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Who decides?


… many campus buildings were constructed in eras quite different from our own, at times they were decorated in ways that seem problematic in a modern context. The same is true of some of the monuments that are found on our campus. How do such forms of decoration, conceived in an earlier time, affect our capacity to be a fully inclusive community in this century? And what should be done about historical images that portray Williams as less welcoming than we are or aspire to be?




The bicycles








A cruise around campus and what do I see,

a lone cycle there, strapped to a tree.


Scores of bicycles aligning dorm walls,

locked with no riders, nobody in halls.


Through the narrows of Baxter see bikes here and there,

no riders to be found, not anywhere.


Like some storm hit this place and the people all fled,

no time to pack up, no time to make bed.


The promise of some return is lost in the mix,

me I would like, a bicycle like this!


So, here is to the riders, may they return with glee,

A warm welcome to fall, from this ghost town townie.




Let the Kids Play

Hoxsey Street in Mid March, 2020. 



New Garfield House Residence Hall

Williams College Hosts Tour of New Residence Hall

Garfield House One of Two Passive Houses in State

The construction of the new Garfield House, replacing the old one, is complete. This was the rationale for replacing the old Garfield House:

The original Garfield House was built in 1850 and purchased by the college in 1924. In 2016, a nine-person committee convened by the college determined it would be too costly and inefficient to renovate that structure for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the college’s sustainability goals.

This is the nine-person committee’s full report (an interesting read):

The report describes the old Garfield House as being “the least desirable residence hall on campus”.

When it opens, the new Garfield House “will be one of only two residence halls in Massachusetts to meet the energy-efficiency standards of the Passive House Institute US”. Additionally, the new Garfield House “is built to LEED Gold standards and reflects Williams’ commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse emissions”.



Cheating Freedom

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams College has been named as one of the top five worst schools for free speech by civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The school won a not so coveted Campus Muzzle Award largely due to highly visible student protests against the adoption of the Chicago Principles and a generally “spineless” faculty response. According to Silverglate, a key moment was when

…a group of about 20 Williams students showed up to the faculty meeting to protest, some waving signs that stated “free speech is hate speech.” Disruption notwithstanding, the faculty was extremely accommodating, inviting the students into the meeting and permitting them to read their response aloud. But the students continued to be disruptive, at one point demanding that white male professors sit down and admit their “privilege,” and at another screaming that faculty members were trying to “kill them.”

Most of Silverglate’s ire, however, is focused on the weak response from faculty members who seemed, over time, to give in to the “free speech is hate speech” mob.

We might expect at least the grownups on campus to safeguard free inquiry, even if those in their charge do not yet recognize how precious it is. Sadly, this is not the case at Williams College. Dozens of professors who originally supported the Chicago Principles caved to the unruly students and withdrew their signatures, rendering the petition all but defunct. These professors do their students a great disservice by denying them the opportunity to critically engage with a diversity of viewpoints, including ones they may disagree with. Such instances of intellectual cowardice by the professoriate are the antithesis of the goals of liberal education.

As you may know, Williams College is a previous award winner. It won a Campus Muzzle Award in 2016 in recognition of Adam Falk’s paternalistic effort to protect the fragile students of Williams College from the potential death and destruction which would have ensued if he had not rescinded a speaking invitation to John Derbyshire.

For the record, the other Campus Muzzle Awards for 2019 went to Middlebury College, Roger Williams University, UMass Boston and UMass Amherst. In 2018, the awardees included UMass Boston, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Harvard and Brandeis University. More details on this story are available over at The College Fix.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He received the William Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association for the best doctoral dissertation in the nation in his field in 1989. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010. 






Internet Discourse Bad

WILLIAMSTOWN – I had a chance to read through the final 75 page report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion. Here’s my take on what we will now refer to as The Sawicki Report.

The most positive thing about the report is it illustrates the vast majority of students and alumni don’t like it when the school bans speakers. Most significantly, the report indicates hosting a speaker does not imply the school endorses the speaker’s positions. These findings support the interpretation that the vast majority of us do not buy the most important arguments for banning speakers.

In general, the report confirms what many of us active in off-campus social media – including Zachary Wood ’18 – have been saying and complaining about regarding Adam Falk’s decision to ban John Derbyshire.

On the downside, the report does nothing to reverse viewpoint discrimination.

Read more


Segregation Now!

Negative press for Williams College just got worse. Breitbart called national attention to the efforts of the editorial board of The Williams Record to promote segregated housing for black students on campus.

The editorial board for the student newspaper at Williams College is calling on the school implement racially segregated housing in order to make the college “a less harmful place” and become “a more inclusive institution.”

Williams College’s student newspaper echoed a proposal by a student group called Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), which called on the school to implement racially segregated housing in order to make the college “a more inclusive institution,” according to The Williams Record.

CARE Now had recently released a list of twelve demands in an open letter, which included calling on the school’s trustees to fulfill their “obligation to the well-being and safety of its students, faculty and staff” by separating minority students from the rest of the campus body in order “take steps toward becoming a more inclusive institution.”

Breitbart’s reporting appeared just as The College Fix published a link to a controversial video in which two black student activists demanded their activities be funded with minimal control or supervision by the majority white College Council.

As a prominent black student leader told the student representatives: “Sure we got the money. But we are sick and tired of having to beg, steal, barter, go into every f***ing office, suck some more d*** just to ask for some s***. That’s crazy. Just so we can get more community. We did not ask to interrupt this space. But you have some way of intruding in ours.”


Listening at the Great Awokening

The great Darel E. Paul, professor of political science, published a well-researched and thoughtfully organized article at Areo on how the new identity politics has taken hold at schools across the nation. He connects the dots which show how identity politics has become a staple at schools as different as Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen State College and Yale.

Listening at the Great Awokening

Colleges and universities across the English-speaking world are caught up in the enthusiasm of a Great Awokening. Its dogmas are structural violence, systemic racism, racial stress, white privilege, white fragility, implicit bias and microaggressions. From the University of Missouri to Evergreen State College to Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, faculty and students are ablaze with the fire of social justice.

In Paul’s view, liberal arts colleges are particularly likely to get wrapped up in the dogma of critical race theory because they lack – by definition – traditional STEM programs like business, medicine, engineering and agriculture. He reports that predictably “…this spring the Great Awokening finally came to my home institution, Williams College.” Unfortunately for Williams, Paul writes that the school seems unpleasantly close to being another Evergreen State College.

Administrators and other campus leaders have encouraged white members of the college community like myself to listen. Over the past two months, I have striven to do exactly that. In fact, I’ve done quite a lot of listening (and reading). I have spent dozens of hours listening at meetings and reading copious documents produced by activist students and faculty. I have also watched videos and read documents resulting from the racial blowups at Yale University in 2015, Evergreen State College in 2017 and Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. Listening to these views from multiple campuses helped me realize that what seems to be a local discourse responding to local issues is actually a local manifestation of an international social, political and ideological phenomenon. All the accents and cadences of critical race theory can be identified. Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen and Yale could really be Any Residential College in Any Town.

Paul notes that the folks promoting critical race theory are ultimately leading us into a Soviet Union style educational system where truth matters very little. All that matters is whether research and teaching supports the dominant ideology.

Just as critical race theory can destroy knowledge, it can likewise destroy institutions premised upon the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Thanks in large part to the influence of critical race theory, Evergreen State College melted down in Spring 2017. The concrete results of that meltdown included numerous faculty resignations, a catastrophic collapse in enrollments, layoffs, budget cuts and worldwide humiliation. Every institution of higher education should learn the lessons of Evergreen, for history is wont to repeat itself―the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Areo is an opinion and analysis digital magazine focused on current affairs — in particular: humanism, culture, politics, human rights, science, and free expression.


The Left Eats Its Own Café

Over at The College Fix this morning, there is an article by Rory Walsh reporting on the  shocking livestream video posted on Facebook by the College Council.

Black students explode in anger at white students in vulgarity-laced rant (VIDEO)

In his article, Walsh provides us with redacted examples of the profane language used by I.B. as he called out liberal white student representatives for the way they dealt with an earlier request by S.O. for funding for a preview event for black students.

“… It’s time for you’all to figure this sh*t out and check yourself because I’m really losing it,” he said. “We are f***ing tired of having to come and beg and suck d***. And of course when we come and do it we face problems all the f***ing time.”

“… Every time to be here is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day,” he said. “Closing our mouths every f***ing day just to be here. And if we dare ask for a little bit of time, money and space we gotta suck some more d***. … It is so frustrating. It’s so tiring … to be here. To deal with you’all.”

“We keep our heads down, it don’t work,” he said. “We try to create space for us, it don’t work. We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***king chicken and be n*****s for once, it don’t work. I just don’t get it.”

Walsh cites comments I made at my Anonymous Political Scientist blogsite too. He notes I had observed the video “…is an excellent example of the sort of political abuse that tore down Evergreen State College.”

Walsh reports that The College Fix attempted to reach several members of the College Council as well as administration for a statement. They have yet to respond.

The comments on Walsh’s article are generally adverse to the student activists.

Another tasty serving at The Left Eats Its Own Café.

What the Alt Left doesn’t understand is that white people aren’t out to get black people; they are just exhausted with them. They are exhausted by the social pathologies, the violence, the endless complaints, the blind racial solidarity, the bottomless pit of grievances, the excuses, and the reflexive animosity.

Williams is about as left wing as a functioning college can be. Blacks need to move across the river to SUNY Albany.

You’re not trying to create a community. You’re trying to create a segregated, black racist bubble. The campus in its entirety is your community, and if you don’t like it, you can always transfer.

Just for the record: I’m not Black and I love fried chicken.

According to his biography, Rory Walsh studies industrial labor relations, American politics, and business at Cornell University. He has interned for former New York Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. After completing his undergraduate degree he plans to study law and business.



Unbearable Whiteness of Being

The Processing Whiteness group at Williams College has caught the attention of Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D., the Rome Bureau Chief for Breitbart news. Quoting the college’s website, the author reports the Processing Whiteness workshops will furnish “opportunities to analyze and understand white identity, white privilege and racism in a supportive environment that focuses on the experiences of the participants.”

The Breitbart author observes: “The assumption seems to be that ‘whiteness’ is a condition that disposes a person to racism and shame and therefore requires being worked through in a supportive environment.”

“The group will help participants learn to speak about the historical and contemporary implications of white identity, examine race and racism, identify implicit bias and feelings of shame,” states the event description.

Group leaders will also help participants “explore and practice allyship and interrupting racism.”

“It’s important that white people give space in their lives to learning from and bearing witness to people of color’s experiences of racism,” the site declares.

Much of the material for the workshop is be drawn from Shelly Tochluk’s 2010 book Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It.

Witnessing Whiteness “invites readers to consider what it means to be white, describes and critiques strategies used to avoid race issues, and identifies the detrimental effect of avoiding race on cross-race collaborations,” according to the book description.

The Processing Whiteness group is meant as “a supplement to, not a replacement for, multi-racial dialogues and activism between white people and people of color,” the school website notes.

Processing Whiteness will be provided by Integrative Wellbeing Services Fellow Ruby Solomon, College Rabbi Seth Wax, and Professor of German Gail Newman. It includes eight hour and a half sessions over the Spring 2019 semester. It will meet on Wednesdays from 12:30 – 1:45 pm in Hollander 317 on the following dates: 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/6, 3/13, 4/3, 4/10, and 4/17. The group is limited to 16 participants.

The most highly rated comments regarding Processing Whiteness are perhaps even more interesting than the article itself. They certainly show how people outside the purple bubble perceive this program.

How about a course on how to identify a fake black hate crime.

Ivy League schools and most of the formerly prestigious colleges like Williams have become cesspools of ignorance.

To assume negative character traits in people due to their race is racism. As usual, the “anti-racist” left is showing who they are: racists.

How about workshops to help “people of color” deal with their racism against white people?

Parents spending a ton of money having the kids indoctrinated in self-loathing anti-white P/C globalist Bull S h I t.

The Williams College website indicates that there will be no costs for participants to participate in this program. Moreover, Williams College has several copies of the book Witnessing Whiteness which are also available for free for faculty and staff. A light lunch will be offered. For the full article at Breitbart, please click on the link below.

Williams College Offers Workshops So Faculty Can Process Their Whiteness


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

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


PTC bet, in order-

(1) New Art Museum.

(2) New Field House.

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

Betting closes at 0815 on 30 May 2018.



Commencement Week Round-Up

In honor of commencement, several stories of note from recent weeks related to this week’s ceremonies and/or the graduating seniors:

  • Be sure to read this Williams feature highlighting some of the future plans for this year’s graduating class.   Great to see so many seniors interested in serving their country and/or the world.
  • Another must read: this interview with senior Mopati Morake’11, who has clearly thought deeply about higher education.
  • Talented writer Andrew Triska ’11 will be finishing his novel after graduation.
  • Of course, for baby boomers, the most famous “graduate” of Williams is Benjamin Braddock (the novel was written by Eph Charles Webb shortly after his own graduation, and although Williams is not mentioned in the movie, he does wear a purple-and-gold tie).  Apparently a new adaptation hones closer to the novel.
  • One of my favorite Williams traditions is the Olmstead Award for Secondary School Teachers.  Read about this year’s recipients here.
  • Congratulations seniors, and enjoy what should be a wonderful weekend highlighted by tremendous Commencement speaker Cory Booker.

Williams College women set to play 24 hours of rugby fundraiser for cancer research

The Williams College women’s rugby team will pull the ultimate all-nighter… (Courtesy photo)

Stephen Dravis writes in the  Berk shire Advocate on April 6:

Most college students pull an all-nighter at some point during their career.

Few will do anything like this.

On Easter weekend, the Williams College women’s rugby team will play a 24-hour match against Keene State that the teams hope will land them a place in Guinness World Records history and — more importantly — help in the fight against cancer.

The inaugural Scrum for a Cure will get under way at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, at Cole Field and end, if all goes according to plan, sometime after 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday.

Twenty-four hours of running and bone-jarring tackles may not be the easiest way to raise awareness of breast and colorectal cancer research, but Williams captain Leah Lansdowne said her team is up to the challenge.

“I think rugby is a unique sport for women to play,” Lansdowne said. “It involves some strong women. I think there’s a solidarity to raising money for a cancer that affects primarily women.”

That’s why the Williams players immediately got on board when their friends at Keene State suggested a breast cancer fundraiser of some kind — possibly involving pink uniforms.

Lansdowne said it was Williams coach Gina Coleman who suggested the teams take their efforts to another level.

“Somebody in the group said, ‘How about something like the March of Dimes does where people would pledge for every minute played? If we go the distance, we can raise a lot of money,'” recalled Coleman, who also is the college’s associate dean of students. “I said, if it’s of Guinness proportions, you could raise a lot. That’s when the idea came about.”

Read the entire story! As EphBlog Prexy Whitney Wilson suggests, donations may be made here

Williams coach Gina Coleman ’90 adds this about the logistics:
“The event will happen on the rugby pitch. Sunbelt Rentals out of Latham, NY will be providing us with temporary lights for the event.

“Thanks for the support!”




Do You Like LikeALittle?

Photo by williamscollege, Creative Commons license via Flickr

Notwithstanding Dick’s newfound interest in social media, Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only social networks neglected by EphBlog. WSO has a post about the latest bit of Internet seriousness/silliness, the social network service LikeALittle, a viral hybrid of Twitter and Craigslist’s “Missed Connections.” Examples from LikeALittle’s Williams page are illustrative:

At GoodrichFemale, Brunette

you are across from me, sippin’ on a Superfood odwalla. wish you’d sip on more than that ;)

At Basketball GameMale, Brunette

I see sitting on the bench looking all sexy. You may not hit the court all the time but you can score with me anytime ;)

Not that they’re all lacking in a certain geeky charm:

At Sawyer: Female, Blonde

You make my scatter plot form a strong positive linear trend

Readers of these comments can “like,” share on Facebook, and comment anonymously:

At outside of PareskyMale, Brunette

I said hi to you and regret not saying more.

Pomegranate says: Where was this?

Author says: In passing along the path from Paresky to Sawyer

Read more


An Obvious Proposal: Make Weston Residential

I read with delight that the OCC is moving from Weston and integrating with the Alumni Office.  This makes sense in and of itself (and probably warrants a post of its own), but the bigger benefit, in my view, is reopening Weston to its natural and proper use: upper class housing.   In the article discussing the future of Weston, there was no mention of turning it into housing.  Failure to do so* would be, simply, an enormous mistake for the following reasons:

  • It just makes sense, from a campus planning perspective, to have an uninterrupted row of residential row houses.  These houses represent the heart of senior (and on weekends, campus social) life.  For decades, Weston has been the outlier, remaining dark on weekends while its neighbors are teeming with life.  Why keep it as such?
  • Williams has gradually and slowly increased its enrollment in recent years, with entering classes moving from around 529 to around 550.  Over four years, that is an extra 84 people on campus (or, say, 70, accounting for study abroad and attrition).  Yet, not only has Williams not built additional housing, it has actually eliminated a few coops, and about 12 years ago it turned Bascom, which used to be the single best dorm on campus, into the Admissions Office.  What does that mean?  Fewer seniors getting prime rooms, more sophomores in doubles, and less common space in campus dorms.  Turning Weston into housing would alleviate all of those issues.

More thoughts below the break Read more


Satterthwaites’ remarkable map …

From PTC and referred to by Mark Livingston ’72, the creator of the map while under the muse of Satterthwaite:

PTC says:
From Mark Livingston ’72

Although the Stone Hill Map may’ve been more elaborate than most student projects (Art 201 projects did however tend to be multi-media and cumbersome—probably still do), it actually incorporates a fraction of what I learned making it. More to the point: my experience typified the sense of a blank check drawn on his time, the painstaking, ever thoughtful attention, and the polymathic wealth of knowledge that I’ve watched Sheafe lavish on his students one after another over the years: a whorl of learning synergy.

“Although the Stone Hill map may have been…” Love that part. The Stone Hill Map is the most incredible piece of local art I (and I suspect many others) have ever seen. From reading the comments on Sheafes teaching style, you can see how Sheafe helped Mark get there in 1972. A teaching style and mode of learning translated into art. Fascinating!

Ed note: Thanks to PTC for the photo of the remarkable map and its’ amazing details, and to Mark Livingston for creating his map and the timely recognition of the muse.


Excentric Gyratory Coming to Campus

I noted a few months back that, thanks to the Class of 1961, the already impressive collection of campus sculptures will soon be augmented.  Apparently, next on deck is Double L Excentric Gyratory II.  Any guesses as to where on campus this will be installed? Any opinions on the art itself (I give it a thumbs-up)?  [Also, any updates / photos on the Holzer installation on the Science Quad?]


Satterthwaite’s contract not renewed?!

I have just received the following news about Sheafe Satterthwaite, beloved eccentric lecturer in art history:

Sheafe’s contract has not been renewed for the coming year. Sheafe is 71 and has taught at Williams for over 40 years. He has always been a Lecturer on a four-year, renewable contract. This year, citing low student evaluations, he was told in late November that his contract would not be renewed.

For those who aren’t familiar with him, Sheafe is independently wealthy (at least, is rumored to be — ed.) and teaches because he enjoys teaching. All of his courses include a once-weekly “field seminar,” where he drives the class around in a large van to areas of interest in the countryside around Williams, and lectures while driving. He also takes all of his students out to dinner (in groups) at least once, and often invites them to his house. Rumor has it that he is paid something like $1 for the four-year contract, and Williams throws in free lunches at Driscoll (this last part is true; Sheafe told me).

Would you please consider writing a letter to the Dean of Faculty, Prof. William Wagner? His email is I think a lot of us never expected we would need to write such a letter — perhaps we thought we might show our appreciation at a retirement party someday. But we do need to write now and explain how Sheafe has influenced our lives, our teaching, our careers, our ways of understanding the world. We need to tell the administration about the gifts Sheafe gave us and continues to give students at Williams.

This missive comes from Mark Livingston ’72 and Belle Zars ’76. Full message from Zars below the break.

Sheafe’s classes are certainly some of the most unique at Williams, and when I look back at the experiences in class that I remember most from college, Sheafe’s class was certainly one of the most memorable. Please consider writing in on his behalf.
Read more


Cooking with Steven: 2nd season

In September 2009, we released the first episode of Cooking with Steven, a Chinese cooking show for college students. Now we have grown. The second season has been just released, with one new episode coming up every two weeks. Today our cooking show is not just a collection of videos. It is an integrated platform comprising a website, a Facebook page, blogs, food photos and recipes, aimed at bringing to college students–Williams and beyond–a culture for simply, healthy and economical Chinese food.

Episode 1 of Season 2 – Mapo Tofu

More episodes, blogs and photos are found at

Cooking with Steven is a Chinese cooking show created by two Williams students: Steven Cheng ’10 (host) and Danny Y. Huang ’11 (director and producer). The second season is edited by Juan Baena ’06.


Dim Sum and Then Some

I was just checking out the Williams Schedule of Events and I can’t believe how many interesting choices there are, just for today.

Starting with Environmental Studies Lunch at The Log, to Math and Physics events, then a choice of a free film in the afternoon or French horn recital, on to dinner, another film or the Planetarium, the Theater, or dance performance. And from there one can wrap up the evening dancing to Latin music at Fiesta Dance Night. Who says there’s nothing to do in Williamstown?

Anyway, they all sound great, but I happen to love Dim Sum, so the dinner caught my eye. A little late to be posting about it, but nonetheless I thought I’d mention it as it’s put on by CASO, and will benefit Wokai, both of which I know next to nothing about, so I’m hoping some students will drop by and give us more information.

And, any Dim Sum lovers out there? My favorites are the little curry chicken empanada type tarts, chicken and rice wrapped in leaves of some sort, and those little gummy sesame plum balls. I don’t know the names for any of these tasty treats, so please someone, feel free to fill me in me.

Mmmm, might have to book a trek for Dim Sum very soon.


Green Dot Event

I highly recommend that anyone interested in education reform attend tomorrow’s 4:00 campus event featuring Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot charter schools.  Barr’s work was featured in a lengthy New Yorker article (subscription required), which I also recommend.  Read more about Green Dot here and here.


Updates re: Moore

From the Record:

Kolesar said the College only learned about the situation on Tuesday evening. The College had no knowledge of Moore’s prior convictions.

Moore has been unavailable for comment.


“From my standpoint the most important thing is that for the students in Political Science 303 [Black Leadership] there’s continuity one way or the other,” said Jim Mahon, professor and department chair of political science. “We’re coordinating that right now – it will continue as a college course and we’re working to make sure that it’s as good as it can be.” Mahon added that he and the department had no knowledge of Moore’s prior conviction and had only ever known him as Bernard, not Ernest, but that “it would be premature to characterize it as an alias,” he said.


Kolesar said it is unclear whether Moore’s suspension from the College will affect Monday’s panel, which includes Congressman John Conyers (Mich.) and activist and comedian Bill Cosby.

Check back throughout the day for further coverage.


Ladybug horror

On WSO, there is a lengthy discussion on the infestation of ladybugs (and GERMAN COCKROACHES?) inside student dorms. This seems to be a regional national infestation. The Wesleying blog reports a swarm at Wesleyan University (with photos). In addition to Williamstown, MA and Middletown, CT, a look at Google News shows reports of ladybug swarms from New Jersey, Indiana, Middlesex County, MA, Urbana-Champaign, IL, NH and RI, Williamsport, PA, and Andover, MA

Parent ’12 asks: “Are these complaints familiar? And, any suggestions about how to get the problem remedied.”

I have not seen a ladybug infestation at Williams, but recent alumni will recall the caterpillar infestation that hit campus in spring-summer 2006. As the 2009 class history recalls: “It was the attack of the caterpillars in Billsville. You probably could have crossed the entire campus without setting foot on pavement or grass – that’s how thick the blanket of caterpillars was that spring.”

So, to current students: at least you don’t have strings of caterpillars dangling from trees, ending up on your face and clothes whenever you walk underneath a tree. They basically destroyed every green leaf on campus.

This is all probably the fault of global warming. Or secret government experiments.

Since Parent ’12 asks for remedies: I seem to recall that one enterprising student set fire to the caterpillars using a lighter and a can of either hairspray or WD-40. Something to consider, though the fact that the infestation this time appears to be indoors may complicate things.

Gross pictures of the caterpillar infestation here, here, and here.

Request to students currently on campus: Please post pics of the ladybug infestation!

UPDATE: They’ve hit Swarthmore. Is nothing sacred? (thanks to hwc!)


Bubble Tea

So, now that I’ve got your attention, who here has experienced Bubble Tea? I have, and it is an utterly unique concoction.

I had it in Singapore many years ago. It is a drink, although you need more than a straw to finish it off. There are lots of variations of the recipe. Mine was milky and sweet, with shaved ice, tapioca pearls and  even beans. My travel partner thought me a brave soul for ordering it, would not consider even a taste, and was horrified when I slurped the whole thing down.  

Bubble Tea is only one of the many delights of the Global Feast being served tomorrow evening at Greylock Dining Hall. If I was on the Williams campus, I would not miss it. The International Club and Dining Services has teamed up to give you curry, and sticky rice, and spring rolls and much more. Yum! 

So, go and have a taste of somewhere else. If you can’t get off campus for a change of pace, this might be the next best thing.

P.S. What strange and exotic food would you like added to this menu?


M4W on Craigslist

Unfortunately, the listing has been flagged for removal, but last night Jimi Morales, ’10, discovered something both hilarious and horrifying on Craigslist and lovingly decided to share on WSO in a post adeptly titled, “alumni.”

A “Boston exec” in his thirties offered $1000 for a female “friend with benefits” for his frequent (monthly? I can’t quite remember the listing.) two- to three-day visits to Williamstown.

Any guesses as to whom this generous alumnus might be?

UPDATE from dk: Here is the original Craig’s List post. (Click for larger version.)



College prepares for H1N1 outbreak

Reposted from the Record website to save you a lengthy wait (note to Record writers/editors – please consider posting important stories here on EphBlog or on WSO while your website undergoes rehab):

College prepares for H1N1 outbreak

By Laura Corona – News Editor

After the swine flu scare last spring and the precautions it prompted, College administrators spent the summer increasing institutional knowledge of the H1N1 virus and developing protocol in preparation for its arrival on campus. Though there were no cases on campus in the spring, one student has been isolated with the flu as of Monday.

According to Health Services Director Ruth Harrison, the administration expects more cases and is preparing accordingly. “We think it’s inevitable that it will happen on all college campuses,” said Dean Merrill. “I don’t see how we can escape it, given that the flu hits the young population, that students live in close quarters and that winter will have us inside. It’s a very contagious virus.” The New York Times reported last week that, according to an American College Health Association survey, over 2000 U.S. college students have been victims of H1N1. At institutions such as Emory, Carnegie Mellon and St. John’s, houses and gymnasiums have been set aside and outfitted for large numbers of ill students. At Cornell, over 450 students have been infected and one student died last week after contracting the virus.

Much has been learned about H1N1 since the original outbreaks last spring. It is believed to be very similar to the seasonal flu, both in its symptoms and transmission. It is a short-lived and mild illness for most people, although it presents more complications for some, particularly those with underlying medical conditions such as respiratory disorders, cardiac disorders, immunosuppressant disorders and diabetes. In addition, H1N1 spreads quickly and easily. “The virus is still mild, but is incredibly infectious, and it can just wreak havoc,” Harrison said.

Attempting to minimize the potentially chaotic impact of the virus, the Health Center has now developed a plan for diagnosis, isolation and treatment of ill students. If a student comes to the Health Center with flu-like symptoms, he or she is immediately given a mask and asked to wait in a room designated solely for flu patients. A nurse then visits the ill student with an eye for symptoms characteristic of H1NI. These include a fever of over 100-100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough, a runny nose and a sore throat. “If they’re all present, especially the fever, we presume that to be H1N1,” said Harrison.

The College, like the state of Massachusetts, has stopped testing for H1N1, as epidemiologists expect that the virus will in most cases replace the seasonal flu. Taking flu-like symptoms as indicative of H1N1, as opposed to something less serious, is an important precaution, explained Harrison. “It could be a cold, but because it’s circulating in the community, we don’t want to take a chance,” she said. According to Harrison, flu and cold symptoms can sometimes be similar, but the flu is generally more severe and develops more suddenly than a cold. Flu symptoms often include body aches, tiredness and a dry cough, she said.

For students, being diagnosed with H1N1 prompts a mandatory isolation period. Health Center staff first determine whether the student can go home without using public transportation, and students who cannot do so are directed to self-isolate in their rooms. “We give them a mask and disposable thermometers and tell them to stay put,” Harrison said. The masks are to prevent spread of the virus for when infected students leave their rooms for the bathroom or medical treatment.

Isolation becomes more complicated for those with roommates, as two people are only allowed to stay in the same room if both have flu symptoms. In the case where only one person is infected, the College plans to use unfilled rooms to move the uninfected student out, while the ill person remains in isolation. Members of the College’s pandemic planning group are still developing protocol for an event where large numbers of students need to be moved out of roommate situations.

Isolation ends when an ill student has been free of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. The College’s plan provides for meals to be delivered to isolated students, and for a dean to be assigned to each sick student so that the academic repercussions of isolation are mitigated. “We’ve learned from other institutions that many concerns revolve around academic work, so a dean will know which classes ill students are in and contact professors, acting as a kind of go-between,” Merrill said. “Depending on when a student is sick, the dean may be more necessary in helping students to organize extensions, and so on.” Harrison stressed that concern over academics not keep students from isolating themselves. “The faculty knows about the possibility of H1N1, so they will work with the deans and students,” she said.

While having developed a plan to control the spread of the virus, the College is simultaneously working towards prevention, particularly by encouraging all students to get flu vaccines. The Health Center will offer seasonal flu vaccines in a clinic on Oct. 7 and plans on offering the H1NI vaccine after its release later that month.

The College will likely be a site for vaccine distribution, as college students are fourth in the list of priority groups, behind pregnant women, caregivers for children younger than six months of age and healthcare personnel.

Though the College is attempting to prepare for the worst, Harrison doubts the flu will prompt drastic measures such as closing the College. “The flu generally lasts only three to five days, so we hope that everyone won’t be sick at the same time,” she said. “We anticipate not having to close.”

Merrill confirmed that closing is an unlikely option, but emphasized the importance of planning for every possible outcome. “It’s going to be an evolving situation,” she said. “We need to have a set of responses we can go to.”


New York, New York…

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today
I want to be a part of it: New York, New York.

Williams Transport introduces Friday shuttle to New York City
By Laura Corona – News Editor

In response to student calls for more ways to get off campus, Williams Transport is expanding its operations, most notably by offering weekly shuttles to New York City. Beginning this Friday, vans will depart from Mission Park at 3 p.m. and drive students to 8th Avenue between West 30th and 31st street in Manhattan. The vans will make a return trip on Sunday, departing from New York City at 3 p.m.

The ticket price for the weekly shuttle is $32, but students who purchase tickets three or more weeks in advance receive a $5 discount. The direct shuttle offers an upgrade from the Peter Pan bus, which costs $50 and takes close to five hours. Departing daily from the Williams Inn, the Peter Pan bus has been the only regular local service to New York City available in the past.

Rachel Hudson ’10, executive director of Williams Transport, explained that strong student demand prompted the move. “In our June 2008 survey, we found that many students were eager to travel to New York on the weekends but found the existing travel options to be too expensive and time-consuming,” she said.

In addition to the New York City service, Williams Transport will offer a shuttle to Secaucus, N.J. before and after breaks, expanding its list of destinations. A free shuttle will also run to Berkshire Mall every Sunday.

*Special thanks to Parent ’12 for this great news!
(from the Record)


Misc News Round-up

This is a summary post of various news items from Speak Up. 

Read more


RIP, Lobster Dinner

Banned from WilliamsOne of the most anticipated days of the year at Williams is the annual harvest dinner, where they served, among other things, lobster. This seems to have come to an end. A comment left by an ’09 on Speak Up led me to WSO:

Show Me The Lobster

…tomorrow night, harvest dinner.

Whatever happened to tradition? To honor?! To liberty?!?!?!

A look at the Dining Services website confirms it. Lobster is off the menu:

Locally produced cheddar cheese and crackers
Green River fresh apple cider
Pickled vegetables from Peace Valley Farm
Peace Valley greens with balsamic vinegar
New Englad clam chowder
Peace Valley green bean salad
Mystic haddock fresh baked with lemon garnishing
Hudson Valley chicken
Sea Vegetable Stew made from Peace Valley and local farm crops
Fresh and locally grown corn on the cob
Peace Valley harvested fingerling potatoes
Williams College freshly baked rolls
Williams Bake Shop fresh apple crisp made with Apple Barn apples
Williams College homemade vanilla Gelato

Now, I have never really cared for lobster, considering it an icky bottom dwelling sea bug. But non-lobster eaters such as myself always had the option of a strip steak instead, which left more lobster for our lobster eating brethren. However, the steak has also disappeared from the menu. The only proteins on there seem to be chicken and baked haddock. Baked haddock?! You might as well cancel Harvest Dinner altogether at this point.

This is the most serious casualty of the cost-cutting, by far.

UPDATE: Hey Dining Services – lobster’s a bargain right now. Prices are down by almost 50% from two years ago.

(thanks to hwc for the image. Original here.)


Amazing Fireflies




In my next lifetime, I want to be a math geek. In particular, one like Steven Strogatz, who has managed to make a career out of studying events like this one:

Every night along the tidal rivers of Malaysia, thousands of male fireflies congregate in the mangrove trees and flash on and off in silent, hypnotic unison.  This display extends for miles along the river and occurs spontaneously; it does not require any leader or cue from the environment.

Wow. Sounds like something worth witnessing. And attempting to understand. Strogatz focuses on “feats of synchronization [that] occur throughout the natural world”… 

… whenever large groups of self-sustained oscillators interact.  This lecture will provide an introduction to the Kuramoto model, the simplest mathematical model of collective synchronization.  Its analysis has fascinated theorists for the past 35 years, and involves a beautiful interplay of ideas from nonlinear dynamics, statistical physics, and fluid mechanics.

But, since I am so very far from being Steven Strogatz, I would at least like to hear him speak about such things, which he will be doing, on September 16th at Bronfman Auditorium. If I could, I would be there. To me, it sounds like getting one tiny step closer to understanding magic.

The lecture on September 15th sounds wonderful as well. The focus of that one is “of his extraordinary connection with his high school calculus teacher”.

It’s about the transformation that takes place in a student’s heart, as he and his teacher reverse roles, as they age, as they are buffeted by life itself.  It is intended for a general audience, and especially anyone whose life has been changed by a mentor.  (It also includes some nifty calculus problems.)


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