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Lo ’11 Killed in Avalanche

Tragic news:

To the Williams Community,

I am writing with tragic and shocking news.

Earlier today, while some of our Williams-Exeter students were on a hiking trip in the Swiss Alps, an avalanche occurred. Henry Lo ‘11 was killed and Amy Nolan ‘11 was injured.

Five other Williams students and two Oxford students were on the trip, none of them injured.

Amy, the daughter of Jim Nolan, professor of sociology, and sister of Jim Nolan ’13, has been helicoptered to a hospital in Bern, Switzerland, where the early prognosis is encouraging.

We have been in touch with the students. A Swiss police team is working with them and will get them this evening to a hotel in Bern. A U.S. Embassy official will be there.

Back in Oxford, the remaining Williams-Exeter students have been informed, and Exeter College officials are helping our resident representatives in supporting them.

We will be in touch as we learn more.

Meanwhile, our thoughts are with all involved, especially Henry’s and Amy’s families and friends.

Adam Falk

Condolences to all.


America Party

Katherine Tandler ’11 writes from Exeter College:

Another highlight of the term was “America Party.” Contrary to popular belief, Americans are quite well-received in the United Kingdom – well, at least among the student population. The Williams kids, noting this enthusiasm (which often manifests itself in Spaghetti Western interpretations and hilarious attempts at New York accents), planned and threw an America-themed party, complete with American music (from John Cougar Mellencamp to Miley Cyrus) and real red SOLO cups “like in American teen movies!” Aside: SOLO cups do not exist in England and had to be smuggled in via guests who were visiting from the States. Many thanks to the Victor family for somehow managing to squeeze about 100 of them into their luggage.

Overall, the party was a great success; the Brits were introduced to beer pong, and the Americans were given the chance to taste what they had been missing while in England these past few months: a comforting, if not a little nostalgia-inducing experience.

Read the whole thing.

(via Will Slack ’11)


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.


WEPO Details

Harsh Sodhi ’10 kindly sent in this background information on Oxford and the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford University (WEPO). (See also yesterday’s post from Arjun Ravi Narayan ‘10.)

The average Oxford student takes 1.5 tutorials every semester. WEPO people have to take a minimum of 4.5 tutorials which get counted twice over – 4 grades for the fall, one for winter study and the remaining 4 for spring. Most departments count one tutorial as one credit though some, such as Religion and English, count them twice over.

The biggest difference between WEPO and Oxford is that for the Oxford kids their essay grades don’t matter. Tutors here like Williams kids because we put in a lot more effort since the grades do count.

The second difference is that we take final exams at the end of each term, while Oxford students take them at the beginning of the next term. I’m not sure how they do this in the third sem (Oxford follows a trimester system) considering the summer break and all. Williams wants us to make the most of our time here – it wouldn’t be particularly enjoyable if we had exams just after winter break. So we’re currently in finals week and then we get 5 weeks off to do whatever we like.

The current system where our essay grades matter is a good one. If we did what Oxford students do the program would not be academically sound enough and it would be hard to justify the fact that this is the only study away program besides WNY where grades add to one’s GPA. On the other hand, I think finals are a waste of time – if you don’t know your stuff after writing 8 2000 word essays there’s no point going to school. A 3 hour exam at the end doesn’t measure anything. At present WEPO leaves it up to the tutor but “strongly recommends” some sort of final exam / assignment / paper.

Oxford kids are straight jacketed into particular subjects or streams though there is some flexibility within each stream. When the kids here apply for college they apply for a specific subject / stream. PPE for example stands for Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Thus kids in the PPE program take a certain number of classes in each subject (similar to our Div requirements I guess but they we are much more flexible) and then specialize in one of the three. We WEPO students aren’t subject to any such constraints.

Thanks for the details.


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