Here are notes from an anonymous source about last week’s housing forum. (My comments interspersed.)

The forum was very productive. Dean Merrill and Colin Adams (mathematics professor, head of committee on undergraduate life, head of neighborhood review committee) ran in and pretty much went through each proposal describing it and its pros and cons. Two of the proposals seemed to be talked about the most:

The NRC has done a great job. Kudos to all involved.

1. Keeping the freshmen housing the same, finding an area on campus to have all of the sophomores together, then having a lottery for the remaining juniors and seniors (with seniors getting first pick).

Great idea! The NRC/CUL do not have time, this year, to go all the way with the Kane Plan (pdf). (A new version with the Uible Lament!) But they do have the time/authority to institute these changes, thus both improving housing for next year and setting the stage for the better system to follow.

Most people seemed to be in favor of this plan but students repeatedly voiced some concerns about it more than the NRC expected them too (or at least I think).

Listen to those concerns but then press ahead.

Any change will make at least a few people worse off. Those people are, unsurprisingly, highly likely to show up at campus forums. You should do what you can to listen to them and assuage their concerns, but, ultimately, the NRC should do what it is best for Williams as a whole.

The smart Ephs on the NRC have probably already figured this out, but the next step for them is obvious. Write up a formal plan with these elements, but add in some sweeteners like a larger pick group size. Then get some buy in from College Council and, if it still exists, the Freshmen Council. Organize a campus-wide referendum for mid-February with just two choices: current system or new plan. Given student preferences, I would predict at least 70% support (90%?) for the new plan. Once you have that mandate, just implement.

First, many current sophomores said that living with people of different classes forced them to meet different people and they liked living with upperclassmen because they could offer a lot of advice and shed some light on experiences they have had.

Nothing wrong with that, but what about the sophomores that those students would have met if they had lived in a sophomore-only building? What about those “different people?”

As always, it is nice to meet Williams folks. It is nice to learn from them. But it is not clear that mixed class housing actually maximizes learning since lots of sophomores/seniors live near each other without exchanging a word.

And, again, if a majority of the sophomore class prefers mixed class housing, that would be fine. But, during Free Agency, the vast majority of sophomores wanted to live in houses that were filled with other sophomores. I bet the same is true today.

Secondly they said that this theoretically could leave juniors and seniors with what is thought of as “sophomore housing”. Dean Merrill and Prof. Adams also said they haven’t figured out where they would house the sophomores since odd quad was too small.

A real concern with no easy answers. My suggestion: “would be the Berkshire Quad (332), Morgan (111) and Tyler/Tyler Annex (74). The total in this plan (517) is probably a bit 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. But the key is that we have at 8 houses, each with a critical mass of students. It is almost impossible for any individual house to be dominated by one group. Tyler/Tyler Annex might even naturally develop into an off-beat Odd Quad-type arrangement, providing a natural location for students less interested in the mainstream party scene that will almost certainly dominate the Berkshire Quad.”

2. The second most talked about proposal was picking your group first and then being able to request a neighborhood (end of frosh year) to be in and then going by seniority . The main controversy with this one is that a lot of people see this not being much different than a free agent system.

This is a stupid plan that does not meaningfully improve over the current system and allows for simple self-segregation. The College would be pissed if all the students in group X picked into Currier and “took it over.”

I think if they can figure out a place to put to put the sophomores they’ll go with the first one. Majority of people liked the idea of having the sophomores together to continue class unity (I do too). There was some talk of making West and/or one of the Dodd houses quiet/substance free housing. They kind of entertained the idea of going back to the free agent system but there was a ton of strong objection against it, I don’t think they’ll look into it any further (Did they use the free agent system for housing when you went here?)

Details on my era here.

I assume the record will do an article about the forum and I think there will be another forum in Feb. Hope this helps in the meantime!

Thanks! Our parent readers love this sort of stuff.

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