Neighborhoods are a doomed to failure.

So it has come to my attention that there has been a serious lack of neighborhood-run events or I guess to make it more specific, Currier Cluster (since I am not in any other cluster..) events on campus. All I’ve heard about this year is a Cougar that needs to be named.. did we ever vote for a cougar in the first place?? Whose even on the NGB? None of the websites are updated.. I am still listed as Historian for Currier Cluster on the Williams Neighborhood Page. I don’t even know who to email to complain. So I thought I’d procrastinate on my lab report and try out this whole WSO discussion thing. What are we doing with all of the Neighborhood funds? I remember having neighborhood events going on every weekend. What happened to the good ol’ days, eh? I vote something happens soon. This campus is too small to have nothing to do.

Background here. Three years ago I (correctly!) predicted that entries would be associated with clusters despite initial promises to the contrary. I also worried about the implications for co-ops.

The real problem for co-ops in the context of anchor housing is not what happens in the first few years. The real problems come later. Five years from now, if [when! — ed.] cluster housing is implemented and when all current students have forgotten life under free agency, it will be clear (to those with eyes to see) that anchor housing has failed. There will be no meaningful cluster identity. Students will be no more a part of the Tyler cluster in 2010 than they are part of Tyler house in 2005.

Check. And two years early! (Historians will recall that the original plan included a Tyler cluster.) Going back to May, 2005:

At that point, the social engineers of CUL, to the extent that they are even willing to admit that there is a problem, will be perplexed. Having built this great new system, why have the students not rallied to it? Why aren’t they attending the great intra-cluster public speaking competitions? The reason, CUL will see, is that students do not care about their clusters. Students will not see clusters as an important part of the social fabric of Williams. Students, five years from now, will care about their friends, they will care about their activities, they may care about their class. (The decrease of class identity will be one of the biggest hidden costs of the end of free agency.) Students will not care about their cluster.

And so, what will CUL do? CUL will (correctly!) recognize what we have pointed out time and again. Clusters can not work at a Williams at which 1/2 of the juniors/seniors live outside of them. No meaningful cluster identity can possibly develop with this much turnover. As long as Williams allows juniors to JA/study abroard and seniors to live in co-ops/off-campus, there will be no cluster identity.

At that point, the forces of righteousness will urge CUL to go back to free agency, to consider a housing plan that makes a virtue of the turmoil of junior year and the desire of independence in senior year rather than fighting against them.

But I suspect that the powers-that-be at the CUL/Administration will be unlikely to go that route. Instead, they will try to invigorate clusters by drawing seniors back into them. This may, perhaps, occur via a major building program, a la Middlebury. But it will also involve the death, or at least dismemberment, of co-ops as they are known today.

With current endowment losses, there is no way that the College will embark on a major building program. Will CUL try to kill co-ops? Probably not this year and, I hope, never. Eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for unique senior housing.

The sooner we get rid of Neighborhoods, the better. New draft of my vision for Williams housing is coming soon. Thank you Will Dudley!

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