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Montgomery Guide

This seems a worthwhile effort:

Montgomery Guide aims to collect experiences from every corner of the Williams community: faculty, staff, freshmen, seniors, and alumni. We named this collection of stories after R.A. Montgomery ’1958, who pioneered the famous Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Through Montgomery Guide, we share the experiences of those in our community so we can all use them for a little more guidance, solidarity, and ease in choosing our own adventure.

Kudos to all involved! Here is are some EphBlog’s thoughts.

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Run for College Council

If you are the sort of student who reads EphBlog, then you ought to run for College Council. First, you will be in a position to try to make Williams a little bit better. You aren’t going to change the world or make the Administration change its policies, but, on the margin, you can improve things for students. Second, you will learn a lot about life, committees and bureaucracies — valuable knowledge for wherever you go after college.

Perhaps the single most important skill in the corporate world is to get people to do things, especially people who don’t work for you. There are few better places to develop this talent than College Council.

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College Council Election Annulment

Big news on campus in the last week is the annulment of the College Council election results for CC co-presidents. Below the fold is the all-student e-mail which summarizes the main details. The Record provides excellent coverage here. Kudos to their live streaming via Twitter. Comments:

1) Nothing wrong with a little election controversy! It gets everyone involved and talking. We now have another election with a more competitive set of candidates.

2) Nice job by the Administration to stay (completely?) away from the issue. Administrators are always tempted to “step in” and fix things when student government spins out of control. Wise administrators know that it is precisely these out of control situations that provide the best learning experiences for students. So, the best course of action is to let the students figure things out themselves.

3) The Elections Supervisory Committee seems to have done a good job and handled their responsibilities in a mature fashion, giving no preferences to the CC insiders.

4) Credit is also due to the drafters (who? when?) of the current CC Constitution, who wisely provided a mechanism (which worked!) to handle election irregularities.

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College Council Election Controversy

The recent College Council elections have sparked controversy.

Last Saturday, on the last day of the 2015 Spring College Council (CC) elections, co-president elects Teddy Cohan ’16 and Meghana Vunnamadala ’16 made a last-minute campaign push, in which they claimed to have real-time inside election information. However, they did not actually have access to this classified information.

Vunnamadala and Cohan confirmed to the Record that they sent out multiple text messages on Saturday claiming the race was tight, though they initially said that those claims were purely speculative. “We had no access to information,” Cohan said. “The whole goal of everything we were doing was to just to make sure that people voted. We were just saying that the election was going to be close. It seemed like a lot of people were voting for Grant [Johnson ’17] and we wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to vote for us voted … We had no idea whether we were winning or losing.” Vunnamadala added, “We said we might be losing, the polls were tight. It was all speculation.”

However, Vunnamadala later confirmed to the Record that she sent out a text message on Saturday to multiple people that explicitly claimed that she and Cohan had knowledge of election results. Vunnamadala confirmed that she sent a text that read: “I’m not supposed to know this so don’t tell people but teddy and I are losing rn.”

The Record editorializes:

We at the Record believe that College Council (CC) co-president elects Teddy Cohan ’16 and Meghana Vunnamadala ’16 violated the CC bylaws by deliberately misinforming the student population, in sending messages to multiple students claiming that they were losing the race on the final day of the election.

Although the candidates have since clarified that they did not, in fact, have premature inside information about the results, they still intentionally misled the community in order to garner additional votes and therefore failed to adhere to the election procedures and campaigning guidelines, as outlined by CC.

I doubt that there will be a new election since the arbiters are CC members who will be disposed to a) Not want to bother and b) Wish Cohan and Vunnamadala well since they are the establishment candidates.

What do readers predict will happen? What do readers think should happen?

Hat tip to Yik Yak which was buzzing about this controversy over the week-end.

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College Council Considers Social Honor Code

From Yik Yak:

image

Could a reader provide more details on the proposal? In the meantime, comments:

1) An Eph Style Guide, with no penalties for violation, is still an excellent idea.

What would be the key components of such a guide?

First, a clear and ringing affirmation of the central role played by unfettered intellectual inquiry at Williams. Freedom of thought and conscious must be protected and nurtured at all costs. Those who come to Williams from sheltered backgrounds may be unused to confronting radically different points of view, to having their ideas and beliefs challenged. They need to be reminded that intellectual honesty, saying what you believe and defending what you say, is the highest value at Williams, bar none. Freedom of speech does not stop at the top of Spring Street.

Second, such a guide could provide an overview of words and symbols that are simply beyond the pale. By all accounts, the KKK cookout controversy of last spring was an honest mistake. The author of the flyer did not realize that those three letters remain a potent symbol of hatred and injustice. An Eph Style Guide could make that clear. The existence of a guide, required reading for all members of the community, would remove ignorance as a defense.

Note that nothing in such a guide restricts speech in any way. It is a guide, not a code. If you want to advertise your flyer using the initials KKK, you are still free to do so. But your speech will be met with more speech. You will be called insensitive, because you are. You will be challenged, because you deserve to be. Yet honest mistakes will be made less likely.

Of course, an Eph Style Guide of limited length will need to make choices about what to include and what to exclude. KKK would be included, but “cakewalk,” a term with a viciously racist past, would probably not make the cut. Just the process of thinking harder, slowly and carefully, about what is offensive and why, is a valuable exercise for the College. I would expect the committee responsible for the guide to publish a series of drafts, hold (poorly attended) public meetings and actively seek comments from the broader community.

Third, a guide would make clear what is allowed, what difficult and controversial topics will be, indeed must be, discussed at Williams. For example, common culture affects individual decisions. American culture in the mid-19th century affected the decisions made by Abraham Lincoln just as Japanese culture of the 1920s and ’30s influenced Hirohito’s. To mau-mau Barnard over his claim that Hispanic culture influenced the behavior of specific contemporary baseball players, as some members of VISTA did last spring, is to misunderstand the sorts of conversations that must be allowed, even encouraged, at Williams.

Alas, I doubt that this is what CC is considering. (By the way, who are the key students pushing this idea?) Whoever they are, they almost certainly want the College to punish speech/behavior that they find offensive.

2) Before going to far down this path, College Council should try to learn from its own history. Read this for discussions of similar efforts in 2004 and 2008.

Do any readers think that a social honor code is a good idea?

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CC State of the Union: Dining and Summer (9/14/2010)

Williams Students,

To those who are returning from summers here, there, and everywhere welcome
back to our crazy school. To the new saucy first years, welcome home.

In an effort to increase transparency, a tradition was started last Spring to write
to you monthly with what your council has done, is doing, and is planning to do.

This Summer council worked on three main projects:

1. We formed a committee of students, faculty, staff, and administrators charged
with implementing the necessary changes to Williams Dining in response to the
closure of Greylock and Dodd last Spring. They met every week this summer and
did some incredible work.

2. As part of our Williams History Initiative, Council worked with the College
Archives to write, design, purchase, and install 18 bronze beautiful plaques in
18 entrances to dormitories across campus. Next time you walk into your dorm,
look around for the plaque, and take a second to actually read the thing. Come
on.

3. Council worked with Facilities, Dining Services, and the Student Body at-large
to completely redo the bottom floor of Paresky (the Lounge and 82′ Grille). The
new arcade games, the new tables, chairs, couches, and TV area in the Lounge
and the improvements to the Grille including the banners on the walls, the much
wider beer selection, new food items, and new tabletops and chairs are all
products of collaborative Council work.

4. A bunch of small things too like the new Picnic tables outside Paresky…and,
finally, after three years of trying, those two glass doors that have ALWAYS been
locked going from Whitmans’ to the outside world are finally unlocked starting
today! Victory!

Now, many of you have noticed that the Dining experience has changed at
Williams from last year. Changes have been made across the board. Everyone is
going through a period of adjustment right now. This includes us as students
in addition to the dining services staff. Yes, lines are long right now, but it is
important to give this new system a chance and some time to exist outside the
initial period of adjustment.
Read more

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College Council Meeting Notes

Huge props to College Council Technology Manager Andy Quinn ’13 for creating a useful new College Council website and, even better, organizing more than a decade’s worth of meeting minutes. Amazing stuff. Almost every topic of student concern at Williams has come up many times in the past. Current students should learn from that history.

Perhaps EphBlog’s summer project should be to devote one week of blogging to the events of each academic year since 1997 as seen through the College Council minutes of that year. Any interest?

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Let’s Get It On

Best College Council campaign video in Williams history?

Perhaps. But, I sure do wish that I had a copy of the video Andy Harris ’88 and I made (with help from future Emmy winner Mark Solan ’88 and other Eph theatreatti of that era) for our failed CC campaign. It was genius, pure genius . . .

Hat tip to Will Slack’s excellent WSO thread on the upcoming elections.

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The Once and Future Log

In what seems like a twice-per-decade occurrence, students are involved in an effort to revitalize The Log, which, apparently, has lay virtually dormant since 2007.  Sometimes these efforts will go strong for a year, but inevitably interest / enthusiasm seems to wane as the generation motivated enough to establish a new tradition (which oftentimes is quite popular) graduates.  More details, and a petition drive, can be located at the Willipedia page on point.

If President Falk wants to make an instant impact on campus, some creative thinking about how to better utilize one of the very best, if not the best, social spaces on campus would be a great place to start: in particular, some sort of mechanism to keep momentum and funding in place from year to year would be ideal … perhaps using The Log more during the early weeks of First Year, to establish its value early on in students’ tenure at Williams.  No student space has remotely the same character or history, not to mention a perfect location on Spring Street.

Fortunately, it seems like there is a lot of student enthusiasm and commitment behind this latest effort.  Maybe Ephbloggers with fond Log memories could share their thoughts on the best past uses of the The Log?  A history of what has worked, and what hasn’t, over the years at the Log might help guide current students in their efforts.  The biggest problem will, of course, always be the drinking age, which is what destroyed the Log as a central part of campus social life, to begin with.  Any viable plan for the Log HAS to feature a wide array of options that will be equally attractive whether or not alcohol is involved.

I believe that weekly Pub Trivia, mentioned in the WSO thread, is a great idea that would attract a lot of students to the Log.  In the fall, football and pizza / wings Sundays would likely be popular; so would, I imagine, a March Madness set-up.  Anyone else have thoughts for ideas that would attract those under and over 21 alike?

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Reports from Housing Forum?

There was a forum on housing last night at Williams. Were you there? Tell us what happened! There have been few more contentious issues at Williams over the last decade than housing and it would be interesting to know the latest developments. And, as always, kudos to CC Co-Presidents Lizzy Brickley and Mike Tcheyan for organizing these events. They have done a great job over the last year in organizing the campus conversation about this and other topics. Future CC Co-Presidents should do as they have done.

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Respect Our Diversity

Hilarious or insulting? Depends on your point of view.

A Petition from the Williams Students for More Clothing Coalition, the Williams Center for Genital Covering, and the Quaint Students for Underpants:

Decent and Honorable members of The Williams Community,

Today was scarred with the most morally degrading event in the history of Williams College and possibly all of human time. Four young adults, wearing nothing but their bare epidermis, sprinted through the final Psychology 101 lecture shouting like the rambunctious naked yahoos that they were. Any decent human being knows that impure bodily organs should only be revealed in private. They are not meant for the public sphere-that is why you can only see butts on cable or satellite. The flapping cocks and bouncing breasts that violated the morning of hundreds of Williams students today cannot be taken lightly.

On this occasion we are called to drastic action-SOUND THE ALARM- MAN THE BARRICADES! Starting tonight we will camp out in Chapin Hall until the college recognizes that the clothed community is under attack. In an act of recognition that they see us as a population under suppression, the college administration must give us our own gigantic lecture hall to complain constantly every time a woman reveals her ankles or a man takes off his shirt during a pick-up game of basketball in which neither team is designated skins. There is no possible way to stop the oppression of the clothed students at Williams except to seize a precious piece of campus property. In order for us to feel secure, we also issue the following demands:

1. A full-time Campus Undergarment Coordinator to preempt potential nudity.
2. Cameras in all bedrooms and shower stalls to ensure students remain clothed at all times-even in the most private of spaces.
3. A Human Shame and Clothing Major offered immediately. Why study worthwhile things at college like linguistics when we could have so much more fun sucking the life from the already dire school budget situation in order to retreat into a small-minded surcease of sorrow, immersed in the history of one superficial human characteristic?

Remember: the best way to start seeing people as individuals with equal rights is not to assess them based on the power of their intellect or the content of their character, but it is to dwell on the inconsequential differences that separate them from others. At Williams, we ought to devote our academics to that vision, and Women’s and Gender Studies cannot hold down the fort alone.

We have to deal with the uncomfortable reality that the clothing community has not yet been able to claim Williams as its own. Once we have our coordinator, major, and lecture hall, we feel that it will be physically impossible for anyone on campus offer the opposite and obviously incorrect view. They could never choose to sprint around in the nude or even whisper words like ‘gonad’ and ‘bollocks’ in passing. Our Underwear Coordinator and Clothing Major will be armed with magical force fields to protect us from any offensive behavior whatsoever. We ought to feel comfortable on this campus, and who is better suited to the task of protecting the weak than our representatives? We urge the College Council to be our protector, our cock block.

If you disagree with us, we respect the right of your opinion to exist, but we refuse to acknowledge its validity. We all have a right to free speech, but there is a hierarchy of rights as well, and the right to free speech must only flow from the right to not be offended.

Our freedom to speech has been endowed to us both legally and by the mere fact that we are rational, thinking creatures. This unlimited freedom is constrained by our obligation to forever remain politically correct. Since the clothing community has been offended first and loudest on this issue, the podium belongs to us and no one else. Because it is our view of moral truth, we have every right to demand that the whole campus subscribes to it.

Please respect our diversity.

Please.

Compare and contrast with the College Council’s letter in support of the Hardy House occupation and the original demands.

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Homophobic Graffiti in Dennett

From WSO:

The homophobic graffiti that was written on the walls of the Dennett Hall entry this past Saturday was an example of malicious and unacceptable behavior.

Williams is our home. Every single student deserves to feel safe during their time here. Each of us is responsible for creating this culture of respect.

While it is impossible to change people’s beliefs from the outside that change must come from within all Williams students must respect and hold one another accountable to a certain standard of behavior. Vandalism and inappropriate, discriminatory language do not fall within the bounds of acceptable conduct.

We encourage all Williams students to speak up and hold their fellow students accountable for any form of discriminatory behavior that intimidates, threatens, or endangers members of the Williams Community.

Join College Council tomorrow night, Wednesday, at 8:00 pm in Henze Lounge (2nd Floor Paresky) to discuss the discriminatory act that happened this past weekend as well as the structural reasons behind homophobic behavior. Nothing is off-limits in this discussion. We encourage you to join the dialogue.

Comments:

1) Can someone provide details about the graffiti? What, exactly, was written? When was it discovered? Is there any background story (like the intra-entry disputes in Williams E two years ago) that might provide useful context?

2) Kudos to College Council for organizing this event. The more discussions, the better for the Williams community. If you go, tell us about it. If you have thoughts, share them in the comments.

3) The last major (?) act of (alleged?) homophobia at Williams was the Queer Bash E-mail controversy of 6 years ago. I still like my (unused) theoretical defense for the students.

“I stand by the content of my original e-mail. Having been raised in a Christian home, I believe that there is a Heaven and a Hell and that certain people, because of the decisions that they make, are headed for the latter. Prior this controversy, I understood, because of my cultural background, the terms “faggot” and “queer” to be largely synonymous, both in terms of meaning and acceptability. It is since come to my attention that, for some people, the latter is much preferred to the former. If the Dean of the College provides me with a list of terms that are inappropriate for use on campus, either via e-mail or speech, I would be happy to adhere to it. It was not and is not my intent to harass any individual.”

“Williams make a strong claim to encouraging a diversity of viewpoints on its campus. This is an easy claim to make when all the viewpoints agree with your own. It is a much tougher to fulfill when the viewpoints expressed are ones that you find abhorrent. How Williams proceeds with a disciplinary action against me will tell us all a great deal about seriousness with which Williams undertakes its educational mission.”

I believe, but could never confirm, that at least one of the students involved (if not both) were required by Williams to take time off, although it may have been that other academic/disciplinary problems that they had were involved as well. (I don’t see any relevant cases in the Honor and Discipline Reports for 2003 and 2004.) So, I doubt if they were officially sanctioned. Does anyone know?

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The Great Idea Campaign

Hey Campus,

College Council is proud to announce:
CC’s Great Idea Campaign!

Do you have an idea to improve Williams student life? Need funding?

CC’s Great Idea Campaign is a competition looking for the best ideas for improving student life at Williams. Anyone with a great idea can win!

Submit a 200 word project proposal no later than Friday, November 13 to 10ebb at williams.edu, and you could win CC funding and support to get your project up and running.

What kinds of project ideas are acceptable? The project should be designed to improve some aspect of students’ lives at Williams, but the rest is up to you. Have an idea to improve dorm life? What about social programming? Some example projects from the past include: the textbook reserve program, the former bike share program, and concert funding.

Once again, please submit your 200 word proposal to (redacted for spam prevention) by November 13.

Let the games begin!

Sincerely,
Your College Council

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More Co-Ops

College Council C-President Michael Tcheyan ’10 asks:

What are your thoughts on a new Co-op? College Council is exploring the option of a new Co-op and we want your input!

Needless to say, the co-ops are one of the best aspects of Williams housing. Every student in the thread votes “Yes.” Comments:

1) My Vision for Williams Housing (pdf) would significantly improve housing at Williams. This evidence of co-op popularity supports my Assumption #2.

2) Back in the day, co-ops were less popular for, I think, two reasons. First, there was much more emphasis on the “co-op” part of the exercise. For example, co-op students were not allowed (at all?) to be on the meal plan. That is no longer true. (Are there any restrictions on co-op students?) Second, the failure of Neighborhood Housing has led to a dramatic (almost doubling?) increase in co-op applicants precisely because the single most important aspect of senior housing is having the chance to live with your best friends. Williams is almost over and you want to spend those last 9 months with the Ephs you hope/plan to be close to for the rest of your life. As Dave Moore notes:

One of the reasons co-ops are so valuable (and popular) is that they upset the neighborhood system by their very nature, by removing restrictions and allowing people to actually live with their friends.

Before the Neighborhood Housing, seniors could live with anyone they wanted to.

3) I am glad to see College Council focusing on this topic. Good for them!

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Sophomore Orientation

A good idea.

College Council Sophomore Orientation Proposal

From Willipedia

In the Winter Study of 2009, College Council created a subcommittee to look at the possibility of having a program that would address gaps in the Sophomore experience at Williams. That committee was chaired by Emanuel Yekutiel ’11 and the product of the committee was the proposal below.

After constructing this proposal and brainstorming for ideas about the programs, the subcommittee approached various administrators and community members to gather support for the programs. In the early Spring, the Dean of the College and the Dean’s Office decided to formally support the program for the Class of 2012.

Excellent. The best way to improve the Williams community is to introduce more people to each other. The more sophomores who know each other’s names, the better. Related idea here.

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On CC and the rest of Sunday

CC tabled at dining halls last Thursday to get information about the programs and departments they valued most. There were about 12-14 items on the sheet, which students could rank. The e-mail announcing the tabling also had a link to an electronic poll.

Also, CC has just appointed the four student members of the Neighborhood Review Committee, which will begin meeting this week. Take it to mean what you will, but most positions on committees aren’t incredibly selective, and CC had to turn down some great applicants. I hope that all students can contribute to this review, even if they, like me, did not apply.

Last, anyone who read my writ from Sunday morning can add an incredibly deep and soulful conversation that helped me discover new aspects of myself, catching up with a friend from last semester, watching several old episodes of a TV show on Hulu, attending the largest gathering of the Feast that I can remember, making cards to send to faculty members about Take Back The Night, helping out at the climbing wall, showing a piece to other musicians so that we could collaborate on performing it in two weeks, writing a song about Spring Break, and figuring out the details of a new project that I feel pretty good about. So that’s 66 hours at Williams for you.

For the letter from CC, click Read more

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The New Co-Presidents

As seen in the election results, our new student leaders are Mike Tcheyan ’10 and Lizzy Brickley ’10. Mike is a Water Polo player who coordinated the WOOLF program for two years. Lizzy is on the Crew team, a former CC class representative, a current JA, and one of two students representatives on the Presidential Search Committee. Both are members of the 114th delegation of Gargoyle. See their Self-Nomination and Platform by clicking…. Read more

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Spring CC Election Results

CC Campus

  • Co-Presidents: Lizzy Brickley ’10 and Mike Tcheyan’10
  • Secretary: Zach Evans ’12
  • Treasurer: Rachel Hudson ’10
  • Minority Concerns: Ifiok Inyang’11
  • Class of 2010 Rep: Joya Sonnenfeldt ’10
  • Class of 2011 Rep: Emanuel Yekutiel ’11
  • Class of 2012 Rep: Newton Davis ’12

CC Campus is comprised of the year long officeholders. It sets the College Council agenda and makes appointments to student-faculty committees.

Neighborhoods CC Reps

  • Currier: Christina Metcalf  ’10
  • Dodd: Cameron Nutting ’11
  • Spencer: Hilary Dolstad ’11
  • Wood: Lane Wang ’11

Please note that each neighborhood will also send a leadership board representative to College Council. These people will be Emily George ’09 of Currier, Christophe Dorsey ’10 of Dodd, Schulyer Hall ’10 of Spencer, and Francesca Barrett ’12 of Wood.

First-Year House Reps

  • Armstrong: Will Weiss ’12
  • Dennett: Austin Brown ’12
  • Mills: Carmen Vidal ’12
  • Pratt: Aven King ’12
  • Sage: Amanda Weatherhead ’12
  • Williams: Shara Singh ’12

Honor Committee

  • Anthony Nguyen ’10, replacing Charlie Crawford ’10, who I think is abroad.

Honorary Degrees Commitee

  • Nick Arnosti ’11
  • Will Slack ’11

The Honorary Degrees Committee seeks the names of suitable candidates for honorary degrees and presents those nominations to the President and Committee on Degrees of the Board of Trustees.

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Suggestion for CCI

Emily Spine ’11 and the other Ephs on the Committee on Community Interaction continue to do fine work. They are serious, thoughtful and — most importantly from a process point of view — transparent. Alas, their task is a hard one. How can we improve “the way people in this community interact with each other” at Williams?

My suggestion: Expand First Days (pdf) by one week.

Now, to be fair, the first part of CCI’s work is to determine if Williams has a problem. I think that too many people exaggerate the extent of, say, racism at Williams (c.f. the empty star chamber) but there is no doubt that a wonderful place can always be made more wonderful. Surely we can agree that the amount of drunken vandalism at Williams is suboptimal.

The key insight of organizations that try to change their members behavior (and even value systems) is that the best time to do so is at the very beginning. The Marine Corps places boot camp at the start of your service, not because it is critical to learn how to shine your boots the first week, but because that is the occasion for leaving behind your civilian values and replacing them with different ones. The same applies to religious cults. It is hard for the CCI to do anything which will significantly change the behavior of a Williams senior. He is what he is. You can try to change him, but don’t expect to succeed.

But the same student, as an 18 year-old first year, new to college and to Williams, having left behind the old landmarks of high school and family, trying to adjust to a new world with an unknown culture and foreign standards, that Eph is malleable. You can change his “heart and mind,” if not easily than with more ease than you can an older student, someone who has already found a place for himself at Williams.

Now, the exact mechanics of how we might make First Years better people, how we might change their values so that they are less likely to trash someone’s room or shout a racial slur, is a difficult topic. Yet we can all agree that that process takes time, that First Days are already too filled to accomplish much, that any effort to improve community interaction requires hours and hours of effort. Add a week to First Days and you have that time.

Imagine an extra week of First Days, a week that focuses almost completely on meeting your fellow Ephs, on learning their names, their dreams, their hopes and aspirations. Imagine a freshmen class in which every resident of Pratt knows, not just the names of everyone in her entry, but the names of every student in her dorm. Imagine a week cut off from Williams academics and Williams sports, a week spent focusing on your classmates, the students you will spend the next four years with and then stay connected with for decades thereafter.

If you want to improve “community interaction” then you need to strengthen the Williams community, and that begins by learning names and sharing meals. Such learning and sharing occurs in entries and during the school year, of course. But the more such connections are made, the stronger our community will become.

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CCI Update

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since my last update and so I’d like to fill you all in on what CCI has been doing lately.  Two weeks ago, we decided that perhaps we should take the committee’s investigation in a different direction, and instead of interviewing countless groups of people and still missing out on the majority of the college, we should look at surveys.

At first, we thought about constructing our own survey to be distributed by Chris Winters, director of institutional research here at Williams, but after speaking with him, we have altered that idea a bit.  We are going to be looking at the results of certain surveys and picking out what data we want to analyze.  Now, I’m not a statistician, so I’m not exactly on top of the survey/data game, but if you need more explanation on what is included in the notes, please talk to Mac Stone (richard.m.stone@williams.edu) or Lindsay Moore (lindsay.m.moore@williams.edu); they definitely know more about the nitty-gritty details than I do.

In any case, as of right now, all interviews have been suspended until further notice (this is not saying they will not ever take place, however) and we will keep you updated with the committee’s progress!  We are looking to extend our deadline, since it was originally set at October 15 and it’s very clear that we are nowhere close to finishing.  Please feel free to throw out any suggestions, questions, etc. on the new direction.  The minutes from this week’s meeting will be up on the website quite soon, I just have to wait for Dave Senft to post them (definitely no later than Tuesday).  Again, the website can be found here.

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Fall CC Election Results

Neighborhoods CC Reps

  • Currier: Ifiok Inyang ’11
  • Dodd: Andrew Goldston ’09
  • Spencer: Keith Butts ’09
  • Wood: Jenny Danzi ’09

Freshmen House Reps

  • Armstrong: Tim Goggins
  • Dennett: Zach Evans
  • Mills: Runoff between Sam Jonynas and Mustafa Saadi
  • Pratt: Austin Davis
  • Sage: Newton Davis
  • Williams: Elizabeth Jimenez

Honor Committee

  • Andres Lopez ’09, Student Chair
  • Wes Johnson ’09
  • Charlie Crawford ’10
  • Mia DeSimone ’10
  • Cecelia Davis-Hayes ’11
  • Will Slack ’11
  • Matiullah Amin ’12
  • William Su ’12

Committee on Priorities and Resources

  • Jia Cui ’09

$35,000 (to be split between top 2)

  • First: 1914 Library
  • Second: ACE Concerts
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CCI Minutes 09.25

Hello,

The CCI minutes should be up on our website by Monday.  The website can be found here.  

In the meantime, I will answer some of the questions that David posed to us in regards to the last few posts.

CCI and Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC) are two separate organizations, as David mentioned in his comment.  CDC is a permanent advisory committee to the president of Williams.  It is comprised of faculty, students, and staff.  They deal much more with improving the general community standards and look at a much broader scope of things.  CCI is a student-generated and student-directed temporary committee formed by College Council.  We are looking at the specific, and possibly systemic problems, among our student body.  We talked a bit at this last meeting about working with CDC, but that is all speculation at this point.

As for Claiming Williams, we are not directly involved with that.  We are a committee without bias one way or the other (i.e. we aren’t going to claim there are systemic problems until we have evidence that says it is so).  Therefore, I highly doubt that we will be involved with the planning of C.W. day.

I will put up another post as soon as the minutes are officially up on the website.

Have a great weekend!

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Elections, actually @ Williams….

The voting runs until 10 pm Tuesday. Frosh have to elect house reps and a class rep (the big job); upperclassmen will elect neighborhood reps. The Honor Committee and Committee on Priorities and Resources also have elections going on. Elections are all via Instant Runoff Voting.

See the options for the $35,000 after the link. There’s another poll on if the money should be split among top placers or dedicated to the winner.

Read more

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CCI Website

Hello everyone!

The new CCI website is up and running.  Documents such as minutes and whatnot will be posted on there from here forward.  I will also provide an update on here each week.  Check it out here.

Dave, as for your comments, I will bring them up at the next meeting and get back to you in my next post on here.

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CCI Minutes 9.18

Hello!

Here are the CCI minutes from our last meeting.

The interviewing phase of things has started and it seems to be going well.  We are going to be holding a forum with JAs at their meeting with Dean Dave on October 6, and have tentatively set a date to meet with last year’s JAs.  As per usual, let me know if there are any questions!

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CCI Update #2

Hey everyone,

Here are the minutes from CCI’s most recent meeting: CCI Minutes 09.11

As per usual, let me know if you have trouble opening them.

Now to the question raised on the last post.

Why are locals left out?

Technically, CCI’s mandate only deals with student-student interactions.  We will be talking to CC to see if they would be okay with us including locals’ views on these interactions; however, we are unsure if town-gown relations fall under our jurisdiction.

Some other people have requested to see the mandate, which is linked above.

Have a wonderful weekend!

– Emily

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CC has $35,000 to spend – ideas?

The following was sent to students yesterday:

We hope everyone is doing well and successfully adjusting back into class mode.
College Council is writing to get your advice and give you a chance to help make a major financial decision for the campus.

College Council raised $35,000 by closing the college accounts of defunct student groups.  We now want to use that money for a large campus improvement project and we are giving the student body the power to decide how to spend it.

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CC Minutes 2008-04-30

Another amazing set of minutes (an hour of minutes?) from hard-working College Council Secretary Emily Deans ’09. Read the whole thing but note these comments on WNY.
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CC Minutes 2008-04-23

Latest College Council minutes from the wonderful Emily Deans ’09. In a discussion about raising funds for more social events, we have:

Sarah Moore (Class of 2009 Rep) mentioned the issue of having money for alcohol, which both the neighborhoods and also ACE struggle with. There is no good way to have money for alcohol without charging students.

Peter Nurnberg (co-President) clarified that other schools allocate their Student Activities Tax more for programming things and less to non-programming organizations and Williams does the opposite.

Gordon Atkins (Sage) said that it would be nice if the endowment could subsidize things for the students.

Excellent idea! Of course, it is tough for the endowment itself to cut a check, but the endowment is just the collection of donations from generous alums and, even today, there are hundreds of generous alums who would love to “subsidize things for the students.” In fact, Nurnberg and his co-president campaigned on just such a plan. I outlined how it should work here. Alas:

Even though I think that this is a great idea, my prediction is that nothing meaningful will come of it because Williams administrators will be able to cajole/trick the interested students into dropping the project. The College is happy to have students fund-raise for projects that the College already approves of. It will do everything it can to prevent students from contacting alumni about projects it would not otherwise fund.

With luck, students will prove me wrong.

No one ever contacted me. Perhaps someone in next year’s Gargoyle class will prove me wrong.

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CC Minutes 2008-04-09

Another amazingly detailed set of College Council minutes from Emily Deans ’09. Morty was at the CC meeting and answered all sorts of interesting questions. Here are some of the highlights (and my comments) but read the whole thing.

Thomas Rubinsky (Class of 2010 Rep) asked whether the college was doing anything about the loss of the rectory as a co-op?

President Schapiro responded that he did not know whether the college was going anything but made several comments about how much he likes co-ops. He said that there may be some opportunities to turn buildings into co-ops once the North and South buildings are completed.

Good news! Co-ops are indeed one of the very best parts of student housing at Williams, and it is good to know that Morty agrees. One of my concerns about Neighborhood Housing was that the inevitable failure to create meaningful neighborhood community would lead the Administration to try to salvage the project by pulling seniors back into the neighborhoods, mainly by attaching co-ops to neighborhoods or by decreasing the number of seniors allowed to live off-campus. Perhaps there is no need to worry about that now.

Yet it is still a shame that the Administration take the obvious next step. If co-op housing is wonderful and popular (more than 1/2 of all juniors applied), why not create more co-ops? Genius, eh? Someone from Gargoyle or College Council ought to look into this, ought to come up with a plan that increases the number of co-ops even if it means taking nice senior housing away from the clusters. Such a plan could, if anything, make senior housing in the neighborhoods more equal than it is today.

Narae Park (Dodd Board Rep) then asked about the 2020 Committee.

President Schapiro said that the idea for the 2020 Committee is that we are supposed to look ahead about a dozen years to see what kind of challenges are going to confront Williams. Some examples he gave were improving the public schools and being competitive with our peer institutions in terms of financial aid packages. Williams keeps changing the financial aid packages but it is hard to compete with Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, etc. and we are competitive but part of discussion is financial aid and part of financial aid is trying to create a more inclusive society. He also mentioned the 1.5 million dollars the college has for next year for environmental initiatives. Then President Schapiro talked about globalization and bringing the world to Williams and Williams to the world. He said that part of the 2020 effort is to position the college to be a more attractive place that does a better job of educating students.

It would be nice if the College were to be more transparent about the 2020 planning process. We can’t all be invited to the special retreat in Oxford, but why not share 90% of the material that was passed out at those meetings? (Redact anything particularly sensitive.) A College Council member ought to ask to see this stuff.

Spending more money on the public schools is about the most inefficient means possible of making Williams a better college. But it does make the faculty happy!

Is it just me or is the number one most obvious priority matching the financial aid packages of Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford? I am not arguing that the College needs to be more generous than these schools, just that we shouldn’t force an applicant to pay $10,000 more to choose Williams.

Rachel Ko (Wood At-Large) asked about bringing the world to Williams and Williams to the world. Some students have been trying to push for experiential learning on campus and a lot of classes aren’t using local resources to really allow students to learn in the field.

President Schapiro said that faculty are very skeptical about giving credit for experiential things because it is very difficult to do it right. Most professors like what they teach and how they teach it and are skeptical about giving up control. Bringing the world to Williams means having a more globalized student body, faculty, and staff (increase international students) and that has made a difference. He thought that the curriculum and student body were in a pretty good place and want students to have a lot of experience outside of classroom but thought that it would be a tall order to ask faculty to give up control.

Exactly right. Although it is tough to know the exact meaning of “experiential learning” in this context (and I am a fan of Rachel Ko), no course credit should be given for anything outside of faculty control. Students should, of course, be encouraged to do all sorts of activities outside of classes and if someone wants to call this “experiential learning” all the better. But each semester you take 4 classes which Williams faculty judge important and rigorous. Many of those classes will involve work outside of the classroom, whether it is field observations in Hopkins Forest or studying paintings at the Clark. But a member of the Williams faculty is always in charge of the syllabus and evaluation.

President Schapiro was then asked about changes in scholarships. He said that the good news is that colleges are competing to be more affordable but he thought that some recent changes are things that aren’t necessarily fair. There are a lot of schools that have rich kids paying sticker price who aren’t as smart as the rest of the class and that is what need-aware admissions means. Williams does a good job and has a decent distribution of students with families all the way up the income ladder and the way to improve that distribution is to improve aid packages. He said that the new changes in aid are creating a bizarre incentive to put wealth in to home equity.

Good advice to all the Williams applicants among our readers. Indeed, there are probably dozens of current Williams students who could improve their financial aid package if their parents emptied the family (non-retirement?) savings accounts and put that money into home equity. If the money is in the bank, the College demands a piece of it. If the money is in your house, maybe not.

But Morty is being either naive or disingenuous to imply that this is some “problem” with the financial aid system that could be fixed via better policy, and/or collusion via the 568 group. The central issue is that very rich schools (H/Y/P/S) want to get the students they want and they have, for years, competed on price to do so. Williams is forced to either follow suit or have no non-rich student who could have attended HYPS choose us instead. The home equity “incentive” derives from this competition because HYPS found it convenient to cut price via the mechanism of ignoring home equity. Williams is forced to go along, not because it finds home equity a more sensible way to save but simply because of peer competition.

And the next steps in this competition are fairly obvious (and perhaps HYPS have already started in this direction). Soon, elite colleges will not even ask you for your savings. Your family’s wealth (whether stored in bank accounts or home equity) will play no part in your bill. Instead, they will just ask to see you 1040 and base the family contribution on your income.

Full minutes below and more commentary tomorrow.
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