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Class of 1988 Podcast with Nicole Melcher

The latest in the 1988 Podcast series is with Nicole Melcher, College Council VP in 1987-88, fellow Kansan, and one my J.A.’s (I will hopefully be interviewing my other J.A., Lisa Mandl, quite soon) Talking to your J.A. for the first time in about 20 years is an intensely nostalgic experience, and what you are hearing is about 10 minutes of what was an hour long conversation. Thank you Dave, for helping me get back in touch with Nicole and Lisa.

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#1 Comment By Larry George On April 21, 2008 @ 8:33 am


How did you happen to have two female JAs? How were the entries set up in your day? In what buildings?

In the very beginning of coeducation, most of the first-year women were in Sage (but not all, as there were women in Lehman, on the Odd Quad, and maybe in Morgan). The Sage entries had all-female JAs. Williams was all-male, with all-male JAs.

To everyone:
When did mixed-gender entries start? And when did the custom start of having one female and one male JA in each entry?

#2 Comment By Gondo On April 21, 2008 @ 9:00 am


Two female J.A.’s were not uncommon when I was at Williams. Most J.A. teams were single sex; I can’t remember any mixed sex teams while I was at Williams (86-88, 89-90), though there certainly may have been.

The Freshman dorms while I was there were Sage, Williams, Lehman, Morgan, East and Fayerweather. I was in Williams C, freshman entry of David H.T. Kane ’58 (I believe), David Kane ’88 and Brendan Kane ’90. I am certain that there is a whole other thread on the odd coincidences that people noticed during their freshman housing.

My time at Williams was made immeasurably richer by my outstanding J.A.’s, Nicole Melcher and Lisa Mandl.

#3 Comment By Gondo On April 21, 2008 @ 9:06 am

I do wonder about continuity in J.A.’s. My Freshman entrymate/Sophmore and Senior Suitemate, Sanand Raghunandanand (now Menon) became one of the J.A.’s of Williams C during 88-89 and one of his Freshman and my Senior year Suitemate, Lon Troyer, was one of the J.A.’s in Williams C during 1990-91.

JASC members, just coincidence that this happened?

#4 Comment By Larry George On April 21, 2008 @ 9:57 am

Were the frosh in your entry all male? I’m guessing that you had a mixed gender group and that there was never an all-male entry with two female JAs or vice versa. I’m also guessing that part of what was driving having single-sex JAs was that the frosh dorms had not been renovated yet (the current configurations in Williams and Sage make for a lot more possibilities than the former ones did, as does using Mission, which is virtually al singles, for the first years).

#5 Comment By Gondo On April 21, 2008 @ 10:10 am

My Freshman year (86-7), Williams C and D were part of the Freshman Residential Seminar, an experiment cooked up by Kurt Tauber, which, again, could be a whole other post. Both of the entries were co-ed.

There were two single sex entries. Williams A was all male and I believe either Sage D or Sage E was all female and went by the scurrilous nickname, “Castle Anthrax”. Both single sex entries had J.A.’s of the same gender.

#6 Comment By FROSH mom On April 21, 2008 @ 10:19 am

I enjoyed the podcast as well. The fact that you are, at this point, in touch with your JA, illustrates the unique connection that Williams alumni seem to nurture.

I’m just wondering if Nicole read (under the Purple Pub thread) your ‘recounting’ of the ‘good times’ had while under her watch? Or was that later?

My frosh has a guy and a gal JA team.

#7 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On April 21, 2008 @ 10:26 am

Indeed, Williams A was an all-male entry my freshman year (86-87), with two male JA’s (Pavlos Yeroulanos and Sean Cook). Though I haven’t kept in touch with them through the years, I thought they did an outstanding job, and I considered them friends. I believe it was Sage F that was the all-female entry, and my recollection was that Sage A was all-male, too.

#8 Comment By Gondo On April 21, 2008 @ 10:34 am


Most of those Purple Pub hijinks were later in my Williams career. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


You’re memory is better than mine regarding the Sage entries. I kept asking myself if it was Sage F when I wrote the post. Thanks for clearing it up.

Wow, Pavlos Yeroulanos and Sean Cook, that takes me back.

#9 Comment By FROSH mom On April 21, 2008 @ 10:46 am


Indeed…good to know, Gondo.

#10 Comment By JG On April 21, 2008 @ 10:53 am

During my time at Williams (97-01), JA teams were all co-ed, expect for the occasional glitch of a single sex team due to unforeseen circumstances. All of the entires were co-ed, and Williams E was the Freshman Residential Seminar entry. Frosh were in Williams & Sage, Lehman, Morgan, and East/Faye.

As far as ending up in the same entries, at least by the time I did it (1999-2000) there was a lottery to pick your entry. That meant that people often self-selected their old spot if they had a good experience. There were also all kinds of different schools of thought about being in the middle of a building, wanting the Odd Quad over Frosh Quad, etc.

How some frosh get assigned to where their parents or siblings went is another story – that is up to the PTB at Williams.

#11 Comment By FROSH mom On April 21, 2008 @ 10:56 am

What is the distinction of the Freshman Residential Seminar entry?

#12 Comment By Ronit On April 21, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

FM – the FRS entry-members all take a class together in freshman fall. In my first year, the classes were intro courses in environmental studies or religion… I will say that many of the members of the FRS seemed to maintain a community even after freshman year, though I have no idea if the fact that they took a class together had anything to do with it. Might just be the self-selective aspect of putting students interested in the same topic to live together.

#13 Comment By Ronit On April 21, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

Or, quite possibly, they take a yearlong course over both fall and spring semesters.

#14 Comment By Gondo On April 21, 2008 @ 12:38 pm


Thanks for the update. I had no idea that FRS was still going on.

I was part of the inaugural group. Two entries, 1 class each semester, each class had two sections. As I mentioned in my Ephblog bio, there are two other listed Ephblog writers who were in my entry, hence part of FRS, Brendan Kane, who occasionally makes an appearance on Ephblog, and Jane Penner, whom I have never seen post.

Any other FRS alums out there?

#15 Comment By Ronit On April 21, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

Looks like it has been pared down to just a Fall semester course now:


This year’s course is Introduction to Religion, which seems to have remained a consistent pick over the last four years:


#16 Comment By FROSH mom On April 21, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

The FRS sure sounds like something that would encourage bonding. And a course like Religion, could be especially unforgettable in a particularly diverse entry.

I am very, very grateful to the JAs that my frosh has had. They have been supportive and helpful, above and beyond the call…

#17 Comment By Larry George On April 21, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

Did the JAs ever take or TA the FRS?
Were the FRS topics always announced ahead of the deadline for indicating an interest in FRS housing?
In the new world of first years basically being able to ask for a single or a double, is the FRS entry in Mission (singles) or on the Frosh Quad (mainly doubles, but with a few singles)? I’m trying to figure out how “cozy” the FRS set up is.

#18 Comment By Larry George On April 21, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

Interesting to watch the evolution of these two institutions.

FM – I agree with you. Good JAs (and most are) are true heroes and heorines in my book.

#19 Comment By ronit On April 21, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

When Freshmen pre-select their fall courses in the spring, there is a specific box they have to tick if they want to take the FRS. The course description is announced at the same time as all other courses, so they know what they’re getting into.

#20 Comment By FROSH mom On April 21, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

Larry, I am pretty sure that Sage and Williams are mostly singles with one to two doubles per entry floor.

Tiny rooms, but very cozy. And the common rooms were generous and pleasant…lots of windows, wood floors, decent furniture, etc.
The bathroom I saw was big …not bad at all.

All in all, the dorms at Williams were some of the best we saw on our college tour…and the meal as well.

Speaking of ‘campus cuisine’, there was an amusing article not too long ago (probably NYT) about how colleges are actually trying to entice students with the food! I believe it was Bowdoin that serves lobster once a week… and another school makes and tosses the pizzas with homemade dough…

I’ll see if I can track it down as it was a funny read…

#21 Comment By JG On April 21, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

Larry – this year FRS is Williams F according to the website (my old entry, yay!). The typical frosh quad set up: each suite usually has 2 doubles and 2 singles with a small common room, one on each of four floors. The JAs take two of the rooms, usually on the second floor – coin toss with one getting the single, the other the double. Not that there is that much difference in size in there.

There is a slight difference with Williams E (where the FRS was for several years) since it is the fully accessible entry, so the hallway and door arrangement is a bit different.

It is a pretty cozy set-up, at least in the way that all of the entries are in the Frosh Quad. It is different from the East/Faye arrangement where everyone is on one long hallway, but there are benefits and drawbacks of either.

#22 Comment By ronit On April 21, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

Actually, when I was in Willy, the typical set up was two doubles per suite, with a shared common room (two suites per floor, on either side of the stairs). Only two lucky students had singles, and I think that was because they were right on the top floor.

The frosh quad bathrooms are also pretty cramped considering the number of people who share them.

#23 Comment By FROSH mom On April 21, 2008 @ 3:39 pm

Here we go…

My, how campus cuisine has changed!