Mon 2 Mar 2015
Judging from the Record, there are students interested in revisiting international admissions at Williams. Advice:
1) Create an organization, something like “Ephs Against Quotas” or “Ephs Interested in International Admissions” or whatever. The name does not matter. But you need a place to stand, an official group that can organize petitions, seek support from the faculty and meet with the administration. Just two members are enough to start. Although you can seek help from other existing organizations — International Club, College Council and so on — you need a separate organization to build your movement around. Best recent example of such an effort is the Williams Endowment Initiative. (You don’t need to be nearly as professional as they are, although tools like NationBuilder make professionalism (look?) easy.)
2) Have a clear goal: The creation of special faculty committee to study international admissions. This might seem like a modest aim, but a) It is harder than it looks and b) Committees are the method by which the College has made its most important changes, .e.g., the end of fraternities and the decrease in admissions advantages for athletes.
3) Create a webpage that includes the name of your group, key members, contact information and a one paragraph statement of your goal. Again, you don’t need a professional looking site, but you do need at least one simple page.
4) Recruit to your cause. Create a “Board of Directors” or some similar leadership group. Appoint yourself and your 2 or 3 key student organizers. Then add a faculty member and/or prominent alumni. (I have been told that former trustee Jack Wadsworth ’60 and current trustee Joey Horn ’87 would be sympathetic to your cause.) Many faculty members would be supportive. At this point, it does not matter how many faculty/alumni you recruit (or what they do), as long as you get one of each who are willing to add their names to your Board. In this way, you are no longer just a student group; you are a student/faculty/alumni group.
5) Write up your one paragraph goal as a formal petition. Get College Council to support it. Table for a day or two in Paresky and get a few hundred student signatures. Try to get a dozen (or more) faculty. You aren’t asking these people to do anything more than sign the petition, but those signatures give your proposal heft. Note how the reasonableness of your goal — Who could be against a faculty committee to study international admissions? — maximizes the support that you can gather.
6) Focus on the issue of the quota against international students not on financial aid. First, the quota — so reminiscent of the Jewish quotas at elite schools in the 1920s — is much less defensible. Consider two rich students, neither requiring any financial aid. Why should Williams accept a weaker applicant born in San Diego over a stronger applicant from Shanghai? Second, there are significant problems with financial aid for international students because such students sometimes/often misreport their financial situation. (Not that we should blame them! Only a foolish Chinese citizen makes clear to the Chinese government just how wealthy he is.)
7) Now that you have an organization, a Board, a goal and some signatures, you are ready to approach the Administration. And, good news! Lots of people in the Administration, perhaps even Adam Falk himself, will be in favor of your idea. The faculty, uniformly, love international students. Most think that the College ought to have more rather than fewer.
By seeking the formation of a faculty committee you are giving the Administration cover (against the alumni/trustees?) for something that it probably wants to do anyway, just as similar committees in the past served to help the faculty achieve its own goals, like the elimination of fraternities and the decrease in admissions preferences for athletes.
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