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More on WSO Discussions

From eph2015 (on the demise of WSO Discussions):

I think this is a positives step. Keeping these kinds of discussions to Facebook keeps it relevant to just those who are on campus. We don’t want parents or alums reading our every word. A current community can’t thrive when it feels like it’s being watched in this way. On Facebook, we have options to limit the visibility of our posts to only those we want to see them.

This is problematic on several levels:

First, how is a first year supposed to read these discussions? Not everyone keeps their Facebook feed open. She may not know many/any of the people involved in, say, something like The Taco Six. So, by not having this discussion on WSO, you are preventing much of the campus from participating.

Second, even among the people connected on Facebook enough to see some of the discussion, there will be a natural tendency to mostly see/read the comments from your friends, i.e., that part of the campus most likely to agree with you! In fact, the more likely someone is to have an opinion radically different from you, the less likely you are to see what she writes.

Third, the issue has little to do with “parents or alums reading our every word.” The critical thing is that WSO Discussions does not exist. If it existed and only students/faculty/staff could see it and participate, that would be fine.

Fourth, this claim is false:

A current community can’t thrive when it feels like it’s being watched in this way.

WSO, just a few years ago, was an amazing on-line community, thriving in every imaginable way. Alas, the links don’t work for me anymore. (Obviously, I should have saved local copies.) Do they still work on campus? How about:

Katherine Dieber ’07 on campus racism.
Nick Greer ’08 on the Odd Quad.
iana Davis ’07 on athletics at Williams.
Cassandra Montenegro ’06 on Queer Bash pornography.

Fifth, stand by for progress! It looks like WSO Discussions may revive. Here’s hoping.

For branding, instead of calling it “WSO Discussions,” we might try for something better. How about “Uncomfortable Learning” or “Gaudino Forum?”


More on WSO Discussions

As always, much of the best content on EphBlog comes from our commentators. Here is DM ’10 on WSO discussions.

WSO discussions started falling off several years ago; I’d check occasionally and see that only a few new posts were being made per semester. The current redesign only put the nail in the coffin, by putting discussions (along with the other interactive elements of the site) below the fold, with abbreviated titles so it’s not obvious at first glance what’s being discussed.

I think it’s reasonable, in the abstract, for students to prefer that WSO discussions be limited to the on-campus community. Williams exists for the development of its students, not the entertainment of its alumni, and students who are just finding their voice and exploring their worldview can legitimately prefer a forum where every misstep is not broadcast widely and preserved forever in the global digital memory. This is (at least partly) why WSO always excluded discussions from search engine indices, even when they were publicly visible. Of course there’s also value in a broader discussion, including alumni and other off-campus voices, and EphBlog has at times provided a venue for that sort of conversation. But that’s a complementary mission, in my view.

That said, I doubt people were moving to Facebook/Yikyak/wherever specifically to avoid the prying eyes of parents: WSO had vibrant discussions for many years despite being publicly visible, and limiting accessibility doesn’t seem to have brought them back. Probably part of it is just that Facebook (and other social sites) has grown tremendously: although it was ubiquitous during my time at Williams, it was still something of a novelty; I remember my college-bound friends being excited to get their .edu email addresses so they could finally sign up for a Facebook account. These days, incoming freshmen have had Facebook accounts from middle school onward, and are already accustomed to it as the default mode of online social interaction. Modern-day Facebook has also just put a ton of technical and design resources into creating a slick, attractive, frictionless experience, in a way that a small, part-time, mostly neglected student organization like WSO can’t really be expected to match. I’m not suggesting this is a complete explanation; I’m sure there are lots of other factors at play as well.

I do think something is lost when discussions that were formerly campus-wide move to anonymous (yikyak) or social (facebook) platforms. There were a number of people at Williams whom I got to know largely by reading their WSO posts; they were not part of my direct circle of friends and I probably would not have met them or been exposed to their perspectives if these conversations had taken place instead inside the filter-bubble of Facebook social connections. The medium of WSO discussions also encouraged longer-form posts (paragraph or more) and deeper threads than are common on Facebook or similar sites — this may have been part of their downfall, since there’s a higher barrier to entry and it’s easier for a thread to go off the rails, but at its best they did provide a forum for people to seriously engage, in a way that’s not (in my experience) very common in Facebook discussions.


WSO Discussions

WSO Discussions used to be a vibrant part of the Williams Conversation. They are now dead, and have been dead since WSO’s redesign. Comments:

1) Does WSO care? It appears that non-campus (non-student?) Ephs can’t even view WSO Discussions anymore. Was that a conscious choice? This is a shame since lots of parents and alums (and not just at EphBlog!) used to enjoy reading those discussions.

2) Where have those discussions gone? One student mentioned to me that he read some debate about The Taco Six on Facebook. Is that where students have these conversations? If so, that is too bad.

3) If Williams took seriously the mission of bringing together students with different viewpoints, it would want WSO Discussions, or something like it to exist. But I doubt that the College really cares that much. Recall former Dean Roseman from 9 years ago:

To bring discussion [on racial incidents] to a more public arena, Schapiro and Roseman are hosting an open forum in Griffin at 8:30 p.m. tonight. Roseman said she felt that WSO blogs are ultimately limited in lasting value, despite the good content they sometimes contain. “They’re not really a dialogue,” she said. “They always degenerate over time.”

More tomorrow.


Reap What You Sow

Almost five years ago, WSO featured a discussion about Claiming Williams and the issue of White Male Athletes Who Drink (WMAWD). Alas, the link I used then does not seem to work. Fortunately, I saved much of the discussion.

Basic idea was that many people felt that Claiming Williams, as an institution, was actively hostile toward WMAWD and that, therefore, many WMAWD did not bother to attend WMAWD events.

I’m not even sure how to express how much I agree with all of the above. In many, many conversations I’ve noticed this trend of looking down on the idea of the white male (not even just white male athletes who drink) simply because of the history, and not necessarily because of specific examples. I think a lot of WM do feel the pressure to be ashamed of who they are though they themselves have done nothing.

But it sure doesn’t help when very few of the allegedly marginalized Straight White Male Athlete Drinkers show up to any of the events in which I participated (which are the only ones I can speak for). Their absence was noted by some of their coaches, who were present and contributed in valuable ways.

I would bet a lot of money that the reason there wasn’t a huge percentage of the white male athletes at the events is because of people like you, who in trying to fight against “abjection” and “exclusion” make the mistake of excluding those people from the process and creating an air of hostility. I think that the Claiming Williams events were wonderful and the people involved were earnest and open, but it’s people who create unnecessary conflict like this who keep the WMAWD away.

I’ll argue that I think CW this year made an effort to be unassuming and unhostile, but I agree that the general perception on campus remains that any time we talk about “diversity” we’re talking about the evils of the WMAWDs. How to change that perception, I don’t know – but I do feel that oftentimes, in an effort to find safety, security, and solidarity on campus, groups can create a feeling of “us vs. them.”

That being said, I think that the marginalization of the WMAWD is that he feels unwelcome and uncomfortable even attending and participating in these sorts of conversations. Is that “as bad” as the challenges associated with facing racism or classism on a daily basis? Perhaps not. But these types of discussions shouldn’t be about trying to decide who’s been the most oppressed – they should be about moving forward as a community

Do you honestly believe white male athletes who drink aren’t marginalized?

In my time at Williams, I have witnessed/heard just as much anti-WMAWD attitude as anti-gay, anti-(*), etc. attitudes. *Substitute race here. Not that my experience is necessarily representative of the whole school, but i think it definitely occurs. … So if they [white males] are made to feel unwelcome and are uncomfortable in the situation, they are cowards for not attending anyway? That just doesn’t make sense.

I’m a white straight male, and I after hours of conversations, I still don’t fully understand why people of various identities feel excluded from this campus. That doesn’t mean that I’m deliberately ignorant, or that issues don’t exist. It just means that there are some things that you can’t understand, or are reallyhard to understand until you experience the same thing, and that THAT IS OK, so long as we keep talking. … I guess I’m just bothered that you seem to think that you can treat people on campus differently because of worldwide trends and patterns. If there’s a problem on campus, then we should address that, but I don’t think you can cite what goes on outside of the Purple Bubble as a reason to treat a certain group of people differently within it.

On the other hand, I whole-heartedly agree that some WMAWD’s are misjudged, but getting to know them solves that (it’s really not that big of a deal). WMAWD’s who don’t fall into the stereotypes make an effort to not be what people think they are. I have WMAWD as friends, and some fall into their stereotype whereas others don’t. True, I do judge some WMAWD’s, but that may also be because they walk in herds and seem to have no awareness about the world surrounding them.

I really hope that this entire passage was intended to be as ridiculous a joke as it reads.

Let’s replace “WMAWD” with some other social/ethnic labels and see how we react.

1) While some black people are misjudged, getting to know them solves it, so prejudices don’t cause any damage. Anyway, it’s incumbent on the African-Americans who don’t want to be stereotyped to make an extra effort to show us that they’re different. Sure, I apply stereotypes to some black people, but that’s only because they congregate in groups and don’t try to reach out to me: their fault. . . .

If anyone had posted either of those absurd statements, they justifiably would have had the living shit Claimed out of them in a hailstorm of indignant criticism. Your identical post deserves no less.

shit man let them get a taste of what others having been getting/and will get.

Awesome. Thanks for assuming, based only on the amount of pigment in my skin, that I must have spent my nineteen years slinging racial epithets or embodying prejudice and therefore deserve to have this vindictive nonsense unleashed on me.

Making presumptions about the content of my character based on my ethnic and socioeconomic identity. . .man, if only we had a word to describe this kind of behavior: oh hey, neat! We do!

Cry me a river. Really? The fact that you automatically believe that none of the white students here ever had to “prove” themselves is exactly what this thread was about.

Your main point of argument seems to be that because history has shown that there were more white males with better jobs than any other subgroup in our society that it’s automatically going to be real easy for them to live life. You really don’t think that they don’t even have to try here because out there they’re not going to face the economy in the shitters, that they’re somehow more special and will not have to worry about being put under a certain image and treated unfairly when going for a job interview or applying for grad school? Or that none of the unemployed people in this country are white males?

Maybe in the hustle of I-had-to-overcome-so-many-disadvantages-because-of-what-I-look-like you missed the blaring sign– everyone hurts the same way. You think you’re so different from the WMAWD because of the color of your skin or where your ancestors might have come from? Cut everyone with a knife and see if we don’t bleed the same red blood.

I don’t believe it’s quite so that they [white males] don’t feel that they have things to contribute to a day devoted to diversity, as in so much that other people don’t expect them to be able to contribute to the talks because they are automatically assumed to have never experienced adversity because of color of their skin, their gender, sexuality, etc..


Why should the onus be on me to prove myself to you? Your assumptions about me are being made just by the groups of people that I walk with has to be one of the more baseless reasons for judging someone that there is out there. Because I am white and I am walking with other white kids I don’t see the world around me? Don’t get that logic. You said its not hard to get to know them, well then give “us” that chance. So maybe in large groups we act differently but that is a moot point. One on one everyone is different than they are in large groups, but that doesn’t just apply to white males, it applies to everyone.

So maybe I will get to know you once you give me a clean slate to operate with. But I won’t get to know you if you assume certain things about me right off the bat even if I try to get to know you. Don’t stereotype minorities, don’t stereotype white males either. It is not a hard compromise because equality doesn’t involve subjugating white people, that is revenge for historical wrongs that, while I admit would probably be fair, is not helpful. Equality isn’t turning the tables, it’s making sure everyone has a seat.

Do people really feel unsafe or discriminated on campus? Maybe I’m just oblivious to such things, but this seems a little ridiculous to me.

I feel like I’ve had different experiences than some of the other people posting. You may never have encountered the “I’ve had it bad, it’s kind of your fault, you bad bad white man” attitude here on campus, but I ASSURE you, I most definitely have. Whether this is as widespread as I have come to see it as, or if it is not as prevalent as I thought is a matter that I will leave others to decide. The most important thing for me is not so much the self-victimization as what is relatively undisputed: the bias against WMAWD that is pervasive on this campus.

As far as the word “privilege” goes, I think it can be misleading. I think Claiming Williams should encourage EVERYONE to reflect on the privilege they have, rather than assuming that certain groups are privileged while other groups are unprivileged. This may not be the fault of CW or anyone who participates in it, but it seems that we perceive privilege as only occurring within certain demographics. Again, I’m not denying any differences in “stark material realities,” but I’m trying to expand my notion of privilege beyond that.

Several posts have bemoaned the lack of WMAWD at CW, and several have offered hostile or disappointed takes on this. I speak only for myself, but I did not stay away due to laziness or hostility to any group of people. This WMAW (occasionally) D is very concerned about this kind of issue, but finds CW objectionable for various reasons and therefore elected to exercise his right to choose not to attend.

The issue for me is not that “no one knows what I’ve faced,” but that my being privileged should not impact your perception of me. The fact that I don’t know what it’s like from your perspective doesn’t make me irrelevant. My opinions can be valid without my being shaped by overwhelming oppression. I do frequently feel less welcome or less valued by some because I have had certain advantages. This is not crushing oppression; I am by no means marginalized, but it is an issue.

None of the people who wrote these words are still on campus. Has Williams changed much in the last 4 years? I doubt it.


Four Williams Students Arrested

Sara Finkle ’14, Jen Rowe ’11, Sasha Macko ’11 and one other Williams student were arrested on Friday for “unlawful conduct and disruption of Congress.” See WSO for discussion. The AP reports:

Natalie Greene of Knoxville, a member of the protester party who was not arrested, said they were an unorganized group of young people concerned about the future of the environment.

One by one, they stood up in the visitors’ gallery and began singing songs such as the national anthem and “We Shall Overcome,” before they were taken out of the chamber by Capitol Police. As soon as speeches on the floor resumed, another protester would start singing.



1) Having the courage of your convictions is a good thing. Well done!

2) Do these students feel like the rubes they are for thinking that Obama/Democrats actually care about global warming. Recall:

Twenty-six students at the College joined 12,000 students from around the U.S. and globe at Powershift 2009 this past weekend, the nation’s largest-ever summit on climate and energy action.

The weekend consisted of a series of panels and workshops, keynote speakers including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other prominent figures of the environmental movement, and performances by artists such as The Roots. The conference was geared toward empowering youth with the information and tools to effect change, with the ultimate goal of “letting our elected officials know, face-to-face, that we expect them to rebuild our economy and reclaim our future with bold climate and energy policy,” according to the organizers of the summit.

To achieve this end, the weekend culminated in a lobby on Capitol Hill on Monday, at which youth demanded climate and energy legislation of their representatives. “We wanted to make sure that these issues were on the table during the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency,” said Sasha Macko ’11, who organized the Williams trip through Thursday Night Group.

That failed, as this effort is doomed to fail. Obama does not really care about global warming or the efforts to fight it. If he did, he would have made it the number one priority of his Administration. Instead, he focused on health care. Nothing wrong with that choice, of course, but one of the reasons that I voted for Obama was that I new how much fun it would be to laugh at his fervent supporters as he disappointed them so thoroughly.

3) Recommended reading for both protesters and their opponents: The Monkeywrench Gang. What would you recommend?


Why I don’t post here.

Cross-posted at my blog. I don’t usually post here, but some things deserve an in-depth rebuttal. Admin should feel free to keep/remove my “more” tag. Before I get down to business, though, I am very curious about what specific causes, biological or otherwise, that cause fewer females to nominate themselves than males for class officer roles.

Let’s compare the WSO post and David’s post. The WSO post states that seeing one candidate for speaker made her curious, and so she found that there have been no class speakers since 2003. She also found that only 3 out of 24 speakers are female, and that only 1 of the elected speaking roles is female. This causes her to be uneasy. So we have a series of facts, and a single statement of one emotion.

David’s response is that “uneasiness” is a flat-out wrong thing to feel, and that a smarter, more educated person would immediately understand that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gap. Why? Because “men and women are biologically different.”

What David misses entirely is that the WSO poster never said the differences weren’t biological; indeed, she didn’t say anything about biology, or even anything opinion-related whatsoever. David takes this as a permission slip to imply that she is “deeply uneducated,” and as a bonus, “probably” blames Williams College for this deficiency. David further takes this as an opportunity to reference Larry Summers.

The problem, of course, is that even if there are still biological differences between women and men that affect the selection process for speaking roles, it’s still perfectly appropriate to feel uneasy about the gap. Thus David’s entire post is falsely premised on an imagined deficiency in the WSO poster – assuming ignorance where ignorance may or may not have existed.

Read more


Underrepresentation of Female Students Among Graduation Day Speakers

From WSO:

Seeing only one female student on the list of candidates for class speaker made me wonder and I looked at commencement archives. No female class speakers between 2003 and 2010. The archives start in 2003.

In addition, only 3 out of 24 total speakers are female. If we don’t count the valedictorians, then only 1 out of 16 chosen speakers is female (this includes Phi Beta Kappa & class speakers).

This makes me very uneasy.

Instead of becoming “uneasy,” this student (and the WSO commentators that follow) might consider becoming “educated.”

Men and women are biologically different.

If you don’t think that this scientific fact plays a major role (not the only role) in the gender of Commencement Day speakers, then you are deeply uneducated. And that is probably partly the fault of Williams College.

Would any Williams professor dare to point this out in a public forum? I doubt it. They all saw what happened to Larry Summers . . .


Susan Boyle to Speak at Commencement?!

You read it at EphBlog first! Who is Susan Boyle? Ask Youtube.

To clarify: I don’t know if this is true. Help me out, anonymous sources! But I would certainly bet that it is true, given the information in this WSO thread:

1) Two Williams students have independently (?) reported the rumor.

2) Will Slack ’11 was on the committee (I forget which one) which picks the honorary degree winners and speakers. He also started Boyle’s Wikipedia page.

Given these facts, what odds would you give on Boyle?

On the substance:

1) I dislike any Commencement Speaker who is not an Eph. So, I dislike this choice.

2) I am surprised at how negative the reaction is at WSO.

If Susan Boyle is our graduation speaker, I will cry. Seriously Williams College?

That was from Emily Spine, a long lost author at EphBlog. Come back Emily! We miss you.

Hey guys, this is Williams, what did you expect? I’m over being angry about it, I just have …

*lowered expectations*

I would have expected students to be more supportive of a pop-cultural choice.

Read the whole WSO thread. It is quite clever, at least if you are a Wikipedia geek like me.


Construed Against White Males

It is tough to know what to make of this post from Will Slack ’11 last year:

Why I quit Ephblog

Posts like this one.

White males have nothing to do with this, and nothing about Claiming Williams was construed against white males as a group. Good grief.

Sort of depends on who is doing the construing, doesn’t it? The key passage in my post:

This is a small example of why white males like me don’t feel welcome at events associated with faculty members like Wendy Raymond.

Will suggests (and may even believe in good faith) that Claiming Williams is a truly inclusive event, that everyone on the Williams campus feels welcome. He implies either a) that few/no white males feel unwelcome at Claiming Williams or b) that such feelings are unjustified.

Don’t think that I have a better sense than Will about what a large percentage (10%?, 50%?) of white males (and others!) think about Claiming Williams? No need to trust me. Just read WSO:

I’ll argue that I think CW this year made an effort to be unassuming and unhostile, but I agree that the general perception on campus remains that any time we talk about “diversity” we’re talking about the evils of the WMAWDs. How to change that perception, I don’t know – but I do feel that oftentimes, in an effort to find safety, security, and solidarity on campus, groups can create a feeling of “us vs. them.”

That being said, I think that the marginalization of the WMAWD is that he feels unwelcome and uncomfortable even attending and participating in these sorts of conversations. Is that “as bad” as the challenges associated with facing racism or classism on a daily basis? Perhaps not. But these types of discussions shouldn’t be about trying to decide who’s been the most oppressed – they should be about moving forward as a community

I feel like I’ve had different experiences than some of the other people posting. You may never have encountered the “I’ve had it bad, it’s kind of your fault, you bad bad white man” attitude here on campus, but I ASSURE you, I most definitely have. Whether this is as widespread as I have come to see it as, or if it is not as prevalent as I thought is a matter that I will leave others to decide. The most important thing for me is not so much the self-victimization as what is relatively undisputed: the bias against WMAWD that is pervasive on this campus.

More quotes/commentary below:
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Your New Chinese Overlords

This election video generated an interesting discussion at WSO.

I think we actually are disagreeing on the distinction between racism and xenophobia. The ad is based in xenophobia (and nationalism), and it is VERY xenophobic, and of course a component of that is racism, but on the whole, that is not a defining feature of the ad (ie they have kept the racism component small). I think you are claiming that the ad is outrageously racist whereas I would call it outrageously xenophobic. I think I would be comfortable arguing that Avatar is more racist than this clip. They are not saying “reduce the debt because the Chinese aren’t Caucasian and we don’t want to be ruled by an inferior race”; they are saying “reduce the debt because the Chinese are Chinese and we don’t want to be ruled by outsiders and an inferior country”.

You write that as if it is obvious that xenophobia is a bad thing . . .


Expand First Days

I believe that the major focus of Committee on Undergraduate life this year is the freshmen/entry experience. Can anyone confirm and/or provide background? From Will Slack ’11 (a CUL member) writing on WSO:

Everyone got an e-mail last night linking to a survey from the “Committee on Undergraduate Life.” This group, which six students sit on, recommends policy on all things non-academic at Williams. It’s also the group that, in 2005, recommended and shaped the Neighborhood System. This all means that the survey you got (and your responses to it) are going to be vital for whatever recommendations the CUL might make about the future of the entry system. If you have any questions about the survey, feel free to post them below. I can’t promise I’ll have computer access to answer them, but hopefully others on the CUL will see and reply.

This isn’t something to skip out on. Anecdotally, I know that many people have horrible or very difficult entry experiences, including myself. But these experiences aren’t the whole story – we also know that many people really enjoy their experiences. The six of us on the CUL do our best to represent all of you, but we can’t hope to know and express the experiences of everyone. That’s why we need you to fill out the survey, and if possible, give us some qualitative data through the free response section. Remember: your responses are confidential. I know it’s Winter Study, and I know we’re all focusing on having as much fun as possible. I’m actually in Jerusalem right now on a travel course. But please take the 5 minutes to give us your thoughts – your responses may well help to inform the first-year experiences of countless Williams frosh that will follow in your footsteps. We want to know what has or hasn’t worked.

Tell us.

1) I hope that CUL will be as transparent as the Claiming Williams folks have been and recently the full details of the survey responses. Doing so will make for a much more productive discussion.

2) Please provide a copy of the questions in the comments.

3) Improving the first year experience is easy. Just do what I recommended three years ago, in a slightly different context: Expand First Days by one week and focus that time on getting more freshmen to know more of their peers.

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.

CUL ignored my wise advice on housing. Perhaps they will listen to me on this. An extra week (or more) of First Days would make many of the freshmen who currently have a miserable experience in their entries less miserable because it will make it easy for them to get to know students outside their entry but in their dorm.


Enrollment Limits in Psychology

From WSO:

The Psyc department seems to be making a habit of dropping over 50% of applicants for their classes (around 50-60 students for a typical 200 level course). I hope Williams is doing something about this…it’s a really serious problem. Last semester, I know of at least 3 courses which dropped at least 50 students, and I’m assuming there were other overenrolled courses which I didn’t happen to know friends in. All told, that single department is probably dropping at least 200 students every semester. That’s ~10% of the student population! I guess I’m wondering why the class size caps are so stringent. Is there really that little space? Could we schedule Bronfman, Wege, and the TPL/TBL lecture halls more effectively so that we could offer more courses to a larger group? Last semester, I had a chem course with only 7 people in Wege, with no class before it, while the Psyc department was dropping tons of students due to ‘size caps’ which I can only assume are due to space constraints in the small Bronfman rooms. After all, wouldn’t a larger course be more valuable than a course that no one gets to take?

1) Williams should be more transparent. The Registrar should publish information about the number of students who seek to enroll in each class and the number that were dropped. We don’t need to know the names of the specific students, obviously, although information about class and major might be useful.

2) Are the 200-level Psychology courses known/thought to be guts? If not, then why is there so much interest in them? There are dozens of fascinating 200-level courses in smaller departments like Religion, Sociology/Anthropology, Philosophy, Art History, and so on. Why don’t more students choose them first?

3) I think that some/most of the dropping has nothing to do with class room availability per se. There are plenty of big lecture halls on campus! And nothing prevents the department from offering multiple sections. Keep two other factors in mind. First, the College (driven by both good pedagogy and concern over US News rankings) wants to minimize the number of large lectures, especially those with 50 or more students. Second, professors (for mostly good reasons) prefer smaller classes to larger ones. They are somewhat sad to drop dozens of students but also think that doing so allows them to provide a better education to those who remain.

4) Given that Psychology has a (deserved?) reputation as a too-easy major, the Department ought to use this popularity as an occasion to get more pedagogically serious, just as Economics did a few years ago. Requiring some more serious statistics (like, say, STAT 200) would do the trick nicely.

5) Williams course offerings should be driven by long term student interests. If lots of students want to take, say, PSYC 222: Minds, Brains, and Intelligent Behavior: An Introduction to Cognitive Science, then more sections should be offered, more professors in this area hired. Conversely, courses with lower enrollments should be dropped.


Williams Privilege

A homecoming discussion on WSO:

Today, while on the phone with my friends and trying to locate them in the crowd, I happened to end up standing in front of a red GMC SUV that was parked behind the goalposts closest to the street. As I did so, the driver of the vehicle stepped out of the car and approached me.

“Excuse me,” he said, “my wife’s recovering from surgery and you’re blocking her view.”

“Oh,” I said, trying to listen to the phone and this guy at the same time. “I’ll move – give me two minutes.”

He paused for a second, and then started jabbing his finger at me. “If you don’t move right now,” he said, “I’m gonna throw your little ass over this fence here.”

This, of course, got my attention. Several more minutes of heated argument followed, in which the man (who I’m assuming is an alum) repeated multiple times that I was the problem and that I was a jerk for not immediately deferring to his request.

Read the whole thing. Maybe it is just a white thing, but if someone asked me to move because I was blocking the view of someone disabled (someone who had been there before I arrived), I would just move.

Sure, he might’ve just been a total asshole to everybody, or maybe I was actually being a jerk by standing in his wife’s field of vision accidentally for a minute, but I can’t shake the feeling that my race had a lot to do with the way he felt he could treat me.

Assuming (with zero evidence) that your race plays a major role in interactions at a Williams homecoming is, uh, an interesting approach to life . . .


Campus Posters?

From WSO:

1) I think that the question of whether there is a athlete/non-athlete divide and how pernicious it is if there is one is still one that needs to be discussed.

2) The recent posters that have gone up and subsequently been taken down around campus highlighted a perceived problem on campus. Some were offended and some thought the posters refreshingly brought these issues “out in the open”. In light of this, I believe that the questions that follow are relevant.

The dilemma in discussing issues such as these is that while it is useful to discuss groups as a whole, both athletes and non-athletes are not homogeneous groups and blanket statements about either group should be careful to limit the scope of their claims.

Can someone describe these posters or, better, e-mail us a copy? Future historians will want to know the details of campus controversies.


28% Asian?

UPDATE: Chris Abayasinghe kindly replied to my e-mail and explained that he had been misquoted on WSO. In fact, the 28% figure is for all incoming college students, not just for Williams.

This WSO thread includes an interesting claim, attributed to Chris Abayasinghe, the assistant director of dining service.

Okay, this doesn’t actually have to do with anything that was complained about on this post, but one interesting thing that Chris mentioned was his belief in the cuisine reflecting the student population. By the time the class of ’15 or ’16 will have matriculated, 28% of our student population will be Asian (south, southeast, far east, middle east).


1) Is that true? I don’t know. Informed comments welcome.

2) The 2009-2010 Common Data Set (pdf) tells us:

As we have discussed before, there has been a big jump in Asian American students at Williams. If future classes are as Asian American as the class of 2013 — Does anyone have pointers to 2014 data? — then Williams will soon be 13% Asian American. But 13% is not 28%.

3) What is the breakdown of international students by country of origin? I don’t know. But 31 out of 548 is only 5.7%. Even of all of them came from Asian countries (which is not true), this only gets the total to 19%. Where are the extra 9%?

4) The missing numbers are, presumably, students of Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi or Middle Eastern descent who are not classified by the College (or by themselves) as Asian. These students are placed in the “White, non-Hispanic” category. Yet I would not have guessed that there are anywhere near 50 such students in each class. Also, where does the College keep track of their numbers, if anywhere.

Conclusion: It is highly unlikely that “28% of our student population will be Asian (south, southeast, far east, middle east)” in three years. Or am I missing something?


On online discussions: WSO Video

Well-done video about WSO discussions brings up various issues. Highly recommended.

WSO Documentary from Shawn Curley on Vimeo.

My comments on the issues (&etc):

1) Note the cameo by Eph Blogger Andrew Liu ’11, participant in my Winter Study and soon-to-be summer intern. Yeah, Andrew!

2) David Moore discusses the distant past of WSO when logins were anonymous. He doesn’t know the full story. Who can provide the details? I think it involved a series (?) of threads around the theme of “I hate fags.”

3) Best line (paraphrased): “WSO makes me believe in Tourette’s on a key board.”

4) I second all of Will Slacks ’11 comments.

5) Patrick Chaney: If not WSO, then what? Notes that all (?) the public forums he has attended at Williams have had two problems: few people and a lack of viewpoint diversity among attendees. If there is a controversial topic on WSO, you can mostly count on all sides being intelligently presented. (Agreed! Note my clasic rant on this topic, responding to then-Dean of the College Nancy Roseman’s claim that “blog” was a “four letter word.” Read more


On Williams Architecture

Well-done WSO post from Kevin O’Connell.

It does not take a degree in architecture or design to determine whether or not a building is beautiful, that is, pleasing to one’s senses. That is entirely subjective, though I will hazard to assert that there are certain qualities in architecture that a great majority of human beings, wherever they are from or whatever time period they live in, find beautiful. It is important to note that when the Beaux Arts style was first introduced in the late nineteenth century, it was universally acclaimed by both critics and laypeople.

The buildings on campus that were built before the second world war represent a variety of architectural styles. We have colonial, collegiate gothic, Georgian revival, English Renaissance, Medieval, and Neo-Classical buildings, to name a few. In my opinion, these incredibly diverse buildings are united by their beauty, which I feel has a universal and timeless quality. The campus also has a good representation of the architectural fads of the post-world war two world. We have modern, brutalist, utilitarian, and postmodern buildings. In my opinion, what distinguishes these buildings–and divides them from the older construction on campus–is that they fail to be beautiful. They lack the symmetry, balance, basic polygonal structure, adornment, and sight sensitivity that unites the diverse older buildings.

Postmodernism is a brand of gourmet architecture and therefore represents a choice. The college did not build the NAB, SAB, and Paresky center in the style that they did to save money. For the same price, the college could have built buildings in a more traditional style that would have positively interacted with the older campus. Granted, in the early twentieth century, when Chapin Hall was built, there was a large labor pool of skilled Italian immigrant stone-masons whose ubiquity and expertise made adornments significantly less expensive than they are today, when several generations of mass construction and modernist taste have all but eliminated masonry and stonecutting as trades. Nevertheless, other colleges, such as Middlebury and Harvard, have made a conscious effort to ensure that their new construction, in addition to being environmentally friendly and highly functional, also blends in with the old campus and is beautiful, despite failing to live up to the grandeur of those older buildings.

What say EphBlog’s readers?


Details on Dodd/Greylock Closure

A report from last week’s forum.

It was not very well attended. Maybe a hundred or so students showed up. This is probably because they assumed that it would be useless to go and register a protest, since the decision has been already been made.

They were correct in this assumption. Sorry folks, but Greylock and Dodd Dining Halls are ending as we know them after this year. The hammer fell straight from the Trustees on down, it was a question of pure economics and barring some kind of lightning turnaround, this decision is final.

The transition has not been carefully planned or thought out as of yet. The senior staff and Dining Services are relying on a modest increase in accommodations in Whitmans and Driscoll, but aside from that, there is little consensus over how to solve the looming prospect of even longer lines and the fact that Driscoll is already operating at capacity at times. It is hoped that increased hours will flatten the bell curve of student attendance at the remaining facilities, especially during dinner time, but since the time span of attendance is determined by academic or extracurriculars as well that remains to be seen.

NOW for the good news: Dining Services and the senior staff are as freaked out about this as we are. No, that’s really a good thing. This is a hugely unpopular move and nobody knows precisely how the system will end up looking. As such, we, the students of Williams, are wanted and needed in the planning and execution process. Bob Volpi was practically begging for student input during and after the forum. There are things on the table right now that would have never been considered before: the possibility of a teppanyaki station and other options at the new Snack Bar, Dining Services catering for regular events in Dodd and/or Greylock Quad, a comprehensive overhaul of all the menus in tandem with students in the Big Three to ensure higher quality and variety, etc. These are just a few of the ideas that came up in my conversations this evening.

I came into this meeting angry at the lack of transparency and the blatant disregard for cooperation that characterized this decision, and I haven’t changed my feelings about this. Dean Merrill and Steve Klass have promised to release the data on dining hall usage and costs that was used in this process. Better late than never, I guess. That said, there’s a window of opportunity here for Williams to come away with a leaner, better dining system.

To the dozens of students whom I’ve heard complain about the quality of food, the lines, the prices at Snack Bar, the vegan/veggie options or whatever over the last two and a half years: now is your chance to step up. If you don’t want this fiasco to end badly, get involved, open a line to Dining Services or the Deans and come up with some ideas. They will listen. We’re going to set up an extended network of students who are willing to help out with planning and implementation soon, but seriously, take the initiative on your own. I heard enough good suggestions in an hour and a half to make me think that we can do this right if people care enough to get their hands dirty.


1) Students interested in fighting this should follow my advice.

2) College Council secretary Beryl Manning-Geist kindly provided a copy of the minutes from last week’s meeting. (Are these posted on-line? What about the minutes from last year? Future students need easy access to this history.)

3) Is there any way that this won’t end in disaster? My first-hand knowledge of Paresky is limited, but it sure was crowded around noon during Winter Study. I have heard that it is similarly crowded now. How are several hundred more students from Greylock and the row houses going to fit?

4) “The hammer fell straight from the Trustees on down” is almost certainly false, or at least giving a false impression to students. The Trustees do not see themselves as running the campus. They would never take it upon themselves to decide to close Greylock. There job is to say, “the budget is $205 million and you can’t spend any more.” If Falk/Administration told the Trustees that Greylock was important but, say, the Bolin Fellows and local charities were not, then Greylock would stay open. But, when push comes to shove, the Administration would rather have students greatly inconvenienced then cut back on items with an indirect, at best, influence on the quality of undergraduate education.

5) Students could win this fight. Will they take the time to do so? I doubt it. Announcing unpopular changes just before finals is every new president’s favorite trick . . . ;-)


Shadiest Possible

Some readers took me to task for describing the College’s timing of the end of international need-blind admissions as “sleazy.” Well, don’t just ask me. Ask some students:

Honestly, WTF? Whether revoking need-blind was necessary or not, it seems like Bill Wagner picked the shadiest possible way to implement this.

Wait…they seriously already did it?

“begin to admit international students somewhat differently than we have in recent years, beginning with the class entering this fall.” -Bill Wagner, Feb. 16 2010

Holy shit. I missed that entirely. I feel absolutely violated.

Indeed. Here is what the College still says on its admissions webpage:

International students follow essentially the same procedures as all other students in applying for admission to Williams. No special admission form is required. A candidate’s cultural background and international experiences are highlighted positively in the selection process, as Williams continues its historic commitment to cultural diversity on campus. Williams is committed to a need-blind admission policy toward all applicants and will meet the full demonstrated financial need of all students, both domestic and international.

It is not a problem for Williams to delay updating its webpage if any changes will only apply to the class of 2015, i.e., those students applying next fall. The sleazy aspect is that Williams has changed this policy retroactively, applying it to members of the class of 2014, applicants who applied, at least partially, on a promise from Williams that their applications would be treated need-blind.

Breaking promises is sleazy and shady. If Williams is (correctly!) holding off on the change in loans to the class of 2015, why isn’t it doing the same on the change to international need-blind admissions?
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Thanks to WSO for an Excuse to Debate Pop Music

This WSO discussion raises the question, which decade had better music, the 80’s or the 90’s?  (The thread also asks for the ten best songs of each decade … even as a prolific drafter of top-10 lists, I find that to be a nearly impossible task, but I will aim to list my top ten bands of each decade).  I am fairly objective here, having split my formative music appreciation years between those decades, and in my mind, the answer is easy.  A few caveats: I am limiting this to pop / rock / alternative, given my relatively limited knowledge of country, metal and rap / hip-hop.  Also, I am excluding from consideration bands that, roughly, were equally prominent in each decade, such as U2, Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sinead O’Connor (if the bulk of a band’s best work clearly came in one decade, however, that decade earns the right to claim that band).  Arriving at a list of top ten bands for each decade yielded a clear winner overall to a question that I initially thought would be tougher.  I am curious to hear others’ thoughts, as well as others’ suggestions for the top songs or bands of each decade.  More below the break.

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History Graduate School

An interesting forum:

If you’ve considered going to graduate school in history, come to a History Graduate School Panel discussion on Tuesday (2/23) at 7:00 pm in Griffin 7. Professors Dubow, Fishzon, and Kittleson will speak about their own graduate school experiences, and will answer any questions you might have.

Good stuff. Kudos to the professors involved for taking the time to participate. Comments:

1) Relevant discussion here and here. I second Professor Sam Crane’s remarks:

In fact, I tell them the academic job market is horrible, has been bad for a long, long time, and is getting worse. I tell them that getting a job like the one I have is unlikely. I tell them that they should go on for a Ph.D. only if they truly love the learning, because that is something they will be certain to have for a lifetime, regardless of what job they find themselves with. And for some of them, that is what it is about. Love of learning, regardless of whether they get an ideal academic job.

My only quibble might be to clarify that a love of learning is not enough of a reason to justify graduate school in history. With the internet as your oyster, you can pursue learning as much as your free time allows without going to graduate school.

2) Read Derek Catsam ’93:

[G]raduate students and those looking at entering this competitive world need to be cognizant of the realities. If you are planning to enter a field like, say, US history, it is probably incumbent upon you to know the odds. Further, it seems to me that it is pretty irresponsible of those of us with the ability to advise students if we emphasize the great aspects of intellectual life within the academy and do not point out the reality — your odds of getting the PhD are smaller than you think, your odds of getting a job are slighter still, and your odds of getting tenure at a place yet smaller, and then all of this happening at a place you would otherwise choose to live? Infinitesimal.

Also Swarthmore Professor Tim Burke:

Should I go to graduate school?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: maybe, but only if you have some glimmering of what you are about to do to yourself. Undergraduates coming out of liberal arts institutions are particularly vulnerable to ignorance in this regard. …
Just don’t try graduate school in an academic subject with the same spirit of carefree experimention. Medical school, sure. Law school, no problem. But a Ph.D in an academic field? Forget it. If you take one step down that path, I promise you, it’ll hurt like blazes to get off, even if you’re sure that you want to quit after only one year.

Two years in, and quitting will be like gnawing your own leg off.

Past that, and you’re talking therapy and life-long bitterness.

Burke is right. I hope that the panelists tonight, whether or not they agree with Burke, make sure that students know what some historians believe. I worry that such an event might too easily generate into a “You are all smart Williams students who should dream big and live large!” Nothing wrong with that advice when a student asks if she should try a difficult upper-level seminar, but Ephs need a more reality-based answer when leaving the Purple Bubble. Around half the students in the class of 2010 who are going to graduate school in the humanities are making a mistake. Professor Sara Dubow is, no doubt, a wonderful, hard-working professor. But there is also a sense in which she won the lottery . . .

3) Key data would be a listing of all the Ephs who went to graduate school in history from, say, 1988 through 2000. Where are they now? What happened to them along the way? If there were 50, I bet that fewer than 40 made it to Ph.D., fewer than 20 got any tenure-track jobs at all, and fewer than 5 got tenure. How many got tenure at a place that pays as well as Williams? I don’t know. In fact, I have trouble coming up with many Eph historians of that era, other than our own Derek Catsam ’93, Sara Dubow ’91 and Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97. Pointers welcome!

4) Know the odds and still want to go to graduate school? Good luck! My advice: Marry a doctor. Worked for me! ;-)


Co-op Room Draw Conflict

Interesting details from WSO:

I got into the co-op draw and had pick number 7. This meant our group had to split, me along with two other girls decided to go into either chadbourne or lambart. Two of us are Muslims and don’t drink or really participate in parties because of our religious/cultural beliefs. These are the two very nice emails I got from the people in chadbourne and in lambart:

I put the two “nice” e-mails below the break. Summary: We have the classic conflict between students who want to party and students who do not. I predicted this would happen because it has happened in the past. Fortunately, I have the solution, both permanent (new version! pdf) and what should have been done this year but wasn’t. The student continues:

It amazed me how similar the two emails were. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them both, I recognize they both come out of good intentions and are only going towards a better understanding. And I really do understand why people go for co-ops, they don’t want to be limited by people different from them. Heck, thats why I wanted to go into a co-op: so I don’t have to deal with alcohol stinking up my room which I didn’t even touch and so I don’t always end up being the person who isn’t following the norm. But, frankly, going into senior year I have never felt more unaccepted (rejected?) here at the college. Up until now, I didn’t care about claiming williams, I thought that if I didn’t fit in and didn’t feel like ‘i am williams’, it was cuz of my personal problems and insecurities. But, this, was more than a bit off-putting. Am I being picky and taking offense for no reason?

No. These conflicts are not your fault or their fault. Yet Williams could do a much better job of creating a housing system which minimized those conflicts. When will the CUL listen to me?

UPDATE: By request, I have deleted one of the e-mails. You can still read it at WSO.
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Happy To Lend

This WSO discussion is excellent. Minor point:

Hey Patrick, I don’t know if you got a chance to watch the “In Our Own Words” movie but it has a lot of Williams people desribing their own incidents of unsafety/discrimination.. about women on campus being raped/sexually assaulted, racist slurs being thrown etc

I’m sure Prof. Wendy Raymond would be happy to lend it out.

Don’t be so sure. I am interested in this topic and asked Professor Raymond for permission to view the video. She refused. If I could not attend one of the public showings, I was out of luck. If Patrick can’t attend the public showings (are anymore scheduled this semester?), he can’t learn about the views/experiences of Williams students.

Remember that e-mail I sent to the Claiming Williams committee? They never responded. Is it any wonder that (some) white males don’t bother with Claiming Williams?

This is a small example of why white males like me don’t feel welcome at events associated with faculty members like Wendy Raymond.


Where do we go from here?

The final Claiming Williams event.

At Williams, how can we effectively create and strengthen coalitions to provoke institutional and cultural changes that address privileges based on class, race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and religion? This forum will bring together any individuals interested in this work, including campus leaders from various organizations, to articulate a list of goals and demands.

I was going to write a screed describing how narrow-minded this view of Williams is. But someone way smarter already did so on WSO!

I want to make a point about an issue that’s been particularly bothering me over the last few months (though I’ve noticed this since I’ve first stepped foot on campus two and half years ago), and that is the marginalization of the White Male Athlete Who Drinks (WMAWD – I know there are a few more letters in there, but bear with me). I was especially struck by the pervasive nature of this dismissive attitude last night as I was reading a few posters set up on an easel between the two front entrances of Paresky. These posters essentially had quotes taken from students, faculty, and staff on their different perspectives of the interaction between personal identity and the Williams community. As we scanned the pages, we came across, “I feel marginalized as a white, heterosexual male athlete,” or something along those lines. My friend, who I usually find I agree with on most issues of diversity and the appropriate social and institutional response to these issues, snorted and made a remark that clearly showed his contempt. On another occasion, there was a discussion about the reclamation of Hardy House as the GSRC and someone retorted, “What are you talking about? You don’t need a space, Williams campus is your space.” And while I see some degree of validity in that statement, it highlights the widespread notion that WMAWD have such a long history of sitting on top of every social hierarchy, that they have so much privilege in comparison to the rest of us, that they simply have no say in these matters.

Essentially: Be an ally, a supporter, seek only to listen, understand, accept, or shut the fuck up.

What I’m saying here is that Claiming Williams in particular, and in general the whole compartmentalization of distinct facets of our individual identities based on our socioeconomic status, race, and sexual orientation that is so deeply ingrained into our relationship to the our personal fractured versions of Williams College, has serious undertones of “I’m poor/a minority/queer and therefore underprivileged. You, the WMAWD, have never experienced such adversity, and therefore can’t belong to our various forms of the same I Am a Victim Club. Your privilege was established through the exploitation of our communities, and therefore shut up and bow your head in shame as we give voice to our self-righteous victimization from which you profit.”

The fact of the matter is, the use of this term “privilege” is simply misleading. It implies that they have somehow been given a gift at birth, a Golden Ticket that the rest of us never got in our chocolate bars, when it would be more accurate to see the “privileged” as the standard, the norm of social status. It is more correct to see the rest of the population as “underprivileged”, as missing a trait that is artificially conceived to somehow be better. But even here, the WMAWD is the true minority. We have all have had some title that bestowed upon us all the burden and the benefits of historically rooted social adversity, which brings individuals together into a community like no other cohesive phenomenon.

It’s not enough to say that they have all the rest of the campus outside of our self-segregated spaces. It’s the fact that they are perpetually marginalized with the unspoken assertion that they simply “don’t know what it’s like.”

The whole post is genius. This was exactly what I thought at Williams 25 years ago. Can you guess the writers race or gender? Rest below.

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From WSO:

I’ve heard from many minority students here at Williams and throughout my academic life about the “burden” of representing their respective minority group in a class setting. More specifically, the situation that may arise if they are in a class talking about a particular issue and are looked at to provide insight on their views as a member of whatever minority group to which they may belong. This is done in order to help others understand that particular minority perspective. Obviously this is not a good way by any means to understand a perspective of any culture, but it does suffice as a short term solution in the classroom. While it may seem as if this idea is “racist” or “intolerant” or whatever term you deem appropriate, I think that this act is so natural that no one can truly be judged for doing so.

Read the whole thing.

1) This always generates a dilemma for the professor leading the discussion. Anytime you think a student has a different perspective on topic X, you want to ensure that the other students benefit from that perspective. (This applies in all sorts of contexts, not just race/gender/class/whatever.) How do you ensure that the student has a chance to speak (if she wants to) while not forcing her to speak (if she doesn’t) and, at the same time, encouraging her to speak if she is initially indifferent or even hesitant? Hard to do, especially in the middle of a free-wheeling discussion that covers many topics.

2) The primary (legal) justification for affirmative action is precisely this sort of diversity-educations-all-the-students argument. Michigan can admit less qualified black students as long as it can plausibly claim that those black students, because of their life experiences, add to the education of the students admitted without regard to race. But, of course, if the affirmative action students do not “provide insight on their views as a member of whatever minority group to which they may belong,” then the rational for affirmative action, at least according to the US Supreme Court, collapses.

3) It is easy to understand why some students would find such perspective-sharing a burden. “Why does the professor always turn to me when some African-American related topic comes up? Just treat me like all the other students in the class. Is that so hard?”

In any event, with luck Claiming Williams has generated many honest conversations about these issues. Any reader reports from the various events?


No Holds Barred

Posters like this have begun appearing around campus.


On February 3rd from 9:00 to 10:30 pm in the Paresky Auditorium, a few friends and I are organizing an event to embrace political incorrectness.

We will be showing various episodes and clips from The Simpsons, South Park, George Carlin, Penn and Teller’s Bullshit, and Dave Chappelle’s Show that are both humorous and possibly offensive.

We hope to give people an impulse to think critically about views that are not mainstream or socially acceptable.

I recommend that you come at 9:00 and stay for the full hour and a half, but feel free to stop by at any time to relieve the stress from the first day of classes and share some laughs with friends.

1) Good stuff! Kudos to the students involved.

2) Any suggestions for material to include? Add them in the comments, ideally with a link. I don’t know the Simpsons and South Park oeuvre as well as I should. Maybe “Die Hippie, Die“?

3) I would select all the best items from Stuff White People Like but re-label them as Stuff Williams People Like. Put together a slide show of rugby, study abroad, recycling, arts degrees, Obama and so on. Comic genius.

4) The narrow-minded among you might object to this event occurring the evening before Claiming Williams. Shame on you! As all my fellow Eph members of the Vast Right Wing Conspirancy can confirm, “I am Williams too!” Socially unacceptable Ephs unite! You have nothing to lose but the praise of Professor Wendy Raymond . . .

UPDATE: Here is the Facebook group and the WSO announcement:

Love South Park, The Simpsons, Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, or Penn & Teller but never have the time to watch TV anymore?

Tired of “Political Correctness” all the time?

Want to laugh really hard?

Then come to “No Holds Barred Comedy Night” and watch screenings of your favorite shows tackling important issues hilariously.

We’ll be playing the shows from 9pm to 10:30pm on Wednesday night in Paresky Auditorium (by the ’82 Grill) so come on by and have a great time.

This “intellectually free space” is brought to you by the Williams College Commons Club

What is the Commons Club?


More Mission Vandalism

From WSO:

And now, just last night, people came by and stole our Batman poster, flipped over a couch, and sprayed some sort of brown liquid (great) all over one of the corners, including a couch, our wall, and some clothes.

Obviously some people on this campus need to GROW UP a little. We’re in college. Flipping couches is a harmless prank. Stealing our stuff is NOT. Making us clean up disgusting liquids is not. So seriously, please stop. And if you have some sort of dignity left, we’d really appreciate having our quote board and Batman poster back.

Yeah, we’re missing our quote board too. 4 random guys (none of which I recognized) came stumbling through our common room at like 2 AM last night. They probably would have trashed stuff if we had not been in the common room

And I do believe that at least one of them was on the hockey team. So if anybody knows who actually did this, please make them own up and at least return the quoteboards

Students on the hockey team behaving badly. Inconceivable!

1) What are the odds that the perpetrators of this vandalism are the same as the ones from last month? It will not take long for security to cross-check card swipes . . .

2) Was the hockey team in town last night? What about Thanksgiving weekend?

3) Since there was no (?) homophobia associated with this vandalism, the College is likely to take it much less seriously. No letters from incoming President Falk for you! But I suspect that the students affected by this act are just as annoyed . . .


Small Help and Favor from You

From WSO:

This is concerning Shabin Raj, whom all of you know as a dear friend.

I am calling you to seek a small help and favor from you. It is concerning his mother.

His mother has been undergoing treatment for cancer in India since July 2006. She has been the sole earner of the family. Shabin’s family comes from a poor and backward community called the out-caste which limits their position, power, and even rights in the Indian society.

Even now the doctors are refusing to treat her further as the family has exhausted all their resources and do not have enough money for the treatment. It burns our hearts and breaks our hopes when the doctors are refusing her treatment.

Shabin Raj has taken time off his College to work and raise the money needed for the treatment. He has taught in schools, lectured in colleges in India, to raise the money for the treatment and run the family. But now, further treatment for his mother is very expensive and beyond what he can raise by his lone efforts in the short given time.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: This post has been edited.


Changing Queer Bash

An interesting conversation:

For this week’s general meeting at 9pm in Hardy House on Thursday, January 14th, the QSU will be discussing ways in which Queer Bash can be changed for the better. We understand that many people at Williams have complaints and criticisms about various aspects of the party, and we’ve decided to come up with concrete plans for how these criticisms can be addressed. At this forum, we will be rethinking pretty much everything about Queer Bash, and we invite and encourage any interested students, staff, and faculty to attend this forum. Hopefully, we can move forward with a clear idea of what the party should look like in future semesters. If you want to be a part of this process, please come to Hardy House at 9pm on January 14th. Thank you!

I suspect that few heterosexual Williams men will show up for this meeting, but, if they did, they would probably vote against any changes which resulted in less slutty dressing by the female Eph attendees at Queer Bash.


Full Classes

From WSO:

Getting dropped from a tutorial this morning you were sure you’d get into, causing you to contemplate redoing your entire schedule. Meanwhile, the other classes you would’ve taken are full.

How well do class offerings at Williams match up with student demand? Can any current students provide commentary/data on this issue? (Read about similar problems at Dartmouth.)

1) Were there any courses that you or your friends wanted to get into but couldn’t? Which courses? Is the problem more that certain classes are filled or that the sections taught by certain professors are too popular?

2) Could anyone with access to the data copy/paste in the comments the list of all second semester classes that are currently full? That would be helpful data to consider.


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