While sitting in my entry’s common room, I saw a sign that asked for First years to sign up to host prospective students in April, when they come to preview Williams. The sign asked for my name, e-mail address, telephone extension and the sport I played.
Unfortunately, I don’t play a sport. The sign up sheet implies that those high school seniors who play sports ought to be linked up with Williams students who play the same sport. Yet, those prospective students who might look forward to playing in the Symphonic Winds, or being a DJ on WCFM, or singing with an a capella group, or even (gasp!) writing for the Record, are not afforded the same courtesy.
The idea that prospectives be hooked up with first years with similar interests is a sound one.
The idea that the prospectives (and their hosts) be divided along athlete/non-athlete bounds is not. In the same way that I would be unable to tell a prospective football player about the football coach, I would have difficulty telling him anything about the director of Symphonic Winds. If, however, he wanted to know anything about the Record, WCFM, or the Newman association, I could help him out.
Certainly, the campus is full of students who play sports and do “non athletic” activities.
The Record board itself has three varsity athletes. Too often, though, those of us who do not play sports are seen as contributing less to the Williams community than those who do.
The Admissions office touts Williams as an athletic school, noting that over half of the student body is involved in varsity sports. The office does not note what percentage of students participate in non athletic activities.
The idea that Williams overemphasizes sports is not a new one.
The Record has printed opinions, covered the NCAA question, and noted faculty and student input.
My point here is not to add to that debate so much as to note the under emphasis of other activities, as expressed paradigmatically by that sign up sheet in my entry.
In the same way that I love going to basketball games, I love going to campus lectures, or listening to the radio, or going to the Independent Music project.
These activities contribute as much to the Williams community as sports do, but this contribution is ignored by low attendance, low student interest, and low (or, better said, no) mention by the Purple Key Society that organizes the Previews.
I do not debate the fact that Williams attempts to create a diverse atmosphere.
I applaud that effort. I simply question how diverse a community of opinions and ideas we have. The College Council has noted that it continues to recognize and help fund more and more activities on campus. How does much the student body takes advantage of these activities? For example, will the campus view the works made by the recently recognized Art Matters, or will Art Matters simply be a venue for artists who would like to view other artists’ work?
At Williams we have sought as a community to become a truly diverse community â€” in culture, in class, in opinion and in taste. The extent to which we have achieved that diversity is up for debate. We, however, should allow prospective students to taste the diversity that we do have.