College Council notes from the wonderful Emily Deans ’09. Full notes below, but note this item.

The CDC [Committee on Diversity and Community] is also analyzing the homogeneity of the JA selection committee and the JA structure. In particular, the CDC is focusing on what JAs can do to ensure that minority students can feel a part of the entry. The implications of this would primarily be resolved in more in-depth and issue-specific training addressing issues that often affect minority students.

Come on! Is any reasonable person actually concerned that the JA selection committee is too homogeneous? The JASC is one of the great student institutions at Williams. It is probably biased in favor of people who are rah-rah Williams, but mainly because you have to be fairly rah-rah to care about who gets to be a JA. I would bet big money that, relative to its applicant pool, the JASC is as diverse as diverse can be. The problem with an organization like CDC is that, left unchecked, there is always the chance that it could do real damage, like insist on involving non-students from the Office of Campus Life in its deliberations.

Any JA readers can comment on whether or not they feel that the JAs need more “in-depth and issue-specific training” on these topics. I bet they get enough.

Full notes below. (Apologies for the formatting. My fault not Emily’s.)
UPDATE: Early posting was not the final version of the notes. Fixed now.

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College Council
Meeting: Proposing a Committee

Wednesday, March
11, 2008, 7:30-9:00

Meeting in Hopkins
Hall Basement, B03 Classroom

All College
Council Meetings are open to the Williams Community. Anyone who wishes
to speak before Council should contact Peter and Jeremy (09psn and 09jmg_2).

Budgets

This
week there were three budgets on the slate. College Bowl requested $1,888.00
for nationals and pay for tournament registration and hotel room and
half for plane tickets amount recommended was $1,000.00. Octet requested
$675.00 and amount recommended was $620.00 because they had overestimated
room costs. Nothing But Cuties (NBC) requested $1,721.25 and the recommended
amount was $1,325.25 after factoring in what the group already had in
its account.

Thomas
Rubinsky (Class of 2010 Rep) motioned to vote on the slate and Narae
Park (Dodd Board Rep) seconded the motion.

The
motion to pass the budgets passed.

Massachusetts Power Shift

Melina
Davis ’11 and Rachel Savain ’10 came to speak to CC about MAPS (Massachusetts
Power Shift), which is holding a rally in Boston from April 11-14 focused
on climate change and action against climate change. The main goal of
conference is to take an interdisciplinary approach to climate change
(industry, health, etc). The weekend will have events focused on green
jobs, entertainment, and will have skill oriented workshops to prepare
people for lobby day to get the Global Warming Solutions Act passed
in Massachusetts. The bill calls for 80% reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions by 2050.

Williams
is paying for transportation and housing for students who want to attend
the rally and it costs $10 to register. The girls hoped that the rally
would make individuals excited about empowerment, activism, and what
we can do through the democratic process and encouraged Council to spread
the word.

Committee on Diversity and
Community (CDC)

Tony
Coleman ’10 represented the CDC at the CC meeting to report
on what the CDC has been doing recently. The CDC organizes Williams
Reads during Winter Study and is currently working on organizing a town
hall meeting to broaden dialogue that started with Stand With Us. The
CDC hopes that the result of the meeting will be more of an initiative
from the community to prevent incidents on campus. The meeting will
discuss “–isms” at Williams and what steps the community can take
to ensure that similar incidents do not happen in the future. The CDC
also sponsors the Bolin Fellowship, which is a fellowship for post-doctoral
minority academics to come to Williams for a year or two and teach one
class. The college pays them to teach and continue their thesis work.
The main focus of the CDC this year has been on faulty retention.

The
CDC is also working with faculty mentoring and advising and is working
to make advising more of a mainstay at Williams and in students’ careers.
Especially for students who are pre-med, pre-law, or intend to go on
to another form of graduate education.

The
CDC is also analyzing the homogeneity of the JA selection committee
and the JA structure. In particular, the CDC is focusing on what JAs
can do to ensure that minority students can feel a part of the entry.
The implications of this would primarily be resolved in more in-depth
and issue-specific training addressing issues that often affect minority
students.

Finally,
the CDC is also looking into the issue of gaps in services for international
and minority students.

Committee on Undergraduate
Life (CUL)

Allison
Gardner ’10 reported to CC about the work that the CUL has
been doing this year. The objective of the CUL is to improve student-faculty
involvement and create programs to create awareness about issues on
campus. The CUL is currently working on Mental Health Awareness Week
because this campus has seen tragedy regarding mental health issues
over the past year. The goal of the week is not specifically promoting
health services but is more about being mentally healthy. The week is
centered on the book, The Unquiet Mind, which was made available
to students before Spring Break through the Williams Reads program.
From April 7-9 there will be programming around the book and Dr. Jamison
is coming to speak about the book, which is geared towards college students
and college students responses to mental illness.

Mental
Health Matters: Reducing Stress, Distress, and Stigma at Williams

On
March 13th we distributed copies of Dr. Kay Jamison’s “An Unquiet
Mind: Memoirs of Moods and Madness” in Paresky, Sawyer, and Schow
Atrium in affiliation with the Williams Reads program.

On
April 7th, Psych Services and the Berkshire chapter of the National
Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will table at Paresky and the Women’s
Center will lead a discussion of “An Unquiet Mind.”

On
April 8th, Psych Services, Health Education, and Active Minds will table
at Paresky throughout the day. In the evening, we will screen
the short film “The Truth About Suicide” and discussion with
Chaplain Rick Spalding and Dr. John Miner of Psych Services will follow.
Afterwards we will show the feature film “Ordinary People.”

On
April 9th, Psych Services, the CUL, and Active Minds will table at Paresky
again. In the early afternoon Dr. Jamison and Active Minds will
hold a student reception in Paresky. Dr. Jamison will give a public
lecture titled “Personal and Professional Perspectives on Mental
Illness” at Chapin at 7:30, and afterwards ACE, Dining Services,
and the CUL will hold a “Super Stressbusters” event where
students will be able to meet Dr. Jamison and Psych Services (and, of
course, get free food!).

Another
objective for the CUL this year were to address the system of the 1914
library, which is perceived as a source of embarrassment for financial
aid students. The original idea was to have a lottery system for people
to pick up their books but that idea was essentially rejected because
the general feeling was that students who had more desire to wait and
get the books should have priority because of their willingness. Faculty
have not been that responsive to students about this issue. A committee
is being created to address this issue and to oversee the creation of
a new system. One student made a suggestion that it would be wise to
at least invest in tents for cold weather and water for warm weather
that students have to wait in to get their books.

The
Office of Financial Aid has not been taking initiative and has seemed
to be resistant to make changes. Athletes have problems getting their
books. The CUL has recommended that the 1914 Library be expanded and
potentially relocated to an area that would not have students waiting
outside to get their books.

Jon
Prigoff (Wood Board Rep) suggested that buying books cheaply online
might help alleviate some of the pressure on the 1914 library. Several
members of CC raised the issue that it is not easy for students not
on financial aid to buy their books, either. Water St. Books is the
Williams College bookstore. The College has outsourced the operation
of that store to Follett Higher Education Group. There was a general
sentiment that it is pretty ridiculous that the only bookstore on campus
charges such high prices. Not all classes have the course books needed
listed online so it is not always possible to order books online, forcing
students to use Water St. Books.

The
CUL is also analyzing the role of neighborhood faculty associates, which
is not really working because the role of faculty associate to a neighborhood
has not been clearly defined. The theory is to have one faculty associate
per neighborhood governance board with delineated responsibilities delineated
counting as a committee credit for faculty. Also, the CUL is trying
to get professors to participate more in neighborhood events and trying
to combine meals for faculty and faculty families into one single budget
with the points that they already have to take people to snack bar,
etc. instead of having the neighborhood governance boards paying for
their meals. Hopefully this will create a lot less tension overall.

Discussion of Cluster Transfers

In the current
neighborhood system, students are placed in a cluster and as freshmen.
As a freshman, an individual can leave his or her cluster or pull people
into a cluster, but upperclassmen do not have the same options for changing
clusters that freshmen have. For upperclassmen the only option to switch
clusters is to form a group of up to three people and that group is
randomly assigned. College Council wants to make a proposal for revising
the system.

  1. Sophomores, juniors,
    and seniors can pull people in the same way freshmen can.
  2. If, as a pick group,
    you want to leave your cluster you and your pick group can leave your
    cluster and you go into a lottery (random neighborhood draw) that is
    subject to class and gender caps on the neighborhoods. Theoretically,
    one group per class could potentially be split up. Each student would
    get one free switch and then there would be a penalty for switching
    a second time (for instance: you would get knocked to the bottom of
    your class automatically).

Jon Prigoff
(Wood Board Rep) thought that any opportunity that gave people more
of a chance of living together would be an improvement. He thought that
the system should not be designed around what neighborhood you want
to live in, but was adamant about the fact that students should be able
to live with their closest group of friends.

Emanuel Yekutiel
(Class of 2011 Rep) brought up the potential for confusion about the
system for freshmen to CC. CC thought it made sense to have a consistent
policy for all classes (especially for Joe Freshman who might not be
able to figure it out).

Rachel Levy
(Treasurer) brought up the issue of different neighborhoods having desirable
housing for each different class. For example, sophomore and junior
housing in Wood and Spencer is great because of Greylock, but is lacking
in terms of senior housing (in which case Dodd is the most desirable
neighborhood in the opinion of many).

Emily Deans
(Secretary) commented that not everyone gets along with their entry
and wants to live with their entry-mates, and that students should not
be penalized for making their best friends later in their Williams career
by not having options to change clusters to be with friends.

CC then discussed
having a pull-in option for upperclassmen. Caroline Henry (Currier Board
Rep) thought it was good for people, but thought that there needs to
be the ability for the number to be larger. Thomas Rubinsky (Class of
2010 Rep) thought that it was an important option that everyone should
have.

Another issue
with pull-in that was raised was that currently freshmen need four or
five people to pull one person in. People randomly sign sheets and there
was a suggestion that if you use the pull in option you should be bound
to live with the people who sign your sheet (or at least two of them).

Straw polls:

  • If there is a pull
    in option you should have to pick in with the group that pulls you in
    (11 in favor, 6 opposed, one abstaining)
  • In favor of pull-in
    as the only option other than random assignment (16 opposed, 2 abstaining)
  • In favor of having
    pull in option in addition to other changes (18 in favor)
  • In favor of system
    with picking subject to availability (18 in favor)
  • In favor of changing
    number of people to change neighborhoods from 3 to 6 (10 in favor, 1
    opposed, 5 abstaining)
  • In favor of extending
    all policies for upperclassmen to freshmen (16 in favor, 2 abstained).

    Absentees:
    Two absences in a row or three in a term result in a member’s expulsion,
    unless overridden by the secretary’s discretion or petition to the
    Council.

Not
in Attendance: Toni Kraeva (Spencer Board Rep), Keith Butts (Spencer
At-Large), Sarah Moore (Class of 2009 Rep)

Respectfully
Submitted,

Emily C. Deans

Secretary, College
Council

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