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Housing Seminar: Student Housing Committee

This is the second installment of our seminar about my plan (pdf) to fix Williams housing.

Student Housing Committee

The Junior Advisor Selection Committee (JASC) is one of the most successful institutions at Williams precisely because it has significant responsibilities and because it is student-run — no other elite school allows students full control over such an important selection process. Having student oversight of, and involvement in, room allocation, would be a good thing, assuming that the same high standards of objectivity and thoroughness were met. Students on the committee would face difficult decisions with no clearly correct answers. They would have the power to make decisions, both good ones and bad. The Administration would play a role, just as it does with the JASC, but, except in exceptional circumstances, the students would make the final decisions.

The exact structure of the SHC should be modeled, as closely as possible on the JASC. Membership would be open to all and involve self-nominations. The size would be large enough to represent all views but small enough to have productive meetings. The incoming co-presidents would be members of the SHC the previous year. Over time, procedures and traditions would develop, but nothing would prevent the SHC from changing the rules for the next year as conditions warranted. Student members would recuse themselves from any decisions directly affecting their own housing. For example, juniors on the SHC would not participate in (or, at least, vote on) any of the decisions about senior housing for the following year. Those decisions would, instead, be handled by the freshmen, sophomore and senior members of the SHC.