Williams College Blog
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
We're moving!

The new home of the Williams Blog will be at www.ephblog.com. Special thanks to Eric Smith '99 for a simply amazing job of setting up this new site and porting over our history.

Please come visit.

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------------- posted by David Kane ----------------

Monday, March 01, 2004
Testing the export functionality.

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Sunday, February 29, 2004
This is part of the attempt to export our data out to the new MovableType system.

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Saturday, February 28, 2004
David La '01, found on the Web here, updated us on what happened.

I ended up visiting CMU and Williams during the same week in April of my senior year, and I stayed with a friend of my sister's from the Class of 97. Though he was up to his ears with a senior thesis, he managed to find time to show me around, introduce me to his friends, and basically put a very human face to what ended up being a very easy decision to attend Williams. I'd like to think that having a sister who graduated in '95 made a big difference, but visiting campus truly made the images of campus in the admissions viewbook come alive, and the student community is one of the things I miss most about my experience.

Don't we all.

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Friday, February 27, 2004
Political Science professors James McAllister and Mark Reinhardt were quoted in this iBerkshires article entitled "Democrats Slam Nader's Run."

Mark Reinhardt, another Williams College political science professor called Nader's candidacy "indefensible."

At this point, the naive reader might conclude that Reinhardt is a man of the Left. After all, most conservatives/Republicans think that Nader's candidacy is not just defensible, but delightful.

"This will be the most momentous election in decades. It's going to be close, and it's hard to see how Nader's candidacy will help," said Reinhardt. "I'm reasonably hopeful he's not going to be the disruptive force he was in the last election. A decent number of people who supported him then are contrite about what they did. Once burned, twice shy."

He added, "Nader's case in 2000 was that it really didn't matter which of the two main parties won. I cannot believe that any sensible person, looking at the world, would believe that now."

Yet, here we see that Reinhardt is not a true man of the Left. After all, Senator Kerry is anti-gay marriage, a paid-in member of the ruling plutocracy, in favor of the continued occupation of Iraq, a long-time proponent of economic exploitation of poor countries (i.e., a "free trader") and unwilling to acknowledge the continued global disasters resulting from US hegemony.

Only in the restricted setting of Williams College could a man like Reinhardt ever be considered a true respresentative of the Left. The fact that some crazy alumni think that the College needs more "conservative" professors is just another sign of their disconnection from both life at Williams and, even, reality itself.

At least, that's one way of looking at it.


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Thursday, February 26, 2004
iBerkshires has this notice today:

Art lecture

WILLIAMSTOWN —Sweetwood Senior Residential Community has announced a public lecture by S. Lane Faison Jr., the Amos Lawrence professor of art, emeritus, at Williams College, on Thursday, March 4, at 4 p.m. in the Sweetwood auditorium, 1611 Cold Spring Road (Route 7).

Faison, who served on the Williams faculty for 40 years and was director of the Williams College Museum of Art from 1948 to 1976, will talk on "Looking For Art in the Painting."

The lecture is sponsored by the Garfield Republican Club.

I can't even articulate why tidbits like this are so moving (to me).

Part of it is an appreciation of the dramatic influence that Faison and the other giants of Art History at Williams have had on their students and their field. There really is a Williams art history "Mafia", and Faison, Stoddard, Pierson, et al started it more than 50 years ago.

Part is the knowledge that there is a Sweetwood "Senior Residential Community" in my future. I am still closer to Williams than I am to it, but that claim will not be true a few more reunions from now. I can only hope that I am still listening to lectures like this in 2044 or so. (My wife certainly hopes that I won't be giving them!)

Part is the pleasure in seeing the Garfield Republican Club take part in such a non-partisan endeavor. Hats off to whatever Eph(s) put this all together.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004
At some point I will set up a proper blogroll (list of blogs) of Eph-related blogs. In the meantime, I link as I find them. Certainly, the nicest looking one belongs to Oren Cass '04. Although most of his postings are not Williams-related, he does have some thoughts on a recent Black Student Union e-mail encouraging members to respond to a dining hall survey. Oren writes:

Do black students have significantly different views about dining services? (Of course they do! They're diverse, remember?) So does that mean that black students have significantly different views about dining services? (Of course not! Don't even imply that black students are different from white students, that's racist!) So why is it particularly important that they, versus other demographic groups, fill out the survey in any particular numbers? (What kind of question is that? Are you saying that we should ignore the needs of minorities in our community? The environment is hostile enough as it is!)

Now, if I could just get Oren to help with the design of this site . . .

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------------- posted by David Kane ----------------

Not sure your analysis holds up.

I'll grant you that the "depth" of relationships with a small group of friends would be better off under a system where you can pick into the same house with that entire group. The system I propose, like the current system, would allow students to live in a group with three other close friends. I fundamentally disagree with the idea, however, that close relationships cannot be made unless you live with people. I would be surprised if most people did not have many close friends whom they do not live with. Close friendships are also made on the athletic field, in the newspaper office, or at the Purple Pub so while I'll grant that your system is more conducive to creating a really tight group of 10 friends, I don't think mine hinders close friendship.

Incidentally, if we wanted to make depth of friendship our top priority in community decisions at Williams, we would bring back fraternities which allow a couple dozen people with similar interests to eat, sleep, drink, and party together. In terms of crafting community policy, however, I'd say depth of friendship is the least important: People are going to make close friendships regardless of what policies the college implements because intimate relationships are ultimately what life is about. Getting dissimilar people to interact, on the other hand, is not a natural thing -- though it is something that is at the core of what Williams claims to be.

In terms of "breadth," David largely falls back on citing a blind assertion in place of analysis. He claims in the late 1980s the average Williams student knew "50 to 150 members of her class" while now the typical senior knows "125 to 225 (perhaps more) members of her class." This is such a silly, baseless assertion that I don't even know where to begin. There's just literally no way on earth to know whether people know more names and faces now then they did 15 years ago.

The analysis David does offer suggests that by having lots of flow between dorms, people start meeting more and more people. To some degree this is true. Clearly, under the current system I will encounter more faces as I walk through the halls of Mission sophomore year and Greylock junior year than I would being in one dorm. At the same time, because there is so little attachment to your dorm there is far less incentive to actually meet the people you live with. If I'm a sophomore living in Pratt under the current system, I could be quite content not knowing the vast majority of my house because I have my friends who I live with and I have my friends who live elsewhere and I'm only living in Pratt for one year.

On the other hand, if I'm a sophomore living in Pratt who knows that I'm going to be living with the same people for the next three years, I'm gonna be damn sure to get to know them sophomore year. And I'll make sure I get to know the juniors as well who I'll be living with for two years. And I'll get to know the sophomores who come in next year because I'll be living with them next year.

Further, and here's where we get into the "variety" aspect, I'm far more likely to get to know not only all the people in my house, but as I start to get to know them better, I'll get to know their friends better. On some relatively dead Friday night, if the WUFO players in my house decide to have their WUFO friends over for some beirut, I'm much more likely to go hang out with them if I actually know some people at the party.

A buddy of mine and I used to laugh about the awkward nod of the head you give to somebody who lives in your dorm, whose face you know, but you literally have nothing to say to. David seems to think there's some great value in recognizing a bunch of faces. I'd rather really get to know a wide variety of people and then perhaps go talk to them and their friends for a few minutes when we're all coincidentally at the Purple Pub together.

The bottom line is the house affiliation system provides not only the opportunity to meet an array of people, but more importantly a real incentive to get to know this array of people you live with. Under the current system, there's no incentive not to ignore the rest of your house because you're only living with them for one year.

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------------- posted by Mike ----------------

In other Eph football coaching related news, Dave Clawson '89 has been named head football coach at the University of Richmond. See also here.

"I am very excited and feel privileged and honored for the opportunity to lead the football program here," said Clawson, who was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2002. "I hope in a short period of time that we can produce a football team that the administration, students and alumni of Richmond can be proud of."

Coaching, whether of football or anything else, has got to be a tough business on the family, given how often a coach-on-the-rise would want to move around. Consider that Clawson has coached at Albany, Buffalo, Lehigh, and Fordham.

I wonder if Clawson expressed an interest in the opening at Williams and whether or not that interest was reciprocated.

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------------- posted by David Kane ----------------

Blog Highlights

Homepage for items of interest for the extended community of Williams College, with a special focus on alumni activities. Comments, links and suggestions are welcome at dkane _at_ latte.harvard.edu, 04man _at_ williams.edu, david.nickerson _at_ yale.edu or kjordan _at_ cmu.edu.


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