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Official College Reports

We have not done a good job of archiving various College reports over the years. (And, of course, it is beyond pathetic that Williams itself mostly fails to do so.) So, as a reminder, let’s review some of them here.

1962: The Angevine Report (pdf). This is the single most important Williams document of the last 100 years. It led to the elimination of fraternities at Williams. Isn’t it embarrassing that the College doesn’t to host a copy of the report on its own servers?

2002: The MacDonald Report (pdf). This led to a dramatic decrease in the admissions preferences given to athletes. The College actively refuses to make this report publicly available.

2005: The Dudley Report (pdf) which led to the creation of Neighborhood Housing, the single biggest failure at Williams in the last few decades. Note also the CUL reports from 2002 and 2003 which paved the way to this disaster.

2005: Williams Alcohol Task Force Report. Sadly, I don’t have a pdf of this report. Does anyone? The issue of alcohol is a perennial one at places like Williams. Whatever committee tackles it next should start by reading this report. I think that this report was a follow up to the 2004 Report on Alcohol Policy (pdf).

2005: Diversity Initiatives. I think (but can’t find it right now) that the College does maintain a (pdf) of this report. The Record should do a story about what has happened in the last decade.

2008: Waters Committee Report (doc) which led to the elimination of the Williams in New York program. Professor Robert Jackal, creator of WNY, wrote this response (doc) and this memorandum (doc). See the October 2008 faculty meeting notes (pdf) for more discussion. Future historians might argue that this report was more important than the MacDonald report since it highlighted a turn inwards by Williams.

2008: A Report from Williams is a summary/celebration of the Claim High capital campaign.

2009-2010: The Neighborhood Review Committee began the process of dismantling the Neighborhood system. There were two interim reports (part I and part II) and two final reports (part I and part II).

There are other reports that should be added. Suggestions? I think that I will turn this into an annual post, with updates as needed. Would any readers like to spend a week going through the details of one of these reports?

If we won’t remember Williams history, who will?

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#1 Comment By Doug On January 10, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

Can you explain why the neighborhood system is the “single biggest failure” at Williams in recent memory? I’m a student here now and the neighborhood system is totally fine with everyone — I’ve never actually heard anyone bash it before. People generally seem to like neighborhood events and not having RAs But there’s also no institutional memory at this point about what it replaced. Curious if you could point me in the right direction to learn about this.

#2 Comment By abl On January 10, 2018 @ 2:47 pm

Doug —

DDF will cherry pick some aspects of the neighborhood system that did not last, or had limited (or no) success to use as examples of why the system as a whole was a failure. The system as a whole had a number of components, some of which have been successful and stood the test of time and some of which have not.

I was a student who experienced both the neighborhood system and its predecessor. At the time, DDF (a not-recent alum at the time) was one of the most vocal and most public opponents of the change, and ephblog largely led the anti-neighborhood system campaign. As a result, he has a strong vested interest in the system being viewed as a failure (and, in typical DDF fashion, tends towards hyperbole). Moreover, the neighborhood system in its conception and its execution represents the sort of Democratic social engineering that DDF and his libertarian/conservative leanings detests.

In my experience, the effects of the changes brought by the neighborhood system were net positive — although they were more limited than the system’s biggest proponents claimed. (Also, its costs were far less of a big deal for most students than its biggest detractors claimed.) Without a doubt, the pre-neighborhood system wasn’t working great. In particular, campus social life/planning had stagnated, with relatively few events, virtually all of which were near-identical ACE basement keggers. Revitalizing campus social life was one of the key goals of the system and, although it did not succeed in all of the ways that it hoped to (e.g., the Williams system never has approached Yale’s fairly successful version of this), by all accounts, campus social planning improved dramatically in the immediate years following the change and has largely continued in an improved manner in the many years that the new system has been in place.

If you’re willing to, I’d be curious to hear how — for better or for worse — the current system impacts your life. I’m guessing the answer is mostly “not much.” But it’d be interesting to hear from a current student about what campus social life is like these days. Even just a couple of sentences could be great!

#3 Comment By Dick Swart On January 10, 2018 @ 3:06 pm


If you would like a view of what various systems replaced, I refer you to this 16 part series (one for each house) of short snippets of life on campus in the fraternity houses of the mid-50s.


The 50s … a time of 1000 young men in coat and tie having sit-down dinners, no-cuts, and required chapel. Also complete control of the houses with an ‘in loco parentis’ arrangement with the administration that consisted of only a few dedicated men and college deans from the faculty.

There was a very strong sense of Williams tradition in the faculty, admin, and the students. Many of these three groups were Ephs themselves or the sons, grandsons, nephews of Olde Ephs.

View this time as you will. As one who lived in it for four years,I found it a very enjoyable environment.