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Purple Bubble

Kudos to Peter Drivas for getting published on Huffington Post, one of the most (if not the most) widely-read blogs on the internet (although Ephblog is catching up fast!).  Peter’s description of the “Purple Bubble” has accurately characterized Williams for many generations.  I am slightly saddened, but not at all surprised, that folks’ interest in current affairs waned after the election.  There is a heck of a lot to occupy college students, between their own heavy work-loads, extracurricular commitments, jobs, community service, and social calendars, not to mention the never-ending temptation of 2000 generally fun, intelligent, well-rounded peers to procrastinate with in common rooms and dining halls.  Plus, even for the most politically engaged among us, a certain degree of political fatigue is natural after months of intense obsession over all things politics.

Nevertheless, count me as one who is always happy to see Williams do more to encourage campus discourse on issues of national import.   In my view, Williams has best accomplished this goal in recent years via the super-awesome Williams College Debate Union (for those who don’t know, the Union sponsored a series of extremely well-attended debates in Chapin that would feature a prominent outside expert, a student, and a faculty member teaming up to debate a similarly-composed trio).   If I am ever rich enough to affect a specific aspect of campus life via a substantial targeted donation to Williams (note to any alumni fund volunteers reading: don’t hold your breath) I would definitely support reinvigorating this initiative before all else.  Alas, I haven’t heard of any major events sponsored by the WCDU for several years.

Peter will, however, be happy to hear about an upcoming series of campus events focused on Iraq and Vietnam, including a lecture by occasional Ephblog contributor Marc Lynch.    At least there shouldn’t be any last-minute cancellations …

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#1 Comment By Dick Swart On April 9, 2009 @ 9:56 am

Williams on the lighter side of the Huffington Post that day:


These shoes were made for talkin’

#2 Comment By frank uible On April 9, 2009 @ 10:33 am

For us foot fetishists the blood is rushing!

#3 Comment By mme On April 9, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

Just commenting on Peter’s article

From my experience, most people venture out of the purple bubble post-freshman year. Personally, I began to realize just how well-informed my professors and my peers were, and realized that in order to stay on top of the game, I needed to be too. As far as I know, almost everyone in my friend-circle keeps up with the news everyday. This does not mean that we talk about current events ALL THE TIME. Dinner conversation is as likely to revolve around which professors are inspiring us/being sucky or who hooked up with whom the previous night.

I think it is sometimes difficult to bring up current issues all the time, because we are so exhausted from mental activities in almost every sphere of our lives. Unless it is an issue I particularly care about, I probably won’t bring it up. Like what’s happening with GM now.. I can converse intelligently about it; that doesn’t mean I’m going to talk about it at dinner.

In terms of actually taking action, I think we all pick what interests us most. There are people who are concerned about American foreign policy, or about the Israel-Palestine issue, or about the environment.. so they participate in activities regarding these issues. Not all of us meet the standard of a “politically active” college student simply because we are interested in other things, or because we are too inundated with work. I think if people were to dig deeper, the purple bubble might really be just a myth (at least in terms of information, and not ACTION).

#4 Comment By frank uible On April 9, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

Does keeping up with pop culture count? If it doesn’t, where does pop culture leave off and serious current affairs begin?

#5 Comment By PTC On April 9, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

First, congratulations to Peter! Huffpo is a big deal in this realm. Along with Kos it is the most well known rag on the internet.

Second, I left a comment. Of course I mentioned irresponsible growth and conspicuous consumption. I also invited peter to follow me here.

Once upon a time not too long ago it was common to find Ephs and townies hanging around together. I can remember a pickup town v gown game of ultimate Frisbee every weekend on the lawn that now houses the fine parking lot for “the Donald”. Those were great days! Perhaps with hard times those days may return? Relative depravation turns the best of men into greedy people. With any luck these hard times will put an end to some of the self absorbed practices that have hurt our nation.

#6 Comment By kthomas On April 9, 2009 @ 5:13 pm


Brief: one of my friends’ fathers once joined us for lunch in Driscoll. An older gentleman with a history at State, he began to ask students about their lives and start conversations.

Another friend simply got up from the table, rather abruptly, and stated that he didn’t come to lunch to have to think, and then sat down two tables away.

The old gentleman, not missing much of a beat, went on to explain that in the dining hall at his house at Oxford, there was a strange drinking game. If you mentioned women, or politics, or religion, you were obligated to down a pint.

#7 Comment By frank uible On April 9, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

Almost 30 years ago a then young man of my acquaintance matriculated at Williams with a substantial background in the Russian language. During his first two years at the College he took various Russian courses but then dropped the subject like a hot potato, saying something to the effect that if he would continue on that tack, he would be pressured to take his meals at the Russian table, and he wanted to eat with his friends and talk with them in English about beer and girls (possibly in reverse order). It is probable that since that day he has barely thought about Russian.

#8 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On April 11, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

frank: surely the College should decide such matters, for such students?

#9 Comment By frank uible On April 11, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

That matter comes under the jurisdiction of the College’s Bureau of Decisionmaking for the Immature and Otherwise Incompetent, which, among other items, makes decisions concerning fraternities.