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Just Not True

There is an interesting discussion at WSO about the changes to financial aid with regard to book purchases. Previous discussion here.

With term bills due on the 15th of this month I am faced with paying $400 more than I expected (and budgeted for). Back in November when my financial aid package changed, I received an email saying that $400 was subtracted from my Williams Scholarship and replaced by a $400 estimated Book Grant. That sounded great, but as time passed and people continued to talk about getting free books, I was skeptical. Originally, the cost of books was not included in my aid package, so why would it be included now? The answer: it isn’t. I have to pay $400 for books and (this is my understanding of it) if I do not buy $400 worth of books I will be reimbursed for what I did not spend. That’s great if I go way over $400 for books I want to keep, but the estimated cost of my books is $406… This is the cost for books I do not want, will not use again, and will sell back for much less than I paid for them. I’ll spend maybe $100 on books I might want to keep. My plan is to shop online for books, but I still have to pay that $400 to the college and wait to be reimbursed. At the same time, I’ll be spending money buying the books elsewhere… That’s a lot of extra money to come up with because they decided to change the system 1/2 way through the school year. It wouldn’t bother me nearly as much if the email we all received didn’t set out to deceive. Here’s a quote from the email sent by William Lenhart: “I’m very happy to report that the Committee has found a way for all financial aid students to acquire all your books with no out-of-pocket expense. You’ll swipe your ID card at Water Street Books, the purchase will go on your term bill, and the cost of that purchase will be paid for by the Financial Aid Office as a grant.” This is just not true for all financial aid students and we probably should not have been told that before everything was decided.

Read the whole thing. In response, Will Slack claims that “This meant that financial aid students sometimes chose courses on the basis of book cost.” True? I have never heard of such a thing. How common was it that students chose courses based on book costs? What would be an example of a class that a student would not take because of costs?

The main problem with the change is the process by which it came about. The committee should have released the plan, including all the messy details and then solicited comments. That would have allowed students like Tyisha Turner a chance to make their opinions known.

Will also notes:

My biggest problem is that while finaid students are no longer paying for books (provided we use Water Street), $400 was suddenly charged to budgets that had already been made, and the college will be paying Water Street prices, which is probably going to be quite wasteful.

Correct. Who owns Water Street books?


Reviving The Sophomore Quad?

Shocking news from WSO:

Hey, so twice yesterday, from completely different people, I heard a rumor that they’re thinking about housing the entire sophomore class in Currier Quad next year. I’m just wondering if anyone knows anything about this, and/or wants to show support for this OBVIOUSLY BRILLIANT idea.

A certain math professor on the NRC told his two sections that the committee is considering anchoring housing for sophs in Currier and surrounding houses (?? @ what houses are around Currier?).

1) The only math professor on the Neighborhood Review Committee is Colin Adams.

2) Excellent idea! Needless to say, I take full credit. I first proposed organizing Williams housing by class in 2005 and created a fairly formal plan a few years later. Latest version: pdf. I have distributed this plan to various involved students and faculty in 2009. Anyone know if it played a role in these plans?

3) I would be shocked (and pleased!) if the College really acted so quickly as to do this for fall 2010. There is no good reason not to. Neighborhood Housing has failed, totally and completely. The sooner that we try something new, the better off Williams students will be. I bet that incoming President Falk would be happy to allow this change. What is the worst thing that could happen?

4) The main difficulty is where to put the rest of the sophomore class since the Berkshire Quad only has around 325 beds. Here are my thoughts (see the full plan for context):

We want the sophomore class to live together, just as they sought to live together in Mission during the era of Free Agency. We are happy to let them have large pick groups and for those pick groups to congregate to some extent, especially if that congregation is along the party/quiet dimension. The Berkshire Quad, with 332 beds, is the natural (and historical) home for the sophomore class. We might try grouping the rest of the class together as well, perhaps in Morgan (111), West (54), Spencer (25) and Brooks (28) or perhaps in Dodd and its associated houses (136). The key is that sophomores live with other sophomores. The nice thing about having most of the class in 5 largish buildings is that it still leads to extensive student mixing. Students have already met scores of their classmates in Mission and the Freshmen Quad. Now they will meet scores more. In an ideal world, you would want every sophomore to know the name of every student in her house. They might not be best buddies, but if they had shared a meal at least once during the year, that would go some distance toward providing exposure to a wide cross-section of the Williams community.

My recommendation would be the Berkshire Quad (324), Morgan (111) and West (54). The total in this plan (489) is probably a too low because there are typically around 525 sophomores in residence. Given that this is sophomore housing, the College might turn some of the singles into doubles, especially given the recent rise in enrollment. Thirty to forty sophomores will probably end up in the revived Odd Quad in Tyler/Tyler Annex. But the key is that we have at least 7 houses, each with a critical mass of students. It is almost impossible for any individual house to be dominated by one group or another.

How much freedom should sophomores have in their room draw? More than they had as first years, but less than juniors and seniors have. There is nothing wrong with the Administration insisting on the 7 houses having fair mix of all sorts of students even if the student groups themselves are self-selected. Gender capping would be reasonable. Yet allowing partiers to live next to partiers makes everyone happier. WSO plans — the computer system which showed the specific rooms everyone ahead of you in the housing lottery had selected — probably decreased the amount of intra-rooming group conflict because it allowed students to sort themselves efficiently. Currier ballroom would naturally become a central location for sophomore class social events. Driscol would become the sophomore dining hall.

If the College maintains the Neighborhood system for juniors/seniors, then we would need to give some thought to how the current residents of the Currier Neighborhood might be distributed among the three remaining neighborhoods and whether to adjust the housing/neighborhoods allocation because of the loss of Morgan and West (or wherever the extra sophomores or placed).


UPDATE: If one of our student readers could start referring to this idea as the “Kane Plan” or the “EphBlog Plan” on WSO, that would be much appreciated. As best as I can tell (contrary claims welcome!), we were the first to publicly suggest the idea of sophomores living together by design. We need some props from our peeps!


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.


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


JASC Experiences

Petya Miteva asks:

I was wondering, is there anyone around who’s been on the JA selection committee and can share something about how it was?

Hm… personal experience. Rather than what they publicize…

Good question. I wish that the JASC, and other Williams organizations, would do a better job of collecting and maintaining this sort of material. I did a bit of this, back when alumni could still contribute to Willipedia. And we have some discussion in our archives, although the primary focus is on policies associated with JASC and not the experiences of students on it.

JG is probably EphBlog’s resident JASC expert. Perhaps she could comment.

My understanding is that most students find participating on JASC to be incredibly time consuming and intense. It can also be very educational (about the politics of small groups and coalition formation) as well as extremely frustrating. My sense is that most students who serve are glad that they did so. I recommend that Miteva apply.

Indeed, serving on JASC is one of the most unique experiences available at Williams. Very few other colleges entrust their students with so much responsibility. If you find the idea intriguing, you should apply as well.



A good idea?

QSU & Women’s Center would like to collect 3 stories of homophobic and 3 stories of sexist incidents that have occurred on campus to be published anonymously in the Williams Record. Ideally these stories would be small paragraphs and would reiterate that our current initiative is not in response to just one homophobic incident. We’ve received over 30 personal stories from alumni, but we’d like to publish stories from current students.

ALL SUBMISSIONS WILL BE TREATED AS ANONYMOUS and NOT connected to the e-mail address that made the submission. If submission is via Paresky Box #2206, PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE ANY IDENTIFICATION.

1) I was sorely tempted to submit a “story” from an anonymous gmail account. I didn’t. Did anybody?

2) Never too late for a Williams Star Chamber.

What if Williams organized a star chamber and no one showed up? Williams Speaks Up is a “Web site on which campus members can report and share incidents of unwanted, abusive, or harassing behavior.” (See background here.) Turns out that only one brief comment has been submitted after several weeks of advertising. Possible conclusions:

1) The WASP patriarchy of Williams is so powerful that the oppressed fear even recording their complaints.

2) There are very few actual bias incidents at Williams.

3) There is abusive behavior, but victims are too lazy to report it or too cynical to think that any good will come from their reports.

I choose door #2.

I choose door number #2 again. There are so few homophobic/sexist incidents on campus that the collective members of the QSU/Women’s Center can’t even come up with three stories to publish in the Record without soliciting anonymous complaints.

3) Conclusion: “[O]ur current initiative is not in response to just one homophobic incident” although we would like to pretend otherwise.


Khazei for Senate?

Emma Davenport on WSO:

If you’re registered to vote in MA, don’t forget to hit the polls tomorrow (Dec. 8th) to choose Kennedy’s replacement! Volunteers for ALAN KHAZEI can provide rides for students who would like to vote. Just call Emma at 218-402-0499. Alan Khazei was endorsed by the Boston Globe, and by many folks at Williams.

Which folks at Williams “endorsed” Khazei? EphBlog, as a non-profit organization, does not provide endorsements. I will be voting for Martha Coakley ’75. Who do other Massachusetts resident EphBlog readers plan to vote for?


Homophobic Culture

Will Slack writes:

The extent of that problem is a matter of debate and discussion. Some people on campus – like myself – have not observed a homophobic culture on campus. For others, this culture is obvious. I admit that as a straight guy, I probably pay less attention to this stuff, just as a gay male from Boston might not pay as much attention to a prejudiced statement about the South. So that means that we need to understand each other’s perspective on the problem. Until that happens, there will be no unity or consensus about the solution.

UPDATE: Will adds:

I need to clarify this. I have observed instances of homophobia and/or prejudice, which could be interpreted as indicating the existence of a homophobic culture to go along with a culture that welcomes LGBTQ people and their sexuality. I meant to indicate that the campus culture, taken as a whole, does not appear homophobic to me.

Alumni are not the best judges of what campus culture is like at Williams now, but we could help inform debate about what the culture has been like in the past. Was there a “homophobic culture on campus” during your time at Williams? I would be interested in hearing from alumni of all ages.

I was at Williams from 1984 to 1988. It was certainly not unheard of, especially among athletes, to hear the term “fag” used but the most common intended insult was to question the target’s masculinity rather than as a direct (?) message of hatred towards homosexuals. Derogatory terms like “pussy” would have been used interchangeably in these contexts.

But, at the same time, I never witnessed (or even heard of) someone attacking a homosexual student, either verbally or physically. (I had a gay roommate.)

There was certainly a feeling that, say, defending adoption laws which favored heterosexual couples or the military’s ban on homosexuals was, ipso facto, evidence of homophobia and created a harassing environment for homosexual students. There were at least two open homosexuals on the faculty.

For the record, I was widely known as the campus homophobe, mainly because of my defense of Marine Corps recruiting and because of an ill-judged essay I wrote trying to (honestly!) explain the mixed feelings that some students felt about homosexuality. Professor Katie Kent may recall a particularly poorly constructed analogy from that article . . .

What was Williams like in your era?



A brilliant WSO post:

I’ve been sipping on this delicious Haterade, but the problem is I’m hating on everything and everyone–I LOVE it. As a matter of fact, I’m stopping by Spring Street later to pick up another bottle. I’m addicted.

It’s time to start another topic on the state of campus.
It’s time to be introverted losers.
It’s time to make specious arguments and use $100 words.
It’s time to be passive-aggressive, narcissistic, and pretentious.
It’s time to be Williams Students.
It’s time to have Phun.

Please try and act like this has something to do with political correctness or consciousness on Campus.
Please try and act like you’re relevant.
Please try and act like you have a life.
Please try and act like I care about what you say.
Please try and act like I’m wrong.
Please try and act like you’re real because you’re liberal.

Please try and act but learn how to act first, since that’s all you do here.

It’s time to be real. Please try and like you’re chill.

Game recognizes Game, and Williams is looking unfamiliar. It must be because I’m new here.

The genius here lies in the multiple meanings. You read it as you want to read it.

EphBlog recognizes EphBlog.


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.


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?


Outside Consultant

If I were a trustee, I would wonder about spending like this.

Sign-up starting Monday at 8:30AM for the second workshop in a series titled The Working World, brought to you by the Office of Campus Life. The workshop will be, of course, over dinner on December 4th from 5-7:30PM with peers, faculty, and an outside consultant who will guide you through everything from greeting to eating. Spots are limited to 40 students, so it’s first come-first served. To sign-up, stop by the Office of Campus Life and see Tim or Schuyler. Students will also randomly have the opportunity to invite a faculty member of their choice, so sign-up early!


1) Rule #1 in cutting spending: Fire all the consultants! Does Williams have budget problems or not? There is nothing wrong with having an event like this. Indeed, any dinner which brings together students and faculty is a good thing. But there is no need to hire an outside consultant. John Noble, and many other Williams folks, knows more than enough about “The Working World” to run this event.

2) We discussed a similar business etiquette boon-doggle last year. The resulting thread is a wonderful example of Kaneian snark. I mention at least three fancy prep schools. Highly recommended!

3) Did anyone attend last year’s event? Will anyone be going to this one? Tell us how things go. Advice: Sign up and invite a faculty member who you would like to get to know better.


Book Grant?

From WSO:

what’s up with this? I was under the impression that this grant would be beneficial to students, but it seems like they just reduced my need by $400 and now my books are free… i’ve never even come close to spending $400 on books so this seems like a financial aid cut! in which cases will this actually help students financially?

I just came to the same conclusion. I’ve never actually spent a penny on books but have still needed every freaking penny I’ve been given. Where the hell am I going to come up with an extra $400 between now and my bill????!!!

Good questions. See the thread for further discussion and sensible points from Will Slack. See here for background. My previous (slightly edited) comments still apply.

How does anyone know whether or not this change will be “cost-neutral?”

1) Even if it isn’t, it may still be a good idea.

2) Let’s just focus on financial aid students. This semester, the College budgeted $400 for each of them. Call that $400,000. Now, did $400,000 really leave the bank account of Williams in September? I am not sure. The students on full rides did get a check. (But isn’t that a very small percentage of the student body?) But even students who are expected to pay as little as $1,000, did not get money from Williams for their books. They were just charged $1,000 instead of $1,400 because the College assumed that they needed the $400 for books.

But, next semester, things change. Put students in two different groups.

a) Those who got checks from Williams this time. Those students will just get checks that are $400 lower, but they get to buy books. How can the College possibly know that they will spend, on average, $400 at Water Street? (I am happy to believe that smart Ephs like Finan and Winters can come up with all sorts of spreadsheets that estimate such an outcome, but I have real doubts about the accuracy of those forecasts. More below.)

b) Those students who send checks to Williams, every amount from $1,000 to $45,000. Those checks will rise by $400.

3) Let’s consider some reasons why the 1,000 students on financial aid might spend much more than $400 per student now that books are free.

a) Why not buy all the recommended books as well as the required ones? They are free! Program only applies to required books.

b) Why not buy new books rather than used books? They are free!

c) Why wouldn’t professors significantly increase the number/price of required books and reclassify some recommended books as required? Right now, I (and other Williams teachers) try to take care in selecting books. We don’t won’t to screw students, especially students on financial aid. (Although we know that the College is supposed to provide enough aid to cover textbooks, we recognize that the aid may not be enough and, more important, that any leftover money can be used by students for whatever they want.) Now, books are free to half the students. And the other half of students almost all come from extremely rich families, at least relative to Williams professors. No need to worry about their book expenses! And if making a book (officially) “required” rather than just “recommended,” makes it free for half the students in the class, then I will be sorely tempted to do so.

In fact, does this apply for Winter Study? I suspect that a majority of my students are on financial aid. Why not just order up some books, call them “required” and help these students out? I may just do that . . .

4) To be clear, I have no opinion yet as to whether this is a good idea. I just have serious doubts about its cost-neutrality.

I would not be surprised if the 1,000 students on financial aid spent much more than $400 on books next semester. Anyone want to bet?

It would be fun to compare the forecasts which were made a few months ago with what actually happens. If anything, it looks like the program might save the College money since it is taking $400 away from students who have not in the past (and won’t in the future?) spend anywhere near $400 on books. And, to reiterate, I am sure that Ephs like Winters and Finan did a much better job in constructing a forecast than I could have in their place. I just think that these sorts of specific problems in management and estimation are educational for all concerned.


The Houses of Williamstown: Knitting Club (Kappa Chi) …

A special addition to the 16 part series.
KX Secret


Knitting Club

I just love how knitting club was started by two students who are also EphBlog authors. As I always say, most students don’t read EphBlog, but most student leaders do! If you go to knitting club today, say Hi from EphBlog.

And, yes, it would be fun to connect Eph alumni knitters like Laura Lim Prescott ‘92 with student knitters. Let us start an Eph Knitting Mafia!

Perhaps the student knitters could post some pictures of what they worked on today . . .

Also, I still wonder what happened to the Ur-Eph Blogger, class of ’91.


Holder Praised Moore?

On WSO, Faisal Khan writes:

correct me if i’m mistaken matt, but irony of ironies i do remember us sitting in the audience this summer as the attorney general of the united states praised moore for his work…wow i really bet this script could sell in hollywood

Indeed. But is it really true that Attorney General Eric Holder praised Professor (for now) Bernard Moore? Can anyone find more detail about that? I would love to see some video . . .


Students on Moore

I am curious to know what current students think of Professor Bernard Moore as member of the Williams faculty. Emma Davenport writes:

surprise surprise, the guy who doesn’t give a damn if we learn anything, who forces people to write “uncritical” book summaries, who implied that nobody had good motivations, and who stays in the room while we fill out our evaluations, also has few moral qualms about stealing money from the government, colleges, and banks. one more reason why Williams should not just hire someone because of connections, but make sure the person actually cares about teaching students – since that is an indication of SOME moral character. worst class of my williams career was last semester, but at least he gave straight As to the entire class. everybody knew he sucked but somehow he was re-hired.

from, a very frustrated student last spring who was reminded by this scandal. ;-)

Is Davenport’s description accuate? What did other students think of Moore as a professor in the classroom? Could someone please add his factrak evaluations in the comment thread?


Speakers for Claiming Williams

From WSO:

This year during Claiming Williams Day, on Thursday, February 4, 2010, speakers, performers, and facilitators from many fields will appeal to a wide range of interests. We hope that you will join them!

Just how “wide” is the “range of interests” that the organizers are looking for? To the extent that they want to hear some non-PC musings about diversity at Williams from an alum, I am available that day . . .

Who would you suggest? How about Wendy Shalit ’97 or Harry Jackson ’75?


LOTR Questions

EphBlog (silent) author Sarah Sedney succeeds in moving this troll-threatened WSO thread in a useful direction by asking some questions about The Lord of the Rings.

1. Tell me your favorite character and why
2. Best line and why
3. Scene that you felt should have been in the movie but wasn’t
4. Views on Peter Jackson producing, but not directing the two-part (!) Hobbit Movies

Critical issues all. My answer to 2) is easy.

As to why, need I quote Shakespeare?

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

What say EphBlog?


Best way to create room-draw drama

From Dave Moore on WSO:
Possible fun extension: remove the randomness from room draw, and instead have groups pick in order of decreasing average GPA of the group members. Think of all the hilarious drama that would cause in the group-forming process.

…..said the new Phi Beta Kappa member. ;D


Hallway snitch

This makes me ashamed to be a Williams grad.


Meal Plan Details

Here is a WSO discussion about the economics of meal plan choice. Since these threads sometimes disappear, I have copied David Moore’s ’10 excellent summary post below the break. (Future historians will thank me.) What meal plan choices did you face during your time at Williams?

Read more


Study Away Fee

Steven Rubin, ace WSO hacker, writes:

“Study-Away Fee

Beginning with the 2010-11 academic year, students who enroll in a program off campus for a semester or year will incur an administrative fee of $1,500. It’ll be added to the cost of attendance and therefore covered by financial aid. Exceptions are for enrollment in Williams programs: the Williams-Exeter Program at Oxford, Williams-Mystic, Williams in Africa.”

I’m abroad right now and it seems like I’m largely responsible for most of my own study-away bureaucracy (finding a program, applying, filling out tons of forms for the college, etc.). The only intervention from the college was a ten minute meeting with the Dean and the approval from the CAS. Some schools change full tuition for study-abroad programs (rather than study-abroad program tuition, which tends to be lower), so we’re still lucky. I just hope that this additional cost doesn’t prevent any future students from going abroad.


This strikes me as a backhanded attempt to raise tuition for rich students. Not that there is anything wrong with that!


Twitter Experiment: Please Tweet #ephblog with suggestions of Williams classes to audit

Twitter remains a mystery to me. So, let’s try an experiment! Will Slack ’11 asks:

I’m looking for ideas of good classes to informally audit this semester – any ideas?

Great question. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. But I hope that our Twitter followers will also/instead tweet a response with #ephblog in their response, either with specific classes or general comments on auditing.

I think (corrections welcome) that including a hashtag like #ephblog will allow us (exactly how?) to gather all the responses together easily and then present Will with the collected wisdom of the EphBlog community. Let’s give it a try!

Comments on further experiments or suggested improvements would be welcome. I made the title of this post long/explicit so that our Twitter followers would get the message/request via our Twitter feed.


Nothing Baggy

Looking for an extra-curricular activity. How about the Dance Company?

Auditions are open to any student interested in modern and ballet dance technique, choreography, improvisation, etc. You do not need to be fluent in all of these areas in order to audition. We encourage all interested students to attend; less experienced dancers who demonstrate promise may be invited to participate initially as apprentices/understudies. Audition will consist of a ballet barre, modern center and traveling combinations, repertory, and improvisation. You may prepare a short solo of material to be performed as part of your audition, but this is not required.

Although I was skeptical of Dance as an academic department, I am a huge fan of dance as an activity at Williams. Give it a try! However:

Please wear clothing you are comfortable moving in, but nothing baggy. We need to be able to see your body.

Is that code for “No fatties need apply?” I know nothing about Dance, so perhaps I am missing something. But it sure seem like dropping 10 pounds before the audition would be good idea.

I have no opinion on whether this is a good policy or a bad one. I am shocked that such a request would be made so openly. What say our readers?


Pay Records

Maria Tucker ’10 asks:

Do you think the college could release a list of how much it pays employees? Do other schools do this? I know they probably wouldn’t want to, but I mean, we’re paying the bills–we should know.

1) Don’t kids today read EphBlog? The Form 990s we have collected reveal a great deal about the pay of very senior administrators and faculty. Check them out.

2) The sleaziest pay scandal at Williams involves Chief Investment Office Collete Chilton. Is there a Record reporter interested in this story? Call me. I give excellent quote.

3) Form 990 only lists the 5 highest paid employees, along with senior officers. So, we have very little data on what the vast majority of employees are paid. This is very different than at a state school with open records laws, like the University of California system.

4) We know lots about faculty compensation. Also, looking at the highest faculty salaries is always fun. Shout out to all our professor readers! ;-)


I Miss College

Where else can one have a water balloon fight, patrol for bears, engage in random library hook-ups, debate the meaning of a liberal education, and of course, play trivia all night, all while you SHOULD be studying for final exams?



This Bryant 4 Twitter was a fun WSO thread. Are the readers of EphBlog as clever? What are you doing right now? (Background on Twitter here.)


Portrait of a Moderate: Lincoln ’09 on Claiming Williams

One of the rarer dispositions among 18 to 21 year-olds and beyond is moderateness on compelling topics. Not apathy, but a considered moderateness.

I enjoyed finding an example of this kind of thought in the WSO discussion on Claiming Williams. Matthew Lincoln ’09 writes:

Reading through it, I was surprised to find that almost none of the dozens of posters there expressed the conflicted view that I found myself taking – I felt for Shayla’s frustration at the same time that I felt no small indignation at some of the gross generalizations being made about the “rich white crowd”.

[. . .]

Dan, I was hearing shades of that either/or tone during the final forum on CW in Paresky when Kim Dacres sort of shot down your very reasonable observation that some of your friends felt, rightly or wrongly, alienated by the language surrounding the whole day. I’m really glad you brought up that point, just as I sympathized when Kim said she almost didn’t want to be at a place where some students didn’t even bother to come to the table. Does it sound weird to somehow think both of those things at the same time? I regret that the panel didn’t seem willing to dig into it much.


Naming Conventions

This fun WSO thread on heating included comments from Christophe Dorsey-Guillaumin and Sydney Pitts-Adeyinka. What happens if Christophe marries Sydney? Can we expect to see an Emily Pitts-Adeyinka-Dorsey-Guillaumin in the class of 2041? Or would that be Emily Dorsey-Guillaumin-Pitts-Adeyinka?

Now, obviously, Christophe and Sydney are no more responsible for their names than I am for mine. My point here is not to mock them, or even to mock their parents. I am really curious about the sociology behind hyphenated last names (surely this would make a great entry for Stuff Williams People Like) and the likely future evolution of the trend. What happens when such Ephs get married? I am honestly curious. And, yes, this is Stuff Williams People Like.

And, just to burnish my own progressive credentials, I can honestly claim to be one of the first male Ephs to seriously propose taking his bride’s maiden name in marriage. Captain Fang would have been a kick-ass title in the Marine Corps . . .


Page 56

From Will Slack ’11 on WSO.

* Catch the book nearest to you. Right now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write this sentence here
* Don’t look for your favorite book or your coolest but really the nearest.

“After deducting non-interest expense, provisioning, and extraordinary items from operating income, what is left is income (earnings) before taxes.”

That’s from The Bank Credit Analyst Handbook by Jonathan Golin. And people wonder why I blog so much . . .

What’s on your page 56?


Old Alum

Laura Huang writes at WSO:

I had my first local *alumni run-in* yesterday morning after an ’86 alum saw my sweatshirt and accosted me (in that eager-alum way). I’d find this remarkable even under normal circumstances just because I live in a very “Oh, you mean William & Mary?” area… but this particular exchange took place along a really random walking trail that my family was checking out on a whim, on a day when all places are closed and everyone’s at home. I can’t wait to spring up unexpectedly on young people wearing Williams gear once I become an old alum.

Indeed. It is every bit as fun as Laura imagines it will be. Try it yourself over the holidays!


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