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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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CC Minutes 2008-04-02

Latest College Council minutes from Emily Deans ’09.
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CC Minutes 2008-03-11

College Council notes from the wonderful Emily Deans ’09. Full notes below, but note this item.

The CDC [Committee on Diversity and Community] is also analyzing the homogeneity of the JA selection committee and the JA structure. In particular, the CDC is focusing on what JAs can do to ensure that minority students can feel a part of the entry. The implications of this would primarily be resolved in more in-depth and issue-specific training addressing issues that often affect minority students.

Come on! Is any reasonable person actually concerned that the JA selection committee is too homogeneous? The JASC is one of the great student institutions at Williams. It is probably biased in favor of people who are rah-rah Williams, but mainly because you have to be fairly rah-rah to care about who gets to be a JA. I would bet big money that, relative to its applicant pool, the JASC is as diverse as diverse can be. The problem with an organization like CDC is that, left unchecked, there is always the chance that it could do real damage, like insist on involving non-students from the Office of Campus Life in its deliberations.

Any JA readers can comment on whether or not they feel that the JAs need more “in-depth and issue-specific training” on these topics. I bet they get enough.

Full notes below. (Apologies for the formatting. My fault not Emily’s.)
UPDATE: Early posting was not the final version of the notes. Fixed now.
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CC Minutes 2008-03-05

Thanks to Emily Dean ’09 for passing along the latest minutes from College Council.

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Details on the ECCE

There are 7 pages of Word document proposal that CC will take up on Wednesday. In those, there is one big decision: on if the committee should talk about faculty behavior (something that has not been ideal for some people). The two forms proposed are 9-6-3 (non-voting), with a clear student majority but a large group of faculty, or 9- 2 (non-voting) -3 (non-voting), with only students, but with several advisory positions.

Excerpts in the link, though the bullet points might not reproduce well. Read more

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Pro CC

AB ’07 puts some of the recent complaints about College Council in perspective.

This last weekend, CC campus, made up of the at large and class reps, spent almost 10 hours reading applications and 5 hours locked in a tiny room in Goodrich picking people to be in the MANY student faculty committees CC oversees. Sure, these committees might be ineffective, they might not have done much in the past, but they do represent the student body. We had over a 150 applications so these are things people want to join. Now Oren Cass might believe that I, as an at large rep, thoroughly enjoyed reading through a 150 applications – let me assure you, I didn’t. We all had things to do that were more fulfilling and probably more important to us. But we did sit there in that damn room and get through it. I don’t know how many people would have given up so much of their time and energy to something they really had no involvement in.

I think that Cass’s rhetorical skill occasionally blinds him to the fact that College Council does a lot of good and important work. His failure to acknowledge this makes his good points less persuasive then they might otherwise be. AB writes:

And if anyone has the gall to claim that CC does nothing, read the minutes. Godfrey Bakuli is already a celebrity on this campus thanks to his work in removing the snack bar tax. He is not the only one. Jonathan Landsman managed to get the college to open up 2 kitchens for students who live on campus in the summer. Eylul Kasal is working on getting the academic hardship policy of the school modified so that it includes midterms. Jesse England has been working for a while on getting academic and social advising for sophomores. I, along with other council members, have been trying to grapple with the network problems this campus has been facing. The list goes on. If you think these are small projects of minimum value, you seriously are living in your own little bubble.

Indeed.

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