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BSU Town Hall, 5

“BSU holds town hall exploring affinity housing” is an excellent Record article by Kristen Bayrakdarian ’19. Let’s discuss! Day 5.

Students also questioned the potential effects of the absence of affinity housing and POC spaces on application and enrollment rates of students of particular identities. Liz Creighton, dean of admission and financial aid, provided data to that end.

Reading that sentence, I immediately suspected that Creighton ’01 was pulling a fast one on Bayrakdarian ’19. Creighton — perhaps as an inevitable requirement for her chosen career path — has no interest in (or ability to?) provide detailed data about admissions and enrollment. Recall some of her absurd claims during the Best College controversy of last fall. The article continues:

“Forty-five percent of students admitted to Williams end up enrolling,” she explained. “You’re right that we yield athletes at a higher rate, [meaning] they enroll at a higher rate than non-athletes, [but] beyond that, across the range of other identities on campus, the yield is actually quite similar.”

The word “quite” is doing a lot of work in that quote.

1) Did Creighton provide the actual numbers? The Record should follow up! The more that we know about the admissions process, the better.

2) Consider my (sophisticated?) analysis of the public data for the class of 2021. Key table:


I think that Williams yields white students around 4 times the rate at which it yields black students. Is Creighton a liar or a fool for claiming that the rates are “quite similar?”

Neither! She just knows that students are uninformed, that the Record is unsophisticated and that no one is going to call her on this nonsense.

Students brought up that forming communities in college is considered by many high school students when deciding which school to attend.

Exactly right. But this is why Creighton feels that she has to (?) mislead students. I would not be surprised if black high schools students find affinity housing attractive and that a Williams with such housing would yield more black students. But Creighton does not want the discussion to go down that path so she doesn’t tell black students the truth about yield rates.

One student pointed out that heterosexual white men are actually a minority on this campus. The student explained that when one takes race, economic class and sexual and gender identities into account, minority groups make up a large percentage of the student body. Official College statistics on class data state that around 40 percent of the school identifies as POC. However, this statistic does not take into account other minority groups such as first-generation, low-income or LGBTQ+ students.

Indeed. That student ought to write for EphBlog! Sure seems like your views are marginalized at Williams today . . .

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#1 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On December 13, 2018 @ 11:02 am

I’m not crazy about the idea of affinity housing that falls along racial/ethnic lines, because I feel like it unnecessarily divides the student body. But obviously I look at this from a very different perspective than, for example, members of the BSU.

On a related note, I think its incredibly sad that even after all of these years African-American students (and others) still feel so excluded and marginalized on campus (and perhaps are excluded and marginalized). Why is so difficult to integrate the community? Have we really made such little progress since the 1960’s?

#2 Comment By ZSD On December 13, 2018 @ 2:57 pm


Sadly: perhaps the dream is fading into the reality of living.

#3 Comment By ZSD On December 13, 2018 @ 3:01 pm

#4 Comment By Anon On December 16, 2018 @ 12:11 am

What % of students in these various categories went to prep school?

How does it break down by class? There is a very low % of lower income students in all these various groups, correct?

#5 Comment By Williamstown Resident On December 17, 2018 @ 12:23 pm

I don’t believe for one minute that people of color are less comfortable at Williams or any other school than they were even 5-10-20 years ago. What’s changed is there is now a quest for certain groups to maintain their victimhood status. Why? Simple! Their status has benefits such as admissions to so-called elite schools like Williams (even with uncompetitive grades and test scores).

I’ve added a question to my standard interview list: Did you live in affinity housing while at college? If the answer is yes, I’ll be passing on your resume.

#6 Comment By abl On December 17, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

I don’t believe for one minute that people of color are less comfortable at Williams or any other school than they were even 5-10-20 years ago. What’s changed is there is now a quest for certain groups to maintain their victimhood status.

First of all, there’s been a fairly recent high-profile anti-PC push that’s emerged over the last 5 or 10 years. Nobody would have considered bringing someone like Derbyshire to Williams while I was there. Irrespective of how you feel about allowing Derbyshire to speak on campus, I don’t think it’s surprising that a campus that includes speakers like Derbyshire (or the possibility of such speakers) is “less comfortable” for people of color than a campus that does not. Indeed, making Williams a less comfortable place was an explicit premise of the drive to bring Derbyshire.

Second of all, I’m not sure why you’re assuming that people of color were universally comfortable at Williams 5-10-20 years ago. If you listen to social justice progressives, their primary theme isn’t that things have materially changed in recent years, but that things have been bad all along.

#7 Comment By Williams Ex Pat On December 18, 2018 @ 7:39 am

All right, I have to jump back in here to ask what, praytell, do social justice progressives mean in “that things have materially changed in recent years, but that things have been bad all along”? What things have been bad all along?

Are you talking about how “uncomfortable” students from lower socioeconomic demographics feel about speaking, or being expected to speak, with proper English when at college compared to how they are expected to speak at home? see, for example: Link

Are you talking about comments that very well could simply be good-natured small talk by white students to students of color such as, “I don’t know any black hikers” or “I didn’t think hiking was part of black culture”? The funny thing is that “Black people don’t hike” is something that author Rahawa Haile heard from BOTH her black friends back home in Oakland and while in small Appalachian Trail towns. Link However, in her article about her adventure, she fails to mention that so she can imply she only experienced racism by white people. Link

I am sure that there are an infinite number of examples such as these. The bottom line is that there is a double standard in what is expected by social justice progressives for the behavior of white people. Plus, not only are white people not given the benefit of the doubt but they are condemned and subjected to a ton of hatred.

I have never personally witnessed or felt prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior, i.e. racism. However, I have witnessed and been subjected to a multitude of experiences that were antagonistic towards me based on my white skin color by people of color.

What I think has been happening is that the weight of the chips on the shoulders of people of color has been increasing over the years. Invitations to speakers such as Derbyshire may well be push back against this.

#8 Comment By Williams Ex Pat On December 18, 2018 @ 7:41 am

P.S. totally agree with Williamstown Resident

#9 Comment By fendertweed On December 18, 2018 @ 9:38 am

DSQ’ing a candidate based on one question like affinity housing seems shallow and silly, but if you want to use random disqualifiers I guess that’s your choice.

I reject any applicant who puts ketchup on hot dogs. I insist on an answer to that at every interview,

#10 Comment By abl On December 18, 2018 @ 10:24 am

Ex Pat,

Sure, those things and more. I’ve probably heard more “good intentioned” racism than ill intentioned. It doesn’t make it any less shitty to realize that your classmate or colleague thinks you’re stupid or dangerous or one of the many other race-related negative generalizations I’ve heard applied.

Also, it’s entirely possible to be a POC and be racist. So besides the fact that there should be a double standard about these things (see, e.g., use of the n-word), the fact that a POC has previously perpetrated a negative stereotype doesn’t make it acceptable. I agree, however, that we need to get better as a society at recognizing racism and bigotry perpetrated by minorities—although the damage done when a Jewish woman makes an antisemetic joke to her mostly Jewish friends is different than when a Christian woman makes that same joke to her largely Christian friends. As is the case with all other speech, speaker and context matter.

And the fact that you haven’t heard something first hand (I suspect you have and just didn’t think of it that way) doesn’t make it less true. Ask any woman how often she’s been sexually harassed in the company of male friends (assuming you aren’t a woman and therefore don’t already understand that crappy behavior isn’t equally present in all circumstances).

I have personally witnessed or felt prejudice, discrimination, or antogonism directed at various minority groups thousands of times. My bet is that if you and I got coffee and talked through each of them, you’d agree with my assessment for at least 4/5 of them. I’m sorry that you’ve felt antagonized by POC. To the extent that you’re referencing antagonism directed towards racially problematic behaviors others believe you’ve made, or your failure to, say, check your privilege, that’s obviously antagonism of a different kind than, for example, someone thinking you’re unintelligent because of the color of your skin. To the extent, though, you’ve been victim of the sort of bigotry that POC and other vulnerable minority groups deal with on a regular basis, that obviously sucks. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t make you an ally: knowing how crappy it feels to be treated that way is a big step on the way to trying to mitigate crummy behaviors.

Finally, even if Derbyshire is a result of the left’s growing recognition that the way we talk about things matters, that doesn’t change the fact that, as a descriptive matter, campus now is almost certainly less comfortable for POCs — at least in some respects — than it was 5-10-20 years ago. We may well be in a “racism stinks”—“I don’t like my speech patrolled so I’m going to say increasingly racist-adjacent things” feedback loop right now, and it may well have been started by the “racism stinks” crowd. Even if so, the result of the latter category of behaviors is to make it less comfortable for vulnerable minorities on campus—and to increase the need for and value of safe spaces.