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So, Parent ’12 posted this link on “Speak Up” several days ago. And (no) thanks to her, I have been thinking about honeybuns ever since.

But I also could not help but notice, that unlike the “Cheese Bread” post, not one blogger has waxed eloquent about this supposedly irresistible Paresky delicacy.

Jeff’s “Anonymous Professor made mention of them, they are listed as one of the draws on the Reunion Schedule, they somehow played a part in one of Morty’s holiday cards, yet not a single Ephblogger has rhapsodized about the Paresky Honeybuns.

What is the story? How long have they been around? Are they as good as they look? And are they really served up “grilled”, with butter!?

(Sheesh, my heart is clenching just thinking about it.)


Tales from the Darkside

So, I attended Amherst’s Commencement this weekend … thought I’d share a few tidbits:

— Overall, like Williams, Amherst is incredibly well-run, and the school put on a memorable weekend for all involved.

— Common theme from every speaker throughout the weekend: predictably, the economy.  Kind of got depressing after awhile, actually.  I felt that, while certainly the collapse and its implications needed to be acknowledged, it was overemphasized.  The only person who achieved the proper balance in my view was the student class speaker, who noted the economy but still made his speech primarily about the Amherst experience.  (He is a tour guide, and employed a very clever framing device in which he reflected on truths and lies told on the Amherst tour.  That also yielded the best line of his speech, something to the effect of, I’ve given the Amherst spiel so many times that I could almost recite it walking backwards …).

— Speaking of which, the seniors all listened to brief auditions for class speaker prior to voting on the winning orator.  The winner was, I imagine not coincidentally, outstanding (despite noting that “Williams College is a horrible college,” a reference to a t-shirt I observed on more than one occasion on campus).  This is an idea Williams should steal.

— On the topic of stealing ideas, Amherst stole Williams’ Olmstead Awards idea (Amherst has been awarding these for 12 years, Williams for 25).  To add insult to injury, Amherst named its version of these awards for Zephenia Swift Moore.  But, if Amherst is going to steal something, this is definitely something worth stealing.

— There is, however, no outside speaker, just the college President.  That went, ummm, far less spectacularly.  (The first ten minutes of the speech involved a Cliffs-notes recap of the financial crisis, followed by the President’s opining that individual greed rather than collective responsibility was responsible — yes, it really was that platitudinous.  He officially lost the crowd about two minutes in ….).

— There is no equivalent to the student-centric Ivy Exercises, which I thought was a shame.  Like Williams, Amherst does have a Baccalaureate Service (which, as one might expect from a NESCAC school, was sufficiently politically correct and featured a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Christian, Orthodox, and non-believer component).

— Random senior class tradition: each senior received a wooden walking cane for graduation — which led to the odd sight of a huge number of 22 year-olds employing those canes later that afternoon, not to mention the equally odd sight of bunch of canes going through metal detectors at the airport later that evening.  Of course I am biased, but I think the watch-dropping kicks that particular tradition in the butt :) …

— Coolest thing by far at Amherst: its Museum of Natural History.  The brand new building is spectacular (not to mention the only noteworthy contemporary building on campus), and the contents are even more spectacular.  Definitely worth a visit if in the area.  On the other hand, I’d skip the art museum, which (predictably) is far, far inferior to the WCMA.

— Most impressive thing about the physical plant: the dorms.  All of the frosh dorms are newly renovated and are incredible, one in particular which used to house the prior incarnation of the Natural History Museum and resembles a ski lodge at Vail.  Any tour going through the most newly-renovated frosh dorm is sure to come away impressed.  Amherst has also recently constructed two huge, gorgeous upperclassmen dorms, both with spectacular views.

— Least impressive thing about the physical plant: everything else.  Amherst is way, WAY behind Williams in terms of its non-dorm facilities.  The Amherst student center is definitely looking worse for wear (stylistically, it reminded me of the interior and new addition to Hopkins — unsurprising considering the buildings were built at the same time — only a lot shabbier).  Paresky absolutely destroys its interior, both aesthetically and in terms of functionality, and I actually prefer the Paresky exterior as well (the Amherst exterior is not nearly as daring or ostentatious as Paresky, so some might prefer it, but it is boring and the design is not aging well at ALL).  There is, moreover, no Goodrich equivalent so far as I can tell.  The main Amherst library is in even worse shape than Sawyer, believe it or not.  The lone dining hall on campus doesn’t come close to matching Williams’ dining facilities / options.  The science complex seems to approximate Williams’ science complex prior to the construction of the Unified Science Center.  Other than the building that houses the Natural History Museum, none of the academic buildings struck me as particularly impressive.  Amherst is in the middle of a fund raising drive, which I learned will support major renovations to its science and library complexes, but Williams is definitely WAY ahead in terms of physical plant needs in all areas but for dorms (and even when it comes to dorms, Williams is in MUCH better relative shape, as Williams has recently renovated most of its dorms, just not to the spectacular degree as Amherst).  I imagine to do the job right, Amherst will have to spend nearly as much on renovating its library as Williams’ remaining obligation on the new Sawyer.  And that still leaves Amherst with massive prospective outlays on crucial student life and science facilities if it hopes to keep up with the Williamses.

(*NB: I realize some on this blog have recently opined that physical plant expenditures contribute little to the educational experience; I am not trying to argue either way here, but rather simply make an observation.  Also, I don’t think the different levels of physical plant outlays reflect a difference in philosophy between the institutions, but rather a difference in timing.  Because the new buildings Amherst has constructed / gut-renovated are just as over-the-top luxurious as the newer buildings on the Williams campus).

— It would be very, very difficult to distinguish (without the aid of t-shirt slogans) a group of 20 random Amherst students vs. 20 random Williams students.  The only SLIGHT difference I noted is that there seemed to be a bit more of a stark divide, both in appearance and socialization, between jocks and non-jocks at Amherst, while at Williams there might be a bit more of a continuum.  But perhaps that observation was influenced by my preconceived notion on that point.

— Amherst’s senior class t-shirt: I Survived Swine Flu.  Awesome.

— There is no single location on Williams’ campus that is nearly as gorgeous or memorable as Amherst’s enormous, impressive central quad.  (Although I do believe Williams’ campus will at least finally have a similar true functional and aesthetic “center” between Stetson and Paresky once the Stetston-Sawyer project is completed).  But the Williams campus feels larger and less cloistered, is more interesting / diverse in terms of architectural styles, and offers a far greater variety of  noteworthy settings (Berkshire Quad, the row houses, the science quad, Mission Park area) than Amherst, which outside of the absolutely stunning main quad area, felt sort of like a closely-clumped and randomly arranged afterthought.  Without a doubt, the difference in architectural styles mirrors the difference in mascots and school colors: the Williams campus feels open, quirky, and fun, whereas Amherst’s feels traditional, impressive, and stuffy.  On the other hand, Amherst does not have to deal with Route 2, which is a huge plus.  In terms of natural surroundings, Amherst features one jaw-droppingly gorgeous view.  Williams, of course, features such views from almost everywhere on campus …

— Back on the topic of speakers, given that Clarence Otis is a businessman, his forthcoming address is expected to — and I am sure will — hit on the economy, but I hope that he and other speakers are not AS overwhelmingly focused on present economic conditions, and also discuss broader aspects of the Williams experience and the long-term future for graduates.  The last thing everyone in attendance needs is yet another sobering reminder of just how much the graduates’ lives are about to suck.


The Madoff Student Center?

An anonymous tipster alerts us to the fact that a “David Paresky” is listed as a victim of Bernie Madoff’s scam in this document. Could this be the same David Paresky, Class of 1960, in honor of whom the Williams student center is named? We have reason to believe that’s quite likely.


1. Can you find the names of other prominent Williams donors on the list? Please list in comments below.

2. Are there any outstanding pledges to the Williams endowment that are secured by a portfolio of Madoff-centric assets?

3. Attempt to stir up pointless controversy: Should Williams follow the lead of Brandeis and sell off the WCMA’s holdings?



I was shocked and disheartened to read this in a WSO discussion thread about the (probably mythical) “South of the Border” sandwich:

Way back in the good ‘ol days when snackbar was in Mission it was some combination of grilled chicken, ciabatta bread, avocado and some kind of cheese. From what I understand they don’t make it anymore, and I know someone who is very upset by this fact.

Kids these days.

Those who remember the real good ol’ days will probably recall the Mission snackbar as a dingy and forgettable temporary exile for the snackbar from its rightful location at the center of campus. The place had very little personality (except a tiny bit gained through the addition of the original Baxter snackbar chairs), and making the long hike out to Mission on a wintry night was a terribly depressing experience for those of us who lived on the other side of campus.

I think the class of 2007 was the only one to experience all three iterations of the snackbar during their time at Williams (Baxter -> Mission -> Paresky), and I personally am still prejudiced in favor of the first one. The Paresky snackbar might acquire some of the personality and charm of the Baxter snackbar in a decade or two (if it lasts that long).

I realize that the paragraph above makes me sound like a crotchety old man, and yes, it does feel good.

In another snackbar item, current students should note that no, you should not be paying any tax at the snackbar. We used to pay tax, but Godfrey Bakuli on College Council got it repealed – and students should be watchful for any backsliding on this issue.


Paresky as Promised — Pretty much

Paresky Center in architect’s rendering, perhaps 2005:


Paresky Center as of October 2007 is oh-so-similar, but not identical:


Shall we have a “find the differences” game? I’ll go first. Something is different about the snack bar windows — there are more horizontal lines in actuality than there are in the sketch. What do you see?


Paresky Center, newly labeled


Several new additions have been made to the Paresky Center: A label, to the right side of the front, and Adirondack chairs on Baxter Lawn. Pictured on the balcony may be the trustees — I know they were in town and I saw them having a reception just inside the balcony the previous evening. (Those who can recognize trustees can click for the large version and tell us.) I visited over Reading Period, so many students were off campus and were not out on the lawn on this Saturday afternoon.


Paresky, Chapin and a tow truck


This concludes my Paresky photo series.


Back of Paresky at night


Views of the loading dock and proximity to Morty’s house are below.

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Entrance from Park Street


Two other views of the back are below.

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Snack bar from Baxter Lawn


A more typical, but blurrier, picture is below.

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Whitman’s dining area from outside



Food from Paresky


Snack bar:

(homemade at Williams by a dining services woman, sold at the snack bar)


The tray conveyor



Students eating in Paresky



Checkout at Whitman’s



Whitman’s food being prepared


Since the food is prepared by hand and tends to be tasty, lots of people want it:



Baxter Lawn reflected in Paresky


This is my favorite one.


Looking in from Baxter Lawn Porch



Inside from Outside



Basement and foosball


The foosball is in memory of Adrian Martinez ’06; for more information about that, see Adrian’s forum, message 4.


Automatic for the People


If only the doors were automatic, it would be a touch-free experience; see below.

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New mail room



Clerestory windows


People say it looks “rustic,” and use the phrase “ski lodge,” but they fail to notice that in order for wood to be rustic, the wood used must have knots in it, whereas in Paresky the College paid (presumably lots) extra for clear, knot-free wood.


Fireplace in Baxter


The picture below is blurry but it gives an idea of student use of the space around the fireplace. Also note the Morty / Sustainability cutout.

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Upstairs balcony / hallway / study area



Paresky Sweet Paresky Home

I am changing the original vision slightly and posting Paresky pictures on weekends as well.



Campus Life meeting in the new office


View to the left is below.

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New comfortable Record office



Unassigned meeting room



Study room above the snack bar



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