Here is the pdf description of First Days activities. Has there been more beautiful weather for First Days recently? Not that I recall. Indeed, the “tradition” has been for a rainy move-in day. Not this year.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the document. I save a copy here to help out future historians. How much has First Days changed in the last 10 and 20 years? I don’t know. Back in the 80s, it was a much less elaborate affair. I vaguely recall only arriving at school on Labor Day (same as all other students) with classes starting that Wednesday. (WOLFers had come to campus earlier along with many athletes.) We had one class dinner/meeting followed by an entry discussion of a book that we were all supposed to have read.

The current practice seems much better. The more that you can bind the class together before the centrifugal forces of the semester kick in, the better. I still think that Norma Lopez ’95 is one of the great unsung heroes of Williams.

Any reports from this year’s activities? I am especially interested in the singing of The Mountains and Greg Tanaka’s ’70 presentation on diversity last Wednesday. Can any of our ’11 readers help us out?

I am also curious about the interaction between athletics and First Days. Back in the day, elite athletes (at least the football player in our entry) arrived at campus ahead of everyone else, perhaps even on the same schedule as varsity athletes (or maybe this only applied to football players). This seemed like a bad idea to me since it decreased entry bonding significantly. One of the many things that I like about the new First Days is how (I think!) your entry comes before your team. Even if you are, say, the field hockey team’s star prospect from the class of 2011, you still don’t start practicing with the team until, when? August 31?

But I would still go further in this direction. It seems from the schedule that eph athletes must choose between going on WOLF (or one of the other Ephventures) which started last Friday or signing up for something called “Athletics.” So, I assume that the field hockey players were expected (required) to skip WOLF. Is that correct? Now, knowing Williams coaches, I am sure that most would graciously allow a player who asked to go to WOLF to skip those practices, but what player is going to ask? All the expectations run the otjer way.

People sometime claim that I am against social engineering. Untrue! I am all in favor of effective social engineering. Morty (and many, many faculty) occasionally worry that athletics and athletes are too much at the center of campus life, that the typical Williams athlete does not have as many non-teammate friends as she “should.” Well, if you really believe that, then the best time to fix it is First Days. No first year should be allowed to participate in a team practice until the first day of classes. Let them be Ephs first and athletes second.

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