Shocking news from WSO:

Hey, so twice yesterday, from completely different people, I heard a rumor that they’re thinking about housing the entire sophomore class in Currier Quad next year. I’m just wondering if anyone knows anything about this, and/or wants to show support for this OBVIOUSLY BRILLIANT idea.

A certain math professor on the NRC told his two sections that the committee is considering anchoring housing for sophs in Currier and surrounding houses (?? @ what houses are around Currier?).

1) The only math professor on the Neighborhood Review Committee is Colin Adams.

2) Excellent idea! Needless to say, I take full credit. I first proposed organizing Williams housing by class in 2005 and created a fairly formal plan a few years later. Latest version: pdf. I have distributed this plan to various involved students and faculty in 2009. Anyone know if it played a role in these plans?

3) I would be shocked (and pleased!) if the College really acted so quickly as to do this for fall 2010. There is no good reason not to. Neighborhood Housing has failed, totally and completely. The sooner that we try something new, the better off Williams students will be. I bet that incoming President Falk would be happy to allow this change. What is the worst thing that could happen?

4) The main difficulty is where to put the rest of the sophomore class since the Berkshire Quad only has around 325 beds. Here are my thoughts (see the full plan for context):

We want the sophomore class to live together, just as they sought to live together in Mission during the era of Free Agency. We are happy to let them have large pick groups and for those pick groups to congregate to some extent, especially if that congregation is along the party/quiet dimension. The Berkshire Quad, with 332 beds, is the natural (and historical) home for the sophomore class. We might try grouping the rest of the class together as well, perhaps in Morgan (111), West (54), Spencer (25) and Brooks (28) or perhaps in Dodd and its associated houses (136). The key is that sophomores live with other sophomores. The nice thing about having most of the class in 5 largish buildings is that it still leads to extensive student mixing. Students have already met scores of their classmates in Mission and the Freshmen Quad. Now they will meet scores more. In an ideal world, you would want every sophomore to know the name of every student in her house. They might not be best buddies, but if they had shared a meal at least once during the year, that would go some distance toward providing exposure to a wide cross-section of the Williams community.

My recommendation would be the Berkshire Quad (324), Morgan (111) and West (54). The total in this plan (489) is probably a too low because there are typically around 525 sophomores in residence. Given that this is sophomore housing, the College might turn some of the singles into doubles, especially given the recent rise in enrollment. Thirty to forty sophomores will probably end up in the revived Odd Quad in Tyler/Tyler Annex. But the key is that we have at least 7 houses, each with a critical mass of students. It is almost impossible for any individual house to be dominated by one group or another.

How much freedom should sophomores have in their room draw? More than they had as first years, but less than juniors and seniors have. There is nothing wrong with the Administration insisting on the 7 houses having fair mix of all sorts of students even if the student groups themselves are self-selected. Gender capping would be reasonable. Yet allowing partiers to live next to partiers makes everyone happier. WSO plans — the computer system which showed the specific rooms everyone ahead of you in the housing lottery had selected — probably decreased the amount of intra-rooming group conflict because it allowed students to sort themselves efficiently. Currier ballroom would naturally become a central location for sophomore class social events. Driscol would become the sophomore dining hall.

If the College maintains the Neighborhood system for juniors/seniors, then we would need to give some thought to how the current residents of the Currier Neighborhood might be distributed among the three remaining neighborhoods and whether to adjust the housing/neighborhoods allocation because of the loss of Morgan and West (or wherever the extra sophomores or placed).

Comments?

UPDATE: If one of our student readers could start referring to this idea as the “Kane Plan” or the “EphBlog Plan” on WSO, that would be much appreciated. As best as I can tell (contrary claims welcome!), we were the first to publicly suggest the idea of sophomores living together by design. We need some props from our peeps!

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