The Committee on Transparency and Accountability is, potentially, an important movement, especially if they follow our advice from yesterday. But they also run the risk of descending into childish irrelevance if they insist on going forward with their current set of poorly conceived demands. Time for some constructive criticism!

The repeal of the 50 year lock on meeting minutes and the release of all minutes in a timely and accessible manner.

This is an absurd demand, both because it will never happen and because there are other options which accomplish the same goal.

First, it will never happen because the trustees need to speak freely about difficult topics, especially the hiring/firing of presidents and senior staff. Second, there are documents which would provide 95% of the information you need and which could be made public: board/faculty meeting presentation materials. (The College can’t make public materials which mention a specific person (especially a specific student) but almost none of the materials in this category do so.)

At every board meeting (and at many faculty meetings) presentation materials are distributed, documents which outline and summarize all the relevant information about topic X. If you are interested in changing College policy, than this is the information you want. These documents, especially the materials at faculty meetings, are semi-public anyway, since so many people see them. Indeed, EphBlog has published some of them from time to time. Making these materials public is a reasonable goal to start with.

That minutes be taken at subcommittee meetings and be readily available to all members of the Board.

Be careful that you don’t appear to be idiots. Do you actually know for a fact that minutes are taken at every subcommittee meeting? I have my doubts! There 10 board subcommittees. Who takes all these notes? And, even if notes are taken, are you sure that they aren’t already made available to all members of the board? I would be shocked if they weren’t! Of course, you could be right about both these things, but make sure that you are! If you go to the trustees and ask for something which either doesn’t exist or already happens, they will assume that you are spoiled, clueless children.

That the current College Council presidents and Minority Coalition chairs will sit in on trustee meetings as student representatives.

Don’t be babies! It is reasonable to ask for a student member on the board. Indeed, EphBlog has described the step-by-step plan by which this might be achieved. There are other schools with student trustees. But to demand 4 (?) students on the board is absurd! That will never happen. Asking for it makes you seem irrational and uninformed. Better, now, to ask for one student representative, perhaps appointed jointly by College Council and the Minority Coalition, to join the Executive Committee (EC) of the Society of Alumni (SoA).

That the Board of Trustees create and present a yearly report on the work of the Board . . .

Again, it is counterproductive to ask the Board to do more work. Instead, you want access to more information so that you can do the work yourself. You should write an annual report on progress made and goals for next year. You should deliver it each year to the Board. You should drive the conversation. Also, once the College makes public (almost) all presentation material distributed at trustee and faculty meetings, you will be as well informed at the trustees are about items like “major financial and investment decisions.”

Most importantly: There are many faculty/alums/staff who are extremely well-informed about how Williams works. Talk to them! Get some feedback before you go to the trustees. Educate yourselves. EphBlog is here to help . . .

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