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Let the Kids Play

Hoxsey Street in Mid March, 2020. 

 

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Showdown at Three Course Gulch

Is today’s faculty meeting the biggest showdown between a Williams president and the faculty since Hank Payne’s presidency-ending decision to accept Herb Allen’s ’62 gift for what would eventually become The ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance 25 years ago? Or is it a foregone conclusion heading for a near unanimous vote after 15 minutes of Zoom Kabuki? I don’t know!

Here (pdf) are the details:

Dear Faculty,

As you already know, the academic calendar for 2020-2021 will consist of two regular semesters only, without winter study, whether or not Williams returns to in-person instruction with social distancing and other health precautions, or it continues to work remotely only. Students will be required to take the minimum of three regular courses in order to maintain a full-time load. These temporary, emergency changes will only be in effect for the next academic year, and therefore do not require a full faculty vote. The related changes in graduation requirements for students who enroll in 2020-2021 do require a faculty vote, because they will potentially be in place for the next four years.

This seems really weird! Well-run institutions plan things out and enact major changes in one fell swoop. It is crazy to (publicly!) make major Announcement A if the success of A depends on Decision B, which has not been made yet. Why would you announce the three course plan unless the faculty had already approved it, or at least announce it at the same time as the faculty vote? Is announcing it weeks ahead an attempt to bully the faculty into accepting the plan, since they would hate to rebuke a popular president during a difficulty time? Maybe!

Justification

The next academic year, 2020-2021, comes with numerous, heterogeneous and unprecedented challenges, and with great uncertainty.

Whoah! To put “Justification” in Bold (and Centered) screams desperation. A more normal academic framing would be “Reasoning” or “Background” or, perhaps best, “Summary.” Criminals provide justifications.

We cannot, at this point, predict whether either, both or neither of our semesters will be taught in a fully remote mode.

If I were a faculty member, I would be insulted by this sort of nonsense. It is 99% certain that Williams students will be on-campus in September.

We do know that even if we are able to resume in-person instruction, such instruction will of necessity have to be combined with remote teaching and learning, and all in-person classes will have to observe social distancing requirements and other mandatory health-related protocols. Even if we return to in-person instruction, a number of our students and faculty will not be able to participate in it.

Huh? Says who? With 2,000 students, there is a tragedy or two each year — a suicide attempt, a cancer diagnosis, a father’s death, something which prevents a student or a professor from carrying out their duties. The College handles those cases with compassion. There will be such cases next year, and the year after, and forever more. Yet the fact that, maybe, there will be more of those cases next year is not reason enough to make wholesale changes in how the College operates.

Also, just what about CV-19 will prevent a professor from doing her job? I could imagine a professor who, because of health concerns, has to teach remotely. But that has nothing to do with the College’s requirements about the number of courses a student needs to take.

In addition, a number of courses, especially large lecture courses, will have to be at least partially remote due to social distancing requirements. Should a serious outbreak of the virus hit the campus, we will have to abandon in-person instruction and revert to remote work, as we had to this semester.

Again, this does not make much sense to me. We all agree that remote learning is worse. But I have seen no evidence that it is more time-intensive for students than in-class learning. If anything, I think that the average student at an elite college spent less time on her courses in the spring of 2020 than she did in the spring of 2019. (Contrary opinions welcome!) And, to the extent that remote-classes take more time in some cases, the professors of those classes need simply adjust the workload, as I am sure that they would be ready to do.

But the above is just throat-clearing! The real question: Does a three course requirement help or hurt Williams students? These are the issues which I hope some faculty bring up today. (All quotes below are from this excellent Record article.)

3) Will students who take three courses learn less than students who take four courses? Yes! Isn’t that true by definition? And so what sort of favor is Williams doing for those students who accept this poisoned chalice? We have a responsibility to educate students as best we can, and to have high standards for certifying the fulfillment of that obligation. The switch from 4 to 3 courses will make this cohort of Williams students less educated than those who went before and than those who come after. The burden of proof for making such a change is immense.

2) How many courses will Williams students take?

In a Wednesday Record survey of approximately 550 non-seniors, which received 294 responses, 86 percent of respondents reported that, if the fall semester were on campus, they would prefer to take four classes rather than three.

Williams students like to learn. They like their classes. There are some slackers and malcontents, of course, but a majority — if not quite 86% — will probably take four courses. This makes a change in requirements mostly irrelevant to planning issues involve classroom social distancing and the like.

3) How will the outside world perceive students who take three courses?

“One concern I have is what graduate schools/other institutions may think regarding a student’s choice to take three classes when they may take three or four,” said Peter Hollander ’21. “As someone who is applying to graduate school next year, I definitely feel pressured to take four classes, even if I’m allowed to take three, out of fear that schools would see my application as less competitive.”

Peter Hollander ’21 is smart! Graduate schools and employers will look askance at any student who takes three courses. Is that fair? No! But life is unfair. The problem is that the X students who take three courses will be a mixture of two types: slackers and those who have a legitimate reason — be it health or otherwise — for only taking three courses. Williams would like to pretend that every student who takes only three courses will have a legitimate reason for doing so, but we are doing nothing to ensure that. (And note that Williams could do that. It could require students to seek permission to take just three courses, to provide a justification for why special treatment is necessary.)

So Yale (and Google and Goldman Sachs and Teach for America and . . .) will look at a student who takes three courses and say: “You might be the sort of student who needed to take three courses. Or you might be a slacker who I don’t want. Why risk it when I can just accept/hire someone who took four courses?”

Anyone who doesn’t think that elite institutions won’t do exactly that has never served as a gatekeeper. I have and they will.

4) Will the impact of this policy change be disparate, more likely to (negatively!) impact students from poorer families, who went to less well-endowed high schools, who are more likely to be Black/Hispanic? Of course! How could it not?

As usual, I — who am often accused of racism and classism — am left to defend the interests of the poor and the POC. Will rich white kids be hurt by this? No. They went to Andover! They have well-connected parents who will tell them what’s-what. They will take four courses, regardless of what the faculty does today.

Decreasing the course load from four to three courses will hurt Williams students in aggregate, but it will hurt the least privileged among them the most.

5) Why hasn’t the Administration provided more details about the options available?

In addition, a number of courses, especially large lecture courses, will have to be at least partially remote due to social distancing requirements.

Williams has a lot of classrooms. And a lot of faculty. And there are a lot of hours in the day. Why not offer classes at 8:00 AM or 7:00 PM? Why not have some of the (many!) faculty in administrative roles teach a full load, or at least half a load? It is really not that hard to provide a full set of 8,000 classroom seats (2,000 students times 4 classes each) while maintaining social distancing. No More Lectures!

At the very least, were I a faculty member, I would want a lot more details on why this change is necessary. And I would be pissed about not being better consulted earlier in the process. I decide what qualifies a student to be a graduate of Williams, not Maud Mandel.

Questions: What do you think the faculty will do? What do you think they should do?

My answers: I don’t know what they will do. (My sources are silent!) I think they should vote “No” and force Mandel back to the drawing board.

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Remember the Tablecloth Colors

A Record op-ed from 14 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 18 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 ’06 tells a depressing tale. Anyone who cares about student life at Williams should 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 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 regular destruction of its online archives 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 pixie 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. I am sad that, due to CV-19, this year’s seniors, 30 years younger than I, will not have that experience. Because of Gulley’s successor’s involvement, it may even be true that the events would have been 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 run Williams, the better that Williams will be.

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Alumni Trustee Elections Are a Farce

The elections for Alumni Trustee are a farce. Consider the ballot.

First, there is no way for an outsider — say Wick Sloane ’76 — to get on the ballot. If the Alumni Office does not like you, then you will never be nominated. (Details on the process here.) Much better would be a system, like Dartmouth’s old process, that allowed for non-mainstream voices to (try to) gather enough signatures to get on the ballot. The alumni of Williams — not the insiders at the Society of Alumni — should decide who serves as Alumni Trustee.

Second, the College forbids candidates from discussing anything substantive in their statements. Are you interested in changes in financial aid policy at Williams? Do you want to know what these candidates think? Tough! They aren’t going to tell you because the College won’t let them. Read their pap-filled statements. It isn’t that these thoughtful alumni don’t have substantive views on the future of Williams. It is that the College itself tells them not to discuss those views in these statements. This is viewed as “campaigning” and we are too classy to allow that!

Third, Williams successfully discourages candidates from answering questions. A decade ago, I e-mailed each of the three trustee candidates this question:

Hello!

My name is David Dudley Field, Williams class of 1825, and I would like to make an informed vote among the three of you in casting my ballot for alumni trustee. Would you mind answering a single question?

What are your thoughts on President Bill Wagner’s recent changes in financial aid policy?

I realize that the three of you are very busy people, but it is very hard for me to choose among you unless I have at least an inkling of how you feel about this critical issues.

Further comments:

1) I have cc’d Wick Sloane ’76 on this e-mail because he convinced me to contact you. I am sure that he would also like to know how you feel about financial aid.

2) I have cc’d Secretary of Alumni Brooks Foehl as well. I understand that the College does not want you to “campaign” for this election. But I hope/assume that Brooks would agree that just answering my question, at least in private, is not campaigning.

3) I have cc’d Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07, one of the leading lights behind EphBlog. With your permission (and only with your permission), I am sure that Ronit would like to post your answers at EphBlog so that other alumni could cast more informed ballots. But, if you did not want to do that, I still hope that you could answer the question to me directly.

Thanks for your time and your past service to Williams.

Two of the three candidates were polite enough to respond. Both refused to answer the question. Pathetic! Or, rather, just what the Alumni Office would want them to do.

The Alumni Office does not want Williams alumni to make an informed choice in trustee elections. Your local high school has sophomore class elections with more substance.


Who did you vote for and why?

Sidenote: Do any techies have opinions about voting security? I got this “receipt” after I voted:

Vote receipt

You voted as sign-in name: SHxHqhBu
Vote submitted from IP address: XX.XXX.XXX.XXX

Alumni Trustee Ballot 2020 (UG ALUMNI)

Alumni Trustee Slate (ID# 156271)
Vote receipt code 8FcTcuvXfn
This vote was recorded: Monday 09 March 2020 17:40 EDT

ID# is the permanent identification number of the selected choices in the database.

close window

(I X’d out my IP address.) Good stuff? Hackable? I am not technically competent enough to comment.

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preventative health measures

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

 

As we prepare the campus for potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, we recognize that not all members of our community are likely to be impacted in the same way.  According to the CDC, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 remains low for most people in the US. In addition, information so far suggests that for the majority of people who contract the virus, COVID-19 illness is mild.  At the same time, older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. For instance, COVID-19 may be more dangerous to people who have had chemotherapy; suffer from heart problems, diabetes or respiratory issues; or are immune-compromised.

 

If you fall into any of these categories and are concerned about continuing to work in your standard setting (whether that be attending class, working in an office, or another setting), we encourage you to reach out to us so that we can determine what sort of alternative arrangements might be possible in order to increase your safety. Faculty should reach out to Kashia Pieprzak (kpieprza@williams.edu); staff should reach to either Danielle Gonzalez (dg3@wiliams.edu) or Megan Childers (mab7@williams.edu); and students should reach out to Cyndi Haley (chaley@williams.edu) so that we can provide a streamlined, confidential process for your request.

 

All best wishes,

Denise Buell, Dean of Faculty

Fred Puddester Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer

Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College

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Final FAST Updates

In other news…

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Close Williams

timber_wolfEphBlog’s advice: Close Williams today.

1) There is no better time to close Williams than a week before Spring Break. Pull a Harvard! Tell students they have to pack up and leave. (Allow some flexibility for low-income/international students.) Treat it like the end of the semester. Empty the dorms. Cancel all sports. Go online.

2) The people who run places like Harvard and Yale (and even Amherst!) are smart and serious. If they are closing — and closing Harvard is much harder logistically than closing Williams — then we need a really good reason not to close.

3) What about graduation? Graduation has already been cancelled! You just don’t know it yet. The Governor of Massachusetts will, within weeks (if not days!), ban any gathering over 1,000 people. And then he will ban gatherings over 100. And then he will institute a quarantine with the National Guard patrolling the streets. That is how bad this is going to get. Whatever else the next few months will bring, Williams will not be seating 500 graduating seniors together on June 7.

4) Might this be an overreaction? Maybe! (EphBlog does occasionally overreact to global events.) South Korea seems to have bought things under control. The warmer weather may help. But overreaction in an attempt to fight a global pandemic is no vice. If things look much better in two months, you can invite the seniors back to spend three weeks on campus prior to graduation. What a party that would be!

Good luck to all!

UPDATE: EphBlog gets results!

Williams College will end in-person classes on Friday, March 13, and dismiss students for spring break on Saturday, March 14, a week earlier than planned. We will be moving to remote learning beginning on Monday, April 6.

This seems a touch panicky to me. There are, presumably, a number of in-person exams which were scheduled for next week. How easy for is it for students to move already-bought plane tickets up a week? Then again, closing is the right call and reasonable people can disagree on the timing. Maybe the goal is to move out 80% of the campus by this Saturday, including the 50% (?) who drive, and then have a week to deal with the laggards.

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Additional steps for COVID-19 prevention and mitigation

Williams students, faculty and staff,

The COVID-19 virus is continuing to spread nationally, including a confirmed case in Clarksburg, MA, 7 miles east of Williams, and another in Bennington, VT. I am writing today to announce further steps to protect campus and prepare for the possibility that a case occurs here despite our best efforts. You can always find this information on the college’s COVID-19 website, too.

Since activities involving heightened personal interaction, including gatherings and travel, can be a source of exposure, we are making the following changes as of today:

First, college-sponsored international travel will not be allowed through April 30, 2020, with a possible extension beyond that time if it becomes necessary to ensure campus health. College funds may not be used for any trips occurring during this time. This is partly to limit the risk to our community, and partly because all of us as members of society have an ethical obligation to avoid activities that increase the risk of contagion. It is not a decision we make lightly, and we will continue to review the situation with the goal of lifting the prohibition as soon as evidence indicates it is safe to do so.

Second, we are canceling all campus events between now and April 30, 2020 that have an expected attendance of 100 or more. The college has meeting spaces that can accommodate crowds of fewer than 100 while allowing the recommended six-foot minimum distance between guests to limit contagion. For this reason, we believe 100 people is a meaningful cutoff point for now. Again, we are continually reviewing the situation and will inform you if it becomes necessary to extend or amend the policy. As part of our decision, we are also canceling Previews, our campus program for admitted students and families, which was scheduled to begin on April 20. There will also be no admission tours, info sessions or admitted student overnights during this time, all decisions comparable to those made by a number of other schools around the country.

The COVID-19 team has begun contacting many organizers of affected events. If you fall into this category, faculty with questions should please contact the Office of Commencement and Academic Events, while students should reach out to the Office of Student Life. Staff, your point of contact will vary, so please work with the appropriate liaison for your particular program.

This global outbreak challenges all of us, not just logistically or economically, but psychologically. While in the great majority of cases the symptoms of COVID-19 will resemble the flu, the uncertainty demands resilience. It is important that we take time to care for ourselves and each other, and especially to think about the most vulnerable. Any Williams employee with a complicating condition or circumstance should contact the Office of Human Resources to request accommodations. The HR team will offer a streamlined, confidential process. Students, if you have health concerns please call Student Health Services right away—they will not accept walk-ins for now, to limit the risk of contagion, but are there to help you. The college will work with every student to help you complete your academic program safely.

This outbreak is challenging schools to think creatively about how to guarantee academic rigor under adverse circumstances, and I thank our faculty and staff for problem-solving to keep us on mission. Indeed, I’m grateful to everyone, from custodians and dining staff to Health Services, Study Away, Admission and Financial Aid, CSS and deans, student leaders, event hosts, and others who are all adjusting your work—sometimes day to day—to keep people safe and the college operating smoothly.

Our team has reviewed the situation with local, state and national public health experts, and they consistently ask us to emphasize to campus that the number one thing we can all do to protect ourselves is to practice good hygiene: wash hands frequently and for a minimum of 20 seconds at a time, cover coughs and sneezes with the crook of an elbow, avoid touching our faces, and avoid contact or proximity with anyone who is already ill.

Again, I appreciate your cooperation with the prohibition on travel and the ban on large campus events. We will review the outlook on both decisions frequently, and will let you know whether we need to extend them or whether they can be curtailed. These decisions have real consequences for our mission, jobs and lives, and I appreciate your temporary sacrifices for our collective health and safety.

Maud

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Art Shuttle – Berkshire Cultural Resource Center

MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) is pleased to offer a free shuttle bus, the ART SHUTTLE, to all MCLA and Williams College students. The ART SHUTTLE will launch on Thursday, March 3rd, from 3-6PM.  The ART SHUTTLE will provide students transportation to tour and visit four art institutions in both North Adams and Williamstown. The tour will make a loop that take students to The Clark Art Institute, The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), MASS MoCA, Gallery 51. The ART SHUTTLE is intended to give students a means to explore and enjoy the world-class art in spaces just beyond the borders of their campus. These four partnering institutions are working together to better serve and engage students.

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Coronavirus Email Updates & New Website

Update on coronavirus measures – Week of March 4th

Dear Williams students, faculty and staff,

Following is this week’s email on COVID-19. Because the situation is changing constantly, we’re going to launch a college website where you can find updates and additional information at any time. Look for an announcement once the site goes live later this week.

The first thing we want you to know is that the college’s academic mission and your health and safety are our top priorities. If decisions need to be made or actions taken, we’re going to do so with those concerns foremost in mind. A leadership team is conferring daily to review emerging developments and promptly make any necessary decisions.

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Election Results for FAST and the Williams Student Union

The results came in this evening, a little later than expected. I have included a link to the election results. JS is technically correct–turnout was lower than the Fall–but not by much (it was still, very, very low). It also appears that there is significant Task Force representation in the new organizations.

DDF UPDATE: For the benefit of future historians, here is a csv of the votes and here is an html summary.

https://williamscollegemassachusetts.simplyvoting.com/index.php?mode=results&election=88884

Hello everyone,

The RESULTS are IN! We again would like to thank the many student leaders that ran for either WSU or FAST. Regardless of the results the student body thanks you for both putting yourself out there and embracing a bold vision of student government. We would also like to thank the student body for voting in yet another important election and providing overwhelming support for a student government founded by principles of equity, transparency, and accessibility.

As of March 1st, 2020, College Council is officially defunct. FAST and WSU will assume their roles.

A brief timeline of what comes next:

Tonight: The election closes and representatives for WSU and FAST are announced.

03/01: College Council stands Abolished. The referendum served as a constitutional amendment that rendered the Constitution, bylaws, and any other structural documents of the College Council null and void. FAST and the Williams Student Union shall begin the work of supporting the student body, and shall have all powers and responsibilities enumerated in their respective Constitutions and bylaws. They will host a joint meeting this Sunday where this transition of power will occur.

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FAST and Williams Student Union self nominations, voting open!

They have not yet sent out the results of the election, which closed yesterday.

The era of our new student government has finally arrived. We again would like to thank the student body for their overwhelming endorsement and support of the plan. We would also like to thank the many student leaders who have submitted self-nominations. Regardless of the results of this election, together we are all welcoming a new era of diverse, equitable, and accessible governance.

Here are the self-nomination packets for the Williams Student Union and FAST. Please take a look through and support the candidate that you feel will best serve our campus. Your VOTE and voice are integral to helping the Three Pillars succeed where College Council has failed.

Elections will open today and will end on Saturday, January 29th at 5 pm! You will receive a personalized voting link immediately following this email.

Good luck to our candidates and thank you everyone for voting!

Submitted to the Student Body by the Task Force on Student Governance

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More Emails

Three Pillars Emails will be in a separate post.

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Et al. Emails

Update on coronavirus measures, week of February 17

Dear Williams faculty, students and staff,

Steve Klass and I are writing with this week’s update about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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Applications for FAST and The Williams Student Union are OPEN Apply now!

Congrats again! Together we created a new government that supports students. The time has come to constitute this government with voices across campus who are dedicated to the ideals of equity, efficiency, and advocacy outlined in their charge.

Submit your self-nominations for Funding Facilitators and the Williams Student Union before Sunday (02/23) at midnight! Self-nominations should be no more than 500 words and may include a photo of your choice.

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Official Results of the Three Pillars Referendum, Self-Noms open!

Perhaps the last post under the College Council tag.

To the Williams Community,

The Three Pillars Referendum Passes with 80.5% of votes in support, and 40% voter participation. Congratulations on welcoming a new era of student governance to Williams! The turnout for this election was the highest the College has seen in years, and the overwhelming support for the Referendum is a clear mandate for the Three Pillars Plan!

Forms response chart. Question title: Abolish College Council and institute the Three Pillars Plan. Number of responses: 868 responses.

The Task Force would like to thank every member of the Williams community who read the Three Pillars Plan, came to the Baxter Town Hall and voted on the Referendum. You all are the people that made this happen: you endlessly demanded structural change from an organization that hadn’t seen it in over forty years; you elected a diverse and representative group to advocate for your needs; and lastly, you voted for a radical new vision that puts equity at the forefront of governance! Thank you again, we should all be proud of what we have accomplished together.

 

As of 7:30 PM, February 14th, 2020, the Three Pillars Plan is ratified!

 

A brief timeline of what comes next:

 

Tonight: Self-nominations are now open for funding facilitators and members of the Williams Student Union. The solicitation period ends on 02/23 at 5 pm. Become a part of the Three Pillars!

 

02/24: The election period for FAST and The Williams Student Union opens. The voting period will end on 02/28.

 

02/27: Pub Night “Meet the Candidates” events. Come learn more about the students running for FAST and the Williams Student Union.

 

03/01: College Council stands Abolished. This referendum shall serve as a constitutional amendment that renders the Constitution, bylaws, and any other structural documents of the College Council null and void. Until March 1st, College Council shall be stripped of all powers and responsibilities except the oversight of FinCom.

03/01: FAST and the Williams Student Union shall begin the work of supporting the student body, and shall have all powers and responsibilities enumerated in their respective Constitutions and bylaws. Elections for TABLE will occur in late spring. Once TABLE elections have been held, the Task Force will dissolve and have no further obligations to their charge.

 

Congrats everyone!

 

Szőllősi Bálint ’22, Minority Coalition

Leo Lam Haines ’21, Community-Service Organizations

Onder Kilinc ’23, Minority Coalition

Porter Johnson ’21, College Council

Tyler Johnson ’21, Club Sports

Adam Jones ’21, At-Large

Shadae McClean ’21, Junior Advisors

Rebecca Park ’22, Faith-Based Organizations

Essence Perry ’22, Strategic Planning

True Pham ’23, College Council

William Ren ’21, At-Large

Natalie Silver ’22, Student Athletic Advisory Committee

Adly Templeton ’20, College Council

Hipólito Vázquez ’22, Minority Coalition

Nicolle Mac Williams ‘21.5, Performance Organizations

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Release of draft Strategic Planning reports

To the Williams community,

It’s my pleasure to release the draft reports from the Strategic Planning working groups and strategic academic initiatives. You’ll find them all on the Strategic Planning website.

These drafts are the fruit of last fall’s extraordinary outreach efforts: Hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community members attended related meetings and events, while hundreds more, including alumni, parents and families, submitted online comments and participated in phonecasts.

As I develop the strategic plan this spring I’ll use the reports, which incorporate so much outreach, research and analysis, as a guiding source. Not every specific recommendation will find its way into the plan, which is meant to be a high-level statement of our aspirations for the next ten to fifteen years. But the reports will guide my thinking about our strengths and ambitions. Later on, they’ll also serve as a bank of ideas for “operationalization”: the phase when we translate the plan’s big ideas into concrete, practical steps that will get us where we’ve said we want to go.

Your comments on the reports are welcome via the online portal anytime between now and Friday, February 28. My colleagues from the planning process and I will review the feedback as we finalize the drafts and I begin deriving major themes for the strategic plan.

As you read, I hope you’ll join with me in thanking all those whose extraordinary efforts got us to this point: the members of the working groups, initiatives and Coordinating Committee, as well as the many people in our community who shared ideas and advice. Each of you is helping us chart a course for Williams’ excellence in the years and decades to come.

Maud

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It’s time to Abolish College Council; Voting is Open!

Additional documents provided below the break (including relevant CC minutes, which were not provided via email).

Click Here to Vote

Voting on the Three Pillars Referendum is now open! Click here to vote!

Voting will be open through 7:30PM on Friday. If you would like to learn more about the referendum, come to our Town Hall at 8:00pm Monday in Baxter Hall. We will also be tabling throughout the week in Paresky to answer questions about the Three Pillars Referendum and help people vote!

The Task Force will be hosting a Referendum Celebration in Baxter Hall this Friday at 7PM to announce the results of the campus-wide vote!

Attached to this email is the official full text of the referendum, as well as the transition plan. We’ve also attached a list of frequently asked questions about the Three Pillars Plan.

Click Here to Vote

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Et al. Emails

Welcome to the spring 2020 semester!

Dear students, faculty and staff,

It’s spring! Well… spring semester, anyway. The ground is still frozen, the days are too short, but the process of renewal is underway. Every season in the Berkshires has its pleasures, but it’s a special time at Williams when the coats and boots come off and the first green shoots of spring start pushing through.

This year the metaphor of renewal is even more apt than usual. From Strategic Planning to the curriculum, many new ideas are blossoming. Here are some examples:

  • After extensive outreach in the fall, the eight Strategic Planning working groups and three academic initiatives are almost done writing their draft reports. We’ll publish all 11 documents on the Strategic Planning website on February 12. Please read all that interest you, then use the comment portal to offer your thoughts.
  • Exciting new teaching and research projects spring up so often that I can’t possibly mention them all. Examples range from Assistant Professor of Chemistry Katie Hart’s lab, where students are working with her to understand how drug resistance develops at the molecular level; to a partnership between Associate Professor of History Aparna Kapadia and Assistant Professor of Art Murad Mumtaz, whose class invites students to consider Southeast Asian art from the WCMA collection as a lens into connections between art and power in the Mughal Empire.
  • In the administrative sphere, too, we’re seeing change and evolution. As I recently mentioned in a campus announcement, Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki will succeed Cluett Professor of Religion Denise Buell as Dean of Faculty in July. And after Vice President of Campus Life Steve Klass retires in June, Health Services and Integrative Wellbeing Services, the Chaplain’s Office, the Office of Student Life, and CLiA will join the Dean of the College’s team, while Dining Services, Campus Safety and Security, Mail Services and the Conferences and External Events office will report to the Vice President for Finance.
  • Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99 recently described the restructuring of the Davis Center—an important component of efforts to fully support inclusion and belonging at Williams, by building our capacity to promote inclusive learning environments, intra- and intergroup dialogue and restorative practices. Meanwhile, the Davis Center building project will make the Center itself a more welcoming, accommodating and accessible home for student life and student-centered work on these and other issues.
  • Tomorrow is Claiming Williams. This annual event is a very special aspect of Williams, and I hope you’ll participate. The program actually starts at 7:30 tonight in Chapin, when guest speaker Anthony Jack talks about his book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Iranian-American fashion blogger, writer and activist Hoda Katebi, who’ll speak in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance about, “Decolonizing Fashion from Tehran to Boston.” For a full schedule of the many workshops and events, visit the Claiming Williams website.
  • Finally, I’m pleased to share good news from Facilities staff member Dave Maselli, who was seriously injured in a work accident last fall. Dave reports that he’s making progress toward the goal of a full recovery. I join with him in thanking the Facilities, Athletics and Campus Safety staff who responded to the scene, as well as the many more colleagues and friends who sent him messages of support.

As these stories suggest, the semester ahead, like the spring that will come, is full of promise. I look forward to growing with you in the months ahead.

Maud

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Abolishing College Council and the Three Pillars Referendum

I encourage individuals to read through the email/documents and post about it. We’ll know soon enough whether the proposed changes will become reality.

Three Pillars Handout

FAST Funding Body Constitution

FAST Funding Body Bylaws

TABLE Constitution

Williams Student Union Constitution

Williams Student Union Bylaws

TL;DR

The Task Force recommends abolishing College Council and instituting the Three Pillars Plan for student governance. Vote YES on the campus-wide referendum starting this Sunday!

Over the past month, the Task Force has carefully examined the failures of College Council and how best to address them. Our recommendation to the Student Body is to abolish College Council and approve the Three Pillars Plan. The Three Pillars Plan directly addresses the years of inequitable and biased funding, lack of representation in student government, and the inability to effectively advocate for student concerns within College Council.

We acknowledge that no panel, body, or group of students could ever represent the multiplicity and range of life experiences, identities, and viewpoints Williams encompasses, but the Task Force has made huge strides in doing so. Our group of sixteen students, which span different class years, races, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexualities, religious affiliations, and student organization affiliations understand the urgency and necessity of an efficient student government, especially at an institution like Williams. Our work has embodied the principles of accessibility, difference, tolerance, equity, and inclusion, and we hope you will support the Three Pillars Plan for the same reasons.

College Council currently has the following responsibilities: allocating funding, appointing students to student-faculty committees, and advocating for student interests. We propose that each of these responsibilities be handled as follows:

More email below the break.

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Coronavirus

Williams faculty, staff and students

I hope you’ve had a good Winter Study period, whether you were on campus or away.

As many of you know, a respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China, is now affecting various regions of the world. As of today, five cases have been identified in the United States. The virus, known as novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), causes a pneumonia-like illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath.

In the majority of cases, coronavirus is treated like the flu and will pass within a few days. However, people who are immune-compromised or have lowered resistance, including some elderly people, may have an increased risk of more serious effects.

If you’ve traveled in or through known affected areas during January 2020 and have any of the above symptoms, please contact your primary care physician or the Student Health and Wellness Center.

Students, we strongly advise that you call the Center, rather than walking in. You’ll be asked a number of screening questions over the phone that can help you avoid coming in unnecessarily, and will also limit the risk of spreading any illness you may have. Given that there’s a strain of flu affecting people on campus right now, with similar symptoms, please avoid making self-diagnoses and call us instead.

Anyone using an off-campus provider should contact your provider’s office for advice.

While Williams isn’t aware of any cases of coronavirus in the campus community, we’ll continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed of developments. The Health Center will post such updates on the health education section of our website. If you’re hosting guests or visitors to campus, please feel free to share this information with them, too, so they know what precautions we’re taking.

For more information on the coronavirus itself, including how to prevent transmission, visit the coronavirus page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is just one of several respiratory viruses circulating at this time of year. We encourage anyone who hasn’t already had their flu shot for this year to get one as soon as possible. The nearest option is the Walgreen’s pharmacy in the Rite Aid at Colonial Plaza. Students may use the college’s prescription pickup shuttle to get there.

I also strongly encourage everyone to practice good hygiene in order to avoid spreading any illness by following the CDC’s basic prevention steps. These precautions protect you and help prevent the spread of illness for all of us.

Thank you for helping keep yourself and Williams healthy! I wish you all a happy start to the new semester.

Sincerely,

Deb Flynn

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Announcing our next dean of faculty

To the Williams community,

I am pleased to report that, after consulting with the Faculty Steering Committee, I have offered Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki the position of Dean of the Faculty, and she has accepted. Safa will assume her new role on July 1.

In her 18 years at Williams, Safa has earned broad respect as a collaborative educator and leader and as an advocate for both faculty and staff. She is chair of the Cognitive Science program, a position she has held since 2018, and teaches courses including Experimentation and Statistics; Concepts: Mind, Brain, and Culture; and Great Debates in Cognition. She has also mentored numerous students who have worked with her on her research into how the mind parses the visual world into categories. Her findings have been published in journals including Psychological Science, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, and her studies have been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Committed to enhancing the life of the college, as well as the life of the mind, Safa is a member of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions, and has chaired both the Committee on Priorities and Resources and the Faculty Steering Committee. She served on the most recent Presidential Search Committee and is currently a member of two strategic planning groups: the Working Group on Faculty Staff Development, and the Strategic Academic Initiative on Technology and the Liberal Arts. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the American University in Cairo and her Ph.D. in psychology from Arizona State, she joined the Williams faculty in 2002 and was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and then full professor in 2010.

In assuming the Dean of Faculty role, Safa succeeds Denise Buell, who last fall announced her plans to return to teaching and research at the end of this academic year. Over the five years of her deanship, Denise has helped diversify the Williams faculty, expand faculty orientation and professional development offerings, pilot new selection processes for faculty service roles, and create programs to support department and program chairs, among her many contributions. In my first days at Williams, Denise did so much to help me build relationships with our faculty, for which I’m deeply grateful.

I now look forward to working equally closely with Safa. We’re fortunate that someone of her abilities and experience will continue Williams’ tradition of filling senior administrative positions from within the faculty ranks. I want to thank the many faculty members who contributed suggestions to the FSC concerning the selection of the Dean of the Faculty, and to the members of the FSC themselves for their thoughtful counsel.I hope you will join me in congratulating Safa and welcoming her to her new role, in which capacity I know she will work tirelessly to support and advance Williams’ exceptional faculty.

Maud

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Summary of January 2020 Board of Trustees meeting

Dear faculty, staff and students,

The Williams Board of Trustees held their January meeting last Friday and Saturday. I’m pleased to summarize for you some of the topics and votes. Reports from past meetings are always available on the News from the Board website.

Last week’s agenda included the following:

  • On Thursday evening, before the meeting, Trustees joined students for dinner in Mission Park Dining Hall, as part of their continuing efforts to learn about people’s experiences at Williams.
  • On Friday, I provided the board with an overview of the strategic planning process. This included a few early observations from the working groups, as they draft their reports. The completed drafts will be made available to our whole community for consideration in February. I also talked with the Board about key directions that will likely feature in the Strategic Plan itself, which I’ll be developing in the spring.
  • I also gave a routine update on campus matters, including a summary of the statement on inquiry and inclusion, the search for our next Dean of the Faculty, and the ongoing reorganization of offices prompted by Steve Klass’s planned retirement in the summer of 2020.
  • Provost Dukes Love and Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Fred Puddester discussed approaches for funding emerging ideas in the strategic planning process through the annual budget process and fundraising efforts.
  • Dukes, along with Class of ’56 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art Pam Franks and a team from architectural consultants Deborah Berke Partners talked with the Trustees about developing a plan for a potential new art museum, as well as the ways in which such an effort might intersect with other emerging arts initiatives. This conversation remains hypothetical for now, since the Board will only vote on whether and how to move forward with a building project once all the programming issues have been fully studied. These include questions about the range of opportunities in the arts, connections between a potential Williams arts project and our partners and arts organizations in the region, as well as about the relationship between such a potential project and our overall strategic planning priorities.
  • Associate Vice President for Finance Matt Sheehy and Chief Information Officer Barron Koralesky led an annual update on the college’s risk management efforts, including recent work on business continuity and regulatory compliance. Information Security Officer Andy Powell also presented about our efforts to improve the college’s information security program and better protect our data. Among other news, Barron and Andy reported that we have achieved 100% participation in dual-factor email authentication among students and staff, and 79% among faculty. Before this effort, we logged an average of four compromised accounts per month, whereas since then we haven’t seen anyone compromised. I want to thank everyone who took this important step to help protect yourselves and all of us.
  • Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische introduced Audrey Francis and Jesse Reed, partners from the firms Elastic Strategy and Order, who are helping us update the college’s identity and publications. Audrey and Jesse then described for the Trustees some of the considerations that emerged from their research at Williams last fall.
  • The board confirmed the promotion of six Williams faculty members to associate professor with tenure as of July 1, 2019. See the recent press release for details. Congratulations to our faculty colleagues on their promotions.
  • The board approved the proposal to rename the Center for Development Economics to the “Henry J. Bruton Center for Development Economics.” The naming honors the late Professor Henry Bruton, who served as John J. Gibson Professor of Economics from 1962 until his retirement in 2004.
  • The board approved the granting of honorary degrees during the June 2020 Commencement. As always, the honorees will be announced in March.
  • Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton reported on our endowment value and returns for the fiscal year to date. She also reported on the college’s impact investing activities, and the Investment Office’s plans to meet the Board’s impact investment goals. The office’s 2019 and prior annual reports are available on their website.
  • Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey reported on fundraising results since the successful July 1 conclusion of our Teach It Forward campaign. One highlight of Megan’s report was news about our new Women’s Giving Society, which is demonstrating philanthropic leadership among Williams alumnae and others.
  • The Trustees also heard updates on college finances and capital projects from Fred Puddester, including early thinking about Davis Center renovations and his report that construction of the North Building of the Science Center remains on schedule and within budget. Fred and our Planning, Design and Construction team will continue carefully managing that project to completion.
Once again, the Board committees did much fine work, as well. You’ll find information about them on the Committees page of the Board website.
I look forward to reporting on our next Board meeting this spring. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy Winter Study, and winter at Williams generally!
Sincerely,

Maud

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A Few Emails from Williams

A few emails I’ve been negligent in posting. If anyone want to know what day they were sent, comment and ask (they aren’t in any sort of order). Also, the last one is a Daily Message I thought was interesting.

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Updates from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dear college community,

I write to share recent developments from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (OIDEI) and the Davis Center. I will follow this message up with more details early in the new year.

This fall, OIDEI and the Davis Center have continued working on updating our vision. To support our vision, the Davis Center will lead our campus efforts to build inclusive learning and living environments, where all students, staff and faculty can thrive and feel a strong sense of belonging. We have also begun implementing changes to help prepare the Center for this expanded role, in sync with the planning phase of our Davis Center building project; the Committee on Diversity and Community’s multi-year study of classroom climate; college-wide strategic planning efforts relating to DEI; and the appointment of two Assistant Vice Presidents to support this work.

We’re now searching for a new Davis Center director, a program coordinator, and a dialogue facilitator as part of our plan. The dialogue facilitator (a new position) will work with colleagues to introduce and integrate restorative practices on campus. The overall restructuring, along with the advent of new staff, also requires us to rethink how existing positions are defined. I’ve already met with the current OIDEI and Center staff to discuss the possibilities and will continue working with them throughout the process.

During this time of change for OIDEI and the Davis Center, as we work to make Williams as inclusive as it can be, we’re grateful for the deep investment many of you feel in OIDEI and the Davis Center. I hope you’ll take every available opportunity to meet with the Davis Center building project architects, to share our job postings with promising candidates, and to support our work and Williams. My door is always open, too. I welcome your continued partnership in these endeavors.

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99
Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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I Wish You a Restful Break

Indeed. I never wish people a “Happy Birthday,” and for exactly the same reasons. How can I ever know what sort of stressful situations they are going through? How can I ever know what effect my words might have?

More importantly, what if someone has turkeys in their extended family? This holiday is a nightmare for them! Have you no empathy?

Professor Sarah Jacobson gets it:

Exactly right. In fact, I recommend that Professor Jacobson stop referring to herself as a “Professor” at “Williams College.” Professor is, of course, a word with problematic roots. Indeed, any word with roots going back to the Normans, among the worst colonialists in history, merits banishment. And don’t even get me started on the Romans! And Ephraim Williams’ attitude toward Native Americans is well-documented.

Anyone who doesn’t want to say “Thanksgiving” should never say “Williams.”

Stay Woke, my fellow Ephs!

UPDATE: The last time the Williams College twitter account used the word “Thanksgiving” was 2015. How long before the official college calendar removes the word? (It currently refuses to use the words Columbus or Christmas.) Think I am crazy? Consider:

Enjoy the holiday-that-must-not-be named!

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Strategic Questions Worth Exploring

The Record provides no useful coverage on the strategic planning process. The College’s presentation is professional but (because of that?) completely uninteresting. Comments:

1) This is Presidential Leadership 101. Come to a new college. Listen. Create a dozen committees. Seek lots of input. Come up with some pleasant ideas. Start the next capital campaign. Once again, we see that Maud is highly competent.

2) Predictions? Expect to hear about how all the things Williams currently does are wonderful and we should do more of it. The College is a supertanker, which even a president would have trouble turning. There will be a call for more new buildings (starting with a new field house and hockey rink), a constant refrain of the last 100 years. I have heard rumors about a major new initiative in data science, a hot, Hot, HOT part of academia right now. Anything else?

3) The big lost opportunity is a failure to have all these smart people look hard at major dimensions on which Williams differs from its peers. Have each working group pick such a topic (examples below), investigate it and write a thorough report. Ideally, the reports would include the best arguments for and against each of three options, one of which is the status quo. Example questions:

Which graduate degree programs should Williams offer? Amherst offers none. Wesleyan offers a dozen. It is highly unlikely that the optimal number for Williams to offer is exactly two.

How old should first years be? Back in the day, 99% of Williams first years were 18. Now, there is much more variation, driven both by changing student behaviors (the rise of “gap years”) and changing admissions policies with regards to groups like male hockey players, veterans and community college students. Should 1% or 5% or 20% of Williams first years be older than 18? An important question! I assume that our peers vary on this metric, but I can’t find any good data sources.

Should students be required to spend a summer in Williamstown? Dartmouth requires students to a) spend the summer after their sophomore year on campus and b) one semester away from Hanover during their junior year. That is, obviously, radically different from Williams, and almost every other elite college. But it is really interesting! And maybe a really good idea, both in the way that it brings a class together during the summer and in how it gives Dartmouth students a big advantage in doing substantive internships during their junior year. This is one topic where I don’t know the right answer. So I want a group of smart Ephs to study the topic, educate us all, and make a recommendation.

Should Williams offer an engineering major? I have talked to many strong high school students who never apply to Williams because they are interested in engineering and at least want to maintain the option of studying it in college. Our Ivy League competitors all offer engineering options, even Brown! Swarthmore, and some other liberal arts colleges, do as well. Why don’t we? How much would it cost? How hard would it be?

Should Williams offer an finance major? See here for the case in favor. Students at UPenn can major in finance. Why can’t Ephs? Again, my goal here is not to make the case for any particular decision. My point is that a high quality strategic planning process would focus its efforts on these major questions.

Where should first years live? Almost all of us think that First Year housing at Williams — in entries, with JAs, in Mission and the Freshmen Quad — is excellent. But what if we are all wrong? What if a system like Smith’s — first years live in the same houses as upperclassmen — is better?

How many international students? Williams (still?) has a quota for international students. But (in a policy change?), the class of 2023 is 11% international, very similar to Yale and Harvard. Is that the right percentage? Again, I don’t know enough about the variation among our peers on this metric. Which is why we need a committee to investigate, to find out what other colleges do and why they do it. Washington and Lee, with Will Dudley ’89 at the helm, is at 3% international. There is a case for 3% and a case for 25%. Make those cases so that the Williams community can make an informed decision.

Should we have affinity housing? Plenty of other schools do, including Brown. Yet I have never read a non-partisan investigation about well such houses work (or don’t). How many of our peer schools have them? How do they work, precisely? (For example, at Amherst, you can only live in such a house for two years.) How popular are they? Why don’t other schools (like Harvard and Yale) have them?

What preferences for athletes in admissions? Prior to the MacDonald Report, Williams gave very significant preference to athletes, which is why we had an almost unbeatable football team. Now we just give significant preference. (See this interest Record op-ed.) Caltech gives athletes zero preferences in admissions. What would happen if we adopted Caltech’s approach?

As readers know, I have strong opinions on many of these questions. A serious strategic planning process would devote most of its time and energy to all of them, and to similar issues. How are we most different from other elite schools and are those differences best for the future of Williams? Is that what the 8 working groups are currently doing? Not that I have heard . ..

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We Need YOU!!

The anticipated makeup of the CC-established Task Force (to abolish CC):

Hi all!

Are you interested in a Winter Study course that includes no formalized assignments (except for a single collaborative document produced at the end of Winter Study), getting a stipend to spend on food and snacks for meetings, working mainly at your own pace with a group of your peers, and getting to be a part of an actual change making institution at Williams that will hopefully last long beyond your time here??
If so, then you should consider joining the TASK FORCE ON THE FUTURE OF STUDENT GOVERNMENT!!
We are looking for representatives specifically from a club sport, a performance based club, a faith based club, and a community service based club to serve as members of this body due to your unique and extremely valuable perspectives on this campus. The Task Force will spend Winter Study re-thinking what student government should look like here at Williams College. This group is incredibly important for student life, funding capacities, policy making potential, and much more, both for current AND future Williams students. If you’ve ever thought, “Student government at Williams should do x, y, and z…” then join the Task Force and make your voice heard!
 
We would love to hear from any and all of you that are interested in applying – fill out a self-nom for consideration at this link NOW! Spots close TOMORROW, so if you’re interested in coming aboard, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns to either Ellie Sherman (eas6) or Carlos Cabrera-Lomeli (cc15)!!
Best,
Ellie and Carlos :)
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IWS Scheduling Protocol Change

Dear Williams Students,

In January 2020, Integrative Wellbeing Services (IWS) will implement a modified scheduling protocol along with expanded student support resources. We’re taking this additional step to help close gaps in equitable access to our services as we explain below.

Because these changes will most immediately impact returning students who choose to continue treatment following the Winter Break, therapists were encouraged to let the students with whom they work know about this new model beginning last week. We’re now notifying all students in an effort to ensure everyone has accurate information about these changes, as inaccuracies can create unwarranted barriers to seeking care.

Rest of the email below the break.

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A statement on inquiry, expression and inclusion

To the Williams community,

For the last year, members of the Williams community have been discussing how best to live up to our obligation to ensure both free expression and inclusion. Today I’m sharing a statement developed by the Faculty Steering Committee with my input, and reviewed with the faculty as a whole, that affirms our commitment to those core principles.

The essence of the statement is this: Freedom of expression and inquiry matters. Inclusion matters. Both values are essential to the health of any community, and especially to a healthy learning community. For Williams to continue reaching its highest educational aspirations, we need to maximize our commitment to both values. We need to run toward the hard things.

I’ve been gratified by the intelligence and passion that many of you have shown in discussing, debating and sometimes protesting this most crucial issue. My job as president is to guide that energy into helping Williams excel: delivering the best liberal arts education imaginable, and preparing graduates to set the standard for civic virtue and engagement.

I want to thank Steering for their careful work, as well as the faculty members who offered their views on the drafts, the Ad Hoc Committee upon whose report the statement is based, the people who worked to ensure that our college policies reflect our values, and all of you—students, staff and faculty—who added your views to the discussion.

Maud

=============

MEMORANDUM

To: The Faculty
From: The Steering Committee and President Mandel
Date: November 13, 2019

Inquiry, Expression and Inclusion at Williams College

At Williams, our educational mission requires us to cultivate an inclusive environment in which each member of our community is equally respected and equally invited to speak and to be heard. This goal unites the college’s core commitments to freedom of expression and inquiry and to building a community in which everyone can live, learn and thrive, as enunciated in our codes of conduct for faculty, staff and students.

The college extends the same opportunities for expression and debate to anyone invited to speak or participate in a college event. Visitors are welcomed and expected to participate in open discussion and robust deliberation while they are on campus. We expect anyone inviting an outside speaker to create such opportunities as part of the visit.

The college publishes clear administrative procedures for event planning and rules for the use of college property. The college likewise retains the discretion to impose reasonable limitations on the time, place and manner of speech by visitors to our community as well as by its continuing members. The college exercises this authority sparingly, and never with the goal of suppressing a point of view.

Williams College does not consider an invitation to campus an endorsement of the visitor’s views. Further, in our encouragement of vigorous dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, we acknowledge that discomforting encounters will occur. In that knowledge, we will continue expanding ways to offer support to all individuals and groups within our community, as part of our mission to equip every community member with the tools they need for effective discourse, debate and dissent. We also recognize that free expression has its limits: speech that threatens, incites violence, or constitutes harassment has no place in our community.

Our policies, which are intended to protect and promote the freedom of every community member to communicate, debate and peacefully protest, can be found here. We recognize that in the past these freedoms have not been equally available to all people and that inequity of access persists today. The college is committed to supporting equal access to these freedoms and pledges to continue working to realize this commitment fully.

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