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Why I don’t post here.

Cross-posted at my blog. I don’t usually post here, but some things deserve an in-depth rebuttal. Admin should feel free to keep/remove my “more” tag. Before I get down to business, though, I am very curious about what specific causes, biological or otherwise, that cause fewer females to nominate themselves than males for class officer roles.

Let’s compare the WSO post and David’s post. The WSO post states that seeing one candidate for speaker made her curious, and so she found that there have been no class speakers since 2003. She also found that only 3 out of 24 speakers are female, and that only 1 of the elected speaking roles is female. This causes her to be uneasy. So we have a series of facts, and a single statement of one emotion.

David’s response is that “uneasiness” is a flat-out wrong thing to feel, and that a smarter, more educated person would immediately understand that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gap. Why? Because “men and women are biologically different.”

What David misses entirely is that the WSO poster never said the differences weren’t biological; indeed, she didn’t say anything about biology, or even anything opinion-related whatsoever. David takes this as a permission slip to imply that she is “deeply uneducated,” and as a bonus, “probably” blames Williams College for this deficiency. David further takes this as an opportunity to reference Larry Summers.

The problem, of course, is that even if there are still biological differences between women and men that affect the selection process for speaking roles, it’s still perfectly appropriate to feel uneasy about the gap. Thus David’s entire post is falsely premised on an imagined deficiency in the WSO poster – assuming ignorance where ignorance may or may not have existed.

Read more


The Passing of Stephen Bodner

From the Chair of the Music Department:

To all our wonderful music students,

There aren’t words to express what we are all experiencing now, with the sudden, inexplicable, cruel death of Steve Bodner. He was a true force of nature, with a heart as big as the universe, and what has happened makes no sense at all. The hole this leaves in our lives, individually and collectively, is huge, and the loss to our department immeasurable.

Department faculty and staff will be here all day to offer what support we can; there will be an email from the Chaplain’s Office this afternoon about an opportunity later today for the entire college community to gather together to remember Steve. Jenny Dewar is creating an online message board that we will be able to access through the department website to share memories and pay tribute to a superb musician, teacher, colleague, mentor, and friend. I will keep you all informed, and please be in touch with any faculty or staff here in the department if there is anything we can do to help at this terrible time.

We’ll be gathering tonight in Chapin Hall. Also see the letter from the President.



Some things are always worth posting about, regardless of our disagreements and conflicts within the Williams Community. It is absolutely gorgeous in the Purple Valley and I had the honor of ringing the bells this morning to wake folks up. HAPPY MOUNTAIN DAY, wherever you Ephs may be….

Images from last year (from ledges on flickr):

And from two years ago (via Fmorgan), where I’ll be in a few hours after a 10 AM hike over Greylock:


Gaudino Option: Defense

I posted a few comments in this thread, but thought a front page rebuttal might be more appropriate than a comment.

the main push — from the sort of smart students who talk with Professor Burger and whine about GPA concerns — is driven by the fear that the B+ they get in some upper level philosophy course is going to keep them from graduating summa cum laude.

Dave’s penchant for stating “facts” without basis is in evidence here. First, Williams students aren’t just afraid of lowering their GPA. The concern goes deeper, in my opinion, to a fear of failure writ large. We come to Williams with success piled onto success, having achieved in SAT, ACT, GPA, extra-curriculars, etc. To admit and confront what we might not be good at can be hard, especially in the culture of “effortless perfection” that exists at so many colleges. Second, we aren’t very focused enabling students to get into an “upper-level” course, but rather an introductory course in a field they aren’t familiar with (which might be a 300 or 400 course occasionally, but will mostly be at a 100 or 200 level). Third, the fear is not about a title or recognition for graduation – it is about what a lower GPA will mean in terms of grad school, jobs, and internships.

A 0.05 difference in GPA (much greater than the difference that the vast majority of students will ever see from the use of the Gaudino option) will never matter for anything.

If this is the case, then why is it that so many students aren’t willing to take the class they might get a B in? I think of this argument as one in favor of the option – because the total effect is so small, the effect of “gaming” is minimal, while the effect of removing the psychological block might be much greater. However, 0.05 does matter quite a bit in some grad school admissions offices.

Get rid of this GPA-fetishization and students will worry less about GPA.

Because the concern about GPA is driven by external factors, not worries about graduation, removing these very normal & historic practices won’t solve the problem. If anything, I focused too little on GPA when I arrived at Williams, with negative effects that felt this year when looking for fellowships and internships.

End grade inflation by copying the Princeton plan. Get rid of gut courses by requiring departments to only offer courses that count for major credit.

Gut courses aren’t the same thing as non-major courses – some of the non-majors are as feared (and more educational) than their for-credit counterparts. My impression is that they just present information in a way that is more useful for students taking 1 course in the field instead of 10. More importantly, David is ignorant of the plans of Princeton students I know – to fight for the abolition or reform of the grading system for all of next year, since it is causing grief for many Princeton students. The Princeton policy has not lowered GPA concerns; if anything, it has raised them.

If that interpretation is correct, then virtually no sophomore will be able to declare a Gaudino option class this fall. Am I missing something?

YES! This policy means that come graduation, a student can’t use a “G-option’d” course to satisfy the requirements to graduate. Thus our hypothetical sophomore is free to Gaudino a course of his/her choosing, but will still have to take 3 graded courses in each division. Because Gaudino courses can’t count for the major, students will be pushed to expand into non-major areas by the Option.

So, instead of thinking about this as (possibly) affecting only 2 out of 32 classes, it is more like 2 out of 10.

Exactly. Divisional requirements are going to be 6 courses (outside of the major’s division), and a major runs at 9 or 10 classes. This leaves 16 classes. Assuming that a few more aren’t free choices because of the other requirements, that leaves about 12 or 13 courses for a single-major student to “Gaudino.” (and many fewer for a multi-major)

What we don’t want is for that student to spend those courses in areas that are safe, without trying out a new field that holds interest, but in which the student might fail to some degree.

After all, declaring the Gaudino is a free option. You can always just accept the grade you get. If the grade is below your current GPA, just “Gaudino it.” (Our WSO readers should feel free to steal this slang.)

Alas, the slang is not an invention original to Ephblog. Yes, students can cheat the system, but there are two safeguards. First, the student will be marking on his/her transcript that this courses was “exploratory” and outside of the student’s comfort zone. Thus it can’t be used on a course that might be important for future job skills or grad school, since the student has marked the course as a difficult field for them. Second, the professor has to certify that the student remained engaged – that there was no slacking off or laziness indicative of a student not trying to succeed.

But if 100 or 200 or 500 Williams seniors declare a Gaudino option (and, after all, this is their last chance to do so), then abuse is utterly rampant. To our student readers: What do you predict will happen? What do you plan to do?

Thus David sets up a perfect lose-lose situation for the reform. If 25 students use the Option, then it’s limited adaptation suggests it’s not very needed. If 300 students use the Option, then it is a failure because it’s being used wrongly. How kind. It is not about choosing a “hard class,” but rather an uncomfortable one – art studio for someone who isn’t confident about their drawing ability, or music for someone worried about imperfection in that area. Philosophy for the hard science student who only likes tests with specific, exact, answers, but who enjoys thinking about the deeper questions, and Chemistry for the theatre student who enjoyed the class in high school but is worried about remembering his or her way in the lab. It’s not about how hard the class is, but instead how far it is outside of one’s academic experience to date.

Long-time readers will know that I’m a long-time member of the Honor Committee at Williams. I can’t tell you how many students I talk to in hearings or in regular conversation that fear even the appearance of failure. They will stay up all night on an essay because “I’ve never asked for an extension, and I’m not starting now.” They worry about medical school, and feel pressure to stick with courses where there are exact answers that can be memorized. They dream about getting a fellowship, and know that a single B or B- could be the difference between getting or missing the opportunity.

After all, I made the other choice. I took classes I wasn’t sure of success in, to test my boundaries. I took classes that required a style of studying I’m simply not good at (rote memorization), and I did poorly. I failed. But I only did so out of ignorance – out of the idea that those classes wouldn’t come back to get me when they have. I can’t call up one of the groups I wanted to intern with this summer and explain that my GPA should actually be .1 or .2 higher. Other students are held in place by these fears, and rightly so: this policy, which might allow them to try something they might love.

Thanks for reading.


Reunions! (and Commencement)

[[note: Promoted this Reunion-related post to the top spot,  and eventually returning Mr. Blatt’s post to its original date and time. 93kwt, 12Jun]]

Like the other posters, I’m here for reunions, but as a staffing Reunion Ranger. We wear tangerine shifts (they stand out in the purple), and direct traffic, check rooms, run events, and generally run ragged for a few days. If you’re in town, look me up and shoot me an e-mail; I’m spending most of my time with the post-50th reunions @ Dodd, but will be other places.

So far, though, the work has been great. We have a good crop of Rangers (40 selected over over 80 applications), and WIlliams students are so efficient that we’re knocking down tasks left and right while having a good time. Hopefully, the rainy and cold weather will clear up in time for everyone else’s arrival.

Part of Rangering is service as an usher during Commencement and the surrounding events. I had a neat role supporting the Dean, and while the weather played a few games with us, I will appreciate my own Senior Week much more now that I’ve seen the work put into it. If anyone was there, I was the odd fellow near the stage who looked like secret service.

But the weekend also showed me something of this college’s nature. The pole-hit by Berkshire County‘s High Sheriff and our commencement’s formal language were reminders that despite our resources, events, and famous alumni, we’re still a bunch of people clustered in a small Berkshire college. The Williams Community stretches far and wide – through this blog – with people who have shared memories of the Purple Valley. It’s been a privilege to share a bit of time with the ’10s, and I’m learning that this college is much more than a group of buildings and classes. We’re starving artists, rich venture capitalists, and everything in between; but only 550 people in the world sat in Lancing-Chapman rink last Sunday, and those 550 people will, if patterns hold, be returning for years to come.


No joke: William Lee ’11 is a Truman Scholar, Antal Spector-Zabusky ’12 is a Goldwater Scholar

Courtesy of “everyone’s favorite tiny federal agency,” Williams’s William Lee was one of two winners from the heavily competitive New York. Says his bio:

William is a history major at Williams College concentrating in Latino Studies. He speaks Spanish and Chinese and is active in municipal and national immigrants’ rights campaigns. Professionally, he is interested in working within the labor movement to advocate for social justice and racial equity.

And a Goldwater Scholarship was won by Antal Benjamin Spector-Zabusky (also from New York):

Antal Benjamin Spector-Zabusky
Institution: Williams College
Major(s): Computer Science
Career Goal: Ph.D. in Computer Science. Conduct research in distributed systems and teach at the university level.

Congratulations to all!

(edited by Ronit)


All Press is Good Press….

From someone’s list of the “top 10 weirdest sports mascots:”

10. Jeeps: It’s weird enough to think that South Webster High School would want to have a vehicular mascot, but their actual mascot, the Jeep, is based on something much more obscure – Eugene the Jeep from the Popeye comic strip. Eugene is a dog-like creature from a different dimension that disappears and does other magical things. Some say that the vehicle was named after this character too, but in any case, it’s a strange mascot.

9. Bridges: Haha, get it? They’re the Brooklyn Bridges. Ten points for getting a laugh, Brooklyn College, but negative fifty points for being stuck with “bridges” as your mascot. […]

2. Ephs: Williams College’s mascot is actually a shortened version of their founder, Ephraim Williams, but when someone says “Ephs,” I’m sure most people think “Fs”…which I guess is a pretty intimidating mascot after all. What does an Eph look like, you ask? A purple cow, apparently.

And my #1 pick for weirdest mascot of all time? That has to go to the Rhode Island School of Design. They don’t actually have an official mascot, but their unofficial one is Scrotie, a giant phallus that wears a cape and has a huge set of testicles. They call their basketball team the Balls and their hockey team the Nads. I guess junior-high humor is still relevant even at a school as prestigious as RISD.


WATCH Men’s Basketball Elite 8 game at Chandler!

Note from Ronit: You’ll probably have to use Internet Explorer since the whole site is powered by Microsoft Silverlight.


Go See Twelfth Night

Let’s just say that I was impressed. The casting was superb, the musical compositions magical, and the ending surprise joyful. If you’re on campus, it’s a show worth seeing.


Best of the Record – 10 March 2010

Quiet housing implemented for fall 2010 semester – By Taylor Bundy

Following the release of the Neighborhood Review Committee (NRC) recent report, Campus Life announced Thursday that quiet housing will be implemented beginning next fall, with West College, which has 54 beds, designated for that purpose. Students in quiet housing will be required to abide by quiet hours from at least 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day. Applications for quiet housing are due today, and the room draw will take place next Wednesday.

CC funds new Snack Bar camera – By Zach Evans

After spring break, students will be able to view the length of the line at the Lee Snack Bar through a camera that feeds into an application on the Williams Students Online (WSO) Web site. The camera was proposed to College Council (CC) through WSO last spring and is receiving financial support from CC’s “Great Ideas” campaign.

According to David Moore ’10, president of WSO, the camera image will be accessible via an Internet connection anywhere on campus. “If you’re in Tyler at 12:30 a.m., it’s freezing outside and you want to know whether it’s worth it to head over to Snack Bar to try to get food before it closes, this will help you figure that out,” Moore said. The camera will be active only during the Snack Bar’s evening hours, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Ephs choose to serve country after graduation – By Dominique Exume

With 100 Days over and spring break fast approaching, seniors are no doubt thinking, perhaps a little frantically, about what they are going to do when they have to enter the real world. Henry Montalbano ’10 and Tim Bishop ’10 know exactly what they want to do – and it doesn’t involve commuting to a small cubicle every day, or at least not yet. They plan to join the military.

Both Montalbano and Bishop seem very enthusiastic about their future careers. Montalbano wants to be in the Army, and Bishop is currently trying to decide between the Army and the Marines. This determination to join the armed forces is rare at a liberal arts college. “When I tell people that I want to join the military, people usually offer a very polite response, but at the same time they’re wondering, ‘Well, why is this kid coming to Williams and then joining the army?’” Montalbano said.

Support men’s basketball in NCAAs – By Alex Mokover

I can’t think of a better way to come together than over the best basketball team in the nation. Whether hugging a complete stranger after a thunderous jam by Troy Whittington ’11, the best dunker in Division III, or chanting “defense” in unison with 500 of your closest friends, being a member of the student section is the perfect way to have fun, blow off steam and feel a real sense of community. We’re going to have the best seats in the house reserved for the student section and the cheer sheets printed out, so all we need are your lungs and your passion. The games are at 8 p.m. Friday night and 7 p.m. Saturday, and will be the absolute perfect way to set the weekend off right. A great team is something that the campus can really unite behind, and I guarantee a good time will be had by all. Whether these will be the first games you’ve seen all year or you haven’t missed a game yet, grab your frieds, come out, be loud and watch the best team in the country. Tickets go on sale on Thursday at 9 a.m. in Lasell, and it’s a good idea to get your tickets early. NCAA rules stipulate that we have to send some tickets to other schools, and there is a good chance that the games sell out before game time. Hope to see you there, and GO EPHS!


Best of the Record – 3 March 2010

NRC final report outlines short-term adjustments – By Katy Gathright

The recommendations in the report provide ways for the College to work within the framework of the current neighborhood system. After spring break, the NRC plans to release part two of the report, which will take a broader look at residential questions that require further exploration. Part one recommends gender-neutral housing, a quiet housing option and the institution of a neighborhood affiliation lottery for all members of the Class of 2014. Its other recommendations include removing room draw penalties for students who switch neighborhoods, reinforcing the Baxter Fellows program, changing the makeup of Neighborhood Governance Boards (NGBs), incorporating neighborhood representatives into the structure of All-Campus Entertainment (ACE) and investigating the co-op system.

Will they bring us together? – By Katrina Tulla

Without such communication between the social planners on campus, the Williams community has suffered because, for instance, on many occasions different events have been taking place at the same time, while there have been whole weekends without major events in sight. In addition, there have been occasions when ACE and the neighborhoods were not able to make certain events happen due to a lack of funds. These problems could be effectively resolved through the resolutions stated in the report. Once it is clear what role the NGBs and ACE should have on campus, each institution would be able to return to its original responsibilities. The neighborhoods could focus on housing and making their residents happy, while ACE could reassume its traditional role of an all-campus entertainer.

A day in Williams history: the epic Cane Rush of 1910 – By Heath Goldman

Apparently, the Cane Rush was an intensely competitive game meant to amp up rivalry between first-years and sophomores. Freshmen had to hide a bundle of canes off-campus and then carry them back onto campus, fending off the sophomores who made every attempt to steal the canes. The canes, be assured, were not ordinary. In fact, the 1910 canes were ordered all the way from a New York City firm during Thanksgiving – four months before the Cane Rush occurred. A certain Mrs. Arthur Moody agreed to hide the canes in her house, which was “on the first branch road beyond the railway track.” And that year’s freshmen were especially sneaky, ordering a second set of fake canes that arrived on the same day in a flashy trunk. So the plot unfolded, masterminded by a special committee of elected freshman, and to go along with the sneaky fake canes, a fake committee gave false information to sophomore spies. […]

Their journey was arduous enough to put any proud sunrise-hiker or Mountain Day champion to shame: The men leaped over a fence to the embankment of Hemlock Brook, hastily forded the brook, cut to the left over the mountain back of Northwest Hill, crossed the Hoosick River, reached Mrs. Moody’s house but met pickets, retreated half a mile, crawled along a railroad embankment for a mile, boarded a passing freight train and finally jumped off the train onto a bridge near Mrs. Moody’s house at 5 a.m.

The circle game – By Isabel Griffin-Smith

The exceptional sense of cooperation, support and enthusiasm across campus facilitates our ability to pursue our ideals. The ways in which we improve the world can also be achieved by simple activities that we can build into our everyday routines. Williams has many avenues to do this, including becoming a member of the Lehman Council, the Thursday Night Group, Wraps or Catalyst, taking part in the community service work advertised around the campus or tutoring at Hancock Elementary School. These commitments form a special bond with the community and transform people’s lives. But you cannot form this connection to the community unless you make the initial effort to show your interest in helping others.

The greatest lesson that I took from this experience is the realization that it is always worth pursuing your ambitions. It’s tempting to avoid committing yourself to something because you feel inexperienced or unsure about how it will turn out, but if you want to aim high it is clear that Williams College has the facilities and the people to help you achieve your goals.

And I’ve got an op-ed in this edition as well:

Ultimately, no one knows what’s wrong with your experience at Williams but you. We walk around in a myth of “effortless perfection,” pretending that everything is wonderful for us and Williams, but there are issues everywhere. All of us struggle. If you feel that no one is responding to what aggrieves you, do something about it. In every moment I’ve reached out to change something at Williams, I’ve either been successful or come away understanding what makes my idea difficult – I’ve yet to be discouraged or given the cold shoulder.

On this campus, more than anywhere I’ve ever been, anyone can make change. There’s nothing to stop you but your fear: Go change your Williams for the better.



Hello again, Ephblog.

I was caught off-guard by the recent transition, and wish I could jump back in and provide more content, but I simply don’t have the time.

A question, though: are there any current students (besides the few I’ve talked to, who I’ll set up accounts for soon) who would like to blog here anonymously? I think it was great practice at developing a certain kind of writing skill-set. Also, if you’re interested in liaising with student publication to post their content here, then e-mail me. I wish I could get back on the bandwagon, but I only really have time to update my link feed.

Such is the nature of becoming an upperclassman, I suppose. I still believe in this blog’s potential, but I can’t be the one to brig it to fruition, from a student’s perspective. Regardless, I did want to say hello – I will be posting here, and if anyone knows of a way for Ephblog to auto-repost certain things from my own blog, that’d be great.

Sleepily, Will


Slack’s Goodbye


I’m indefinitely suspending my participation in Ephblog. No more Best of the Records, no more letters, and no more reflections, effective now.

I also suspended posting activity last year, from November ’08 through January ’09 after a particularly riling piece posted here, though I never announced it.

David’s mocking “conclusions” below, reached through assumption, are the proverbial straw that has broken this camel’s back. While I appreciate Dave’s long thought and work that has enabled my own reflection on Williams, the fact remains that by posting on this blog, I add my own legitimacy to “Kaneblog,” as said by Professor Sam Crane, and I can’t do that anymore for two reasons. First, association with Ephblog personally makes my life more difficult on campus, as I have to consistently disassociate myself from other content here, especially in the many conversations I have about school policy in a variety of groups. I’m tired of people worrying that I’m on-the-record for Ephblog during a regular conversation. Second, I don’t know of a stronger way to convey the harm that such posts do beyond this action. They are anything but constructive, and instead of fostering the discussion that I value so much, they undermine it.

I know that Ephblog does many useful things. It informs alums of on-campus/off-campus news, it posts links to Williams related articles, and it provides a forum for reflection and discussion between alumni and current students. I have literally tried for months to get the Record to add a blog that could do the above, but the paper is well-attached to tried-and-true methods of journalism that preclude such a medium. That’s understandable.

I stayed largely because I believe the ~1,500 of you that read this everyday from Williamstown, Oklahoma, California, Washington, Texas, Minnesota and more should have good content, which I believed I helped to provide, but I can’t justify that any longer. I apologize for leaving so abruptly, but I’m sure about my choice. If I choose to start another blog, which is likely, I’ll let one of the other posters know about it in case that’s of interest.

I may visit occasionally to chime in, but don’t expect to see too much of me. Thanks for reading and commenting for more than two years, and a happy holiday season to you all.


Digitizing Project of the Record begins

From the Library Website:

Getting the historic Williams Record online has involved many people working countless hours to solve the numerous difficulties that arose; there is still much to be done. Staff at the Internet Archive and Williams College Libraries are continuing their efforts to make the scanned images easier to locate and read. However, many issues of the historic Record are already in the Internet Archive and can be read page by page.

Take a look: go to Internet Archive and search williams college student newspapers. You’ll get a list of Williams Record volumes and the related titles Williams Advocate and RecordAdvocate.

The e-transfer process will certainly take a long time, but the benefits to researchers will probably be numerous.


NYT Op-ed on the College Search

Here’s a neat op-ed from a college-searching senior. Williams gets props for not selling itself through Harry Potter.

In fact, most of us have grown up adoring Harry Potter and, through J. K. Rowling’s books, we’ve escaped many times into the world she created. But what I enjoy in fiction I don’t necessarily want to find in college. And, despite any wishes to the contrary, the real-life skills I hope to gain from college do not include magic.

What really matters to me as I prepare to make my decision? Well, I loved hearing about Williams College’s two-student classes called tutorials, and how Swarthmore lets students weigh in on almost every big decision made by its administration. I was really impressed by Middlebury’s student-driven campaign to save energy on campus. (For the sake of full disclosure, I just might be applying to some of these schools.) I care about diversity and need-blind financial aid — and, of course, the social life. But I don’t care about what percentage of the student body runs around on broomsticks.


My Friends Aren’t Eating

Williams students will fast to raise awareness about impact of climate change – By Meghan Foley, Berkshire Eagle
WILLIAMSTOWN — Five Williams College students have decided to fast for seven days in an effort to raise awareness about the impact of global climate change on the world’s food supply.

The students began fasting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 and plan to end their efforts, which are part of an international fast, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7.

Climate Justice Fast is an international hunger strike in which people worldwide have committed to fasting for 42 days beginning on Nov. 6 and ending at the closing of the United Nation’s climate talks in Copenhagen on Dec. 18.

One side note: today is Lessons and Carols, and the snow started to fall and stick around lunch, for the first time this year.

I’m glad the first snow is on a Saturday, and this Saturday in particular: the frosh who have never seen this much snow before have more time to enjoy it. Good tidings to you, wherever you are, but if you’re on campus, listen for the bells – that will be me playing Christmas carols for a half-hour before the service.


Darlingside releases demo

Find “Surround” here, along with a new website. Play button is in the top left, along with a link to download for free. The band previously released an EP over two years ago, still available on iTunes.

From the comments: (slightly edited for vertical space)
For anyone who is not familiar with Darlingside, they began performing a lot in the 2006-2007 academic year as a band of 7 Williams kids.

After half of them graduated and one went abroad, they took a year hiatus and then reformed last year as a group of 5, adding one new member to their ranks:

Sam Kapala ‘09, Don Mitchell ‘06, Auyon Mukharji ‘07, Harris Paseltiner ‘09, David Senft ‘07

Former members include:
(Dan Wollin ‘07), (Shea Chen ‘07), (Eli Walker)

They were hot stuff–”the” campus band back in the day–and they continue to be hot stuff. They all live together about an hour from Wutown. They are mad good, and let’s hope they make it!


From Wagner and Merrill, on Dennett/the QSU

To the Williams Community,

As some of you know, a group of students, led by the Queer Student Union and Women’s Center, have responded to the incident of graffiti last weekend in Dennett House, which was described in Monday’s all-campus e-mail. This kind of intolerant and hurtful behavior is unacceptable in our community. It harms not only those against whom it was directed, but all of us.

The student group is communicating about their response at this site: .

During their time in Hardy House today, College operations there proceeded as usual.

We, along with a few other faculty and administrators, met this evening with representatives of the group.

We support their efforts to end at Williams all behaviors aimed at intimidating or targeting people because of their gender, sexual identity, or gender expression and to build a community that welcomes and supports all.

We began this evening to work on how to advance their thoughtful and constructive ideas. It feels to us like a strong beginning.

With regards,
Bill Wagner
Interim President


Karen Merrill
Dean of the College


QSU Occupies Hardy House

From a QSU Member

I am of the camp that is generally happy with the culture here at Williams. Is occupying Hardy an overreaction to someone painting “XXXX” on the wall… once? Let me be the first to say YES. What we’re doing is using this incident as a springboard, as leverage, to build a Williams that we want, we are truly Claiming Williams. The status quo is pretty good, in my opinion, not many people are getting attacked or harassed on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean things can’t be better. We can make happen in a week what has literally been fought for for decades. That’s why I’m going to Hardy right now, because the stars are finally aligning: interim, very friendly president, homophobic incidences, Queer politics in the news, etc… This is a very, very ripe fruit and if we don’t carpe, we might not get another chance.

To the Williams Community,

The recent homophobic incident on campus has brought to light both historical and current issues regarding gender and sexuality at Williams College. Currently there is no designated space for a Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to address these issues. We students believe that this is a necessary addition to the network of student resources at the College. The presence of such a Center would provide students with a fixed place to go for support such as the counsel of other peers, the Queer Life Coordinator, printed information, or sexual health resources. The space would be utilized by currently existing groups such as the Women’s Center, the Queer Student Union, Anything But Str8 in Athletics, and other groups invested in these issues. The establishment of this center would create a more permanent space in which these groups could work with the College administration (including the Deans’ Office, the Office of Campus Life, the Admissions Office, the Career Planning Center, the President’s Office and the Health Center). Read more


Al Shaw

To the Williams Community,

I am saddened to report the death yesterday of one of the college’s most colorful figures, former basketball coach Al Shaw, at the age of 101.

Al earned induction into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame for his career here, which ran from 1949 to 1973. Before college athletics were separated into divisions, his 1955 team made the NCAA tournament, playing Canisius College in Madison Square Garden. Our basketball offices were long ago named in his honor.

He also helped coach football, baseball, and lacrosse here and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

For decades after retiring, he regularly trolled college offices for specimens to add to his expansive stamp collection. Until very recently, only a fool would challenge him to a game of H-O-R-S-E, so deadly was his nonagenarian two-hand set shot.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Marion, and son, John. We will relay information about a memorial service when it is known.

Bill Wagner
Interim President


“This is going to sound weird, but do you have any sage?”

Students bond during dinner – By Jenn Smith
“This is going to sound weird, but do you have any sage?”

After posing the question to Dodd Dining Hall manager Molly O’Brien, Jackie Pineda, a sophomore at Williams College, explained that she was stuck on campus for Thanksgiving. She had joined forces with her classmate Kim Stroup to prepare a vegan and vegetarian holiday supper for an estimated 19 other students who replied to a Facebook online invitation. They needed a few extra ingredients.


NCAA Soccer Sectionals, Women @ Cole w/ Free Webcast

NCAA Men’s Soccer Tourney
at York (PA) College
Sat., Nov. 21 – Sun., Nov. 22nd


11:00 AM — Ephs vs. York

Video only link, no audio — limited viewership

—————————————————– AND —————————————————–

NCAA Women’s Soccer Tourney
@ Cole Field, Williams College
Sat., Nov. 21 – Sun., Nov. 22


11:00 AM — Ephs vs. TCNJ

(Text above quoted from the Sports Info Homepage.) I made up fancy stats sheets for my commentary of tomorrow’s women’s game, and will be doing my absolute best to keep the entire commentary of the highest quality. Please e-mail me @ wls1 (at) if you have any comments between today’s games and tomorrow’s Elite 8 game, which I will commentate regardless of today’s outcome.


Williams Online

Let’s just say that this little post of Williams on Twitter ballooned a bit, shall we?

Ideas on how better can this post be organized?


Williams on Facebook:



Event Information/Calendars:



One More Exeter Post

To the Williams Community,

I am pleased to announce that Nancy Roseman, Professor of Biology, has agreed to serve as Director of the Williams-Exeter Programme at the University of Oxford for a two-year term beginning July 1, 2010.

The Director is responsible for all aspects of the programme, including the pairing of its 26 students each year with their Oxford tutors. She will bring her experience as Dean of the College and as contributor to many College committees, including the Faculty Steering Committee and the Committee on Educational Policy. As the first natural scientist to serve as Director, she also will be looking for ways to make the programme more accessible to our science majors.

She succeeds, Tom Kohut, the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Professor of History.

Our thanks go to them both for their willingness to serve in this role.

With regards,
Bill Wagner
Interim President


From Williams College to Oxford

The Advocate

At what college could I walk into a quad bordered on one side by the immense, ornate, college chapel and on the other by the college bar? In this college town, don’t even think about walking on the grass, but on Saturday night, come enjoy a beer festival at the Town Hall!

Welcome to Oxford, land of contradictions, home of bi-weekly formal dinners and punting (a boating activity in which you propel yourself with a long stick), where one college has a deer park, another a cathedral, and it is not uncommon to see people walking around in flowing black robes. Oxford, or, more specifically, Exeter College, is my home for the next year, as I have chosen to study abroad with the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford.


Best of the Record – 18 November 2009

For those interested in Moore:

I have very little to add to these articles, other then to say that Moore was reappointed to a three-year (nevermind, I’m probably wrong) visiting professorship, and that everything I’ve heard confirms that the horror stories about his teaching were unknown until after that reappointment.

In possession of a valid, limiting difference – By Muhammad Asad Liaqat
I opened the envelope, and in an instant the uneasiness in the air was replaced by dread and the visa stamp in my thoughts replaced by the “notice of application refusal” in my hands. Disappointment soon turned to anger as I realized that my application was refused because “I did not appear to be in possession of a valid visa letter.” It was the same visa letter, issued by Oxford, that had gotten the other 25 WEPO students their visas. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten what was more important than the visa letter in my application: my nationality, my religion and my name.

Ephs tap into creativity with backyard brewery – By Lisa Li
For two students, Tim Marrs ’11 and T. Sam Jensen ’11, satisfaction of their beer craving does not require a drive down to the Spirit Shoppe; in fact, their beer dispensary is located within the confines of their dorm rooms.

These two adventurous Ephs began their beer-brewing quest last year when Marrs heard about the process from his cousins. “My cousins first told me about it, and I thought it was pretty cool so we decided to try it,” he said. “Our first attempt ended up being a sort of hard cider … It was really harsh and very alcoholic tasting. It definitely was not the best.”

Despite illness, swine students still have Hope – By Julian Hess
What daily activities transpired at this magnificent Zauberberg? Nothing like those in the eponymous Thomas Mann masterpiece. Intense political and philosophical discourse, love affairs and vast arrays of allegorical characters were nowhere to be found. Sedentariness abounded. If not languishing on couches or in bed, we spent our days sprawled about watching whatever graced the large television in the parlor, whose programming ran the gamut from the Ephs’ heartbreaking Homecoming loss to Matrix trilogy marathons. When such a highly visual medium did not suit us, we played cards or board games.

Dial x4444 for residential distrust – By Steve Luther and Jimi Morales
Currently, students are too prone to automatically call Security in response to noise and odor complaints, among others, without actually engaging with their sources. We believe that upon receipt of a phoned-in complaint, the policy of Campus Safety and Security should be to refer the situation to a Baxter Fellow or other student intermediary as a first step in resolving the residential dispute. In practice, the Security dispatcher, upon receiving a phoned-in complaint, would ask, “Have you confronted the source of your complaint?” Emphasis should be placed on students addressing the problems of dorm life through a reasonable chain of action.


The New Record

The New Record is out and online. The new website is functional enough that I think there’s no reason to continue the “best of the record” feature – do people have thoughts?


Cooking with Steven

Here’s the show’s website. Above is episode 1.


Dinner on the Hill

William Slack ’11
1973 Paresky
Williams College

Dear Will,

Mimi and I are hosting a dinner…..

Such began the letter I received last year in my Paresky mailbox. Unlike almost every other communication at Williams, this one did not come via e-mail, though the RSVP instructions were electronic. Morty was inviting me to his formidable home on Route 2 for dinner, and I had little idea what to expect.

It wasn’t like I had never been to a dinner before. I had set the table many times at home with our best china for Christmas dinner – pulling out silverware that belonged to a great-great something and the plates that usually lurked in the dining room cabinet. When I went to Washington D.C. for the finals in a scholarship competition, the Mayflower Hotel served so many nice meals that I got a little tired of them, and desserts so gorgeous that I almost wanted to leave them untouched.

Yet, this invitation was different. President’s House dinners were something of a rumored secret on campus – at events with more major speakers, I sometimes saw a front section of reserved seats for the entourage of well attired students, faculty, and administrators coming from the Morty’s house. Jewish friends of mine spoke of celebrating Yom Kippur with Morty, and tour guiding friends had an invitation to brunch that slightly irked me – I had scheduled a meeting for the same time-slot. The invitation was also personal (he signed it) and purposeless: I was neither family nor competitor, but rather a guest.

Come the appointed day and time, I proceeded up the hill and was promptly confused about where to go – the front door had a sign indicating another door on the side of the building, but no one else was around and I felt like a trespasser. I skulked around back and eventually found the right door, promptly meeting a greeter who directed me to drop off my coat and to pick up a nametag. Thumbing through them to find mine, I saw a mixture of names, most of which I was unfamiliar with, and proceeded with proper identification down the hall to a lovely reception.

At this point, I should state that I used to have a problem with receptions. Whatever quality some people possess that allows them to slide in and out of conversations like butter is alien to me, and in feeling awkward, I made myself appear awkward. Yet, through a combination of friends and introductions, I somehow survived, and have since learned something about the art of social maneuvering. Having been informed of my table number by one of the many staff walking around with reception food, I went into a dining room with an incredible number of tables and chairs in close proximity and found my seat. My table had a family who knew Morty, as well as a professor and other students, and for the first time at Williams, I wasn’t in charge of my food. There was no salad bar or food line, and all I needed to concentrate on were the people at my table.

In a larger sense, Williams is the same way for academics. Only in college are my true responsibilities limited to eating, sleeping, reading, and going to class. Williams takes care of all of the logistics for us, and while I might occasionally bemoan the political apathy that I think stems from such isolation from the trials of normal life, there is great value in being able to have a purely academic experience. In the same way, this dinner conversation was a purely social experience, and hugely valuable in that respect. Meeting someone new at Williams is always strange because either you or them inevitably have something to do within the next 24 hours that hasn’t been done, but I was free of any obligation but my conversation, and in that, was rewarded with a better experience than would have been possible otherwise.

Morty eventually stood up and praised our guest; we soon had to go to the their lecture, but as I looked around at the chatting students and faculty, something occurred to me that I sent in my thank-you note: “The experience was unique to my time here at Williams – we are often so busyon campus that we miss the chance to talk about ideas and theories outside of an academic context, and this dinner provided that opportunity. It struck me as a middle ground between the modern college experience and the days when all the unaffiliated Williams men had to wear a full suit to dinner in Baxter Hall each evening.”

Dinner at Morty’s brought me back a little to that bygone era, and while I’m glad my sweat-stained t-shirt is appropriate attire at Driscoll or Greylock, dinner at Morty’s made my Williams experience a little more special, and made the snow trudging to come a little easier. I wish that everyone could have that sort of experience; plus, it’s neat to see everyone cleaned up.


Brzezinski Responds

Here’s Part 2 by Brzezinski ’89:

Last week I let you know my thoughts on how children could fit into the lives of the professional woman.

Some were not amused.

“Not only is your post embarrassingly stupid,” began one tweet, “it’s offensive to anyone who believes in reproductive choice”

Thank God the many on twitter only have 140 characters to tell me what they really thought….

Brzezinski quotes feedback she has received about her first post and goes on to speak more on the subject. Read it here.


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