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A More Welcoming and Open Department

For more on pronouns, read this comment from S’18:

’m not going to wade into most of this because I think a lot of the arguing going on here is in bad faith based on some commenters thinking that the idea of someone identifying outside of the gender binary or using pronouns other than he/him or she/her is inherently ridiculous. That’s not an idea I know how to argue against because it’s simply an ad hominem based on a lack of empathy and respect for others.

I do, however, want to respond to the point Prof. Knibbs raised about gendered language, because I think this is a case where the email is poorly worded. The objection to referring to he/him pronouns as male or she/her pronouns as female is that male and female are nouns, and thus saying that someone uses male pronouns would imply that person is male. As an alternative, I (and literally every other trans person I know) describe he/him pronouns as masculine pronouns and she/her pronouns as feminine pronouns. Because masculine and feminine are adjectives rather than nouns, they simply describe the gender of the pronouns rather than label the person as being of a particular gender identity. As for the objection to referring to they/them pronouns as gender-neutral and instead saying they should be referred to nonbinary, I am a nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns and have never heard that. Actually, I have some pretty strong objections to referring to them as nonbinary pronouns because that would imply that all nonbinary people need to use they/them pronouns (which they don’t), but the administration probably read a thinkpiece somewhere that made that point and decided to go with it…

This actually gets to the final point I’d like to make, which is that so much of this comment thread, and more generally discourse around trans issues, suffers from not talking to actual trans students about what changes we want and how we think about things. I know most of the trans students on campus (I was one myself until June), and none of us would want to harass or report people for making honest mistakes. Using pronouns different from the ones you are socially conditioned to assume, especially they/them pronouns, is really difficult for a lot of people, and we get that. I really can’t imagine any student going to the administration about being misgendered by a faculty or staff member unless it was something that happened chronically and with clear malice. What we want is to be able to just do our work and be respected by others in our community; to be referred to by the names and pronouns we feel comfortable with and not have it be the defining issue of our lives. When my department (in Division III, lest you think that all trans people are confined to the humanities) made the decision last year to have people introduce themselves with pronouns at the beginnings of classes, it was awkward at first and people were nervous about slipping up. Mistakes happened, apologies were awkwardly muttered, and then everyone moved on. By the end of the semester, it was second nature to everyone that the weekly department lunch started with everyone introducing themselves with their name, class year, and pronouns. The building did not burn down, and our academic work did not degrade. We simply became a more welcoming and open department, and it is my sincere hope that more of Williams can follow in that pursuit.

Good stuff. S’18 should join us as an author! Their perspective belongs on the front page of EphBlog, not buried at the bottom of an (interesting!) comment thread.

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Responsible employees and reporting responsibilities

From the Dean of the College to the Faculty:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We hope your summer has been a good one. We write to update you on some aspects of the college’s work on prevention of and response to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and in particular to share information on your reporting obligations if you become aware of such issues.

Williams College seeks to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence of all kinds, and to act to redress any such incidents that do occur. That commitment requires that we know about incidents that happen on our campus, so that we can (1) ensure that those who experience sexual harassment or sexual violence receive immediate professional support and guidance as to their options for legal and campus processes and for counseling, no contact orders and other accommodations (2) act to address the behavior of alleged perpetrator, the safety of the individual affected and of the campus community (3) become aware of patterns of perpetration and intervene to stop them.

1) Seems like standard stuff, in this day and age.

2) What is the best way to make trouble on this topic? I still want answers about this accusation.

Entire letter below the break:
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34 Honor Code Violations

A letter to the faculty:

Dear Colleagues,

Most of you heard Nick Goldrosen, the student chair of the honor committee at yesterday’s faculty meeting.

More transparency, please. Were there slides? A printed report? Share it with the community. Faculty Meetings are, essentially, public events, with Record reporters generally (still?) in attendance.

As faculty chair, I’d like to add a few words as well. After all, the committee heard 34 cases in 2017-18 (!!! for comparison, ten years ago the number was 15), many of them resulting in sanctions of failure in the assignment or failure in the course.

There were also 34 incidents in 2012-2013. Shevchenko is being sloppy (misleading?) to pretend that there has been a steady increase over the last decade. If the latest number is exactly the same as the number 5 years ago, there probably isn’t a crisis . . .

We would love to do all we can to bring the number of violations (and thus, affected students) down this year.

Would we? (And I am not just referring to the poor writing suggested by the desire to bring down affected students.)

The easiest way to bring the number down is to stop enforcing/investigating incidents. See no evil! Of course, I am against this, but how do we know the increase this year is because the underlying rate of cheating has gone up as opposed to an increase in enforcement efficacy. Maybe cheating at Williams has been constant for 10 (or 100 years) but its detection has varied over time.

As you know, all Williams students sign the honor code before they can register for classes. They also likely read a statement about the honor code on your class syllabi. However, it appears that this is far from sufficient as a deterrent from honor code violations.

D’oh! Who ever thought it was? The fear of punishment is the deterrent that will work best on Williams students. Read excerpts from past Honor Committee Reports to your class. That will lower cheating.

If left at that, the honor code may inadvertently come across as a mere formality, which does an enormous injustice to the values it is designed to uphold, and to the students themselves.

Exactly. And this is the faculty’s fault! Contemporary syllabi are so jammed full of required junk that, almost by definition, the importance of any one bit has to decrease. If you spend more time on pronouns and diversity, then you have to spend less time on the honor code. There is no free lunch.

In order to make sure the honor code does what it is supposed to do, i.e. ensures academic integrity of the work done at the college, all of us need to take time in our classes to convey to students (a) how the specific parameters of our assignments relate to the honor code (that is, the details of our expectations regarding the use of outside sources, group work and citation format for each individual assignment), and (b) just how much is at stake, for them individually and for Williams as a community, in upholding these.

Blah, blah, blah. If you want to reach college students where they live, if you actually want to change their behavior, then you need to avoid soporific tripe like this and focus on the concrete. Read them this:

A junior was brought to the Honor Committee due to concerns about plagiarism. The professor noted that sections of several papers appeared to come directly
from online sources. Following the Honor Committee’s hearing and deliberations, they determined that the student violated the honor code on multiple occasions by using ideas and direct quotations from other sources without citation. The committee recommended a sanction of failure in the course.

Read a couple of these and . . . pause . . . and say, “If you cheat in my class, I will catch you and you will fail the course.

Faculty who do this (certainly?) face less cheating than faculty who prattle on about “how much is at stake.” Most Williams faculty, sadly, are unwilling to confront students so directly.

Back to the letter.

Our students come from a range of academic backgrounds, and many are working on a steep learning curve as they develop the command of academic language and conventions.

This is strange. Does Shevchenko mean to suggest that many/most cheating cases result from different “backgrounds?” This is not implausible. Andover teaches you not to cheat because its faculty teach thoroughly. Perhaps, at a lousy high school, students don’t really learn how to use information from the internet correctly/honestly?

But Shevchenko never says this directly and, reading between the lines of the annual reports, it looks like the vast majority of cases are not caused by differing “academic backgrounds.” The cheaters know that they are cheating.

The attention you give to the code of academic integrity in your class helps them all to arrive at a shared understanding of the honor code’s purpose and of their role in upholding it.

This is a testable hypothesis! Randomly assign some professors to make a big deal about cheating and some to do whatever they normally do. Does giving the honor code more “attention” cause a decrease in cheating?

If Williams were an actual “leader” in undergraduate education, these are the sorts of questions that we would be exploring — carefully and rigorously — each semester.

Oftentimes, honor code violations occur because the students are caught in the trees so much that they fail to see the forest: they are freaking out about a grade, running out of time, or dealing with external stress.

Does this metaphor work? “Caught in the trees?” Anyway, this suggests that the problem is not differing backgrounds. The cheaters know. They just feel compelled to cheat because of these pressures. (By the way, it would be good to collect and distribute anonymous interviews with punished students.) Again, the best way to deter such “calculated” cheating is by demonstrating that it will fail.

To prevent these scenarios, it is our role as faculty to remind them of the larger purpose of the honor system. It’s also helpful to make sure the students know that consequences of cheating far outweigh the elusive gains they may be hoping to achieve by cutting corners. Speaking about academic integrity in class proactively and specifically, and giving them the tools to do the right thing early on sends the students a signal that you take academic honesty seriously, and ensures that they do too.

Shevchenko needs an editor. How is this any different than what she wrote above?

We wish you all a great semester of teaching and learning, and thank you for taking action to help your students uphold the values of academic integrity in your classes. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you come across something that looks like an honor case, or simply if you have any thoughts or concerns pertaining to the honor system.

Olga Shevchenko, on behalf of the Honor Committee.

More transparency, please.

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Integrative Global Studies

This seems fishy to me.

The Board of Supervisors accepted a bid on the Lucerne Hotel, also known as the Lucerne Castle, for $2.5 million from the Romero Institute at their Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting.

The Romero Institute is a social justice-focused nonprofit law and public policy center based in Santa Cruz.

The Romero Institute proposal states that they intend to turn the Lucerne Hotel into a four-year educational institution which will offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrative Global Studies and a University Extension Program.

The institution is a partnership with the support of the University of San Francisco, Williams College, Rice University, Kansas State University, Loyola Marymount and the University of Manitoba.

Either the folks at the Romero Institute are making a bs claim about our involvement (which would be illegal, especially in the context of a public bid) or someone at Williams, for silly or nefarious reasons, has gotten us involved with a boondoggle on the other side of the country. Let’s hope for the former!

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Gonzalez as Director of the Office of Human Resources

If we are going to hire more administrators, then I much prefer that they are promoted from within, as in this case, rather than brought in after pseudo “nationwide” searches. Congrats to Gonzalez!

From: Fred Puddester
Date: September 5, 2018 at 3:05:10 PM EDT
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: Human Resources Director
Reply-To: Fred Puddester

Dear Williams Community,

It is my pleasure to announce that Danielle Gonzalez has accepted the offer to become the next director of the Office of Human Resources.

Danielle has been with the college for more than a decade and has served in many roles during her time here. She started at Williams as our Employment Manager and has been promoted into positions of increasing responsibility over her time here. She currently serves as Deputy Director of the office.

Shortly after arriving at the college, she was the staff administrator of the search committee that selected President Falk. That experience provided important insights into the entire Williams community, including trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni.

Also, early in her career she co-facilitated workshops focused on building an inclusive and diverse community. More than 500 staff members attended these meetings and they provided an important foundational learning experience for staff about how they could foster a more inclusive community.

In 2013 and 2014 Danielle served as co-chair of the Committee on Diversity and Community. During her tenure, the committee made recommendations regarding improving performance evaluations and finding ways for the staff to have more influence in decisions on campus. More recently she has worked closely with colleagues in HR to establish a process for on-boarding individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-binary and currently serves on the Trans-Inclusion Working Group. She has a deep and abiding passion for supporting staff in every way, as well as recruiting and engaging historically underrepresented individuals.

Danielle’s influence extends beyond the Williams campus. She led a group to create the 1Berkshire Youth Leadership program, which engages high school juniors in career exploration and leadership skill development. She also served as a board member and scholar mentor for Greylock ABC, whose mission is to support young people of color through education opportunities. And Danielle currently serves on the Board of Directors for 1Berkshire, the primary advocacy group for the economic, civic, and social welfare of Berkshire County.

On a personal note, over the past seven years I have seen, first hand, Danielle’s dedication to staff, her deep commitment to diversity and inclusion and her passion for recruiting and developing the best people to come to Williams. She excels at developing strong strategic partnerships on campus and is someone department heads routinely seek out for advice. I’m delighted that she will continue her career here at the college in this important leadership role.

I want to thank the members of the search committee — Toya Camacho, Keli Gail, Barron Koralesky, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Lisa Melendy, G.L. Wallace, Bob Wright and Bob Volpi — and all the faculty and staff that assisted in this search.

Please join me in congratulating Danielle and supporting her in this new role.

Fred

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A million dollars a year in textbooks

Just received this request for a donation to Williams:

Dear Diana,

Did you know that Williams provides a book grant to cover all required texts and course materials for students receiving financial aid?

Prior to 2010, financial aid students would queue up before dawn with the hopes of borrowing textbooks from the 1914 Library. For decades, the 1914 provided financial aid students access to textbooks without having to purchase them outright. […] All of that changed in the spring of 2010: no more standing in line, no more choosing courses or majors based on the availability of textbooks. Since 2010, the Alumni Fund has made it possible for the college to help purchase approximately $7.5 million in textbooks for financial aid students. […]

Perhaps you’d like your Alumni Fund gift to buy the books for students taking “MATH 150: Multivariable Calculus” this semester. (You can read more about the course here.)

Thank you so much for all you do for Williams!

Lisa Russell-Mina ‘79
Co-Chair, Alumni Fund

Thoughts:

  • It’s 2018, and 50% of Williams students (so, about 1000 per year) receive financial aid. By my calculations, that means Williams is spending about $1000 per student per year on textbooks. Wow! That seems like a lot.
  • I appreciate their suggestion to check out Math 150, since I was the one teaching it three semesters ago. In fact, I wrote my own materials and printed them out for the students for free. I wish more people would do the same.
  • Knowing that my hundred dollars might go towards half of a $200 textbook actually makes me less likely to send a hundred dollars to Williams. Financial aid, wholeheartedly yes! Textbooks, hard no.

Some problems I wrote about Mount Greylock, the Mountain Day T-shirt, Cricket Creek farm, and the Williams Outing Club are below the break. The whole textbook is here.

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Two New Administrators

From a faculty friend:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 10:39 PM
Subject: A hearty introduction
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Williams Community,

I am excited to announce two new members of the Williams Community.

Hannah Lipstein joins the Dean’s Office in her new role as Violence Prevention Coordinator. Hannah will be working closely with Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Response and Prevention, to extend our long-term preventative education work on campus. Hannah comes to us from a domestic violence direct service organization in Boston specifically serving the LGBTQ+ community. She also brings a wealth of expertise from her recent undergraduate experience as a student anti-violence organizer and peer advocate at Wellesley College.. We are very excited to welcome Hannah to our team.

Ivy Krofta joins us as a Peer Tutor Coordinator. Ivy will be working closely with Laura Muller, Director of Quantitative Skills Programs and Peer Support, to manage the day to day operations of our Peer Academic Support Network. Ivy is a 2013 graduate of MCLA with a degree in degree in English/Communications. She studied Spanish at the International Language Institute in Northampton, and is certified as an ESL educator. Some of you may know Ivy from her long time work at Bonnie Lea Farm. Ivy’s home base will be in in the Academic Resource Center (2nd floor of Paresky)

Please join me in welcoming Hannah and Ivy to Williams.

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
Phone: (413) 597-4261
Fax: (413) 597-3507

Is there any amount of hiring that would make the trustees, ask: “How many people do you really need to run Williams?”

My recommendation is the same as always: Fewer administrators and more faculty involvement in administration.

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student pronouns

Are my “friends” on the faculty punking me, sending me absurd parodies of Administration e-mails which make me seem stupidly naive for publishing them? Latest example:

From: “Buell, Denise”
Date: August 28, 2018 at 5:57:17 PM GMT+2
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: student pronouns
Reply-To: “Buell, Denise”

Dear Colleagues,

Williams College is committed to building a community where everyone is a full member. Part of this commitment involves acknowledging gender diversity on campus and respectfully addressing our students and peers. How we practice language matters, and being attentive to what pronouns we use allows us to respect the multi-faceted identities of our community members. Everyone has the right to be addressed as they should be, and we leave that to each individual to determine.

With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Office of Institutional Technology and the Registrar’s Office are working to facilitate appropriate pronoun identification for faculty, students and staff. The first step in this process has been to give students the option to submit their pronouns in PeopleSoft, and to make student pronouns available to faculty on class rosters in PeopleSoft as well as to academic advisors in their Advisor Center/My Advisee section. (Please note that at this time, they will not be available via GLOW.)

The process for students is simple. Students will select pronouns per instructions provided to them by the Registrar’s Office. A student’s pronoun will be indicated on the class roster in PeopleSoft under a “pronoun” column. When or if a student changes pronouns at any point during the term (even after add/drop), faculty instructors and academic advisors will receive an email notification from PeopleSoft indicating that one or more students submitted a pronoun update, and they will be directed to their roster.

For now, this change will take place at the student level. The Office of Institutional Technology, Human Resources, and the Registrar’s Office are working diligently to ensure that the pronoun identification process can be made available for faculty and staff. This is an effort that will take some time, and that is greatly impacted by the technological limitations of our current systems. Faculty and staff will be notified of these forthcoming changes as they occur.

As Faculty, one of our key teaching responsibilities is to create inclusive learning communities. In our classrooms, we set examples for students everyday for how to engage each other with respect. As you know, the way we speak to others matter and can make a profound difference in someone’s life. As you consider strategies for pronoun use, you may find the accompanying list of resources below helpful.

If you have any additional questions or need additional information, please contact any member of the Offices of the Dean of the Faculty, Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Registrar.

best,

Denise K. Buell

Office of the Dean of the Faculty

You may find the following resources helpful:

A guide to pronoun practices at Williams, which includes lists of existing pronoun choices, as well as strategies for pronoun use.

See also Some helpful information about Name Change Policies on the Registrar’s website.

And, many have found the “‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know” to be an especially handy resource.

We would also like to share below the following information that the Office of the Registrar has provided to students to help guide them in their practices.

Why should I select a pronoun?

Informing the community of your pronouns helps everyone address you appropriately and respects everyone’s right to be addressed as they should be.

What are the pronoun choices?

The following list is not exhaustive.

she/her/hers
he/him/his
they/them/theirs
ze/zir/zirs
zhe/zher/zhers
name/name/name (e.g. Kris would like Kris’ things for Kris)

other (fill in the blank with your pronoun choice.)

Some pronouns dos and don’ts:

Do!

DO-If you would like to ask someone’s pronoun, start by offering your pronoun first, “Hi, I’m ____. I use the pronouns ____. What about you?” It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses, instead of assuming.

DO-Understand that some people are not comfortable sharing their pronouns. Some people would prefer that you call them by their name. This is particularly true for some people who may feel they are being asked to share information that they are not ready to share.

DO-Be patient with yourself and others. If you make a mistake, apologize, make the correction and move on.

Don’t!

DON’T-Refer to pronouns such as “they/them/their” or “ze/zir/zirs” as “gender-neutral pronouns.” While some people identify as gender-neutral, many don’t see themselves as gendered, but as gender nonconforming. Better language is “non-binary pronouns.”

DON’T- Describe the pronouns someone uses as “preferred pronouns.” It is not a preference. The pronouns that a person uses are their pronouns and the only ones that should be used for them.

DON’T-Say “male pronouns” and “female pronouns.” Pronouns are not necessarily tied to someone’s gender identity: some people use “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers,” but do not identify as male or female, respectively.

If Denise Buell is sending e-mails like this today, what sort of e-mails will she be sending in 15 years?

Also, what does President Mandel think about this topic?

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Bossong on Berkshire DA Candidate Forum

Meg Bossong ’05, director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, writes:

During the Berkshire County district attorney forum on July 31, the candidates for DA were asked about two campus sexual assault bills pending in the Legislature.

In his response, Paul Caccaviello chose to describe the complex problem of campus sexual assault by pointing to Williams College, specifically, for failing to report incidents of sexual violence to the criminal legal system and to advocate for the legal rights of student survivors of intimate violence.

Mr. Caccaviello’s assertions are patently and categorically false. His own predecessor, David Capeless, refuted this point in a lengthy interview with iBerkshires in 2014, saying “My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn’t want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know. Unfortunately, there’s been a misunderstanding of what colleges are doing. It’s too easy to think that they have every reason to suppress the idea that there are assaults on their campus. But they’re not suppressing the information.”

To be effective in advocating on behalf of crime victims, advocates — whether on campus, in community-based agencies like the Elizabeth Freeman Center, or in the DA’s own victim-witness advocacy program — have to help victims understand their options, and the benefits and barriers to accessing them. Williams presents students with all their legal and disciplinary options, and supports them in accessing those, either directly or via connection with off-campus resources.

Survivors of violence often weigh whether they can endure the publicity and pain of a criminal proceeding. That self-searching, at the same time they are reacting to and trying to begin their recovery from trauma, has to include a consideration of whether a criminal complaint is likely to lead to a conviction.

The DA’s office makes the final choice about whether to pursue prosecution in cases of sexual violence that occur in Berkshire County. This includes cases affecting students of the four colleges located here. Mr. Caccaviello needs to tell the voters of our county how many cases of peer-to-peer, alcohol-involved sexual assault and rape his office has chosen to bring to trial, and how many cases they have pleaded out to lesser, non-sexual offenses or agreed to continue without a finding.

With that information, the voters of Berkshire County can decide on Sept. 4 whose advocacy has come up short.

Hmmm. I confess to not following the politics of this closely. Thoughts:

1) Caccaviello does not strike me as the prettiest flower in the bouquet. Should we root against him?

2) Bossong is a friend (?) of EphBlog, so we are on her side in general despite (or because?!) she blocks me on social media.

3) Internal party politics are confusing. (Berkshire County is now a democratic stronghold, so whoever wins the primary will be the next DA.) Caccaviello may be smart to cast Williams College as the villain.

4) Who does Bossong favor? Who does Williams, as an institution, favor? Hard to know! The Berkshire DA has had very little to do with Williams, at least over the last few years (decades?). But a more activist DA, especially one who aspired to higher office and who wanted the (free) press associated with taking on the local giant, could be a giant headache for President Maud Mandel. Imagine a trial like Gensheimer/Foster every year . . .

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“Take a relaxing stroll through town,” they said. “It’s carbon neutral,” they said. Williamstown this day in 2018.

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Not Being Welcomed, Included, or Accepted

Latest all-faculty e-mail:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Subject: syllabus planning and student support
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well. As we hit mid-August, many of you will begin the process of creating or updating your course syllabi. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest a few topics for inclusion: (1) the honor code, (2) access to health/accessibility resources, and (3) inclusivity and classroom culture.


The honor code
:
Please consider including a statement about how the honor code (and academic integrity) applies to your coursework. The syllabus is a great place to introduce students to any specific requirements you have about citation, collaboration, use of resource materials, or other issues particular to your work. Even if you plan to provide specific instructions on individual assignments, including information about the honor code in the syllabus sends an important signal about the importance of academic integrity in your classroom.

In addition to outlining general expectations, consider including a statement that encourages students to ask questions if they are unsure about a particular practice or rule (e.g., “If you have any questions about how the honor code applies to your work, please come talk with me. I am always happy to have those conversations.”

One issue that has become increasing thorny for the Honor Committee over the past few years involves the nature of collaborative work. In many instances, faculty allow (and strongly encourage) students to collaborate in some ways and for some assignments, but not in others. The Honor Committee has been hearing a large number of cases in which students seem confused about what sorts of collaborative work are being encouraged, even when faculty believe they had been clear. The syllabus provides a good opportunity for clarity. Rather than providing students with a general principle (e.g., “Students may consult with other students as long as the work they turn in is their own”) you might want to consider being more specific about your expectations around collaboration. What you choose to write will vary depending on the nature of your assignments and expectations, but one example of more detailed language around collaborative work might be: “Students can exchange broad ideas or general approaches toward problem sets with other students, but may not engage in any joint writing or step-by-step problem solving. One way to be sure you are not violating the honor code is to refrain from writing/typing/crafting your response to the assignment with others. Rather, save the writing until you are on your own and working independently.”

Health/Accessibility resources:
Both students and faculty have asked about ways to ensure that students know the resources they can turn to for disabilities and other health issues that affect their academic work. We are continuing to work on improving outreach from our office directly to students regarding these resources. You may wish to include a brief pointer to appropriate resources in your syllabus. Some sample language to consider: “Students with disabilities of any kind who may need accommodations for this course are encouraged to contact Dr. GL Wallace (Director of Accessible Education) at 597-4672. Also, students experiencing mental or physical health challenges that are significantly affecting their academic work or well-being are encouraged to contact me and to speak with a dean so we can help you find the right resources. The deans can be reached at 597-4171.”

Inclusivity and classroom culture
:
You might want to consider including a statement in your syllabus that underscores your commitment to a respectful and inclusive classroom climate. Some sample language to consider: The Williams community embraces diversity of age, background, beliefs, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and other visible and nonvisible categories. I welcome all students in this course and expect that all students contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment. If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Many thanks to the faculty members who have contributed to the suggested language provided here. Please use whatever you find helpful, and feel free to share additional ideas with me, so that I can pass them along to others.. Also, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of these issues further. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. May time slow down for these last few weeks, and may late August be restorative!

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

1) Isn’t it pretty stupid for every single syllabus to include the exact same language about these issues? Don’t we have a student handbook or some other common means to cover these topics?

2) Put yourself in the shoes of a junior faculty member. The Dean of the College asks you to “consider” using this in your syllabus:

If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Emphasis added. What choice do you have but to include this sniveling invitation to every trouble-making snitch?

3) We have some faculty readers. Will you be including this (newish?) language in your syllabi? Do you think your junior colleagues feel compelled to?

4) What are the standards by which we might determine if a student is, objectively, being “accepted” in a class? Is it possible to be welcomed and included, but not accepted?

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Information for Returning Upperclass Students – Fall 2018

Dear Students,
I hope you are having a wonderful summer.  We are busy planning for fall – just a few more weeks until the Class of 2022 arrives – and I’m very much looking forward to your return to campus and to our community.
There are many questions you may have brewing at this point – about keys and cars and transportation and room openings and many other things.  We have a website which we hope will offer most of the answers, here.  Of course, if none of these links answer your questions, we are here and happy to talk and figure things out.
I’m wishing you a joyful remainder of your summer and safe travel back to Williamstown.
All best,
Dean Sandstrom
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In Solidarity and in Community

From a faculty source:

> From: “Patterson-Stephens, Shawna”
> Date: July 13, 2018 at 6:21:12 PM GMT+2
> To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
> Subject: Community Space in Response to Incident at Sawyer Library
> Reply-To: “Patterson-Stephens, Shawna”
>
> Williams Students, Faculty, and Staff,
>
> Recently, printed materials expressing anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-LGBTQIA sentiment were placed in the library stacks of the Sawyer Library.
>
> The Davis Center will host a community space this afternoon (Friday, July 13th) in the Jenness Conference Room from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm in response to these harmful sentiments. We invite you to join us for as long or as little as you’d like, in solidarity and in community.
>
> The DC Staff also invites you to join us in reclaiming our space with messages of affirmation we intend to post throughout campus. These messages, in the form of posters, will be available on the conference room table–feel free to drop by and take one or some for your offices, classrooms, and residential spaces.
>
> ​Yours,
> The Davis Center Staff​

Here are some photos of the students (?) who disrupted (?) the Williamstown July 4th parade and the annual reading of the Founding Documents in Sawyer.

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1) I bet that there is some overlap/connection between these protestors and the Davis Center folks organizing this “Response.” In particular, who paid for those nicely printed posters?

2) What would happen to a student/professor who organized “messages of affirmation” to counteract ideas of the July 4th protestors? There are many trolling opportunities available.

3) Please post photos of these “messages of affirmation.” Future historians will thank you!

4) Non-violent protest/speech is at the heart of a free society. I want more messages from both the July 4th protestors and the anonymous white nationalists. Indeed, if Robert Gaudino were still with us, he would be trying to arrange a debate between the two groups. Uncomfortable Learning indeed!

5) Am I wrong to suspect that the Davis Center folks want to silence voices on campus that disagree with them (e.g., Trump supporters suspicious of Muslim immigration) while insisting on their right to disrupt events like the July 4th parade and reading of the Founding Documents?

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How Wealthy is Williams?

From our friends at Dartblog comes this report (pdf) about college/university wealth. Key table:

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Interesting stuff!

1) Pomona, Amherst and Swarthmore have the wealth to compete more effectively with us, mainly by hiring more faculty. Will they?

2) Does this data fully reflect the fact that Amherst has been increasing its student body? I don’t think so. Latest first year class at Amherst was 470, which which generates a four year student body of 1880. This number would bring down the endowment per student down a bit.

3) I seem to recall that we used to be further ahead of Amherst/Swarthmore. True? What happened?

4) The meaning of “student” — undergraduate, Ph.D., business, law, etc — varies significantly across institutions, so it is hard to compare liberal arts colleges with places like Princeton and Harvard.

Should I spend a week on this topic?

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Garfield House is gone.

Our friends over at ‘Eph Construction Boom’ are reporting the Garfield has been torn down. Will check it out tomorrow and throw up some after pics of the debris…

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How Faculty Can Change Williams

A conversation with professor at reunion leads to this post about how faculty — even a single faculty member — can create significant change at Williams. Most of this advice applies to any topic, but, for concreteness, let’s assume a professor who is concerned about the decline of faculty governance at Williams and the rise of administrator numbers/power/salaries.

First, educate yourself on the topic. The Provost’s Office produced this wonderful report (pdf) on college staffing. Read it more than once. See EphBlog’s 9 (!) part series of faculty governance: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Talk to some retired faculty members (e.g., Frank Oakley) about how the College used to be run. If you want to change policy about topic X, then you need to be as well-informed about X as anyone at Williams.

One tidbit on the history of faculty governance: Just 25 years ago, there were two assistant provosts, both members of the faculty. They assisted the provost in all her duties. (One of those assistants was Morty Schapiro!) There is no reason why the faculty could not be much more powerful than they are, no reason why Williams could not revert back to arrangements of that era.

Second, schedule an appointment with Maud Mandel. She starts in two weeks and will be eager to chat with faculty. The goal for this meeting is not to harangue her with your views. Instead, find out what she thinks! Is she concerned with the growth of administrative power? Did she witness similar trends at Brown? What does she think the correct ratio is of faculty to administrator hiring? And so on. At some point, ask her: “Interesting point, Maud! Would you mind if I followed up with Dukes Love and his folks in the Provost’s Office to gather more information?” She will probably encourage you to do so. And getting that permission/encourage was your goal from this meeting.

Third, meet with Dukes Love or Chris Winters ’95 or someone else in the Provost’s Office, ideally whoever was the lead person on the Staffing Report. Again, your goal is not to harangue them with your views. Be realistic! They don’t really care what you think. You are just one of the 250+ faculty members they have to deal with. Instead, your goal is to get access to their data on staffing, or at least as much of it as they will share. It is one thing to read their report. It is another to have a copy of their Excel spreadsheets, to be able to work with the raw data that they work with. The rules are such that they can’t share with you the salaries of individuals, obviously, but they can share anything else. And since you seem so reasonable — and since Maud Mandel encouraged your efforts, as you casually mentioned to them — they might be quite accommodating. Data is power and, the more you have, the more likely to are to accomplish something.

Four, write a 5 page report, expressing your concerns. Again, your goal is not to harangue readers with your views, much less with your proposed solutions. Instead, you are highlighting key facts. Of the 20 highest paid people at Williams, 18 used to be faculty, now only 10 are. The ratio of spending on faculty versus administrator salaries used to be 5:1 now it is only 2:1. There used to be 7 faculty for every administrator, and now there are only 3. Much of this information is already in the staffing report, but much is not. (And the staffing report pulls a few fast ones as well. Should I spend a week going through it?) The goal of the report is to highlight that things have changed dramatically in the last 20 years and that this topic merits further exploration.

Five, gather faculty support. Most faculty agree with you that the Administration has grown too big and too powerful. Show them your report. Get their feedback. Ask them if they would be willing to join you in working on this problem. Present the report to various committees, perhaps all the way up to a full faculty meeting. Key at this stage is to identify your core supporters, the 5 (10? 30?) faculty members who are willing to work hard on this topic, even if it means going against the College Administration.

Six, start thinking about goals. What, precisely, do you want to accomplish? What policy change would make Williams better off 10 or 50 years from now? This is not about an individual administrator or even a class of positions. My recommendation is that you want a non-faculty net-hiring pause of 10 years. You certainly don’t want anyone to be fired. Current Williams administrators are, overwhelmingly, good people, working hard to make the College better. You just want to bring Williams back “in balance,” to where it was 20 years ago. Since many people leave the College each year, the Administration would still have a great deal of flexibility in terms of shifting resources around. But, right now, Williams has 200 (?) administrators. That is enough. Other plausible policy changes include a (more draconian) hiring freeze which would, over time, decrease the administrative bloat at Williams. Or a freeze on total spending on administrators.

Seven, lobby to create a committee. Major changes at Williams come via two mechanisms — presidential fiat (Falk’s alignment) or major committees (the end of fraternities, the decrease in admission preferences for athletes, neighborhood housing). You want President Mandel to form a committee — preferably faculty only, but maybe to also include students and alumni — charged with examining administration growth at Williams. You would not presume to demand that this committee come to a specific conclusion. Instead, your only point is that there are few more important issues to Williams over the next 100 years than the role of faculty in college governance. Therefore, we need a committee to examine this topic.

Eight, keep Mandel/Love/Buell informed as you proceed. Perhaps one or more of them might be an ally! You never know. At the very least, keeping them informed is probably politically wise since only they can create the committee. You just want to maneuver them into situation in which, from their point of view, giving you your committee is the best option.

That is enough for today! More advice available, as requested.

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Proven Correct

Funny Record article:

From Saturday through Monday, the Office of Student Life (OSL) held its annual general room draw for upperclass students. The lottery underwent several changes this year, including a move to the new, fully online Williams Housing Portal, the removal of Garfield House from the lottery for planned renovation and a new provision allowing students to pick into one half of a double room before all singles had been filled.

Despite the platform’s success, however, many students have expressed discontent with the outcome of the room draw, largely due to the change allowing students to pick into half of a double early in the process. In past years, students could not pick into doubles alone until all singles on campus had been filled.

Specifically, some students were frustrated with the way in which some students appear to have manipulated the system by way of the gender cap to ensure that doubles picked into early on would remain solo rooms. In some houses, such as Agard House and East College, many groups of doubles were selected early on in the process by large single-gender groups. The house would then hit the gender cap, ensuring that only students of a different gender could pick into it. Because consent is required from the first occupant for a person of another gender to pick into the second half of a double, some of the earlier occupants denied consent, thus keeping large doubles for themselves as singles.

Schiazza explained that he had feared this would occur if OSL allowed students to pick into half of doubles but made the change anyway due to increased pressure from students. “For the 15 years that I’ve been at Williams, rising seniors and juniors have expressed frustration to me about not having the option to take half of a double to keep their pick groups together, and then seeing rising sophomores with less seniority have that option later in the lottery after all the singles have been taken,” he said. “I’ve explained each time that my understanding of the reason for the rule was that rising seniors and juniors in the past would take a half-double, then put pressure on other students who would select or try to select the other half of the room later in the lottery not to take the room or to move afterward. The last few years, students have expressed to me that they thought today’s students wouldn’t do something like that and urged that we give it a try. So, we tried it this year – and I’d really hoped to be proven wrong in this experiment. Sadly, I’m disappointed to have instead been proven correct.”

As a result of discontent among both students and OSL over what occurred with these double rooms, OSL will likely be returning to its previous policy of not allowing half of a double to be picked into early on in the room draw. “We have been hearing of more situations than we’d want where students are putting pressure on each other about sharing rooms,” Schiazza said. “So it’s very likely that we’ll be returning to the ‘can’t take a half-double until all singles are gone’ rule for next year.”

Doug Schiazza knows what he is doing. If he is suspicious that students will behave selfishly, the rest of us should heed his warnings.

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Administrative Bloat

Williams is hiring an assistant general counsel.

We seek a collaborative, strategic, and intellectually agile attorney to serve as Assistant General Counsel (AGC), reporting to the General Counsel. The AGC will provide legal support involving myriad legal issues to a wide array of college offices and constituencies and will help manage and operate the college’s residential mortgage benefit program. Over time the AGC will develop the ability to represent college before local boards, commissions, and agencies in a variety of permitting, regulatory, and policy matters.

1) Every administrator hired is another faculty member not hired. We need to understand not just the seen — a nice new administrator who is doing her best to make Williams better — but also what is not seen — the junior professor not hired because her salary has gone to the administrator instead.

2) If we must hire a new administrator, we should do everything possible to make it the spouse of a current faculty member. You don’t need a law degree to do (almost) any aspect of the job outlined above. None if it is rocket science. A smart spouse could learn what he needed to learn over time. Some of the best administrators at Williams — Associate Provost Chris Winters ’95, Director of Institutional Research Courtney Wade — got their first job at the College with no relevant experience. By hiring them, Williams has made it much less likely that their spouses — Professors Amy Gehring ’94 and Brent Heeringa — will ever consider leaving.

3) Why not allow current faculty to take on this work? We have lamented, for years, the continuing decrease in faculty governance at Williams. There are a dozen or more faculty members who would like to be considered for senior administrator positions when they next open up. How are those professors to demonstrate their talent and industriousness? How are they to discover, before they get tapped as Provost, that they really want to get into administration?

The best plan is to give them part time work doing administrative type stuff, like representing the “college before local boards, commissions, and agencies.” They will learn whether or not they like administration. President Mandel will discover if they are any good at it. And it would not cost Williams a penny. Professors would still be responsible for their full teaching loads.

Ancient readers will recall that Williams used to have two “assistant provosts,” both drawn from the faculty. Now we have zero. The old way was better.

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Name Game- The next three major Williams Construction projects this coming FY- Name today!

Winner to get a “Welcome to College Town” coffee cup with a purple bulldozer on it. Betting starts now, and ends in two weeks. Final results to be tallied on 30 September 2019. The rules are simple- the person who names what will be built (has to break ground by 30 September of next year) wins. Tie breaker is done by correct guess of “top three” (there are going to be over ten) of what will be destroyed/built in order of cost.

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PTC bet, in order-

(1) New Art Museum.

(2) New Field House.

(3) The new dorm to replace soon to be demolished Garfield House (start of demolition = breaking ground).

Betting closes at 0815 on 30 May 2018.

 

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Remember the Tablecloth Colors

A Record op-ed from 12 years ago:

I am frustrated by many of the ways in which the campus has changed, most particularly the sudden prominence of the well-intentioned but detrimental Office of Campus Life [OCL], which is locked in a stagnating cycle of its own design. By in effect naming itself “the decider” when it comes to student life, the campus life office has alienated the College’s best leaders. As a result of this rift, the office has become inwardly-focused, self-promotional and deeply resistant to constructive criticism. Student life is student-driven no longer.

No kidding. EphBlog has made this prediction over and over and over again. The more control that Williams students have over life at Williams, the better. The more people (intelligent and well-meaning though they may be) that are hired by the College to “help,” the less active students will be.

The main rational used by CUL (Committee on Undergraduate Life) in establishing OCL 16 years ago — All the other schools have one so it must be a good idea! — was stupid then and it is stupid now.

Writer Ainsley O’Connell tells a depressing tale. Anyone who cares about student life at Williams must read the whole thing.

When I arrived on campus, director of campus life Doug Bazuin and his staff were a distant idea, not a reality. Barb and Gail administered activities on campus, helping students schedule events from their fishbowl office at the heart of Baxter Hall. Linda Brown administered room draw, her maternal warmth and firmness easing the process. Tom McEvoy (who has since departed) and Jean Thorndike provided big-picture support and served as liaisons between students and administrators. When students were moved to champion a new policy or party idea, Tom and Jean were willing to listen, and often to lend moral and financial support. The execution fell to students, but this sense of responsibility fostered greater ownership.

Great stuff. One of the purposes of EphBlog is to capture this sort of testimony, the thanks of current students to the staff members that have done so much.

But those with long memories will note what a mockery this makes of the CUL’s discussion in 2001 of the lack of staff devoted to student life. Indeed, if there is any table which demonstrates the dishonesty/incompetence of CUL during those years it is this description Staffing at Comparable Institutions. Click on the link. Let’s take a tour. (The line for Williams (all zeroes in bold) is at the bottom.)

First, note how the JA system magically disappears. The “50 junior advisors” for Bates are listed under “Student Staff” but, at Williams, they have vanished. Second, the CUL pretends that Dean Dave Johnson ’71 does not exist. The countless hours that he spent (and spends) working with the JAs and First Years don’t matter. Yet you can be sure that one of the “3 Assistant Deans” at Emerson does exactly what Johnson does at Williams, although probably not as well. Third, the CUL erases all the work and commitment of people like Linda Brown and Tom McEvoy, as evoked so nicely by O’Connell.

None of this is surprising, of course. Former President Morty Schapiro decided in 2000 that there were certain things about Williams that he was going to change. By and large, he (temporarily!) changed them. He and (former) Dean of the College Nancy Roseman and (former) CUL Chair Will Dudley implemented Neighborhood Housing, the biggest change at Williams this century. It was a total failure and has now, thankfully, been removed. Schapiro, Roseman and Dudley went on, despite this disastrous own goal, to college Presidencies at Northwestern, Dickinson and Washington and Lee, promotions which doubled (even tripled) their Williams salaries.

O’Connell goes on:

I will not dispute that in 2003 Williams needed a stronger support system for students looking to launch new initiatives and throw events open to the campus. For many, extracurricular activities had become a burden, with unreasonably long hours spent planning and preparing events down to the last detail. Yet today, some of the best and most innovative groups on campus remain far-removed from campus life, driven by highly motivated and talented individuals. Take Williams Students Online, for example, or 91.9, the student radio station: Their success lies in their student leaders, who have been willing to commit their time to making sweeping changes that have transformed WSO and WCFM, respectively.

It may have been reasonable for O’Connell not to see, in 2003, how this would all work out, but she is naive in the extreme not to see now that this evolution was inevitable. How shall we explain it to her? Imagine a different paragraph.

I will not dispute that in 2003 Williams needed a stronger support system for students looking to launch new publications and manage current ones. For many, writing for and editing student publications had become a burden, with unreasonably long hours spent planning and preparing everything down to the last detail. Yet today, some of the best and most innovative groups on campus remain far-removed from the Office of Campus Publications, driven by highly motivated and talented individuals.

In other words, why isn’t it a good idea for Williams to create an Office of Campus Publications [OCP], with a Director of Campus Publications and a staff of Campus Publication Coordinators? After all, as the meltdown of the GUL in 2001 (?) and the Record‘s occasional inability to pick a single editor-in-chief demonstrates, students sometimes need help. They often make mistakes. Who could deny that having someone to “help” and “support” the Record (and GUL and Mad Cow) wouldn’t make those publications better? No one. Perhaps OCP would even have prevented the demise of Rumor and Scattershot.

But would the experience of the students writing those publications be better with a bunch of (intelligent, well-meaning) paid employees of the College hovering over them? No. That should be obvious to O’Connell. Writing for and editing the Record those last 4 years probably taught her as much about life its own self as any aspect of her Williams education. If she had had a Doug Bazuin equivalent supervising her all this time, her experience would not have been as rich, her education not as meaningful.

As always, critics will claim that I am advocating that the College provide no help or support, that we abolish the Dean’s Office. No! Some support is good, just as some social engineering is desirable. But, on the margin, the contribution of the OCL is negative.

Vibrant means “long hours spent planning and preparing events down to the last detail.” This is exactly why student institutions like WCFM, WSO and others (Trivia? Rugby? Current students should tell us more) are so vibrant. O’Connell acts as if you can have a vibrant organization or community without time and trouble, sweat and tears. In fact, you can’t.

O’Connell writes as if vibrancy appears from nowhere, that someone just sprinkles magic pixy dust on WSO and WCFM. No. Vibrancy, community, innovation and almost everything else worth having in this imperfect life require “unreasonably long hours” and “preparing everything down to the last detail.” You don’t think that Ephs like Evan Miller at WSO and Matt Piven at WCFM sweated the details? Think again.

Unfortunately, the Office of Campus Life and the Dean’s office, which oversees it, have not fostered this model. Instead, both offices have moved in the opposite direction, at times going so far as to render student involvement wholly superficial, as with the planning of this year’s Senior Week. The senior officers elected by the Class of 2006 do nothing more than choose tablecloth colors; it is assistant director of campus life Jess Gulley who runs the show. Hovering over student shoulders, the campus life staff of today is like a mother or father who wants to be your friend instead of your parent. The office should cast itself as an administrative support service, not the arbiter of cool.

Harsh! True? Current students should tell us. But note that this is not Gulley’s fault! I have no doubt that she is wonderful and hard-working, dedicated to making student life better. Each day, she wakes up and tries to figure out how to make this the best Senior Week ever. That is, after all, what the College is paying her to do. In that very act, of course, she decreases the scope of student control and involvement.

Back in the day, students handled almost all aspects of Senior Week. I still remember dancing the night away, in my dress whites, at Mount Hope Farm, the most beautiful Eph of all in my arms. No doubt this year’s seniors, 30 years younger than I, will have a fine time as well. Because of Gulley’s successor’s involvement, it may even be true that the events are better planned and organized. Yet everything that she does used to be done by students, hectically and less professionally, but still done by them.

The more that students do to run Williams, the better that Williams will be.

This is a revised version of a post from 2006.

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Update from the Committee on Priorities and Resources

From a faculty source:

The Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) would like to thank all of you who came to the open forum earlier this month and shared your thoughts about the college’s priorities, values, and commitments.

Some of your comments underscored the importance of issues that the committee has been considering carefully. These include how the college should meet its sustainability goals of reducing emissions to 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and achieving carbon neutrality by the end of 2020. Considerable attention has also been given not just to on-going construction projects, but also to how the college should decide what, when, and how to build. A report on the college’s building process can be found here. Possible changes to our admission and financial aid policies have also been discussed. Other thoughts, particularly those about staff salary and compensation, pointed to issues that should and will be put on the committee’s agenda.

To provide more regular opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to communicate ideas and concerns to the committee, CPR is creating a webpage and will be holding more open forums next year. In the meantime, we encourage you to contact the committee using this form.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Pei-Wen Chen, Biology
Todd Hoffman, Budget Director
Steve Klass, VP for Campus Life
Dukes Love, Provost
Megan Morey, VP for College Relations
Fred Puddester, VP for Finance and Administration
Michael Rubel ’19
Matt Sheehy, Associate VP for Finance
Jim Shepard, English
Allegra Simon ’18
Eiko Maruko Siniawer, History, Chair of CPR
Tara Watson, Economics and Public Health
Chris Winters, Associate Provost
Weitao Zhu ’18

Chair Eiko Siniawer wasn’t able to share details about the “[p]ossible changes to our admission and financial aid policies” but she did note that CPR would be publishing a report in May. Thanks Eiko!

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April Ruiz

The Yale Daily News reported in January:

April Ruiz ’05 — dean of Grace Hopper College, dean of first-year scholars at Yale and lecturer in the cognitive science and psychology departments — will leave Yale over spring break, she announced in an email to the Hopper community on Thursday morning. Ruiz said she has accepted a position at another institution but cannot disclose any details until it formally announces her appointment after spring break.

“One can never control when these sorts of opportunities present themselves, and the decision to accept [the offer] is not one I made lightly,” Ruiz told the News. “Just as I’ve always encouraged my students to pursue paths that will push them forward, I know they will support me as I do so.”

Ruiz, who served as Hopper dean for four years, helped the college community navigate a tumultuous renaming process, during which students, staff, faculty and alumni debated whether or not Hopper College — formerly known as Calhoun College — should retain its connection to American statesman and outspoken slavery advocate John C. Calhoun, class of 1804.

From a comment on the article:

Good riddance. Calhoun ’16 here, and she was a deeply mediocre dean. Never answered her emails, failed utterly to neutrally arbitrate the naming discussion, and generally seemed far more interested in playing with her dog than doing her job.

Hopefully Master Adams and Dr. Chun will have the guts to not shoe in (let’s be honest here) another diversity hire. And before the chorus of irate pink-haired banshees pipes up, this is not coming from some bigot who wants to see white guys everywhere. I loved Dean Woodard with all my heart, and was deeply sad to see such a fundamentally good, hardworking person be replaced with an uncaring, tone-deaf political hack. God speed Dean Ruiz, and may we never cross paths again.

Is that fair? Probably not. (You ought to see some of the (unfair!) things people write about EphBlog!) Ruiz seems savvy to me, at least judging by this story in the Record:

“I think Dean Ruiz is a good fit for the College because she’s incredibly passionate about the First Gen work,” Brian Benitez ’18, a member of the search committee that hired Ruiz, said. “She understands that First Gen work at Williams is unique. It’s largely student-led, and Dean Ruiz had expressed that she is excited to work alongside students rather than as their superior. Given her experience, approachability and motivation, I have no doubt that she will be an asset to the Williams community.”

Every good Williams Dean needs to be able to snow the students into thinking that she really believes that Williams is “unique” and that College Deans are not “their superior.” Ruiz did that really well with the search committee! Or she actually believes that! Which is just as good . . .

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Transnational Solidarity Wall Statement

Front

CISA, IC, SJP, VISTA ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON MOCK WALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

On Tuesday morning, Williams College woke up to find a wall on Paresky lawn. The wall consists of wooden panels with artwork that draws attention to the similarities between the Israeli apartheid wall in the West Bank and the US/Mexico border wall. It is a collective project between Coalition for Immigrant Student Advancement (CISA), International Club (IC), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Vista. By putting up a mock wall on the center of campus, interrupting the space between Paresky and Sawyer, we hope to force our fellow students to reflect on the impact of walls like these– and all militarized borders– on the daily existence of millions of people. While this mock wall does not significantly impede students at Williams, in reality walls are life-threatening structures that encroach on the everyday lives of communities from Palestine to Latin America and beyond. From Palestinian women giving birth at checkpoints, to loved ones being separated for decades, to ICE detention centers and deportations, walls violently oppress those who live behind and across them.

As students committed to justice, we know that Israel’s apartheid wall and Trump’s border wall in the United States are two sides of the same coin of white supremacy and settler colonial violence. Through our mock wall on Paresky lawn, we hope that students feel encouraged to build knowledge, break the silence surrounding these issues, and begin to take action together. We stand in solidarity with members of our community who are personally affected by militarized borders, and we stand in solidarity with struggles for liberation, and particularly indigenous resistance, everywhere.

To complement the wall, we are organizing a talk with Professor Amal Eqeiq and a journalist and activist in Gaza on the topic of contemporary protests in Gaza and Transnational Solidarity from Mexico and Palestine this Wednesday at 5PM in Hopkins 002. How can we tear down walls from Mexico to Palestine? What does it mean to resist and build solidarity across borders? What is going in Gaza right now and how are they affected by borders? This talk will interrogate these questions and will be followed by a vigil to mourn and commemorate lives lost at border crossings and protests. Dinner will be served. Bring questions and a friend!

Finally, please join us to TEAR DOWN THE WALL on Tuesday, May 1st at 12PM on Paresky lawn. #MexicoToPalestine #BuildBridgesNotWalls #LongLiveInternationalSolidarity

 
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Report to the Community

To the Williams Community,

Every year I write to the community with an annual summary of our work to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Williams is deeply committed to the goal of fostering and sustaining a safe community for all of our members. When members of our community are harmed, we seek to provide the resources they need in order to achieve accountability, healing, and support.

I want to start by thanking the many students, staff, faculty, and alumni who are working to improve our prevention and response efforts every day. Addressing the problem of sexual and intimate violence demands the involvement of everyone who cares about Williams and our community. Thank you for all that you do to contribute to that effort.

Making a formal report and engaging the college disciplinary process is one way of seeking support. I summarize the community’s use of this process below. Even when individuals choose not to pursue a disciplinary process in response to intimate violence or harassment, there are a number of other systems and resources in place to provide support. Talking with someone who can listen and make connections to useful resources is an essential part of healing and accountability. In addition, we can provide assistance for a wide array of specific concerns, including finding a different room to live in, feeling safe around campus, navigating relationships after violence, and managing assignments or class attendance. Nobody should feel that they must contend with any of these challenges on their own; we are here to help with these and any other resources or measures you need.

In the majority of instances, students can have conversations about what happened, what options are available, and what steps they are considering with any trusted college staff member without beginning a formal conduct or complaint process. This includes deans, staff from the Davis Center or the Office of Student Life, Campus Safety officers, the Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinators, coaches, or professors.

Confidential resources include SASS Survivor Services. SASS is staffed around the clock by specially-trained people (Meg Bossong, Jen Chuks, Donna Denelli-Hess, Carolina Echenique, and Mike Evans) who can provide support, help you access resources, or offer information about options. Other confidential resources on and off campus include Integrative Wellbeing and Health Services; the college chaplains; and the Elizabeth Freeman Center, which is the local rape crisis center and domestic violence organization and also has a 24/7 hotline.

2016-17 Conduct Cases

In the 2016-2017 school year, the college received a total of 16 formal reports of misconduct:

  • 6 reports of sexual misconduct;
  • 3 reports of relationship abuse;
  • 4 reports of stalking; and
  • 3 reports of sexual harassment.

Of these 16 cases, 13 involved situations in which the person alleged to have caused harm was a current member of the college community and was therefore eligible for college accountability processes. The other three involved individuals who were not current members of the Williams community. In those instances, the college helped students seek accountability through other institutions or in the courts.

Among the students in the 13 cases involving Williams community members, five chose to take part in the college investigation and adjudication process. Their cases were adjudicated between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. This includes two sexual misconduct complaints, two cases involving relationship abuse, and one complaint involving sexual harassment.

Of the sexual misconduct cases that were investigated and adjudicated, one resulted in a finding of responsibility, and one resulted in a finding of not responsible. Both cases of relationship abuse resulted in findings of responsibility.

The student found responsible for sexual misconduct was separated from the college with a suspension for four semesters.

One of the students found responsible for relationship abuse was suspended for one semester; the other was placed on disciplinary probation and completed an educational sanction.

The one individual found responsible for sexual harassment was an employee who is no longer employed by the college.

Category of Conduct Cases Pursued in Discipline Process/
Total Eligible Cases Received
Findings of Responsibility
Sexual Assault 2/5 1
Relationship abuse 2/3 2
Stalking 0/4 n/a
Sexual Harassment 1/1 1

Occasionally an adjudication process continues past the cutoff date for reporting on the academic year within which the case was reported. In such instances, we include the case in reporting data for the year during which adjudication was completed.

I also want to point out that individuals who have not yet chosen to pursue an investigation and adjudication process still have that option available to them as long as the person they might be lodging a complaint against is still a current student, staff member, or faculty member. The college does not have the authority to hold individuals accountable once they are no longer members of the community (for example, after they graduate, transfer, or terminate their employment at Williams). In those situations, individuals still have the option of lodging a complaint with law enforcement until the applicable statute of limitations is reached.

In closing, I want to again thank everyone working to improve our prevention and response efforts.

Sincerely,

Marlene Sandstrom

Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

All of Williams’ policies and information about resources for support of students, staff, and faculty can be found at http://titleix.williams.edu/

Marlene J. Sandstrom

Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

Williams College

Phone: (413) 597-4261

Fax: (413) 597-3507

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Williams muscles local company

Williams recently demanded that the Sand Springs Springwater Co. change their logo because a few students found it offensive and cartoonish.

SandSprings

The company had used the logo for over 50 years.

Students bully the College; the College bullies a local business. Trickle down PC politics.

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Williams a Target in Early Admissions Probe, 2

This Wall Street Journal article, “Williams, Wesleyan, Middlebury Among Targets of Federal Early-Admissions Probe,” and associated news reports (here, here and here) merit a few days of discussion. Day 2.

The investigation has perplexed some in elite-college admissions circles, who say that sharing the information serves only to ensure that schools aren’t being misled about an applicant’s intentions, given their commitments elsewhere.

The admissions dean of a New England liberal-arts college that received the Justice Department letter said that the school swaps with about 20 other institutions the application-identification number, name and home state of students admitted early decision.

That dean said it is rare to find someone who violated the binding early-decision agreement by applying to more than one institution early.

Occasionally, the person said, they come across a student who was admitted early-decision at one school and still applied elsewhere during the regular application cycle. In those cases, the second school would withdraw the application because the candidate already committed elsewhere.

The dean said the schools don’t share information about regular-decision candidates, so an offer from one school wouldn’t affect outcomes elsewhere.

1) Any chance the unnamed dean is either Dick Nesbitt ’74 or Liz Creighton ’01? Note that reporter Melissa Korn and Williams Communications Chief Jim Reische served as co-chairs at a conference for media relations professionals. If Jim did arrange this, then kudos to him! The more that Eph administrators appear in the prestige press, the better.

2) Sure would be interesting to know the exact list of schools involved in this swap and the mechanism by which it occurs. Any “elite” school left out of this circle must feel like the kid sitting by himself in the high school cafeteria. Not that EphBlog would know anything about that . . .

3) Was this phrasing — “the second school would withdraw the application” — vetted by a lawyer? It would be one thing if Williams were to reject a student it had already accepted if that student applied elsewhere. That student has broken a promise she made to Williams, so Williams can take action. But for Harvard to reject — whoops, I mean “withdraw the application [of]” — a student just because Williams had accepted her in December seems more problematic, anti-trust-wise . . .

4) What about early action candidates? That is a much trickier issue. Does Harvard let Williams know if it has admitted a student early action? And, if so, does that fact play into the Williams admissions process? Of course, Williams knows that almost every high quality regular decision applicant (other than its own deferrals) applied somewhere else early. And you can be certain that we can (and should!) take account of that fact in making decisions. (That is, if you really love Williams so much, as you now claim, why didn’t you apply early?) But I would be shocked if schools traded early action information explicitly . . . But I have been shocked before!

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Williams Reads Book Announcement and 2019-2020 Book Selection

The Williams Reads Committee and the Committee on Community and Diversity are proud to announce that the Williams Reads book for 2018-19 will be ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’ by Jesmyn Ward. Stay tuned for details on programming related to this wonderful book. The kickoff event will begin on September 3rd, 2018 when first year students, JAs, faculty, and staff will join together to discuss the book.

Believe it or not, it is already time to think ahead to the 2019-2020 academic year! The Williams Reads Committee wants your help in selecting the book for the year after next. What should our community read together? Please share ideas for books via this Google Form.

Thank you,
Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
Phone: (413) 597-4261
Fax: (413) 597-3507
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Williams Website – Home Page, 1

After alumni and the efforts of the admissions office, the Williams website is perhaps our best marketing tool in attracting intelligent, talented, and motivated students to join our community in the Purple Valley. Unfortunately a considerable subset of these students most likely haven’t heard of Williams –  we only have so many alumni – far fewer than, say, Harvard – and our admissions officers can only visit so many high schools. For these students the Williams website becomes a powerful tool of discovery – it’s the first impression we give to show off what makes the College so special. How does it do? Part 1 of x.

Let’s start with www.williams.edu, the home page:

Screenshot (58)_LI

 

1) For me the best parts of my time at Williams were the close relationships I had with professors, the research I did with them, the small and fascinating classes, tutorials, and the small sized community from which I’ve made many meaningful friendships. These are nowhere to be found on our home page (why?), and the biggest posts – attracting the most clicks – do not even allude to them. The closest one that comes to this is the post on Winter Study, under the unfortunate header “From the Archives”. What prospective student would go to the “Archives” when seeing what Williams is about today?

2) Stunningly, not a single professor is featured or even mentioned on the home page.

3) The boxed links on the lower right hand corner – meant to standout against the white background to attract attention – only cover “Admissions & Aid”, “Campaign for Williams”, “Varsity Sports”, and “Arts at Williams”. Naturally all are important, but where is “Academics”? Ctrl+F and typing “academics” yields 0 results. I would have to click “Menu” in the upper right hand corner – which has too many links – to find it.

4) I don’t know if this is just me, but it seems odd that under “Innovation” is a photo of a typewriter featuring a month were Williams students used one. Is this really the best example of innovation at Williams? What about our upcoming Science Center? Or groundbreaking research by professors and students?

5) The news that a Williams senior won the Watson Fellowship is relegated to the bottom of the landing page – why? Don’t we want to boast this?

6) The Featured Events section, also relegated to the bottom right, leaves much to be desired in terms of diversity of what’s actually featured. The three right now all lean politically, but in the events.williams.edu page, there are math talks by students, sports games, and new acquisitions by the Sawyer and Schow libraries. Why don’t we feature these too? For that matter, who decides what events to feature…?

7) The most interesting part of the home page is at the bottom, only seen after scrolling down, under the banner “Williams Life” (for that matter, why is the font of these banners so small?). There are so many stunning photos highlighting Williams – professors working with students, our dining staff, the beautiful location – but all, for some reason, are without any caption and link to nothing else of relevance in the website. A prospective student might get excited at seeing a professor and a student working in a lab, but upon clicking it would find a dead end – no caption, no link as to what they might be doing. Are they just posing for the camera? Also and oddly enough, the photo featuring our new President has no name attached to it. What would a prospective student make of that, and our home page in general?

What do readers think of our website?

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Report on Building

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 11.24.57 AM

The March 2018 Report on Building (pdf) is an amazing document. Kudos to Provost Dukes Love and his staff (especially friend-of-EphBlog Chris Winters ’95) for putting this together and for making it public!

There are a dozen days or more of material here. Should I go through it in detail?

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Welcome to the New Chaplain

EphBlog welcomes the College’s new chaplain, The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer. From an internal e-mail:

Valerie grew up in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, participating in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She went on to become University Chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious and moral/philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. She galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions and deeply enjoyed assisting students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.

Valerie grew up in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, participating in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She went on to become University Chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious and moral/philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. She galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions and deeply enjoyed assisting students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.

Former colleagues and students, in addition to describing Valerie as a gracious, authentic bridge-builder with a wonderful sense of humor, were quick to point to her ministry’s strong foundation in social justice. One example is Urban Pilgrimage, the unique experiential learning program she developed at Framingham State.

Valerie attended Penn State University, Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Boston University’s School of Theology, and is now completing her dissertation in Anglican Studies and U.S. Episcopal Church History at General Theological Seminary. Her research examines the ancient order of female deacons from the early church, its late-nineteenth century revival, and its role in the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Filling Rick Spaulding’s shoes will not be easy. Best wishes to Rev. Fischer.

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