Here are some updates on the fight to save Williams in New York. (Don’t forget to read the Report.) Below you will find the text of an e-mail being sent around to various alumni (including at least one trustee) and the letter to the faculty that alumni/students are being asked to sign. But first, my advice to Ben Sykes ’08 and the other students leading this fight.


MY ADVICE

Good luck in your fight to save WNY. Keep in mind that the key goal is a NO vote at the faculty meeting on Wednesday. The best way to achieve this is to lobby individual members of the faculty on a one-to-one basis. If a student whom she trusts tells a Williams faculty member directly that WNY was one of the best academic experiences of his time at the College, that faculty member will not want to kill the program too quickly. Petitions and campaigning are fine and fun, but Williams faculty have seen dozens of petitions and know that students will sign almost anything. You need to leverage individual relationships.

Have your core group of students (both WNY veterans and those willing to help) make up a list of 50 to 100 faculty that at least one of them know extremely. (It would be nice to contact every member of the faculty but your group is small and time is short.) Have the person who knows faculty member X send her a personalized e-mail which references something about their relationship. Ask to meet with the professor sometime in the next three days in person, so that you might “Express your concerns about the WNY Report and answer any questions that she might have about the program.” As long as the e-mail comes from a student she already knows well, the professor will be hard-pressed to refuse a meeting. And, once you have the meeting, tell your tale about how wonderful WNY is.

Again, go ahead with petitions and rallies. (Handing out something — politely! — as faculty enter the meeting might be a nice touch.) But the key to winning the vote is to lobby individual faculty members one-on-one. Good luck!

E-MAIL MESSAGE

Dear alumni and friends of the Williams in New York program,

I am writing to you on behalf of a number of students who have undertaken an effort to save Williams in New York. As many of you may have heard, two weeks ago the Williams in New York Program Review Committee issued a report recommending the program for termination. We strongly disagree with this report and the methodology involved in assembling it, as WNY has been one of the greatest experiences of our academic careers, thanks in large part to many of you.

We have been circulating a petition amongst members of the Williams community, collecting over 700 signatures to date. We have also drafted a letter for distribution to the voting faculty members at their May 7 meeting. We are hoping to gain as many signatures as possible to both of these documents, particularly the letter, as it will come from students and alumni affiliated with the program. I have attached the letter to this email, and the text of the petition is pasted below.

We are so grateful for all of your assistance in this matter, and we deeply cherish the experiences that we had with many of you in New York.

All the best,

Ben Sykes

Williams Class of 2008

FACULTY LETTER

Dear members of the faculty,

We are writing to you in support of the Williams in New York program. We have witnessed first-hand its great successes in contributing to the intellectual growth of participating Williams students. Unfortunately, the WNY Program Review Committee chose to not interview any of us following our experiences with WNY. Had it done so, its report would have better reflected the program’s overwhelming pedagogical strengths.

WNY, and in particular the program’s fieldwork component, has undoubtedly enhanced the analytical capacities of its students. By engaging with a diverse range of workplaces, individuals, and organizations, WNY students develop an intellectual framework which they can apply to all fields of study. Through fieldwork and other courses of study, students are pushed to work independently and study some of society’s most important institutions. In doing so, students come away from WNY with greater academic and intellectual confidence, enabling them to return to Williams as better thinkers, writers, and leaders. These invaluable academic strengths of the program are not reflected in the report.

The vast majority of WNY alumni stress that the program has been the most valuable academic experience in their time at Williams. Such reflections have led to enormous student support for the pilot program, as demonstrated by increasing applicant numbers, the interest of prospective students, and the [TBU—currently 750] signatures on a petition urging faculty to support this great program. It is important to emphasize that WNY is a pilot program, and that issues of student demand and cost will unquestionably be resolved as it becomes an established Williams institution.

We have all been involved in the program in various capacities, whether as students, educators, or affiliated alumni. We have witnessed its educational value and great potential. We are united in our support for the program’s continued improvement, and we urge the faculty to vote NO on the proposed motion to terminate it.

Sincerely,

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