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Bias Incident Response Task Force Report

Before it disappears in a fit of historical memory-holing, let’s archive portions of the Bias Incident Response Task Force Report from October 2012:

On November 11, 2011, the words “All Niggers Must Die” were written on a wall on the fourth floor of Prospect Hall. This hate crime caused a large number of our Black community members to feel targeted and unsafe and, overall, placed extraordinary stress on the fabric of the campus. A variety of associated issues and concerns were exposed in subsequent open mic events, campus conversations, and related gatherings. Among the concerns that were raised by many members of the campus community were pointed criticisms of the administration’s initial response to, and early communications about, the crime.

President Falk commissioned the Bias Incident Response Task Force (BIRTF) as the central component of a detailed debriefing of both the initial incident response and related protocols.

This was written almost a year after the event, by which time it was obvious that the entire incident was a “hate hoax.” This graffiti was written by student of color Jess Torres ’12.

Perhaps most important, we affirmed the need to ensure that we’re providing immediate, meaningful, and effective support to the most affected parties, after which we should expand our support to individuals and groups as we track the impact of the incident across campus and over time. This includes the establishment of physical and virtual safe spaces for post-event processing and dialogue, as well as additional components of an institutional infrastructure of counseling and support.

The best “support” that Williams could provide is to tell people that this was a hoax, that minority students have nothing to fear from white racists wondering the hallways of Prospect.

If the Record were a better paper, it would revisit this topic next fall, call up the members of this task force and ask them some hard questions.

The “Culture of Silence”

Perhaps the most frustrating – and enabling – campus condition is what students and others have termed the “culture of silence.” In fact, the name of the student organization that developed in response to the Prospect hate crime is Students Against Silence. While we recognized the highly complex nature of this phenomenon, our conversations focused on a couple of related questions:

What prevents students, faculty, and staff from taking advantage of the reporting websites and formal support structures that exist? If people want to talk about their experiences and concerns, are there unknown barriers to using existing channels more frequently and consistently?
What is it about our campus culture that allows students to believe they can behave like this? Once they leave here for graduate school or the workplace, their behavior changes, by and large, because they know this isn’t acceptable anywhere else. Why does it feel acceptable to them here?

The students on the Task Force explained that this is such a small, interconnected place that if you do something that leads to a falling-out with your team or your close circle of friends, you have few places left to turn. The prevailing social pressure – particularly on women – is not to make waves, not to “make life harder than it needs to be.” There was a strong perception that more people would report acts of discrimination, harassment, and assault if the social backlash to reporting weren’t so strong.

This perception that Williams’ size and distinctive social interconnectedness – typically considered to be positive features – work against us in this way resonates with our perceptions of why staff and faculty also hesitate to report the incidents of discrimination that they deal with.

Or, just maybe, there are fewer instances of actual discrimination at Williams than there are almost anyplace else in the world.

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Senior Week 2017 – Save The Date!

Seniors,

Can you believe how quickly the time has gone? Just one final push– you’ve got this! In anticipation of our graduation weekend, we just wanted to inform you of the dates for Senior Week hosted on campus. For planning purposes, the week will start on Tuesday, May 30th, the first event being at 10 p.m. and runs through Friday, June 2nd, with the final event being Last Chance Dance.

We have plenty of fun events planned for those days before our graduation weekend, including brunches, barbecues, and the lovely dinner at Mount Hope. We will be in contact with you about specifics on all that will take place, but until then, we’ll see you on campus for the festivities starting May 30th.

Thanks and enjoy the rest of the semester!

Best,
Maria, Michelle, Rika, Andrew, Scott
’17 Class Officers

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Responsible Hosting During Williams Previews

Dear Students,

Williams Previews, our program for admitted students, will be held on April 24 and 25. If you are hosting one or more pre-frosh during this event, please know how grateful we are for your help.

For many of you, the quality of your overnight visit was a determining factor in your own decision to attend Williams, and it is now your turn to shape a similar experience for prospective students. To that end, you should be aware of our expectations for the hosting program, particularly with regard to the College’s alcohol and drug policy.

Williams urges students to act responsibly and in accordance with the law and the Williams Code of Conduct. Providing alcohol of any kind or quantity to underage prospective students is illegal and is not permitted by the College. We stress this policy because there are serious risks involved in not abiding by these rules. Please also be aware that any pre-frosh who chooses to engage in illegal activities puts their admission to the College in jeopardy. We are not asking you to “police” pre-frosh or make their decisions about alcohol for them. We do ask that you please use good judgment and not put pre-frosh in a position of feeling pressure to drink to “fit in”—any form of peer pressure to abuse alcohol conveys a negative image of Williams to the vast majority of prospective students.

We also ask that you keep your eyes out as active bystanders in regard to questions of consent and respect. If you observe a situation that seems to be heading in a dangerous direction, please either intervene or call for help.

Your attention to these concerns during Previews, as well as throughout the academic year, is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions about the policies referred to in this letter, please contact Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College. For assistance after hours, please call Campus Safety and Security at 413.597.4444.

Sincerely,

Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College
Dick Nesbitt, Director of Admissions

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Defining Our Values

Walking around campus, you’ll see those now-signature posters: “I Am Williams,” they proclaim. But what exactly is Williams? What should Williams be? What do we value as the Williams community?

Next Thursday and Friday in Paresky and Goodrich, we will offer the community a number of ways to share, record, or simply talk about what they value and what they think Williams values. We hope to gather thoughts from you over these two days.

Building on this effort, Ephs from every corner of campus will come together over the next year and beyond in a collaborative effort to answer those questions. We will come together to define what the Williams community is––and the values that underlie it.

With open dialogue and a variety of perspectives, we will discuss what it means to make the best of Williams. Ultimately, we plan to establish a set of concrete values that describes what we all want our Williams to be. These are not simply buzzwords: They are substantive points in a mission statement that outline and describe our common standards and ideals.

These values, the Purple Values for our Purple Valley, will be a concise and accessible list of principles to help guide our community. This effort is about the process just as much as the final product, as this will provide an opportunity for introspection.

So, please help us make this possible. We need your input to better understand our community values. We look forward to seeing you next week!

Tobias Muellers ’18 – Gargoyle Society

Michael Rubel ’19 – College Council

Chetan Patel ’18 – College Council

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Food Insecurity at Williams I

Today, a Record article was released on the administrative response to food insecurity on campus, where students purposefully choose plans with fewer meals in order to save money. The coverage is excellent! Part 1 of a 3 day discussion.

For purposes of comparing the upcoming plans with this year’s plan: Williams offers four options for meal plans that students living on campus must enroll in: 21 meals a week ($6,760 per year or assuming 24 weeks in a year, $13.41/meal), 14 a week ($6,341 or $18.79/meal), 10 a week ($5,164 or $21.51/meal) or, for seniors, 5 a week ($2,728 or $22.73/meal). Note that a sandwich, a bag of chips, and a drink from, say, Spring Street Market, is approx. $12 – lower than any one meal offered by Williams. Wow!

Key quote from Steve Klass, VP of Campus Life on “the critical goal of ensuring that no student goes hungry”:

It’s important to appreciate the centrality of this principle to our decision-making, because we recognized immediately that this meant constraining some set of choices available to students on dining plans.

Emphasis mine. Note that, according to the Record, Sophia Schmidt ’17 first brought up this issue in the fall of 2015. I don’t know what Steve Klass means by “recognized immediately”, but I suppose his definition of “immediately” is at least a year after the fact. Assume that Steve Klass is being honest and really recognized this problem “immediately.” Then why did it take the administration so long to do anything about it? (Why the competent students, who did the research for the admin to “recognize immediately” this problem, were not included in the decision-making process is the subject of another day’s discussion.)

This is concerning, because I don’t believe that Sophia Schmidt ’17 needed that survey to prove that food insecurity is a problem. Much like how swipes in and out of buildings are monitored by campus security, the meal swipes of students are monitored and recorded as well. How would Dining Services know if you used up all your meals at the end of the week, right? Implication: the College has always had the data it would have needed to “recognize immediately” that food insecurity is a problem on campus. 

So why didn’t the administration simply look at the data they already have? They could have saved Schmidt and other students the two years they spent working on this issue if they simply looked at the data they already have. Why didn’t they, if “ensuring that no student goes hungry” is a “critical goal” of the administration? Something does not smell right (and I’m not talking about Taco Tuesdays in Paresky).

But maybe I am wrong and the College does not keep data on food swipes/whether or not its students eat. Unsolicited suggestion: it should! How else will they know if their students are eating? Isn’t “ensuring that no student goes hungry” a “critical goal” of the administration? That nothing has been done until now implies either (1) that Klass/the administration on “recognizing immediately” food insecurity is as honest as Kellyanne Conway on the Bowling Green Massacre, or (2) that whoever is in charge of “the critical goal of ensuring that no student goes hungry” is incompetent to not have recognized this sooner.

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Spring Etiquette Dinner

Dear Ephs,

​Happy Wednesday! Thanks to the generosity of the Szykowny fund, OSL will be hosting ​the​ ​second Etiquette Dinner​ of the year​ to help you ​prime those dining etiquette skills!

The event will be held at the Faculty House on Tuesday, ​April ​25t​h​ from 6- 8:30 PM and will feature a four-course dinner proctored by an etiquette coach. The aim of the dinner is to provide students with a setting to practice proper etiquette skills and dinner conversations appropriate for a business or formal setting.

Please note that ​priority will be given to those wait listed for the Fall 2016 Etiquette dinner, those who have not previously attended an etiquette dinner, and those who have attended any of the Life After Williams events this month. The list of registrants will be identified the week before, with the wait list also informed. ​Those individuals who are on the wait list and are not given invitation to the Fall Etiquette dinner will get priority registration in the Spring.​

To register to attend, please fill out the following form​.​

Best,

Andrew Lyness, ’17
OSL Event Programming Intern

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Hewat House and Thompson Health Center

To the Williams community,

I am pleased to write to you today with news of a significant investment in student wellness by the college.

At their meeting last week, the trustees approved a project to renovate Hewat House, located at 100 Hoxsey St., into a home for Psychological Counseling Services (PCS).

We’ve been expanding our mental health and medical staffs and services over the past few years – including our current search for two new PCS therapists. At this time, we’ve run out of space to house everyone in Thompson Health Center, and we have therapists and health educators working from remote offices across campus. This situation doesn’t allow us to make the most of our professional team’s integrative approach to student wellness.

Hewat House and Thompson Health Center – located directly across the street from each other – will become a campus within a campus for our mental health and medical services, centralizing a team of professionals completely focused on all aspects of holistic student wellness. Once renovated, Hewat House will have enough room to co-locate our expanded PCS staff, all members of our training program, and our evolving group session program in a welcoming residential environment.

At the same time, this project will allow medical services to regain space in Thompson for more exam rooms, consult rooms, a respite room, and a meeting room. Like PCS, this will enable medical services to relocate their entire team back into the Health Center to provide fully integrated services.

I want to thank Angie Marano, director of administrative services for the Health Center; Deborah Flynn, director of medical services; Wendy Adam, director of psychological counseling services; Rita Coppola-Wallace, Executive Director, Design and Construction; and Scott Henderson, Project Manager, for their creativity and leadership on this project.

Steve Klass
Vice President for Campus Life

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Class Positions for Senior Week and Commencement Weekend

Hey Seniors!

Amazingly, we’re almost to 50 days until graduation! (54 to be exact right now…)
Thank you to everyone who nominated someone and/or voted in the election for Class Positions over the last 4-5 days! About 70% of seniors voted, which is fantastic, and every position was an incredibly tight race! You can find the winners of the election listed below!
We everyone is having the chance to enjoy the spectacular weather yesterday and today!
-Your Class Officers
 
Class Speaker – Jeffrey Rubel
Class Marshals – Elizabeth Curtis & Wilfred Guerron
Class Historian – Nico MacDougall
Class Gardener – Brett Bidstrup
Class Poet – Ariel Chu
Class Musician – Scott Daniel
Class Artist – Amalie Dougish
Class Bell-Ringer – Nathaniel Vilas
Class Toasters – Mariama Ndiaye, Tyler Duff, Troy Sipprelle, Olivia Larsen, Laura Lee
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Special Housing Considerations (SHoC) Requests for 2017-2018 Housing Now Being Accepted

Students,
 
SHoC requests are now being accepted for consideration in advance of the Housing Lottery for 2017-2018 housing. They are DUE by this coming Sunday, April 16.
 
Do NOT wait to submit a request until after the lottery numbers are run. If your situation warrants a SHoC review, submit it by April 16.
 
Requests submitted after Sunday, April 16 will NOT be reviewed in advance of the April 30 Room Draw. So, again, if you want your situation considered before the room draw, submit your SHoC request by April 16.
 
Scroll down for information about the process (it’s slightly different than during the academic year), and for the link to the form.
 
Questions? Feel free to be in touch. Thanks.
 
-Doug

 
Douglas J.B. Schiazza, Director
Office of Student Life, Williams College
413.597.4747
pronouns: he/him/his
 
General Info:

If you have a housing assignment situation that you believe cannot be addressed through participation in the General Housing Lottery & Room Draw, including interest in living in Quiet Housing in Thompson, you may submit a Special Housing Considerations Request through the online form found at this link. Applications are due by Sunday, April 16, 2017.

In order for the reviewers to determine the most appropriate response to your request, please be as thorough on the form as you can be. We realize this may require you to share personal information – please know that we are very sensitive to that, and that your information will be held confidentially and used only to inform the decision on your request.


A Note about Title IX Related Requests

If your request is related to a Title IX issue, you may opt to share your rationale for your request directly with the Title IX Coordinator (Toya Camacho), the Title IX Deputy Coordinator (Marlene Sandstrom), and/or the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (Meg Bossong), and have them speak with other reviewers on your behalf, rather than include your rationale on the form below. The form will give you that option. For more information about Title IX at Williams, click here.


The Process

Click here for a flowchart of the process. (Please note – all students in this process are considered upperclass students.)

  • Student submits the online form below.
  • The Director of the Office of Student Life (Doug Schiazza) will receive the request form via email and will determine the appropriate reviewing team. The staff as noted below will typically be the reviewers. However, additional input may be requested from others by either the Director of OSL or by the reviewing group based upon the specific request.
  • Director of OSL forwards the request via email to the reviewers.
  • Decisions (& pre-assignments for those approved) will be conveyed via email by the Housing Assignments Coordinator (Gail Rondeau Hebert) by the end of the day on Monday, April 17.
  • Those approved and their pull-ins will have until Wednesday, April 19 to confirm acceptance of their pre-assignments.

Reviewing Teams

All Reviewing Teams include the Housing Assignments Coordinator (Gail Rondeau Hebert) and the Assistant Director for Residential Life & Housing (Patty Leahey-Hays).
Additional Reviewers based on Request Type:
Documented or Documentable Disability with Long-Term or Permanent Housing Implications
+ Director of  Student Health Administrative Services (Angie Marano)
+ Director of Accessible Education (G.L.M. Wallace)
+ Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion (Toya Camacho)
Medical or Psychological Condition with Short-Term or Temporary Housing Implications
+ Director of Student Health Administrative Services (Angie Marano)
Religious Considerations
+ Chaplain to the College (Rick Spalding)
Title IX Considerations
+ Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion / Title IX Coordinator (Toya Camacho)
+ Dean of the College / Title IX Deputy Coordinator (Marlene Sandstrom)
+ Director of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (Meg Bossong)
For more information about Title IX at Williams, click here.
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Annual update on the College’s work in sexual assault, prevention and response

Dear Williams Community,

I am writing to provide this year’s update on the College’s work in sexual assault, prevention and response. As recommended by the student members of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Group (SAPA), we publish data each spring describing how our disciplinary and accountability processes have been used over the previous year. Please click here to learn more about our campus response to sexual assault, as well as our ongoing prevention work.

These response and prevention efforts represent the extensive collaboration and dedication of students, and staff and faculty from all parts of campus. Thank you for your continued commitment to addressing sexual violence. It is clear that we have much more work to do together, and I am grateful for your partnership.

Sincerely,

Marlene Sandstrom

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

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Campus Name Option

An anonymous faculty member forwarded this e-mail:

To Faculty and Staff:

Recognizing that some students may choose to be known on campus by a name other than their legal name, Williams has implemented a Campus Name option for students. By default the campus name is the legal name but current students may now request a different campus name through PeopleSoft/Student Records and the updated name will roll out to all campus systems. The incoming class of 2021 will have the opportunity to choose a campus name during their initial matriculation in May.

Where will the student’s campus name appear?

· Faculty, academic and administrative staff for the most part will only see the student’s chosen campus name. Some exceptions are noted below.

· The long email name will be updated to correspond to the campus name; the short email name will not change.

· Students with updated campus names will be issued a new campus ID card from Campus Safety and Security.

· If you are responsible for any forms collecting information from students, please revise forms as necessary to request the campus name, not the legal name.

· If you work from system generated lists, you may need to refresh the lists periodically to capture any updates to campus names.

Instances where a student may need to give you their legal name?

· Travel arrangements for courses or for extra-curricular activities may require their legal name.

· Applications for fellowships or internships through Williams may require their legal name.

· A letter of recommendation supporting an application may require their legal name.

Will a student’s legal name persist or be available on some documents?

· Student Payroll presently uses the legal name for time reporting and if you supervise students you will see their legal name. We expect that time reporting will begin using the campus name by Fall 2017.

· A student’s official transcript, issued outside Williams, will use the legal name. (Note: internal transcripts and academic progress reports will us the campus name.)

· High school and college transcripts, including study away or summer school transcripts, generally will use a student’s legal name. Previously filed petitions such as major and concentration declarations, independent study and WSP 99 forms will include the legal name unless the student has asked us to redact that information.

· Although Williams will make every effort to update a student’s campus name in a comprehensive way, there may be existing lists, forms, etc., which include a student’s legal name. With this in mind, it’s important for administrative staff, faculty and academic staff to treat existing lists and documents with sensitivity.

· A number of administrative offices require the legal name in the context of their work, but these offices will use the campus name in communications with and about students, except where the legal name is required.

The full student campus name policy is at http://web.williams.edu/admin/registrar//petitions/namechange.html. If you have questions on the details of the policy, please feel free to contact me. Faculty and staff members wishing to change their campus name should refer to the Human Resources policy at https://www.williams.edu/update-your-listing/.

Mary L. Morrison
Associate Registrar

1) Did anyone predict 10 years ago that these sorts of changes would come to Williams? Not me! What will the next ten years bring?

2) This seems fairly stupid to me. Why should the College enter such a morass? Any student has the right (and ability!) to change their name. If they do, then the College should adjust the official record. If they don’t, then just keep the legal name.

3) Comments referencing Seeing Like a State are welcome below . . .

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Respecting first responders… and each other

Williams students,

Shortly before spring break I received several reports of Williams students interfering with the medical evaluation of other students suffering from overconsumption of alcohol. In each case, individuals argued with Campus Safety staff and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and/or tried to stop them from assessing someone’s medical condition or transporting them for emergency care.

This is unacceptable. Disruptions make it difficult for the professionals to attend to someone who may urgently need their help. Few if any students have the experience needed to offer an alternative diagnosis, and certainly not when they’re impaired.

If you see a fellow student in distress, get help right away. The college has a medical amnesty policy because our greatest concern is for your safety and health. Of course, the most effective bystander intervention comes earlier in the evening, before someone becomes intoxicated.

Anyone who interferes with first responders will face consequences from the college. You may also face legal repercussions if someone suffers harm as a result of your interference.

I hope it never comes to that. Let’s work together to care for each other, and show Campus Safety and our local EMTs the respect they deserve for their hard work to keep us safe.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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Deans Instruct Prof to Move Deadlines After Election, 2

Dean Sandstrom and her assistant deans instructed a professor to move the deadline of a midterm following the election of Donald Trump last year. See the first post for our initial discussion. This is the second.

Let’s tackle a central question to this issue: why were the deans’ actions so troubling? So far I can come up with two answers.

Imagine the students who asked for these extensions are now Williams graduates working in the real world, and then in 2020, Donald Trump shocks the world again by winning a second term. The Williams graduate will think that, since Dean Sandstrom must have known what she was doing in 2016, it is totally okay for him/her to take the next day off or get an extension for a work deadline. What would the graduate’s direct manager think? What will they think of how Williams students handle these sort of situations? Unfortunately for the graduate, if the direct manager objects to a day off/deadline extension, Dean Sandstrom can no longer (I hope not!) email the direct manager to instruct them to be more lenient with the Williams graduate, because after all, that’s what she did here. What then, is our grad to do?

Herein lies the first part of the problem: by granting leniency to students because of a political election by instructing a professor to do what he otherwise said he would not, the Dean’s Office sends a message to students that their obligations, when they do not agree or feel upset with the results of a democratic election, are optional. Irresponsible! As opposed to individual professors doing this on their own (that is entirely up to them, as it is entirely up to the graduate’s boss to grant a day off/extension), Dean Sandstrom, as an administrator (ranking Dean of the College!), puts the weight of Williams behind this remarkable thinking.

Alternatively, EphBlog has consistently reported the trend of declining faculty governance in the College, even against Adam Falk’s claims that this is not the case, in several posts. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It is hard to diagnose a problem without observing symptoms, then at the very least this is almost certainly what a runny nose is to the common cold! In a campus where decision making power is NOT consolidated by administrators, there wouldn’t be deans who find it acceptable to explicitly instruct professors how to do their jobs in this way following an election.

A commentator in the previous post brought up that a majority of professors want the deans to be able to adjudicate on issues with students, and that is not unreasonable! A (supposedly) objective third party with institutional memory should, in principle, be good at mediating disputes when they arise. My sense is that such disputes between students and professors that are adjudicated by the Dean’s Office arrive at a resolution that the professor and the Dean’s office, if not all parties, agree to. The outcomes are either a compromise between the student and the professor (mediated by the Dean’s Office) or adherence to the professor’s standing policy, because at the end of the day, it is the professor’s class, not the deans’. At least, to the best of my judgment from my own experience and the experience of classmates with the Dean’s Office, that is how issues are resolved. So why did the deans do differently here? Do Dean Sandstrom and her assistant deans think they can do a better job of teaching than Williams professors can? I certainly hope not, but that is what their actions say!

What do readers think?

As usual, any tips can be sent to concerned.ephs@gmail.com. Future generations of Ephs (starting with the class of 2021) will thank you!

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Williams video for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

To the Williams community,

In my February campus message I affirmed that Williams is continuing our efforts to prevent and respond to campus sexual violence. In honor of April as National Sexual Assault Awareness month we’ve produced a short video expressing the spirit of the college’s prevention and response work.

This work is some of our most important. As Dean Sandstrom says on camera, students can only take full advantage of the education we’ve promised to provide if they’re living in safe and secure conditions. The video features a few among the many efforts by Williams staff, students, faculty, alumni and parents to provide those conditions. 

During this month of national awareness, I want to thank all of you who are contributing time and energy to the cause of ending campus sexual violence. If you’re not yet involved, I hope the video will help you think about how you can join us in making Williams a safer and better learning place for everyone.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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Deans Instruct Prof to Move Deadlines After Election, 1

For what reasons would the College administrators cancel classes or grant extensions for academic requirements? I personally have never had an exam moved, and I’ve only had class cancelled once, and that was only because my professor was so sick that she could not rise out of bed (first time she’s cancelled class in 10 years. Reasonable!). Otherwise, I have no memory of the college administrators cancelling a class or moving requirements at Williams. You would think this is rare and never happens, but fortunately for future historians, a member of the class of 2019 provides us with an example:

Dear Concerned Eph ’17,

Thank you so much for doing what you’re doing. It’s finally time that the administration answers for its malfeasance. I have one: when Donald Trump was elected, many students were really upset by the result that many professors and deans allowed students to skip class because of how they felt, or (shockingly) because they stayed up watching the election. What is egregious, in my opinion, is the specific actions of the Dean’s Office. I was in MATH 341: Probability that semester, being taught by Professor Steven Miller. That week, we happened to be in the middle of a takehome period (Prof. Miller assigned a 30 hour take home to be completed anytime that week), and following the election, many of these upset students asked for an extension (even though we had a week for a test that took just ONE day!!!). Professor Miller did not initially grant these, because what basis did they have, right? Trump won, and while you may not agree (I personally wish the election had gone another way), but it’s no excuse not to do work or move on. These students, however, appealed to the Dean’s Office, and as a result, they actually told Professor Miller to move the deadline/grant extensions for his midterm. How do I know this? Professor Miller said “any extension will come from the deans” and the students who complained got their extensions. One classmate told me that it was all sorted out once her complaints reached Dean Sandstrom.

Is this something we can do now when someone we don’t like gets elected? This is ANOTHER example of the Dean’s Office showing explicit, preferential treatment in the form of BREAKING ACADEMIC POLICY (when does Williams ever cancel or move exams?!) to coddle students it agrees with. The Dean’s Office does way more than just banning speakers. I strongly believe this undermines the point of a Williams education.

Please continue revealing these irresponsible actions by that office.

Best,

Pissed Off Eph ’19

Emphasis mine. Thank you, Pissed Off Eph, for your tip and for allowing me to publish this in full. This email speaks for itself and hits all the right points. I will need more than one post to unpack this fully. This is the first.

I have independently confirmed with classmates I know who took MATH 341 last semester, and, this actually happened. As a member of the Williams community I am embarrassed that the Dean’s Office acted like this. And I thought that the email Dean of Faculty Denise Buell encouraging professors to do this was already bad. I did not expect that the Dean’s Office would go so far to actually tell a professor how to do his job.

Questions:

  1. With Dean of Faculty Denise Buell’s emails and the Dean’s Office’s actions, it seems reasonable to say this likely happened in more than just one class with more than just one professor. In which other classes did the deans explicitly instruct professors to cancel class/move requirement deadlines following last year’s election? Please let me know at concerned.ephs@gmail.com so we can catalog this.
  2. Who in the Dean’s Office issued this order (or orders, if this happened more than once)? Was it Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom, as Pissed Off Eph implies, or was it Dean of Faculty Denise Buell, who sent the email that encouraged this behavior in the first place? Is this the kind of behavior we can expect from the leaders of the Williams administration?
  3. Did this happen in any other peer university?To the best of my research/knowledge, nothing of this sort (administrators telling professors how to do their jobs) happened in any other NESCAC or Ivy League college. In fact, in Columbia, the deans there explicitly told students they would not be instructing professors to move deadlines/grant extensions/whatever after students appealed to them. If the administrators at Columbia and elsewhere decided not to do this, then why did the Dean’s Office here decide on the complete opposite?

What do our readers think of the deans’ actions?

This reporting is made possible by tips from the Williams community, and future generations of Ephs are that much better for these. If you have any stories like these that deserve to see the light of day, shoot me an email at concerned.ephs@gmail.com!

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Recent Int’l Graduates Concern with Dean’s Office, 3/3

UPDATE: Assistant Dean of International Student Services Ninah Pretto informed recent intl graduates in Economics on Thursday morning (several emails/phone calls later and after she promised a decision on Monday, four days ago) that they can apply for STEM extensions. Hooray! Psychology, however, is still not classified as STEM.

Fellow current students have pointed out a concern recent international Williams graduates are having with Dean’s Office, specifically on the reclassification of the Economics major as STEM and its implications. We’re spending three posts talking about it. Find the first discussion here and the second here. This is the third post. Consider the comments of the Facebook discussion on this issue:

Screenshot (25) redacted

If you count, that’s a total of 76 (!) likes, among which at least 53 are from distinct individuals. That’s quite a number of Facebook likes!

Although names are blacked out (for fear of retribution, a very real concern among students!), eight different students and recent alumni took part in the discussion. Let’s consider some of our fellow Ephs’ comments in light of this issue:

I called them last year to see if econ could be considered STEM, and basically got stonewalled.

Around this time (spring) last year, Williams did not yet have Dean Pretto (she joined May 2016) and Sarah Bolton was still Dean of the College, so we must assume this ’15 alum spoke to someone who reported to the latter. Can we excuse the stonewalling during this period (spring ’16) in light of the departure of former Dean Jenifer Hasenfus? Possibly, but also possibly not! We will investigate. What is clear, however, is that the recurrence (twice so far, and thrice by next week!) of ignoring the concerns of international students suggests that these instances are not isolated, but are part of a pattern of behavior that the Williams administration displays towards international students. 

“basically got stonewalled” – said everyone who’s dealt w the dean’s office

“Stonewalled” seems to be making its rounds. Tell us more at concerned.ephs@gmail.com, or join EphBlog as an author and talk about it!

In perhaps an even more disturbing comment…

Bro any lobbying I can do, if you need something written, want to get a cis white male signature, anything, let me know. Let’s chill soon.

The request to chill aside, this commentator suggests that if someone wants something done at the Dean’s Office, it will require the involvement of a”cis white male” at Williams. Is this true? Another commentator (a similar “cis white male” at Williams) who replies “Same here–how can we lobby Williams College?” suggests so. If this is true, for a college administration that likes to brag so much about how “diverse” its students and faculty are, this is very hypocritical behavior. Students certainly think this is true, so EphBlog will continue to investigate!

Deans office is utterly useless. Literally never get anywhere with them; best bet is to get some profs on board and have them help lobby you too. Then maybe petition the CAS.

“Utterly useless” is quite strong language! Is this characterization accurate? More pertinently, does this comment, in light of the previous one, suggest that if anyone wants anything done by the Dean’s Office, the involvement of professors and “cis white males” is required? I personally do not think so (and have seen otherwise) but again in light of these disturbing suggestions, EphBlog will continue to investigate. The commentator also mentions the CAS or Committee on Academic Standing, which by itself is a hotbed of student and faculty concerns… More on that soon!

Finally, in the most damning comment in this thread (at least in my opinion),

The deans are very frequently “out of the office,” particularly if they know it is going to be an unpleasant phone call/ conversation… It’s an ongoing problem with an administration completely unwilling to have challenging conversations.

This comment was made by a current student who is not an international student. Two questions: (1) Does this pattern of behavior – ignoring students – when conversations become challenging extend to non-international students as well? This commentator, who describes this as an “ongoing problem” (pattern!) suggest so! (2) Beyond simply suggesting that the Dean’s Office has a pattern/ongoing problem of stonewalling, this commentator actually tells us how the Dean’s Office stonewalls students – by being frequently “out of office”. Why would components of the Dean’s Office require to be out of campus so often as the commentator suggests? Don’t their jobs concern students – who are very much on campus during the school year? What reasons do they have for being out of campus? Is it really about having “challenging conversations”? Perhaps, but perhaps not! Fellow classmates (four so far!) suggest that Associate Dean of First Years David Johnson is known for having a number of dental appointments a year. Current students and recent alums, a request: please let EphBlog know whenever a Dean is “out of office” so we can ascertain exactly how often our Deans are not in their offices.

Thanks to tips from current students, professors, and recent graduates sent to concerned.ephs@gmail.com, we already have several of these stories – the subject of future posts! – but we naturally welcome more in our attempts to investigate the persistence of this pattern of behavior. Future generations of Ephs will thank you for a more transparent, more accountable Williams!

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Recent Int’l Graduates Concern with Dean’s Office, 2/3

Fellow current students have pointed out a concern recent international Williams graduates are having with Dean’s Office, specifically on the reclassification of the Economics major as STEM and its implications.  We’re spending three posts talking about it. The first post discusses troubling decision making by the assistant dean for international student services, Ninah Pretto. This is the second post. Consider the original Facebook post that started this (full FB discussion with comments can be found in the first post):

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The original poster, confirmed by the Dean’s Office, stated that the Economics major has been reclassified as STEM by the Williams administration. Consider the list of majors/academic fields considered STEM that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement) maintains. A cursory search will show that general Economics is not considered a STEM subject, only “Quantitative Economics/Econometrics” and “Pharmaeconomics/Pharmaceutical Economics.” Since Williams has newly designated its Economics major as STEM, we can reasonably conclude that the Economics major must have significantly changed to be more quantitative in nature from previous years to warrant this.

Consider the course catalogs from SY 2015-16 and the current school year’s. For the sake of completeness, here is SY 2014-2015, SY 2013-s014, and SY 2012-2013. Checking is left as an exercise to the reader, but a brief summary of what you’ll find: no substantial changes in the Williams Economics major!

Let’s repeat that: there have been no material changes in the Economics major year on year since at least 2012. In other words, it is no more quantitative now than it was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, and five years ago. Last I checked (March 29 2017), Williams has a major in Economics, not in Econometrics/Quantitative Economics/Pharmaeconomics/Pharmaceutical Economics. Princeton, which reclassified its Economics major to STEM, has a math-track Economics major. Williams does not.

Questions/concerns:

  1. Is Williams violating the law by designating its Economics major as a STEM major when it clearly is not? It would seem that this decision is at best, deceptive, and at worst, illegal, especially since this decision has far reaching consequences in terms of visas and immigration for international students.
  2. Recall that Dean Ninah Pretto explicit stated that ultimate determination of this policy rests with Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom. Taking Dean Pretto on her word, we must ask: why did Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom reclassify Economics as a STEM major when it clearly is not? What went into this decision?
  3. In the official list of STEM majors, there are 10 (compared to Econ’s two!) fields of psychology – ranging from social psychology to neuroscience – that count as STEM. Does Williams classify psychology, whose concentrations and subject matter adhere to the official list, as a STEM major? Current psychology majors tell us that no, Williams does not consider psychology as a STEM subject! This begs the question: why not? Clearly, according to the federal bureau that regulates F-1 visas, psychology is a STEM field. 
  4. Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom is a psychology professor! In fact, she is the Hales Professor of Psychology of Williams. So why did Dean Sandstrom classify Economics as STEM and Psychology as not STEM? It seems far fetched to suggest that her expertise in psychology is lacking, so this begs the more troubling question: have either Dean Sandstrom or Dean Pretto read the official list of STEM majors, or do they just haphazardly make these types of decisions? Their actions thus far suggest the latter.
  5. On a related matter, members of the Psychology Student Advisory Board report that there have been efforts to change the division classification of psychology to Div 3, but, notably, they report that psychology professors have said that “there is no way this would happen for psychology if it did not happen for economics first.” The college course catalog still classifies Economics as Div 2, but curiously, changed its designation as STEM, although it is no more quantitative than it was a year (and more!) ago when it wasn’t STEM. However, psychology, which clearly falls under fields considered STEM by the ICE, does not enjoy STEM status. Why? 

I offer an intelligent guess that is not without precedent1: Economics is the most popular major in the college and among international students. If I were a prospective international student who wants to major in economics in the United States, as most who come here do, I would certainly want to go to a school (thus pay tuition) that would allow me to maximize my post-college employment opportunities in the United States. At least two reports on the distribution of GPAs and academic major difficulty suggest Math and Physics are much harder than Economics. So, instead of breaking my back in Real Analysis, I can just take Intermediate Macroeconomics and reap the benefits of a STEM major for my career – wonderful! Too bad for Psychology – even if it is a real STEM field, it just isn’t popular enough at Williams! 

Whatever the motivations of this policy change is, one thing is clear: whoever is making these decisions certainly leaves much to be desired by way of consistency and transparency!

 

1Recall from the first discussion that the Dean’s Office and Dean Ninah Pretto initially stonewalled and/or rejected requests from international student graduates, who no longer pay Williams tuition.

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Greetings Ephland

I am an alum who is concerned with the path Williams has chosen, and where it has led. The Williams I read about today, with massive distrust in the administration among both students and alumni, barely resembles the school I once knew.

As is so often the case, I believe the problem is a financial one.  Not due to lack, but the reverse. Williams has been awash in cash for a long time, but the success of the current administration in bringing in the bucks is unparalleled in Williams history. And so the shiny new buildings go up, up, up. But the consequence is that every decision, and every analysis leading up to that decision, is filtered through a financial prism. Which path will least impact the College, which is to say, its balance sheet?

Not exactly an environment conducive to “doing the right thing”. I think it’s time that changed.

I am new to EphBlog and will be writing under the pseudonym JB Pratt ’98. Here’s some info on the real JB Pratt if you’re interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bissett_Pratt.

More soon.

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Recent Int’l Graduates Concerns with Dean’s Office, 1/3

Fellow current students have pointed out a concern recent international student graduates are having with Dean’s Office. Consider a Facebook discussion on the matter:

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There are many statements here to unpack (especially the comments!). Let’s focus on the concern that the original poster focuses on in this first of three discussions.

Some context: international students at Williams are on the F-1 student visa, and among its stipulations is that such students are given a 12 month “optional practical training” or OPT period post-graduation to legally work in the country. However, if one declares a STEM major, that one year is extensible to three. This also gives international student graduates in STEM majors three chances at applying for work visa (a lottery with a ~25% chance of success each year) to stay longer, if that’s what they want, as opposed to just one if the student had declared a non-STEM major.

Following in the footsteps of institutions like Princeton, the original poster reports that Williams is now categorizing the college’s Economics major as a STEM major, incidentally the most popular major among international students in the college. However, unlike Princeton, which allowed international student graduates in Economics to be retroactively categorized as STEM (thus allowing them a couple extra years to work), Williams has rejected such requests from graduates of the class of 2015 and 2016. In initial emails with Dean Ninah Pretto, the new Assistant Dean for International Student Services, where students/graduates cite Princeton’s example (and material evidence of this!), she immediately rejects these requests without providing any explanation. Students and graduates, however, pressed on emailing, restating evidence from Princeton to which Dean Ninah relented. She states that she is “afraid” of retroactively applying this policy to graduates, but that she would call Princeton today. She also states that the final authority rests with Dean Marlene Sandstrom.

As this post went to press, no update has arrived from the Dean’s Office.

Some questions:

  1. Is it Dean Ninah Pretto’s personal policy to not explain decisions she makes that materially affect the lives of Williams students/graduates? The comments suggest this is endemic to the whole Dean’s Office, but that is another long (but related) discussion to have.
  2. Is it not Dean Ninah Pretto’s job to check these policies ahead of time so she wouldn’t be “afraid” of doing anything? Clearly she had nothing to be “afraid” of, since Princeton was able to do this.
  3. If she were truly “afraid” of retroactively applying this policy to recent international graduates of the college, she would have checked before making such a unilateral decision on policy, which is what she did! So, why did she unilaterally reject the initial requests?
  4. To that point, does Dean Ninah Pretto have this unilateral authority? If so, what decisions can she unilaterally make for international students? Current and future international students would appreciate a list for future reference.
  5. If the students/graduates did not press Dean Pretto, would it be entirely possible that this issue would’ve just gone away and recent international graduates wouldn’t receive any fair treatment? My guess is that yes, it would’ve just been dropped, based on the experience of my peers. Thankfully, they kept pressing, or she might never have considered doing her job!
  6. In one of her latest emails to international students, Dean Ninah states: “As your International Student Advisor, I want to reiterate my commitment to serving and supporting each and every one of you. Again, this country is made up of immigrants from all over the world and they make the U.S. a unique and amazing place.” If this is truly her position, does Dean Pretto believe that recent international graduates are less deserving of her commitment to serve and support? What criteria does she use to make this determination? Again, current and future international students would certainly like to know.

What do fellow classmates/EphBlog readers think?

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Hello, EphBlog! – Concerned Ephs ’17 (and ’18, and ’19, and so forth)

The first time I came to Williams was the fall before my freshman year – my eighth stop in my college tour, and by then, I’d discovered that the best way to truly learn about a school, skeletons included, wasn’t through admissions tours or glossy brochures, but by dropping in on a class, looking at the person beside me, shaking my head, and declaring “Oh my god, I heard that problem set was so hard.” Fortunately (for me at least) this proved quite effective when I visited because it happened to be midterm season then. I sat in a physics lecture, looked to my right, and said: “Oh my god, I heard that midterm was so hard.” The girl seated beside me, Jaime, enlarged her eyes and nodded in agreement, and to my delight, began speaking in earnest, generous detail about her packed (to put it lightly) week: a dance show just three days for which she had daily rehearsals, some RA work that was due with the statistics department, planning a surprise birthday for her entrymate (Willy D!), holding office hours for a CS class she was TA-ing, and, of course, the lab element of her physics midterm. Jaime looked exhausted and sleep deprived, and had the bloodshot eyes to prove it. As she was about to say more, to my surprise Jaime stopped herself and shrugged: “Sorry, I shouldn’t be complaining. Forget what I just said.” Perplexed with this realization following her rant, I asked her what she meant. “Everyone at Williams is so lucky to be here. Sometimes it gets overwhelming but what makes this all so worth it, what makes this place unique I guess, is that everyone really cares.” She packed up her things, and in the face of a mountain of commitments the following day, proceeded to old Sawyer, where her tutee would be waiting. I was sold – no one in any other school said anything remotely as powerful.

It didn’t take long after I first arrived to realize how true Jaime’s words (and so, so much more!) are. Coming from the other side of the world, coming to Williams was a huge leap of faith; now, some years later, my roots are firmly planted in this fertile, Purple Valley. Some of my most cherished memories and most powerful moments include the all nighters I spent with fellow classmates studying for that last bio final in Science Quad; the conversations I’d have with professors-turned-mentors, where their passions exude in their excitement; the many times I’ve seen both friends and strangers drop everything to help a fellow classmate in need. As time went by, the four years here I once considered a mere stepping stone slowly became an end unto itself. As with the many who read and write for this blog, I’ve come attribute much of who I am today to the people I’ve met, befriended, learned from, and mentored (you go full circle at Williams!), and the ideas that I’ve explored with them here in the Purple Valley.

It’s for these very reasons that I, along with two friends from the class of ’18 and ’19, have taken to EphBlog as students who are very concerned with the state of matters in the college. As our affinity and affection for Williams grew, so did our awareness of the institution and internal workings behind the name. As many of my fellow upperclassmen will agree, the more time one spends at Williams, the more one begins to notice the disturbing cracks in the well: fellow classmates unceremoniously ignored or stonewalled by administrators, the rude and unfair treatment of students who want to start clubs (some elements of Williams make this shockingly difficult if they do not agree with you!), backwards and arbitrary use of policy, rampant and potentially systemic Honor Code violations, and so much more! It was a deeply sad and distressing moment for all of us when we realized that the Williams to which we aspired wasn’t the Williams we thought it was.

Unfortunately, Williams students are not ideally placed to solve, let alone notice, these problems. We students come and go every year, the Record is unable to report anything substantive (for good reason, which we’ll get to in a future post!), and no student will have any reasonable measure of institutional memory to draw on. What’s more is that in our efforts to get answers to issues, it’s been made quite clear to us that there is no place for questions, debate, and opinions (esp. if you do not agree with Williams) in the Purple Valley. Sometimes, these concerns may initially seem isolated to individual cases. However, as we began investigating and hearing more and more Hopkins Horror Stories (as they’re known among students) and other disturbing events from fellow students and professors, patterns just as perturbing started emerging that we could no longer ignore – especially since many of them are quite structural (and thus here to stay) in nature! Many of our professors, especially those who’ve been here longer, pointed (some willingly, most unwillingly) to EphBlog as a means of cataloging, reporting, discussing, and connecting these issues – where else can Williams students earnestly, meaningfully do this? It’s our hope that these efforts help usher a more transparent, fairer Williams that all of us can proudly call their alma mater. At the end of the day, we all play a role in shaping what Williams is, and what we ultimately want it to become.

All this said, though, we also love talking about issues at Williams separate from these concerns – to alums, please let us know what you’d like to hear! We’re very into Ephs doing cool things (so we’ll post a bit about that every now and then!), career advice for younger underclassmen (such as getting that internship), and which classes to take/professors to meet. Otherwise, if you have any tips or issues you’d like to discuss (other current students especially!), shoot us an email at concerned.ephs@gmail.com – we would love to hear from all Ephs!

Happy Friday!

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Enjoy Spring Break

But, don’t worry! EphBlog will still have new material every weekday.

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Enrolled Student Survey

Thanks to ace Institutional Research Analyst James Cart ’05 for sharing a copy (pdf) of the 2017 enrolled student survey (ESS) with EphBlog. Much appreciated! James points out that this survey is administered by COFHE, with more information available here. Comments:

1) Yeah, transparency! The more transparent that Williams is, the better. Kudos to Cart, his boss Courtney Wade, her boss Dukes Love, and his boss Adam Falk.

2) Sadly, EphBlog has provided very poor coverage of COFHE surveys/data over the years. Partly, this is because the data is not publicly available. But, surely there is a whistleblower who would share it with us . . .

3) What data from the ESS would you most like to see?

4) Is it worth a few days to go through the survey in detail?

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Whittle ’17 Missing

From David Boyer on March 8:

To the Williams campus community,

Earlier today the college learned that a current student, Nathaniel Whittle ’17, was missing from campus. Staff and family are trying to determine his whereabouts. Nathaniel owns a 2013 Gray Toyota Tacoma truck with Texas license number CBJ0333, and local authorities are extending the search beyond campus.

We are concerned about Nathaniel and ask your help to make sure he is safe. If you have information that may aid the search, or if you have been in contact with Nathaniel since last Friday, March 3, please call the Williamstown Police at 413-458-5733 or Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444 immediately. We will share further information with campus if appropriate.

Nathaniel’s directory picture is below.

whittle

Hopes and prayers for Whittle, his family and friends.

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First Lyceum of Spring Semester: 3/15/17!

Dear fellow Ephs,

Spring is in the air but the weather is still as brutal as always. Why not take a professor or staff member to a nice dinner and get to know them a bit better before Spring Break?

The Nutting Family cordially invites you to ask a professor or staff member (administration, chaplains, health services, Davis Center, campus life, CSS, facilities, dining services, etc.) to a partially subsidized, three-course meal at the Faculty Club for this special dinner. This Lyceum Dinner will be held at the Faculty House at 6:45 pm on Wednesday, March. 15th, 2017

Due to popular demand and to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules, this dinner will be flexible in terms of how many people can be in each party. 1, 2, 3… up to 7 students may invite any ONE member of the faculty or staff to dinner. (We are trying this out still so things may revert in the future.)

Another important clarification: if selected to attend Lyceum, it WILL take away your meal swipe for dinner on 3/15/2017. If you are a senior and not on a meal plan, don’t worry you can still attend! Just clarify on the form that you don’t have a meal plan and the Nutting Fund will also cover your meal!

Spaces are given on a first-come, first-served basis, with preferences given to:

1) those with parties of 4 (3 students and 1 faculty/staff)

2) those who have not yet attended a Lyceum dinner

The entrée options for this dinner are:

-Honey Glazed Grilled Salmon with cranberry relish

-Mustard Crumb Chicken

-Vegetable Strudel

As always, forward a confirmation email from your guest; your registration will not be considered until we receive the guest’s confirmation email.

The online registration form will close as soon as all spaces have been filled. If you have any questions, please email WilliamsLyceum@gmail.com.

Cordially,

Lyceum Coordinator

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Overheard at Paresky: MORE Court Documents?!

(Hi everyone! I’m concerned eph, a member of the class of ’17 and your newest EphBlog author! Introduction post to follow – meanwhile, here’s the beginning of a new EphBlog series entitled “Overheard at Paresky”, where we’ll be discussing concerns of current students! Any news, tips, or leads you want to share, drop a comment or shoot me an email at concernedeph17 at gmail dot com!)

As two students enjoy their honey-nut buns on the bench outside Lee’s on a warm, sunny day:

Dude, I read the newest court documents on that sexual assault lawsuit. Did you see that part where there’s an actual ******* whistleblower that said they actually train committee members by telling them that the college’s rep is #1, like how disgusting is that, and that they just do whatever they want…

Indeed – an accurate account! Find the quote in the court documents here. While the skeptical among us may not be inclined to believe the words of one whistleblower, consider this quote from Dean Dave Johnson in John Doe’s original filing:

63. On March 8, 2016, Dean Johnson admitted to John and John’s sister, Lady Doe, that the disciplinary process is “unfair to students” and that the procedures are deliberately written in a way that allows Williams to maneuver itself in its favor. Johnson also stated that Pelaez should not have been aware of the outcome of the hearing or the likelihood of an appeal.

Corroboration! … or is Dean Johnson the whistleblower? Now we know that there’s an unfair adjudication process for students that at least one well respected, senior Dean knows about it.

And yet, still, here we are? *Sigh* More posts on this to come.

To the next point and to be fair, the administration does have a crucial responsibility to uphold the college’s reputation. Williams’ reputation is an asset – it’s how we all get jobs and into grad school! In fact, I am sure many of us came here because of the school’s reputation as an excellent institution of higher education. Even against the backdrop of a dodgy administration, Williams is a wonderful college filled with great and caring professors and staff and awesome students and kind alums, all of whom are very intelligent. Interestingly, though, because this issue is now, well, a lawsuit (hence public), Hopkins Hall did not even meet its supposedly greatest one priority! Instead, prospective students (and their parents!) will now be able to see and smell all our ghastly, dirty laundry. Gross!

Would readers be interested in more student perspectives on the current sexual assault lawsuit? The Record, unfortunately, doesn’t have much, but I am more than happy to pick up the slack!

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Affirming our commitment to Title IX, inclusion, and each other

To the Williams community,

In recent weeks I’ve been asked whether possible changes in the government’s approach to Title IX will affect our work at Williams. Initially these questions focused on sexual assault prevention. In response to recent national news, people are now also asking about our commitment to inclusion of transgender students, faculty and staff.

Uncertainty can be worrying. So I want to reassure you on both points. We’re going to do everything we can to guarantee the wellbeing of everyone in our community. That’s because our efforts have always been and will continue to be motivated by respect for each other as people, not by the fear of government sanction.

With that in mind I want to start by reaffirming unambiguously that our trans students, faculty and staff are deeply valued members of the Williams community. It’s our job to make sure that everyone feels welcome here and enjoys the full benefits of that membership. That includes, but is hardly limited to, the absolute right of trans members of our community to use bathrooms and other facilities that accord with their identity.

And to all those concerned about the future of Title IX and sexual assault prevention, I assure you that we’re going to continue and intensify those efforts, not retreat from them.

Williams students, staff, faculty and alumni have made important progress in that regard. Much of their work was described in the spring 2015 issue of Williams Magazine, “Standing Strong Together.” Numerous resources and information are also available on our Title IX website, as well as through the Dean of the College and the Davis Center. If you’ve experienced assault or bias, or want help for any reason, please reach out in the way that feels right to you.

Our work cannot and will not stop. So I also want to make sure we consistently communicate about where we’re succeeding and where we’re running into challenges. With that in mind you’ll be receiving a steady stream of reports and updates starting this semester. They’ll include news about a grant to support prevention strategies around campus social events as well as Dean Sandstrom’s annual report on outcomes from the previous year’s sexual misconduct processes.

My goal in this message isn’t to pretend we’ve become perfectly inclusive or solved the problem of sexual violence—we haven’t. There’s always more to be done. And it needs to be done in an equitable, accessible and transparent manner. I’m profoundly grateful to Toya Camacho, Meg Bossong ’05, the Davis Center, RASAN, Men for Consent, our alumni advocates and everyone else who’s been involved in the work so far. If you’re not engaged in those efforts and would like to do more, please talk to Toya, Meg or our student leaders about how you can help. It’s going to take all of us to support our trans friends and colleagues and prevent sexual assault and violence at Williams.

As you know, policies often shift from one Washington administration to the next. Fortunately, we don’t have to passively wait for direction. Instead, we turn to our mission and values to guide us in times of uncertainty and change. This is an important moment to heed our conscience and to show the deep care and concern for each other that defines Williams.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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Renaming Horn Hall

Activist students want to rename Horn Hall:

Students are convening an emergency TOWN HALL MEETING at 8:30 PM on Thursday [March 2] to rename Horn Hall.

We will provide a brief 10 minute rundown of Joey Horn’s recent conviction of abuse of workers and the administration’s disturbing response. Then, the space will be opened up for suggestions about what to rename Horn Hall. Perhaps we should choose an amazing alum or professor who has committed their life to fighting for justice and a better world. At the end of the meeting, we will vote on a new name. Though this meeting is organized by students, we invite any staff, faculty, and members of the community to participate.

This a direct action in response to the fact that the College has decided to go through with naming the new dorm after Trustee Horn despite her recent conviction. This makes Horn Hall one of several Williams buildings named after problematic figures. Since the administration won’t engage with us or rename the building, we are taking matters into our own hands and finding a new name for the building for the present moment. This is not about choosing the perfect or permanent name for the building. We seek to fuel further interrogation of other problematic (including racist and slave-owning) figures memorialized on Williams campus and, most critically, address the oppressive systems which are the legacy of some of these figures, both within the institution and outside of it.

The town hall meeting will last one hour. Following the meeting, we will all march to the newly named building for a ribbon cutting ceremony and a pizza celebration. Join us for as long or short as you can, and spread the word! If you have questions, comments, or want to help plan this effort, email divestwilliamscollege@gmail.com.

1) “other problematic (including racist and slave-owning) figures memorialized on Williams campus”? Details, please. Williams, unlike Yale, seems remarkably bereft of problematic historical associations.

2) Who is paying for the “pizza celebration?” Nothing wrong with pizza, or celebrations, for that matter. But any good Record reporter should figure this out. If I were a trustee, I would have no issues with Williams students protesting my decisions, but I would ask Adam Falk if the college should really be subsidizing such activities.

3) It is interesting how connected these various causes are, even though there seems no obvious reason why someone involved with Divestment should care about Horn Hall or why someone involved with either should be working with CTA, whose main (praise-worthy!) issue is greater trustee transparency. Is there a common factor of sticking-it-to-the-Man which motivates all these campaigns?

4) If we are going to rename Horn Hall, then the best choice is Krissoff Hall.

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Student Letter on Horn

From our friends at the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability comes this letter (pdf) to Adam Falk and the trustees about Trustee Joey Horn ’87.

We are deeply disturbed by the recent conviction of Trustee Joey Shaista Horn and her husband by the Oslo District Court for violating the Immigration Act (of Norway). The couple had illegally hired two au pairs and subjected them to illegal and unjust working conditions from 2011 to 2014 , as reported by several Norwegian media outlets.

How about a shout out to EphBlog!? The CTA did not find that article on its own. [If anything, EphBlog owes CTA a shout out since it was CTA member Linda Worden ’19 who first found the article. Thanks to commentators for pointing this out.]

We have questions and demand answers:

● When was Williams College made aware of the investigation, the trial, and the conviction?
● Why did Williams College fail to notify the community about this pending investigation?
● If the College was aware of this investigation, why did the College feel it was appropriate to open Horn Hall with its current name?
● Will Trustee Joey Shaista Horn continue to serve on the Board of Trustees?

We demand that the College develop a clear plan for ensuring transparency and accountability from Trustees in the future.

The CTA deserves credit for highlighting the timing of the initial indictment in 2014. This scandal has been percolating for a long time. (And EphBlog is embarrassed to not have covered it until now.) However, CTA has also demonstrated a childish inability to accomplish anything of use and/or to work with its natural allies. (That is, it refuses to follow my excellent advice.) However, I am still happy to answer their questions:

1) Joey probably let the College know about this issue back when she was indicted. At least, I hope she did.

2) The College is not in the business of keeping “the community” updated on every imbroglio that its trustees (or its faculty or its major donors or its students) get involved in. That would be stupid! Would the CTA want Williams to send out a news release every time a student is arrested by the local cops, a news release with the students name? I hope not!

3) Donors get to name things. How naive are the students behind the CTA? Moreover, at the time of the naming, the Horns had not yet been found guilty. And they still might win on appeal. And, even in the worse case that they spend a few months in jail, I (and Williams?) do not see that conviction as such an egregious sin that a building renaming would be required.

4) Horn will continue to serve on the trustees. She is a good person who did one bad thing. I initially thought that Horn would stay on the Trustees. I was wrong. Did the CTAs letter play a role in her resignation? The Record should try and find out.

By the way, the politics of this situation are interesting. The CTA is, obviously, packed with social justice warriors. So, why were they trying to get rid of one of the few women of color on the Trustees? Why were they attacking Horn for, more or less, employing an illegal immigrant in Norway?

Is the CTA the Williams beachhead for Trump? Prosecute and shame the employers of illegal immigrants!

The good (?) news is that the Horn case is bringing together Ephs who normally disagree. Consider former Williams professor John Drew’s take:

From my perspective, the more pertinent issue is whether or not the U.S. and Williams College are ready for the globalist values of Joey Horn 87′. As a matter of integrity, Williams College should return their gift and allow someone else, someone with better and more humane values, have the honor of their name on that building. Simple as that. If Williams fails to take action, the students on campus should begin protesting this outrage.

If the CTA — social justice warriors (almost) all — and John Drew — perhaps the most outspoken member of the vast right wing conspiracy, Eph division — all agree that Horn Hall should be renamed then . . . well, I guess that I am not sure what follows from that . . . But is sure is nice to see CTA/Drew agree on something!

UPDATE: Today’s Record article is stunningly good. Kudos to reporters Nicholas Goldrosen and William Newton. Read the whole thing.

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Horn ’87 Resigns from Board of Trustees

From the Office of the President:

Resignation of Trustee Joey Shaista Horn ’87

Feb. 17, 2017: Joey Shaista Horn ’87 resigned from the Board of Trustees, effective Feb. 16, citing the need to focus on personal matters. Michael Eisenson ’77, Chairman of the Board, thanked Joey for her extensive and committed service to the college and said, “We are sad to lose Joey from the board and grateful for the many ways that she contributed to the work of the board and to the health of the college.”

1) Thanks to class of ’15 and WA for the tip.

2) Does EphBlog share some of the blame here? That is, would Horn have resigned if we had not published the story? I don’t know. The timing certainly suggests that this is true, since the resignation came the day after we published. Moreover, the underlying news — the guilty verdict — came out more than two weeks ago. Did Horn fail to inform the College? Or did she inform Williams, but Falk and the trustees hoped that the story would never come to light? Surely, someone knows the inside story . . .

3) How was the message distributed, if at all, to the Williams community? In particular, did an all-campus message come out? If not, how did WA and class of ’15 come across it?

4) Is the College doing its best to keep this news from spreading? For example, consider this search:

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Normally, a search of the opening phrase of a Williams news release pulls up that release as its first hit. Is the College using some robots.txt-fu to keep this news hidden from the world? Should it?

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Williams Trustee Sentenced to Jail

When was the last time a Williams trustee was sentenced to jail? Two weeks ago!

The Oslo City Court has sentenced a wealthy Norwegian investor and his wife to five months in prison each, in a case that has highlighted abuse of Norway’s au pair program. It’s supposed to serve as a cultural exchange for young people from abroad but the couple, aided by two neighbours, was found guilty of fraudulently and illegally using two young women from the Philippines as au pairs at the same time, and putting them to work as their low-paid household help.

The couple are Ragnor Horn ’85 and Joey Shaista Horn ’87. Does the name “Horn” sound familiar? It should! Horn Hall, the College’s newest residential building is named after Ragnor and Joey, in thanks for their $10 million donation. Joey has been a Williams trustee since 2009. The Horns have been generous donors for more than a decade. Consider this snippet from 2008:

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Back to the article:

The au pairs’ testimony was almost entirely at odds with the Horns’, according to media reports. The Horns claimed they considered the women members of their family and had tried to help them. They admitted to having surveillance cameras in their home but claimed they were not focused on the women while they worked. Mrs Horn, who was represented in court by one of Norway’s most famous defense attorneys, John Christian Elden, also confirmed the required use of face masks, but claimed that “was common in Asia” and was only required in the kitchen by one of the women who “coughed so much.”

Evidence prosecutors referred to in court, however, included a chatting exchange Mrs Horn had with a friend that revealed her referring to her household help in derogatory terms and accusing her of coughing on the food or while in the bathroom. Mrs Horn told her friend the au pair would have to use both a face mask and disposable gloves while in the home or with Horn’s children.

The conversation used as evidence in court also recorded Mrs Horn telling her friend that she had threatened to send the au pair back to her “straw mats in Manila.” Mrs Horn defended herself by saying it had been a “private conversation” with an old friend and that she actually “loved straw mats” and had one in her own home that she used for yoga.

1) Who among us does not love straw mats?

2) WA, who tipped us off about this case, wants me to spend a week going through the details. Should I? My last series on the lifestyles of the rich and the Eph involved Mayo Shattuck ’76 and his cheerleader wife.

3) When was the last time a Williams trustee was sentenced to jail? I can’t come up with a single example. Help us Eph historians!

4) The Horns have three children, including two at Williams. Spare a thought for what they must be going through.

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