Andrew Triska comes up with the perfect name for the College’s new emergency outdoor siren:

“Williams has joined the growing number of colleges that have acquired an emergency siren,” Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs, said in a letter going to Williamstown residents. “If there’s ever an emergency at Williams of the kind we’ve all heard about happening on campuses elsewhere, the siren will emit a steady sound for several minutes.”

Students, faculty, and staff would receive at the same time a phone call, e-mail, and text message informing them of the nature of the emergency. Local residents will be able to check the college’s home page ( or call 597-4698 for the same information.

As part of preventive maintenance, the siren will also be turned on for 15 seconds at noon on the first Saturday of every month beginning this May.

For the first test, college and town officials will be placed around campus and in nearby neighborhoods to determine how fully the signal penetrates college buildings and how far it carries off campus.

“Depending on where you live, many of you will never hear it,” the letter continued. “If you hear it at noon on April 3, that’s the first test. If you ever hear it for a short time, that’s one of the monthly tests. If you hear it for a long time, you can check or call 597-4698, preferably the former, to learn the nature of the emergency.”


“Some of us are old enough to recall the regular testing of air raid and fire department sirens,” he concluded. “In a way, this is a step back to those days.”

While I’m all in favor of the siren because it seems like a fun, harmless way to bring back the 1970s (it’s retro-hip! just like stagflation!), one would hope that in the case of a real emergency they’ll make the mass text-message alert the top priority.

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