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Report of Committee on Undergraduate Life
May 3, 2001

CUL discussion has focused extensively on the residential house system and student activities. The CUL agrees that the Williams of today is 'not your father's Oldsmobile' and campus life and student needs have evolved to a point where significant change is necessary. The CUL held five campus forums in the residence halls last fall, met with representatives from other colleges who visited Williams, took a road trip to Middlebury this spring, and gathered data from other colleges for comparative purposes. This information is attached (attachment A).

The major themes and recommendations that have emerged follow.

  1. Students should continue to govern themselves and direct the shape of student life. But administrative support systems need to be in place to advise students better, to develop and support student house leaders and advisors, and to help initiate and maintain programs to make the residential experience the fitting complement to academic life that it should be.

  2. Eliminate fees to student groups for Security, Buildings and Grounds work and Dining Hall / Log Supervision. Consider these charges 'the cost of doing business' to support student programs and initiatives.

  3. Williams should hire at least three staff members as 'Community Life Coordinators' to live in student housing and work with other student life professionals to support the following:

    • Residential Life: Developing house community, as well as interaction within and among students, houses, and related campus offices (Security, Community Relations Program, Housing Office, Activities Office, Chaplain's Office / Community Service, Health Center, and Fire Safety).

    • Student Activities: Supporting programs within houses, intramurals, clubs and organizations, fostering of faculty involvement within first-year entries and residential houses.

    • Self Governance: With students, encouraging and cultivating a student life value system with accountability. Developing a healthy and vibrant climate within houses and a better understanding by students of their responsibilities as community members.

    • Student Organizations: General advising and mentoring of student organizations and programming for students outside the house system.

  4. Williams should establish an Office of Student Life or Office of Community Life (or name to be determined). This space should be staffed by student services professionals to support and lend continuity to house governance, student activities, and student life in general. It should be a friendly, lively space and offer students 'a sense of place' while affording them one-stop shopping when dealing with some of the College's student services offices. A feeling of synergy among these offices should be encouraged so that the Activities Office and Community Services, for example, can link with entries and houses to assist in creating programs within housing to strengthen the community. One site we recommend be considered for such an initiative is The Log and its upper floor, and _ of Mullen House, which is a building immediately south of the Log. We recognize that students may consider this site as too removed from their daily activity. This should, however, be viewed as transitional space; eventually such activity would be housed in the 'new Baxter', while in the meantime offering students more resources than now available within the current structure (see attachment B) .

  5. We are gratified with the decision announced by the Housing Committee in April to split into two groups, one to address house advocacy and residential life issues, the other to plan parties and address social life concerns. Each house will thus have a house president (we recommend the position be called 'house advisor') and a social chair„a step that should benefit both student residential life and student activities. We enthusiastically support the idea that House Presidents (house advisors) and social chairs receive leadership training, as mentioned in the Housing Committee's April Restructuring Proposal. The timing and method of the selection process and the appropriate time for leadership training are important issues and should be resolved early in the 2001-2002 academic year. We envision these advisors as having a very visible role and to serve as a resource for students„as mediators, advisors, and community builders. They would work closely with the Community Life Coordinators and other campus life offices. It is also important to note that neither house advisors nor Community Life Coordinators would in any way serve as alternatives to the counseling professionals in the Health Center., They will, however, work with Health Services professionals as called for.

  6. Improve campus resources for programming and student activities. Williams has over 150 organizations. We need to provide the resources to help mentor these organizations and assist them with their community building activities. This is especially critical at Williams because we do not require faculty or staff advisors for student organizations. The Activities Office--in place for only four years at the College--has begun to play a vital role in campus programming and in assisting student organizations, and we should build on the excellent start that has already been made. We recommend that the Dean of the College look at the responsibilities of the Activities Office and determine what might be done to help this office meet the needs of our students in the areas mentioned above. With the Community Life Coordinators, House Presidents ( advisors) , House Social Chairs and the Activities Office working together, we see real possibilities for improving campus life for all Williams students.

  7. We feel the College should look closely at reviving the Faculty House Associates Program for the residential houses. If this is accomplished, it is essential that this service be recognized and appropriately rewarded at the time tenure decisions are made. It is patently unfair to add this role to untenured faculty members without such a commitment on the part of the administration and the CAP.

  8. The group size for room draw should be reduced from 7 to 4 beginning with the Spring Draw 2002. Annual evaluation of the process by the House Presidents [advisors] is recommended.

  9. Restore 'guest meals' for students and faculty.

  10. Continue conversion of small houses, such as Woodbridge and Chadbourne, to co-ops.

  11. Continue and expand late-night hours at athletic facilities, the libraries, and the snack bar.

  12. Place office hours for faculty online.

It is likely that the academic year 2001-2002 will be a period of intense planning and transition. It is important the the CUL continue to work with the College Council, Minority Coalition, the Dean's Office and the Housing Committee Leadership to implement the changes we have outlined above.

Respectfully submitted,

Charles Dew, Professor of History and ChairJean Thorndike, Director of Campus Safety
Matthew Atwood '01Thomas Smith, Professor of Chemistry
Kristen Sullivan '01Donna Denelli-Hess, Health Educator
Kelsey Peterson '04Brad Wells, Music Department
Augustus Howard '03Stephen Collingsworth, Cood. LGBT Issues
Kasumi Yamamoto, Asst Prof. of JapaneseRichard Kelley, Activities Coordinator
Julie Greenwood, Asst Prof. Phys. Ed.Medha Kirtane, Asst. to the Director/MCC
Tom McEvoy, Director of Housing

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