 2007! Be sure to check WSO for updates to the activities listed in the guide, and for announcements about events not listed.
You can get yours in Goodrich and at the Mail Office–check your PO Boxes as well!
Don’t miss out!
Get Out. Stay in. Have fun!
Winter Study 2007!

Back in the day, students had to figure out for themselves what activities were available. It was brutal! We were so confused! Mostly, we spent January sitting around the common room, staring at each other. Thank goodness OCL is here to help students out.

Next, an Office of Campus Life Guide to Doing Your Laundry. Or how about OCL Guide to Tying Your Shoes.

Now, I realize that this is a bit mean, that the people at OCL mean well, that they are honestly trying to make Williams a better place. But surely there are more important things for them to do, and by that I don’t mean lobby for a women’s center.

More importantly, the issue with this activity guide is the same with as with almost everything else that OCL does. By doing for students what students use to do for themselves (however imperfectly), OCL makes the student experience less than what it was before.

Remember the tablecloths!

By the way, if anyone has an electronic version of the guide, we would love to post it.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On January 6, 2007 @ 7:48 am

Johnny one note pops up again to remind that in the old days the fraternity system was a very efficient and effective vehicle toward “having fun” without its needless engagement in an exhortation of students to do so.

#2 Comment By Anonymous On January 6, 2007 @ 9:57 am

Kane, aren’t you an economist? Wouldn’t it be much more efficient for work like this to be done by the OCL? Students, who do have plenty of other things to do (though maybe less so during WS), can now look at one document to see what different organized activities are going on. Would you also prefer that they each carve their own pencils and weave their own blankets?

There are plenty of things that students really should do for themselves even if others could do them more efficiently for them. This are things in which the students learn valuable lessons and skills. Wasting time trying to figure out all the various activities going on on campus, however, doesn’t seem like one of them.

Aren’t you always complaining that students are not given enough info about courses, etc.? Why don’t you think syllabi should be done away with entirely so that students have to individually seek out professors and ask them detailed questions about their classes?

#3 Comment By David On January 6, 2007 @ 10:49 am

You raise reasonable points, but I question whether work like this needs to be done by anybody. Is there really a need for such a guide? Again, it would be helpful to see a copy. Or perhaps someone could provide a brief description?

I just can’t imagine such a guide being anything but useless. Don’t the Daily Messages provide regular updates on campus events? Aren’t they still printed up and distributed in the dining halls? Isn’t there a campus calendar with a handy listing? Don’t many/most students see the WSO announcements? Don’t students still put up posters all over the campus announcing events?

Perhaps I am missing something, but it seems like the marginal contribution of such a guide is essentially zero. What effect has it had on the behavior of actual students?

So, I guess my complaint is not so much that this is a case of the College doing for students what they should really do for themselves. Instead, the College is doing something that doesn’t need to be done at all.

But, perhaps this guide is wonderful. Perhaps scores of students who would not have known about activity X (Free University? Broomball? KAOS? Trivia?) now learn about X and choose to participate because of the guide. Reports from campus are welcome.

#4 Comment By rory On January 6, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

wouldn’t the monopolization via this guide be better than the inefficiency of daily messages and calendars and other calendars and weekly messages?

Considering the OCL (I believe) does make a lot of those calendars and messages, wouldn’t them combining them into one guide a minimal extra step.

you’re crying over the most minor of spills here.

#5 Comment By current eph On January 6, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

The problem here isn’t the guide–it’s a great idea in concept. I think most students agree that if such a guide were well put-together and accurate it would be useful, and this is the exact sort of service which is managed much better by the OCL rather than simply a conglomeration of students.

HOWEVER, as with many of the OCL’s ideas, the problem with the guide is with execution. OCL asked for a finalized list of activities for Winter Study back during the last weeks of fall semester. Unfortunately, other than major speakers and some occasional events, it is rare for campus organizations to have finalized plans that far in advance. Consequently, there will be many major activities omitted from this guide, and much of the information on the guide will prove innacurate as event times and dates are changed. An innacurate guide is a complete waste of time, and is in many ways counterproductive.

Hopefully in future years the OCL will learn from their mistake, and wait to give campus leaders time to finalize their events before publishing a guide. More likely, however, they will continue to publish the guide in this way (my guess is that they needed final events super early to give them time to get the guide printed), failing to realize the absolute uselessness of an incorrect guide.

#6 Comment By David On January 6, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

Is there any conceivable reason that such a guide can’t be on-line, either in html or, perhaps, a Wiki? Late-adapters might not want to go with a Wiki, but the only explanation (that I can think of) for a paper guide (with its inevitable mistakes and omissions) is that the Office of Campus Life (like any bureaucracy) likes to wave around a physical manifestation of the work that it has done.

Given that we are going to have a guide, what reason is there for it to be paper, much less paper only?

(Rory, I do not think that this is a particularly important issue, yet I am concerned that it may be symptomatic of more general failings of OCL.)