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Message from Board Chair Eisenson: Honoring Adam Falk with two campus namings

To the Williams Community,

I am pleased to report that, at last week’s meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to honor Adam Falk, our 17th president, by naming the Science Quad in his honor. The decision continues a Williams tradition of naming important public spaces in honor of our past presidents.

In addition, a group of current and former Trustees and other generous donors have endowed the directorship of the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA) in Adam’s name. The Adam Falk Directorship is a tribute to his founding support for the Center, which engaged more than 800 Williams students in projects across our community and region this year alone.

The naming of the Adam Falk Science Quad will be formalized during the opening of the new Science Center. The naming of CLiA’s Falk Directorship goes into effect immediately, with current director Paula Consolini thus becoming the Center’s first Falk Director.

The Science Center project and CLiA are both examples of the transformative work this community accomplished under Adam’s leadership. We are delighted to be able to recognize Adam’s substantial contributions as our president in these important and lasting ways, as we wish him well in his new post.

Sincerely,

Michael R. Eisenson ’77
Chair of the Board of Trustees

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Reische on Dumb Mistakes, 5

Jim Reische, Director of Communications at Williams and friend-of-EphBlog, wrote a lovely New York Times essay titled “The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College.” Let’s unpack it for a week. Day 5.

Note the casual slurring of non-elite Americans.

[T]he arresting officers also marked me as a white University of Michigan student. Had I been someone else, I might have learned a different lesson.

Because cops are racist! Get it? But, in reality, non-white Williams students are probably treated better than their white peers. Shall we review the story of Jess Torres ’12 one more time?

A certain acknowledgement of the shibboleths of the day are expected, both in the Times and by anyone in charge of “Communications” at an important part of the Cathedral. Reische probably believes, and is certainly expected to pretend to believe, that white students at places like Williams are treated better than black students, that he has more “privilege” than his black Williams colleagues. (Even the ones with tenure? Even the ones that are paid more?)

But the real problem comes next:

A commitment to learning isn’t synonymous with freedom from accountability. And it can’t extend into areas like sexual violence or racial hatred.

All dumb mistakes are equal, but some are more equal than others.

This is where we see the iron fist within the velvet glove. Reische is concerned about “college kids,” about “[o]ur children” committing “innocent mistakes.” But not when it comes to “racial hatred!” Nothing wrong with regular hatred of course. Thirty years ago, Reische hated corporate America (or capitalism? or just McDonald’s?) and that was OK. That sort of hatred, just like the hatred for Trump which drove the Griffin Hall vandals, is understandable, event “innocent.” You can hate things that Reische hates, and he will be the soul of understanding, eager to help you play some cool jazz with Miles Davis afterwards.

But if you hate in a unapproved manner — perhaps objecting to immigration, or affirmative action, or political correctness in general — then Reische and his ilk will have no sympathy for you.

What about the perpetrators of “sexual violence?” Perhaps Jim Reische, and the Williams administration, is omniscient, never making a mistake, never charging, much less punishing, any innocent student. Sadly, here in the real world, the new preponderance of the evidence standard means that a large percentage of the men punished by Williams for “sexual violence” are, in fact, innocent. How much mercy in his heart does Reische have for them?

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Reische on Dumb Mistakes, 4

Jim Reische, Director of Communications at Williams and friend-of-EphBlog, wrote a lovely New York Times essay titled “The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College.” Let’s unpack it for a week. Day 4.

If a Williams student spray-painted “Corporate Deathburgers” on a local building today (not that they ever would), it wouldn’t be hard to imagine someone posting the security footage online.

Why the hypothetical? Williams has, in fact, had several graffiti incidents over the last few years, the latest being Griffin Hall. Was any security video ever published? No! Why can’t Reische discuss things that actually happened, at Williams or elsewhere?

The reality is that things have not really changed in 30+ years, at least when it comes to how powerful institutions (campus security, local cops) protect the powerful (children of the elite). What happened to Reische is, more or less, what happens to current students who commit vandalism for political ends.

And the video would live on: another student weighed down by the detritus of his or her online life.

Note the lack of specific examples. Around 8,000 students have graduated from Williams since EphBlog started. I can not think of a single student whose life is meaningfully “weighed down” by her “online life.” If Reische can’t come up with a single example of the problem, then what is his point?

The point, obviously, is to titillate the readers of the New York Times, many of whom worry about the on-line activities of their children.

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Reische on Dumb Mistakes, 3

Jim Reische, Director of Communications at Williams and friend-of-EphBlog, wrote a lovely New York Times essay titled “The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College.” Let’s unpack it for a week. Day 3.

But when it comes to college kids, my worry is that we’ve become unwilling to tolerate innocent mistakes — either that or we have drastically shrunk our vision of innocence.

Is the world really all that different in 2018 than it was in 1985? Perhaps not. The Griffin Hall vandals suffered, more or less, the same fate as Reische did for his act of vandalism 30+ years ago. In fact, they may have been treated even better. I doubt that they were even arrested, much less that they spent the night in jail. Their identities were never revealed. It is telling that Reische fails to mention this incident to his Times readers. Might confuse the narrative.

Does Reische really want local police to have more or less discretion? The more that we have official written policies about how to handle vandalism (and arrests therefrom), the more that the logic of the carceral state will take over. Less discretion will (always?) yield less room for error, less understanding from the agents of the state for “dumb mistakes.”

But Reische also does not trust the state, arguing that he was treated differently because of his race/status than another vandal would have been. This suggests that he does not want to give, say, the Williamstown police more discretion about who they arrest and who they don’t. Did this tension even occur to Reische?

Is it just me, or does this talk of “innocent” and “innocence” reek of hippy-dippy 60s liberalism? Reische, in 1985, was not innocent. He was a vandal. He knew what he was doing, just as the Griffin Hall vandals did. That doesn’t mean that their lives should be ruined, but using this terminology robs adults of their agency.

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Reische on Dumb Mistakes, 2

Jim Reische, Director of Communications at Williams and friend-of-EphBlog, wrote a lovely New York Times essay titled “The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College.” Let’s unpack it for a week. Day 2.

These days I work as the senior communications officer at another college, where I spend a healthy fraction of my time dealing with students who’ve made mistakes of their own. I recognize myself in them: intellectually adventurous, skeptical, newly aware of life’s injustices. They’re also different from me in many ways: less Grateful Dead and Dead Kennedys, much more technology.

That’s the important bit. Because for all of the supposed liberating power of their digital devices, they might as well be wearing ankle monitors. Technological connectedness has made it much harder for them to make mistakes and learn from them.

This is an empirical claim. Does it have any connection to reality? Consider 7 specific incidents of graffiti at Williams: Griffin Hall (2016), hockey rink (2015), Paresky (2014), Mission (2012) Prospect (2011), Dennett (2009) and Willy E (2008). Most people would agree that these are the most important such instances at Williams over the last decade. Note:

1) Only two perps were caught: Griffin and Dennett. It is not obvious that students who commit vandalism today are more likely to be caught than they were in Reische’s era. Mistakes (without meaningful consequences) are still possible!

2) It is not clear that the students who were caught were punished at all (Dennett) or were punished in a way that Reische would disagree with (Griffin). Certainly, no one was arrested or charged. Again, Reische is making an empirical claim: dumb mistakes (like acts of vandalism) have worse outcomes for students now than they did 30 years ago. But, if anything, Reische seems to have been more punished than students today! (Getting arrested is no fun!)

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Reische on Dumb Mistakes, 1

Jim Reische, Director of Communications at Williams and friend-of-EphBlog, wrote a lovely New York Times essay titled “The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College.” Let’s unpack it for a week. Day 1.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Not so much afterward, when I got driven downtown in handcuffs for spray-painting “Corporate Deathburgers” across a McDonald’s.

I earned myself a long night in jail for my lack of judgment. But my family and friends — and perhaps most important, my college, the University of Michigan — never learned about the episode (until now). Because in 1985, a college student could get a little self-righteous, make a bad decision, face consequences and then go home, having learned a “valuable lesson.”

A nice story. At this point, anyone informed about Williams would hope/expect that Reische would connect this story about youthful vandalism to any of the similar stunts at Williams over the last decade, perhaps starting with the Griffin Hall graffiti of November 2016. Yet, he doesn’t mention that hate hoax, nor any of the similar events over the last few years. Why?

Reische, allegedly, is concerned that the vandalism (the “dumb mistake”) for which he was not meaningfully punished 30 years ago would generate a different result today, and yet he declines to discuss any similar recent incident, despite (because?) of his insider knowledge about them. Explanations for this lacuna?

Key question: Are college students children or are they adults? We all agree that people less than 18 should face less severe sanctions than those 18+, and we act on those beliefs via the juvenile justice system. If you, say, vandalize Griffin Hall at 17, the state (Williamstown police, Berkshire County prosecutors) will treat you very differently than it will if you do the exact same thing at 18. Does Reische want to change that? He doesn’t tell us.

Note his ending:

Our children deserve the opportunity to play the music for themselves.

Reische (and the rest of the Williams Administration? and the Williams faculty?) think of the students at Williams as “children.” Is that a bug or a feature of elite education in 2018?

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On Neighborhood Housing

Doug writes:

Can you explain why the neighborhood system is the “single biggest failure” at Williams in recent memory? I’m a student here now and the neighborhood system is totally fine with everyone — I’ve never actually heard anyone bash it before. People generally seem to like neighborhood events and not having RAs But there’s also no institutional memory at this point about what it replaced. Curious if you could point me in the right direction to learn about this.

Start with a definition.

Neighborhood Housing: students are randomly assigned to one neighborhood and can’t transfer.

The central aspect of Neighborhood Housing — what made it different than the system today or the system pre-2005 — was that students were assigned to one of four “Neighborhoods” and were not allowed to change. This was similar, indeed it was explicitly designed to be similar, to housing systems at places like Yale and Harvard.

It is true that lots of other things were also changing around this time. Some changes — gender caps — pre-dated the implementation of Neighborhoods and are still with us. Some changes, like moving First Years to Mission, actually had nothing to do with Neighborhood Housing per se. Some of these changes were good. Some bad. But, in this post, I am just discussing Neighborhood Housing at its core: the random assignment of students to housing groups.

Consider some background reading from 2005. Summary:

1) From 1995 to 2006, the Williams housing system was “free agency.” There was a campus wide lottery more-or-less identical to the one in use today. The system was popular and worked well.

2) “Neighborhood Housing” — also known as “Anchor Housing” — was the replacement. It was 100% driven by the Williams administration, mainly then-President Morty Schapiro, but with significant help from faculty on the Committee on Undergraduate Life, folks like Charles Drew ’58 and Will Dudley ’89.

3) The fundamental goal was to prevent student self-segregation in housing selection, especially racial segregation (all the black students in Weston) and athlete segregation (all the male helmet-sport athletes in Tyler/Tyler Annex). At that time, the Berkshire Quad was universally known as the “Odd Quad” and served as central location for those students outside the Williams party/alcohol/athletics “mainstream.” My sense is that administrators were not anti-Odd Quad, but they were certainly more than willing to sacrifice the special character of the Odd Quad for their larger goals.

4) Neighborhood Housing worked, at least according to Morty’s goals. Student self-segregation decreased. It was tough for the whole football team to live together if 1/4 of the team was assigned to each Neighborhood.

5) Neighborhood Housing was certainly the biggest non-academic change at Williams in the last 20 years, and perhaps back to co-education. (Does anyone disagree?) And, given how constant academic life has been at Williams (and/or how gradual any changes have been), Neighborhood Housing may have been the biggest change at Williams in a generation. Other candidates?

6) Neighborhood Housing failed, which is why students are no longer randomly (and permanently) assigned to a neighborhood. It failed for all the reasons we predicted and just as we documented for a decade. It is to Williams (and Adam Falk’s? And Steve Klass’s) credit that we ended Neighborhood Housing a few years ago and went back to the traditional campus wide lottery.

7) There are residues of neighborhoods that are still with us, like the word “neighborhood” itself and some of the changes that went along with their creation and then destruction. By far the most important of these is the move of First Years to Mission Park.

8) One occasionally reads strange revanchist views like this from abl. I have trouble understanding them. If words have meaning then “Neighborhood Housing” means “students are randomly assigned to one neighborhood at random and can’t transfer.” Both opponents and supporters agreed that this was the heart of the debate. No one cared about “campus social life/planning.” The Administration could have changed any aspect of that and no student would have complained.

abl claims:

Moreover, the neighborhood system in its conception and its execution represents the sort of Democratic social engineering that DDF and his libertarian/conservative leanings detests.

Untrue! I am in favor of competent social engineering, as here. The CUL was incompetent, as we documented/predicted at the time. Neighborhood Housing was doomed from the start, mainly because certain Williams traditions (JAs and entries, and co-ops) and the reality of our diverse housing stock.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 15

Williams staff, faculty and students,

I wanted to take this moment to point out that, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Williams will treat next Monday, January 15, as a day of no classes. Administrative offices will also be closed.

variety of activities are planned throughout the week. Please join me in taking the time to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, and to dedicate ourselves to continuing his quest for equality and justice.

Just a few weeks after MLK Day will come the tenth anniversary of Claiming Williams. Both events offer important opportunities for us to reflect on the connections between a Williams education and our responsibilities to the world in which we live.

Thank you to the faculty for setting aside next Monday from the academic calendar, to the many people involved in planning this year’s events, and to all of you for your important contributions to our campus community and the wider world around us.

Tiku Majumder

Interim President
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A new year, and a new phase

Greetings from the President’s Office, and happy new year!

I wanted to let you know, as I finish my first week in my new role as interim president, how much I’m looking forward to working with you all. Adam Falk set Williams on a strong path back into fiscal health; supported our curriculum through investments in our faculty, programs, and academic buildings; and strengthened our community through his commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Even considering the financial health and strong foundation he established, there’s much we’ll need to accomplish together. With that in mind I’m particularly eager to begin discussions with faculty and staff colleagues to inform the agenda for my tenure. While this undertaking will certainly involve close attention to the academic program and our support for students, the ways in which we choose to approach it must be informed by conversations with you who are engaged with this work every day.

Students have an essential role in defining this community. So I’m also eager to step beyond my more familiar role as teacher and advisor, to partner with College Council, MinCo, the JAs, and others to create a Williams that’s both welcoming and enriching, in ways that will foster the best possible education.

Even after more than two decades on the Williams faculty and many years as director of the Science Center, the presidency is showing me a side of the college that I’d previously had little opportunity to observe firsthand. Indeed, the view from my new office is quite different in many ways! I feel fortunate to step into my new job with the support of an outstanding leadership team, and the benefit of close relationships with so many of you. I look forward to strengthening those bonds and forming new ones in the months to come.

Sincerely,

Tiku Majumder
Interim President and Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy

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Affirmative Action for Conservative Faculty

abl asked JCD:

I have a question for you: should Williams be willing to hire tenure candidates with inferior records, and to give those tenure candidates more reign not to publish/not to publish well before cutting them loose, so as to develop a faculty that includes more voices on the right? In other words, should Williams be practicing affirmative action for conservative scholars on its faculty?

Yes! Just as Williams has recently practiced affirmative action in hiring in the physics and math/stats department.

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Log Update

Dear Williams Community,

I’m writing to let you know that Hops & Vines will no longer be providing food and beverage service at The Log as of December 29th. After that date, the Log will go on hiatus (except for the CES Log Lunch program on Fridays) while we work on transitioning to a new foodservice vendor. Hops & Vines helped the college immensely by taking on the opening of a new hospitality operation and running it for us for two years. The restaurant business is a notoriously challenging one, and I want to personally thank the whole Hops & Vines team for their efforts.

As soon as we became aware of their plans to turn the operation back over to us, we began seeking a new operator, and we’re now in advanced negotiations with a locally-owned business who will be a terrific match. I look forward to announcing that news very soon, with the goal of reopening a few weeks thereafter. Unfortunately, we’ll need to shut down the venue in the interim so that the kitchen equipment and service workspaces can be modified to support the new foodservice operation.

The Log is one of Williams’ most distinctive and beloved spaces, and many staff from across campus are working hard to return it to full operating mode as soon as possible. I look forward to announcing the new food and beverage team who will help us build on the foundation of these first two years of operation, further shaping The Log into the gathering-place we want it to be for the whole Williams community.

Sincerely,

Steve Klass, Vice President for Campus Life

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Indigenous Peoples Day

From the Berkshire Eagle:

Williams College celebrates its last Columbus Day

In ending the Columbus Day off at Williams College, it came down to accounting.

The faculty voted to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a holiday for faculty, staff and students about six months ago.

The human resources department determined the college would trade off another holiday — Columbus Day — rather than adding another holiday to the calendar.

“This was just a simple trade-off,” said Jim Reische, chief communications officer at Williams College. “We didn’t do anything with Columbus Day. It was just a three-day weekend.”

Administrative staff still had the day off on Monday, but that will change come next year. Classes still met.

Administrative staff will still be allowed to take the Columbus Day off next year if they choose, but they’ll have to use a floating holiday day. There will be classes on that day.

“The major driver was — we needed to consider MLK Day a holiday,” Reische said. “There was a strong push to make that a day off, to recognize it.”

More important to the college in terms of programming is Claiming Williams Day, which began in 2009 after a series of racist and sexist incidents on campus in 2008, Reische said.

Claiming Williams Day includes a full roster of programming exploring what it means to be a diverse and inclusive campus, he said.

“It’s much more about academic and community-building than anything we ever did with Columbus Day,” he said.

The town of Williamstown took a different direction on Columbus Day earlier this year.

In May, town meeting voters agreed to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Williamstown Elementary School labeled Monday’s holiday Indigenous Peoples Day on its website as of Monday morning.

If I were Trump, I would make a huge deal of Columbus Day next fall: big celebration at the White House, perhaps a speech about how Democrats consider Italian-Americans to be deplorables, an (outrageous) proposal that any town/city/state which wants federal funds must celebrate Columbus Day. There would be few better ways of motivating the voters he, and the Republicans, will need in November.

Political Science 101 at Williams taught me that, he who picks the issue to fight over, wins. In any fight between “Columbus Day” and “Indigenous Peoples Day,” Trump wins easily.

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Presidential search update

To the Williams community,

I write in my role as chair of the college’s Presidential Search Committee, to provide you with an update on the ongoing search process.

Many of you responded to the committee’s invitation to provide input on the search. Almost 1,700 members of our community responded to the survey emailed to all of you. Our search firm, Spencer Stuart, has received a further 135 emails from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the college so far. And many faculty, staff, and students also attended one of the twelve forums held on campus this semester, along with small-group discussions.

The committee reviewed all of this input at our fall meetings, and continues to consider contributions received through the search website. I want to thank everyone who took the time to provide insights into the qualities we should emphasize in our search, or to suggest potential candidates for the position of president. We are grateful for your help.

The committee has now posted the prospectus on the search website. The prospectus is the detailed job description provided to potential candidates for the presidency. It was developed with attention to the community input from this fall, and I encourage you to read it as time allows. Special thanks go to committee member and John Hawley Roberts Professor of English Peter Murphy for leading its development, and to the authors of prospectuses from prior searches, which provided the foundation for our document. I believe it is quite thoughtfully done.

We are now moving into the most time-intensive and most confidential phase of the search, as we identify potential candidates and begin a series of in-depth interviews. Presidential searches require a high level of confidentiality so that the best candidates will come forward with a willingness to engage in conversation. As a result, the committee will not have a great deal of information to communicate publicly between now and the announcement of a president. The members will have much work to do behind the scenes during this time, however. I hope you will continue to support them, as colleagues and friends, in their efforts on Williams’ behalf.

The williamspresident@spencerstuart.com address will remain open throughout the search process and we encourage you to use it if you have thoughts that you would like to share. While the demands of the search process make it impossible to answer individual messages, all will be read.

My colleagues and I appreciate your contributions, and your commitment to helping us find the best person to serve as Williams’ 18th president.

Yours,

Michael Eisenson ’77
Chair, Presidential Search Committee

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Here comes the taxman! (Williamstown loses)

The Senate has passed a federal tax increase on private universities and colleges such as Williams.

I have always argued that local governance should get more revenue from Williams either through a PILOT and/or a tax on real estate holdings. Dormitories and common eating/ food sales spaces compete with the local economy (rentals and restaurants). They should be subject to local property taxation.

Williams and Williamstown are inseparable, and as such, Williams relies heavily on things such as local schools, waste management, police, and fire. Williams relies on the adaptability of the local planning board to make space for growth, and the relative lopsidedness of zoning permits. Who can build and where is a college function in the cultural district.

As we like to say, “Rock, paper, college.” Not that there is anything wrong with that!

That said, the federal taxation of a place like Williams when compared to the benefit of federal tax reform on the townie (working class) populations in a place like Williamstown is inequitable. When one compares the relative economic cost (the opportunity cost) of what this federal income tax will take from Williams/ Williamstown when compared to the local benefit with regards to the local burden on working people- this is a bad deal for Williamstown Townies! Local real estate taxation has skyrocketed in the last eight years. This is not going to help Williamstown’s affordability crisis…

Looks like we are in this one together.

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[CEA] DPE Course Student Survey

Dear fellow Ephs,

Last year, the faculty of the College passed a motion introducing a new curricular requirement to replace the Exploring Diversity Initiative. Starting Fall 2018, courses will be offered as part of the College’s new Difference, Power, and Equity requirement (DPE). DPE courses examine the mechanisms, histories, and practices behind social, political and philosophical structures of difference and power. They are centrally focused around issues of difference, diversity, inequality, and/or inclusivity.
The Committee on Educational Affairs would like to solicit suggestions for topics that students would like to investigate in DPE courses.
A brief disclaimer: the DPE initiative is new, and these suggestions will contribute to the long term discussion about courses that will be offered in the future, but are not guaranteed to be developed into courses in the coming semesters.
Suggested areas of study may include but are not limited to: ability/disability, body size, citizenship status, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but should give an idea of the types of issues that might be examined in a DPE course.
Suggestions may be submitted here: https://goo.gl/forms/t2IfnEFHcZSc2JvV2The form will close 11/26.
Thanks so much for your participation!
Best,
The Committee on Educational Affairs
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Eph Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault

Dear Williams students,

 

In 2015, we collected our first-ever comprehensive survey data about sexual and other intimate violence at Williams. 64% of students participated (a response rate that has never been topped nationally), and the data helped us modify response protocols and has shaped our prevention programs over the last 2 years.

 

It’s time to look again at our progress and to see where we still have work to do, and your participation in this work is invaluable.

 

Share your perspective by taking the survey.

 

Your responses to this survey are anonymous. You can expect it to take between 20-25 minutes to complete.

 

You may find, during or after the survey, that you want to talk more about the issues raised in it.

 

  • SASS (413-597-3000)

    • 24/7

    • Confidential support from staff

    • SASS staff are myself, Carolina Echenique from Admissions, Donna Denelli-Hess from the Health Center, Jen Chuks from Athletics, Mike Evans from the Zilkha Center, and Rick Spalding, the Chaplain.)

  • RASAN (413-597-4100)

    • 24/7

    • Peer support

    • Also has walk-in office hours at Sawyer 508 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8pm-10pm. RASAN welcomes survivors and supporters of survivors to use this as a space in which they can fill out the survey if they’d like on-hand support.

  • The Elizabeth Freeman Center (866-401-2425)

    • 24/7

    • Confidential off-campus support is available 24/7 via The Elizabeth Freeman Center at.

 

Thank you,

 

Meg Bossong ’05

Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

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Problematic as Fuck

Consider this tweet from the official Williams College account:

nef

Is Neftaly really “embracing opportunities at Williams?” Consider:

Neftaly: When I visited Williams I visited under a program for minority students and students of color so when I came here I was given a picture of so many different students of color and now that Im here I felt like I was lied to because that’s not what it feels like. The students of color here a lot of times feel like were just here for the pamphlets. It’s even harder given how isolated it is. I can’t just leave campus and go to a museum. I feel the knowledge of being a minority student more prominently here. Its these struggles of realizing that yes, I feel alone or I feel different but at the same time realizing that I want to give credit to the people who care and want o make these struggles not as hard or to validate them at least. I have professors who I can go to and talk about things and they’re like yeah, you’re not crazy. That stuff shouldn’t be happening. Or even other students, just talking through and realizing like at one point last year I was thinking of transferring because I felt so alone and I felt weird because I wanted to go to all these parties in like the old frat houses but id dint feel like I belonged because I wasn’t part of the white football culture. And it’s like wanting to be a part of it but realizing that no matter how I try I will still be different if I go to those places and realizing that I wasn’t the only person on campus who felt that way or seriously thought about transferring really helped a lot. It’s sad that it’s this friendship through struggle or through going through all of these, like, micro aggressions but I think that it’s not like it’s not a reflection of what I’m going to have to go through when I’m outside of Williams anyway. It’s not just here.

Jacqueline: do you think that the average student at Williams recognizes your struggle or are they mostly ignorant to it?

Neftaly: there are groups. You have like 2200 students so you have maybe 30% are students of color but that doesn’t always take into account socioeconomic status because I think that’s also really important so like you have students of color who are very wealthy and interact more with the white wealthy students and those groups tend to be more ignorant about what’s happening or about things like microagressions. But because Williams is so small and so discussion based you usually have students of color in your classes and aren’t afraid to clap back on anything problematic that comes up in class. But at the same time some people just don’t get it and I understand because you can’t truly know something is wrong if you’ve never had to go through it or it’s not something, I don’t blame them for not being able to put themselves in my shoes because they’ve never had to. It’s important that they try and I think a lot of people here try to do it and if they don’t it’s a completely different story but most try and I think that matters.

Jacqueline: When people don’t understand or if they don’t try, how do you react?

Neftaly: My common, rather crude response to those situations when they say like I don’t get it and I’ve done my best to explain somethings to them and I feel like they’re not really making an effort to understand what I’m saying I’m like you can either take a class in Africana or Latinx studies or American studies, or you can pay me for my time to explain this to you. Otherwise, I’m out. If not, I’m not going to partake in this conversation because I don’t have to, and I don’t owe you anything.

Lots of interesting comments! Worth going through more closely?

A lot of the classes that I take are on things like racism and injustices and stuff and its part of realizing that I am a person who is effected by these injustices that I am reading about. I am also going to be on the receiving end. It’s something that recently has been more healthy for me to realize and to and to admit and to engage in rather than putting rather than put aside and hope that I won’t have to deal with it for awhile.

Are those useful messages for Williams professors to be sending to Neftaly?

It’s so bureaucratic. I didn’t realize how bureaucratic colleges were. Or how political they were. I was like wow you’re just trying to make money and here I thought you cared about me. The sanctuary campus movement, we were asking that Williams provide designated sanctuary for undocumented students and they were like we can’t do that because they’re going to come after us and ICE is going come and take our students away and we can’t do anything about it and we were like ok but you’re not promising anything else in return and they were like well talk to our lawyers about it and it seemed like they just didn’t see the urgency of it. Or for students who have parents who are undocumented, we were asking for months now to have a meeting with administration to talk about what kind of help, if any, to students if they happen to have family who is deported. In what ways can the college help us? And they said they didn’t have the funds to help and we were like that’s bullshit. You have a two-point-something billion endowment. You have money. Or they said like there are legal obstacles and it was just a lot of bullshit political excuses.

Reads like an EphBlog rant! Not that there is anything wrong with that . . .

Or all the bull shit when they come to have meetings with the students and we ask them to divest from certain things or to bring in minority therapists or bring in more minority faculty in like the American studies department. These are valid concerns and its always like brushed to the side like “considering our fiscal year budget…” or “considering what our lawyers say…” and were tired of it. I don’t believe them. Because it isn’t genuine. They’re saying something but they mean something else. The students of color here realized very quickly that it’s a very fake sincerity and you learn early on to not trust the school.

Don’t worry Neftaly! Even us old white guys have trouble trusting Adam Falk . . .

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AF ROTC: Uniforms on Campus … ( a reissue from 11/11/09)

 

RE: PTC’s post below and ROTC on campus …

 

It is still a day remembering service as I write this post. Perhaps some may not know that uniforms, if you so desired, were a part of campus life in the ’50’s,

honor air

During the war, V -12 programs were on campus and a few years later, the presence of returning vets was common.

A full complement of officers and enlisted men were assigned to Williams to serve as the faculty.

The appearance of a veteran on campus would not be new. I hope the appearance would be welcome.

 

NEW COPY ADDED TODAY Nov 1. 2017

I also found this  follow-up that I posted in 2010. The pictures have disappeared but the text asks the question:

http://ephblog.com/2010/12/03/the-55-56-all-stars-rotc-2/

And a post from PTC dated 28 May, 2011

http://ephblog.com/2011/05/28/rotc-returns-to-harvard-and-yale/

 

ROTC was an important part of a Williams education for 10% of the Class of 1956. Click MORE (below) to see the AF faculty. I knew Captain Taylor, a fine man and a graduate of the USNA.

Read more

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Turnover in Admissions

How much staff turnover is there in Williams Admissions? Three years ago, we had these 11 folks. Today, we have these 12. Only four of the 12 current admissions staff were at Williams three years ago: Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Liz Creighton ’01 (who was then deputy director of admissions), Director of Admission Dick Nesbitt ’74, Deputy Director of Admission Sulgi Lim ’06 (obviously the leading likely successor to Nesbitt) and Associate Director Barbara Robertson. Comments:

1) Normal turnover or cause for concern? I see this as normal turnover, largely consistent with the past practices of Admissions and similar to what we see at other schools. We can divide staff into two categories: permanent and temporary. The permanent staff run Admissions, determine policy and maintain institutional knowledge. The temporary staff is very young, often in their first job and/or just a year or two removed from their undergraduate years, mostly at Williams. Temporary staff understand that the position is generally held for just two or so years.

2) The main purpose of temporary staff is to help with recruitment. If you want to enroll more students of type X, then it helps (most people think) to have people of type X doing the recruiting. Temporary staff are also often expected to travel more and/or show the flag at less important events.

As we have explained, Williams Admissions, like all elite admissions, is a well-tested, thorough process that does not depend very much on the people reading your recommendations letters. Once the key policies are set, you could replace the current set of readers with an entirely new set and still get 95%+ the same results. And that is OK! I would not want a process that was overly affected by the whims of the specific people who happen to work in admissions this year.

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Family Days 2017, OCTOBER 26 – 29

Dear Students,

I hope this note finds you well.  As you may know, Family Days begins this Thursday evening with a wonderful Davis Center talk by Dr. Monique Morris.

If your own family plans to visit this weekend, we greatly look forward to having them here at Williams and expect it will be a great opportunity for them to gain a better sense of your own undergraduate experience.

And if your parents won’t be attending, please know that you’re in good company with the vast majority of your fellow students. While many families enjoy family days, a great many more don’t attend. For some, the time and expense to travel to Williamstown are too great. (And let’s face it: though Williams is a beautiful place, it’s far away from where most people live!) For others, there are other points in their students four years at Williams—from a special sports event or musical performance to Commencement—when a visit make more sense.

In any case, it’s a great weekend packed with lots of things to do, with family members or just with fellow students. View the entire weekend program here and enjoy!

All best,
Dean Sandstrom

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
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Rehire Robin and Kristine Petition Update

As of this posting, the petition, with a new target of 5,000, has now reached 3,336 signatures – more than the number of students on campus at any given time! When was the last time a current student lead petition got this many signatures from the Eph community?

Carl Sangree ’18 updated the description:

Things to do in the short term:

Donate to the Gofundme, which will directly benefit Robin and Kristine.

https://www.gofundme.com/support-robin

Email Steve Klass, who helps oversee dining services employees ( sklass@williams.edu ) and other Williams officials who may listen.

The GofundMe fundraiser, set up yesterday, has already broken its $2,000 goal ($2,555 as of this posting).

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Rehire Robin and Kristine

A petition by Carl Sangree ’18 to rehire fired dining services attendants Robin Alfonso and Kristine McLear has, as of this posting, garnered 1,628/2,500 signatures since it was posted five days ago. Earlier this morning, the petition broke its initial goal of 1,500.

My friend Robin Alfonso was fired from Williams College this summer. If you don’t know her by name, you probably knew her as “the ridiculously friendly Whitman’s snackbar lady.” Williams security accused her of smoking marijuana with students at the Mt. Hope Mansion during last year’s senior week, despite the denials of both her and students she was with. The administration fired her nonetheless, ignoring her fifteen years of faithful work without any prior incident. She is just as important to our community as any student or professor, yet she has not been treated with any level of fairness.

She is the main caregiver for her grandson and now is deprived of what was already a modest income. Her life has been effectively ruined, and she is extremely distraught even several months after the incident. She truly cherished Williams students and her job.

Williams is very keen on enforcing its drug policy but only seems to punish the most vulnerable members of our community. Please sign this petition so that I can help appeal Robin’s egregious termination at the hands of our college’s administration. Whatever punishment they believe she deserves has been served by her many times over.

Whenever I was having a bad day, I could count on Robin to cheer me up, and I know this was true for many others as well. Now she needs our help — let’s make this right.

UPDATE:
After writing this petition, I learned that another employee was treated just as unfairly as Robin as part of this same incident. Kristine McLear was also fired due to these same allegations and also claims she was never given a fair chance to defend herself; like Robin, she was presumed guilty. When I present this petition to administrators, I will also be arguing for Kristine. Kristine was a faithful employee and cherished just as Robin was.

No response from the administration yet. And we still have to talk about how former Williams Campus Security officer Joshua Costa and former employee Brian Marquis were terminated for blowing the whistle on the administration’s more, uhh, questionable behavior.

Edit: Last year, the Record profiled Robin Alfonso.

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It’s Moutain Day!

The mountains call us
In their sun-dappled splendor.
Let’s get out and play!

Adam Falk
President and Professor
Williams College

From Scott Lewis, Director of the Outing Club:

Visit  http://woc.williams.edu/ to see the list of hikes and on-campus events AND to check for any updates should the weather suddenly change!

Mountain Day is a celebration of community and place.  We would like to emphasize that Mountain Day is a day off for enjoying company, music, the all campus picnic and the splendor of our surroundings!
(A huge thank you to Dining Services for all their work on this day)

Mountain Day Accessibility Vans
Full transport to Stone Hill and Stony Ledge on Mountain Day is available- there will also be seating at both locations. Please email Phacelia Cramer (pjc2) with questions or to reserve a seat on the vans to Stone Hill, Stony Ledge, or both!

A quick highlight reel of the schedule:

10 a.m. – hike from Chapin to Stone Hill, performances by student groups, refreshments provided

11 a.m – 1 p.m.  community picnic on Chapin Lawn
Administrative offices should consider closing for an hour to enjoy this campus-wide celebration.

12:30 p.m. – bus transportation to Stoney Ledge and Hopper trailheads (buses parked along Mission Park Drive behind Chapin Hall). Since the bus will not bring you directly to Stoney Ledge, please be prepared for changing weather and temperatures as you hike up AND down the mountain 2 miles each way. You should have hiking shoes for wet, muddy, slick terrain and bring a filled water bottle!

2:45 p.m. – Stoney Ledge performances by student groups, refreshments provided

4:45 p.m. – bus transportation from Stoney Ledge and Hopper trailheads to Mission Park Drive

Hope you can all seize the day and take time out to be outside!!

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Presidential Search Update

Dear Ephs,

Over the past two weeks, we have heard from many of you with thoughts and opinions about what to look for in our next President. We are winding down the input gathering phase but wanted to highlight a couple of final ways to engage with the process.
  • Fill out this survey! Information provided here will be used to help draft the job description. Please fill it out by midnight on October 18.
  • Stop by our table in Paresky tomorrow and Thursday at lunch! We will be there from 11:45 to 1:00 both days.
  • Email us! You can even just reply to this thread.
  • Have another idea? Let us know! We always want to hear how we can best get your opinions.
Thank you to all those who have already spoken to us, wrote a sticky note or sent an email! We have had many interesting conversations and look forward to many more.
Enjoy the short week!
Sarah Hollinger and Ben Gips
Student Representatives, Presidential Search Committee
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Survey for Williams presidential search: Please participate

To the Williams Community,

I write to follow up on my letter in early September regarding the search for Williams’ 18th President. The Presidential Search Committee has begun its work, with the assistance of a senior team from Spencer Stuart, a national executive search firm with expertise in higher education leadership searches, whom we retained to assist in the process. Members of the Committee along with the Spencer Stuart team have held a series of on-campus forums with faculty, staff, students and alumni in order to answer questions and, especially, solicit ideas from the Williams community regarding the search. As I indicated in my last note, information about the Presidential Search Committee, Spencer Stuart and, as we proceed, other matters related to this important work can be found on our search website.

As another important step in the input gathering phase, the Committee has prepared a survey to allow the broadest possible participation from our community. I encourage you to use it to share your views, which will help guide the drafting of a prospectus to be shared with potential candidates, and also help to guide the Committee in the process of interviewing and of refining the candidate pool. In order to be able to incorporate your input, the Committee asks for a few minutes of your time to complete the survey by October 18th.

In addition, the Committee welcomes nominations for the position. If you would like to suggest a candidate, please send an email with any supporting materials to the confidential address: WilliamsPresident@spencerstuart.com.

On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, we thank you for taking part in this survey and look forward to updating you on our progress over the coming months.

Sincerely,

Michael Eisenson ’77
Chair, Williams College Board of Trustees

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transitions in the Dean’s Office

Dear Students,

I hope this note finds you well, as fall officially begins.  I am writing to let you know about some important transitions in the Dean’s Office.

As you may have heard, Ithaca College just announced yesterday that Rosanna Reyes Ferro will be joining their campus as Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life. Dean Ferro is excited about this wonderful opportunity, and we could not be happier for her.

At Williams, Dean Ferro has strengthened our programming for first generation students in innumerable ways, developed and nurtured leadership positions for our students, built strong collaborations with partners from all corners of the campus, and enriched the lives of countless students.

Along with Dean Booker’s departure earlier this month, Dean Ferro’s move leaves the Dean’s office with some serious shoes to fill. Both of them have been incredibly talented, effective, generous, and beloved members of our team, and they will be greatly missed by faculty, staff and students alike. In addition to their broad skill sets in advising, mentoring, and supporting all of our students, they have each played key roles in building our programming for first generation college students, as well as deepening our collaborative work with the Davis Center and the Chaplains’ office. Their dedicated work has built a strong foundation that we are committed to sustaining and strengthening as we move forward.

In the weeks to come, we will be searching for two new deans in our office. This offers an opportunity for us to expand on our existing strengths, and also to enhance the services we currently provide.  We will be thinking intensively about the diversity of our staff as we conduct our search. We know how crucial it is for our staff to reflect the wide range of experiences and backgrounds that make the Williams community so wonderful.

During the transition process, rest assured that the Dean’s Office will be providing our full array of services, including individual advising sessions, walk-in hours, crisis management, and programmatic offerings of many kinds. In addition, we will be working closely with the student leaders of our First Gen Program to ensure that all of its events, discussion groups, and funding opportunities continue to run smoothly.

All best wishes,

Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College, Hales Professor of Psychology

Rachel Bukanc, Senior Associate Dean of the College

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Presidential Search Thoughts and Opinions

Dear Ephs,

We hope your week is getting off to a smooth start! Together, we have the important task of helping choose the next President of Williams College. We need to hear your input and ideas to represent you!

Over the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to you in several ways such as:

  • A kickoff event on Thursday at 7PM in Baxter where you can speak directly with us and representatives of our search firm, SpencerStuart, while enjoying a free gelato sundae bar!

  • Poster boards around Baxter where you can add your voice by grabbing a sticky note and answering specific questions about what you want to see, starting tomorrow at lunch

  • An online survey tool where you can provide more in-depth suggestions about what matters to you (coming soon)

  • An email address for nominations and other specific feedback that will go directly to the SpencerStuart team at williamspresident@spencerstuart.com

  • More full-campus forums and events, where anyone can speak directly with us and other students about their thoughts (coming soon)

  • Opportunities for smaller meetings and conversations with us and/or the SpencerStuart staff (email us if you or your student group are interested!)

We are very grateful for your support in helping us take on this task. You will be hearing more from us soon and feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.

See you on Thursday night!

Sarah Hollinger ‘19 and Ben Gips ‘19
Student Representatives, Presidential Search Committee
shh1@williams.edu, bwg1@williams.edu

Edit: This was sent yesterday, at 3:31 pm.
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The Death of Faculty Governance at Williams

Note this Record interview with Falk:

Falk demurs on the notion that the College has grown more bureaucratic, emphasizing his belief that the goal of any hiring and reorganization was directly tied to the betterment of the community. “There had been great growth in the endowment in the previous decade [before I was president] and I think that it had put the College in a position where we didn’t have to make the same kind of difficult choices between different funding priorities that we would have to make once the endowment dropped 30 percent,” Falk said. “And we are just a more complex operation then we used to be. We have a debt portfolio of $300 million. We have a complicated [human resources structure], a complicated facilities operation, a childcare center, a controller’s office and auditors that are doing more and more sophisticated work. A lot of that is really hard work for a faculty member to rotate in every few years and do as effectively as someone who’s a really strong professional.”

The (anonymous!) faculty member who points out this passage asked some (rhetorical!) questions:

Falk’s opinion of faculty governance is on full display here. He clearly prefers a “really strong professional” to make the “difficult choices between different funding priorities.”

Exactly right. Most Williams presidents are remembered, at most, for one thing: Sawyer abolished fraternities. Chandler created Winter Study. Oakley instituted tutorials. What will Falk be remembered for 30 years from now? Tough to say, but one contender is: Put the final nail in the coffin of faculty governance.

Is it truly the case that students and faculty are comfortable with having unaccountable administrators in charge of the really difficult decisions?

Students don’t care, obviously. Faculty (like my correspondent!) love to complain but, when push came to shove, they did nothing of substance. Recall the “alignment” (pdf) that Falk outlined 7 years ago this week. I devoted nine days of discussion to explaining what this meant: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Read it if you want to understand the past/future of faculty governance at Williams. Short version: Faculty governance has decreased each decade at Williams for at least the last 50 years. Falk accelerated/completed that change.

Does he really have such a low opinion of the faculty who have taken on administrative roles?

That is unfair. Falk loves Dukes Love and Denise Buell and Marlene Sandstrom. There are a dozen or more faculty at Williams who want/wanted those jobs. Falk turned all of them down, in preference for the ones he picked. But, at the same time, Falk (and the trustees!) want to pay Chilton/Puddestar/Klass two or three times as much money Love/Buell/Sandstrom and give the former much more power.

If so, what is his opinion of the other faculty and their voice in charting a path for the College?

They should shut up. There are a dozen (or a score? or more?) faculty at Williams that Falk has never had a meaningful one-on-one conversation with.

In any organization, the power lies with a) the people paid the most and b) the people who spend the most time talking with the boss. At Williams, a) and b) describe the senior administrators, not the senior faculty.

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Williams Uses Racial Goals in Admissions

Williams, as the College would be quick to tell you, does not use racial “quotas” in admissions. It does not require that there be, exactly, 50 African-American students in each class. But Williams does have ethnic/racial goals. It wants a class that looks like America.

From the Record in 1998:

There are no specific quotas to be filled in the admissions process at Williams, Director of Admissions Thomas Parker explained. Rather, the admissions Office tries to admit a class that reflects national populations.

From the Record in 2012:

[Former Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity Mike Reed ’75] explained that the College tries to model its student body on an “approximate mirroring” of the country, which requires recruiting students of color who otherwise would not apply.

A faculty friend reports, after talking with newish Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Liz Creighton ’01, that the same policy is true today. Creighton believes that ethnic/racial breakdown of US students at Williams should match, as close as possible, the ethnic/racial breakdown of the college-age US population, at least when it comes to African-Americans and Hispanics.

This is true, not just at Williams, but across elite higher education in the US. Occasionally, uninformed people don’t realize this or naive people deny it. Purpose of this post is to document that they are wrong.

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Update on defacement of class banner

To the Williams community,

After seeing my campus message this afternoon about the defacement of the class banner in the ’82 Grill, students came forward and shared relevant information with Campus Safety. As a result, we are now confident that the “KKK” symbol was present on the banner as of last spring, and potentially earlier.

I want to thank those who reached out to communicate with CSS. They significantly aided the investigation. It does not eliminate the harmful impact of the incident. But it demonstrates the kind of community effort needed, in our continuing fight against racial hatred and other forms of bias.

Adam Falk
President

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