The Baxter Fellow program is a failure. See here and here for excellent Record coverage. This highlights a fundamental truth about life at Williams: You can’t pay people to create community. If anything, the more money you spend, the less community you have. Instead of providing commentary on those articles, let’s take a trip to memory lane.

Lots of ranting and I-told-you-so below. And never forget The Tablecloth Colors!
Three years ago I complained (with regard to the lack of “community” in student life):

D’uh! Is it too much to ask that the CUL fess up and admit that it, and other parts of the College, are the direct cause of this unfortunate state of affairs? Consider:

1. The College now has a Director of Campus Life and 4 Campus Life Coordinators. I have no doubt that they are all fine people dedicated to making Williams students happier. I am eager to believe that the money directed to this new bureaucracy — a bureaucracy largely created by CUL — is well worth it.
2. The College now has 29(!) Housing Coordinators. I am still a little hazing on the role that HCs play. It sure seems like they do all the stuff that house officers (presidents, vice presidents and social chairs) used to do. Does Carter House even have a president anymore? If so, what does she do?
3. The College facilitated the creation of ACE. Again, without being on campus, it is hard to know if ACE is a good thing or a bad thing. ACE certainly seems to make real efforts and Drew Newman ‘04 provides an impressive argument as to its origin, function and worth.

But, whatever else made be said about DCL/CLC/HC/ACE and any other acronyms you’d care to name, they do not increase student autonomy. By definition, they do things that students used to do for themselves. Back in the day, the students of Carter House decided who would be president, what dues would be levied and what sorts of parties to throw. Maybe they did it poorly. Maybe they did it perfectly. But they did it themselves.

Moreover, this was still the case up until 2001, at least. Perhaps these additions have made students better off. Perhaps not. Perhaps we would have been better off with them during the era of affiliation housing. But there can be no denying that they decreased student autonomy. (And yes, students are heavily involved in many of these acronyms, but each represents a centralization of planning, control and standards.)

And they were, to a large extent, CUL’s idea. CUL has no business blaming free agency for decreased autonomy when free agency co-existed perfectly well with autonomy without DCL/CLC/HC/ACE. If DCL/CLC/HC/ACE have not improved student life in the last 5 years, then CUL should recommend their elimination. (Unlikely, since DCL and one CLC and one HC are on CUL.)

See original for further links and context. The College has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, hired dozens of people, and things are no better — in terms of “community” — then they were eight years ago when Morty showed up. Total abject failure.

If the College wanted to argue otherwise, it has the evidence to do so. It could release the COFHE data that it has for Williams and demonstrate that things are better. Since it doesn’t, you know they are not. We never did learn about the magic 13% statistic, did we?

Two years ago that I predicted:

The more that professionals are hired/paid to make your community vibrant, the less vibrant it will become.

Last year that I warned about:

tension between the neighborhood leadership and the BFs [Baxter Fellows]

And so it has come to pass.

Read all the above for more context, but the central problem is that same as it was when I started blogging 5 years ago.

You can not buy community!

In fact, the more money you spend on it, at least in terms of salaries for full-time professionals and part-time students, the less that you get. No matter what anyone tries to do, no matter how much money they throw at this, the system can not work.

What to do? Easy! First, fire all the Baxter Fellows. Then, fire all the CLC’s. Take the money that you were spending on them and give it all to the Neighborhood Boards. Don’t forget to demand transparent accounting. Their budgets should be on-line for all to see.

Elected, unpaid student leaders will spend that money wisely. They know what students want and will give it to them. If they don’t, the students will choose other leaders.

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