It cuts a lot deeper than a loud college party on Friday or Saturday night.

Beyond the ‘purple’ noise

…Though the relationship between the College and residents is a close one, the distinction between the two sharpens after dark. During the daytime, things seem peaceful and pleasant. Some Williamstown residents choose to audit classes, do some research and reading at the libraries or check out the newest exhibit at the College’s art museum. Residents speckle themselves in the crowds at home games, cheering on their Ephs. Throughout the year, students, faculty and staff spend their dime around town, sending a welcomed jolt to the local economy. The relationship appears positive, even harmonious, and definitely not abrasive or disruptive. Last Saturday, however, the noise complaint that placed a premature end to First Chance, a senior event that also doubles as a fundraising opportunity for other senior social events, exposed a split between what College students and the town’s residents deem as suitable and tolerable noise levels for certain social functions.


The confusion revolves around why residents would be consistently bothered to this point, given the supposedly open relationship between the town and the College. It would seem that an issue such as this should have already been addressed and an agreeable solution found. For students to offer advanced and proper notice about these events is only one step to solving this recurring problem altogether. When the Office of Campus Life authorizes events as these, it must give organizers sufficient and realistic information as to what exactly will fly in Williamstown, what will bring the police and what will not bring them. For Campus Life to do this at all, students and the town’s residents must first establish a lucid threshold for noise that balances students’ social wants with the town’s tolerance. Otherwise, this problem will continue to arise in the future, therein digging an unnecessary gap of distrust between the two parties…

A noise complaint is a limited venue to pick for this town v gown assessment… and the opinion shows a pretty deep lack of understanding in regards to the serious problems town residents face in Williamstown that are related to the college. I am not blaming this person, because he has been subjected to a rigorous propaganda campaign from the school that paints a rosy picture. No doubt he will be or is smart enough to recognize that propaganda as soon as he scratches the surface… so, the question: Has he scratched the surface, or is he too, taking part in the propaganda machine?

I suggest that students talk to some locals at places like cozy corners and the legion, look at college construction projects and purchases of land since the foundation of the college in order to get a sense of the real town gown problems in Williamstown- if there is a true interest in this topic as this political science major suggests?

Look at the make up of the town selectmen, and arguments that have been made at meetings and in the press about the lackluster and predatory nature college engagement with the town in the past.

I think if students like this one, who seems to have an interest,  made it outside of the campus, spoke with others, looked at the amount of business holdings Williams has in Williamstown (essentially a monopoly or trust) and then looked at taxes v land value (or lack of taxes in Williams’ case)… the problems of college encroachment on middle class business properties and homes in town center, the construction, the drastic increase in “temporary” hires for blue collar Williams jobs to save money on benefits, the faltering/ failing state of the local high school… combined with the void of “townie” 20-30 year olds in the population pyramid… political scince majors might be shocked to find it goes a lot deeper than a noise complaint at a college party, and that they have a serious venue for study right in front of them.

It’s the students choice. What kind of a political science major do students desire to be? Social scientist who support and defends the elite status quo or that enable the struggling classes within his society? I encourage any political science or sociology major to dig into this for a project. They might find, they have a vast previously untapped resource for study right in front of them.

[Edits by Ronit: paragraph breaks added, link to original Record article added]
[Edits by Will: Article exerpted]

Print  •  Email