Think that EphBlog is never helpful to the Williams Administration? Think again! Andrew Goldston ’09 reports that at the College Council meeting about poo fighting Dean Merrill said (paraphrased):

I’m not a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I’m not shutting down alcohol on campus. What I am doing is reviewing, where are the super big problem points, particularly in the excessive drinking culture at Williams.

In ’04-’05 we had the Alcohol Task Force, they made an interesting report, but I left it had home. That report should be visible, available.

You think? Was it just two years ago next week that I effusively praised the College for making the Report publicly available?

Congratulations to Williams, and the people who run it, for being so open in discussions of the issue of alcohol on campus. The full report is here. Below the break is the e-mail that Dean Roseman recently sent to the “Williams Community”.

The topic of alcohol (much less drugs) is an interesting one. Perhaps the report is worth reading. But, for a process-obsessed curmudgeon like me, the most important thing is that Williams has published it conclusions and the underlying data for all to see. Openness is the sine qua non of a scholarly community. Kudos all around.

Link doesn’t work? Me either! As is so often the case, I was too quick in my praise of College officials. They removed the report the next day.

Thought that my praise of the College’s openness with regard to the Alcohol Report was premature? You were right! Director of Public Affairs Jim Kolesar ’74 writes:

We made a technical mistake in posting the alcohol web site. The data is intended to inform college discussion. The intent was for it not to be available to the public since we’re not aware of sufficiently comparable data from other schools. The mistake was that the site was posted originally in a way that made it open to all. That’s now been corrected. We intend to make it available to alumni and parents. That correction will take a day or two. When it’s ready, we’ll notify all alumni and parents for whom we have e-mail addresses.

Pathetic. As Jim notes, the site is no longer available.

1) File this under the category of no praise goes rewarded. When will the College learn that, 95% of the time, honesty is the best policy? I find it impossible to believe that any potential applicants would choose, say, Amherst over Williams because of what they read in the Report if Amherst refuses to publish similar data. High school seniors are not that stupid!

2) It would be reasonable for the College to sanitize the Report a bit, prior to publication. Reasonable people might suggest that the raw comments should be summarized and not included. But to hide the entire report from the world over concerns about the lack of “sufficiently comparable data from other schools” is borderline dishonesty. Will tour guides be instructed not to mention the Report? Will applicants who request a copy be denied one?

3) Still want to read a copy of the Report? Well, EphBlog is here to help! Now, the relationship between EphBlog and the College is a tricky one. We are not out to embarrass the Williams; we want more people to apply and more of those accepted to enroll. But, as Dean Fix reminds us, “intellectual honesty is the highest value at Williams.” So, while I have never abused my alumni login privileges by accessing a private document and then making it public, I am happy enough to facilitate such abuse by others. So, where is the student brave enough to post the Report (or at least the highlights an summary) to her own blog?

And, mirable dictu, a responsible Eph did make the report public here because “information wants to be free.” Indeed. Comments:

1) The Report is now “visible” and “available,” just as Dean Merrill requested. No need to thank me!

2) There is some other information that wants to be free. For example, why can’t those of us off-campus look at the Williams Diversity Databook (link won’t work if you are not on campus) portion of the Self Study for Accreditation? Some future Dean may want that to be “visible” too. Let’s help her out!

3) The other major report that should be public is from the Diversity Initiatives. Who will make that information free? Future Deans will thank you! (Note that our CGCL two years ago covered this report in detail.)

4) Unless someone either objects or has a better idea, this year’s CGCL will cover the Alcohol Report and the Self Study for Accreditation Report. Contain your excitement!

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