In response to my request to “Show us the data” with regard to student activities, Drew Newman ’04, former president of ACE (All Campus Entertainment) from 2003-2004 delivers. See below for Drew’s extensive write-up and links to supporting documents. Comments:

1) Drew is probably too modest to mention his outstanding Record op-ed from three years ago. Read that first to get a sense of the issues involved in improving social life at Williams.

2) Now that the College is overrun with student-social-life bureaucrats, there is much less freedom for a student like Drew to grasp the reins of campus leadership. The cost of having an Office of Campus Life is not just, or even primarily, the money spent on salaries and expenses. The most important cost is the damper such an office inevitably places on student leadership. If we did not have an OCL, then some student in the class of 2008 would have had a similar experience to Drew’s, would have saw a need and tried to fill it, would have fought and struggled and (sometimes) failed and (often) succeeded. What is that student’s name? We will never know. Remember the tablecloth colors.

3) Note that these are my criticisms, not Drew’s. I would be curious to read what he and other campus leaders think about creation and performance of the Office of Campus Life.

Drew writes:

Your cluster housing post ends with “Show us the data.” I am writing to send you some.

First, I must stress that I have no idea what social life is like now at Williams or how the Williams Housing system is working. My last good contact graduated from Williams a year ago. Therefore, I have no basis to be critical of what is going on on campus now. Instead, I am writing you to share historical data on social events at Williams. If you post or paraphrase my words, please mention that I am not explicitly or implicitly criticizing the current system; I definitely recognize that it’s clearly a
different time now.

I. Background:
All Campus Entertainment (“ACE”) was founded on April 10, 2002 by all of the campus social planning leaders. ACE combined the social-planning functions and budgets of the six student groups that previously planned campus-wide social and entertainment events: Student Activities Council, Social Chairs (formerly known as the Housing Committee), Goodrich Committee, Log Committee, Frosh Council, and Swing Club. ACE was founded at the suggestion and prodding of the administration to overcome the numerous, perennial problems of a de-centralized social planning system.

Some day in the future, I can explain more about ACE’s creation and share the documents and records that were generated at that time. But, it is unrelated to the data that I want to share with you now.

II. Student Satisfaction:
In November 2003, ACE ran a campus-wide survey on social and entertainment events and received 570 responses. The attached results showed that 74% of students rated the social and entertainment events produced by ACE as “good” or “excellent.” We were thrilled with this number for two reasons: (a) because it was much higher than the satisfaction rate shown in a College Council survey conducted during the 2001-2002 academic year and (b) because ACE was still in a transition/new phase when our survey was run.

III. Records of Social and Entertainment Events at Williams:
After its creation and during the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 academic years, ACE produced about 95% of all campus-wide social and entertainment events at Williams. Because of this, the list of events that ACE produced is reflective of campus social life during those years.

To help preserve the records of social events at Williams and perhaps serve as a comparison for future years, I am attaching:

(a) List of the 317 events ACE produced in 2002-2003 *
(b) List of the 337 events ACE produced in 2003-2004
(c) Analysis of the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 events
(d) ACE’s 2002-2003 Annual Report (released in Sept. 2003)

* The 2002-2003 event list does not include the estimated attendance and event length information for each event because the complete file was lost was when my computer crashed in August 2004.

There are lots more data around, including volumes of financial reports, which I can share one day in the future once I translate the cryptic financial statements.

ACE was created at the urging of the administration for the student life system that existed in 2002. It served its purpose and we had two very successful years, 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. With the arrival of new administrators and their desire to shift to a de-centralized system, ACE has tried to adapt and I think that ACE President Ali Barrett ’09 has done an excellent job trying to serve the needs of the current social life system.

Thanks to Drew for taking the time and trouble to gather all this information together. Future historians (and future students) will thank him.

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