Class Historian Kevin Waite ’09 kindly provided a copy of his remarks from the Ivy Exercises on June 6, 2009.

At the end of freshman year, the world came crashing down around our ears – or so we thought. In our eyes, the administration had taken away everything that was good and sweet by implementing the cluster system and depriving us of our time-honored sophomore right: Mission. We were outraged that we couldn’t all live together in a building that looks more like a juvenile correctional facility than any college dorm I’ve ever seen. We longed to congregate in its riot-proof corridors and nestle into those cold, sterile cells we called rooms. We even made some pretty clever T-shirts to memorialize our class’ great loss. They read Class of 2009 Mission: Impossible.

If only we had been so fortunate to remain the Mission Impossible class. But no, now our class shirts, if we were to make them, would read something very different: Class of 2009: Gainful Employment Impossible. Yes, thank you once-flourishing economy for hitting one of the worst tailspins of the century right when we finally need jobs. Fantastic. But in our monumentally bad timing, there is a silver lining. For starters, it gives us bragging rights over some of our parents who had to contend with the job market of the 70s. But more importantly it has provided some much-needed perspective. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so bad that the administration wouldn’t let us live in the collegiate equivalent of Sing Sing. And all the hiccups of the last four years, which once seemed catastrophic, now seem somewhat inconsequential, or even kind of funny. After all, when in your junior year, your college becomes the butt of a national poop joke, what can you do but laugh?

For the first eight or so months, freshman year went swimmingly – adjusting to College life, hanging out the Frosh and Odd Quads, discovering Queer Bash… and then boom: the campus turned into a B-rate horror flick. It was the attack of the caterpillars in Billsville. You probably could have crossed the entire campus without setting foot on pavement or grass – that’s how thick the blanket of caterpillars was that spring.

Then the surreal, got surreal-er when Swedish pop sensation and self-styled Pleasureman, Gunther invaded the Purple Valley. I have no idea how we convinced such a complete hedonist to visit our small liberal arts college in the frigid valley of Boondocksville, Mass. but we did. Expecting to find “the sexiest College ever,” Gunther instead got about 200 sleep-deprived type A students, eager to let off a little steam in Goodrich. Maybe he thought we meant ASU when we said Williams College. But we did not disappoint. As if to justify ourselves and prove to Gunther that even small colleges can bring the noise, we broke a church.

The breaking of the Goodrich floor came on the heels of a Spring Street fire that destroyed the beloved Purple Pub, and suddenly it seemed as if Williamstown was as destructible as Richmond in 1865. (And now I’ve hit my College-mandated limit of one awful Civil War joke.) Then, it took over two years to convert the charred building into a massive cement crater, conveniently timed to coincide with graduation. Now all the parents can see how the bottom of the Village Beautiful became the Village Chernobyl. But limited to one bar, we made do like the resourceful Williams students we are, and even made some new friends in the process – like 28-year old townies.

But these four years have been marked by far more than breaking and burning buildings. When racist graffiti appeared on a Willy E white board, the campus responded with the Stand With Us Movement. And this year, members of our class led the school in Claiming Williams, a highly successful day of talks, panels and performances centered on issues of discrimination and intolerance. Athletically our class was dominant. We brought home a number of national titles, while our football seniors never lost a game to Amherst in their careers. And no graduating senior has seen us lose a Homecoming game while enrolled as a student.

Now we have the privilege of graduating with Morty. And what took him 20 years, most of us have managed to do in only four.

Those four years have been challenging, funny, exciting, sad, fulfilling, and even incendiary. But at the end of it all, Class of 2009, I think we can agree, we’ve made some great history together.

It would be fun to collect these from past years. Does anyone have a copy that we can post?

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