College council update: Future discussion topics include substance free fousing, NESCAC, calendar

With the arrival of 1999 College Council is intensifying its work on long-range goals as well as investigating the Williams community’s current hot topics.

The next five months now promise to be busy as the council tackles major campus issues such as the impending housing crunch and substance free housing, restrictive NESCAC regulations, and unsatisfactory class size. In addition, the council’s role as the accountant for student organizations never ceases: in the last two weeks $1500 was allotted to the Mad Cow towards printing two spring issues, and $528 was granted to the Williams College Aikikan for the club’s annual seminar.

Last Wednesday’s meeting included updates on several ongoing council projects. Bert Leatherman is forming a committee to explore methods to reduce the college’s current student phone rates, which are nearly double those of mainstream service plans. Todd Rogers and Llyod Nimetz explained their progress in getting final papers and other end-of-semester work returned to students. The Council believes that returning such work would benefit students academically, and assist in preventing surprising semester grades, not to mention encouraging the faculty and students to treat final work with respect and attention. Other smaller projects include College Council’s involvement in upcoming renovations and beautification on Spring Street; a new online calendar for campus events available on the Williams home page; an attempt to obtain access for non-art majors to the art studio to keep their creative juices flowing.

College Council representatives are also involved in discussions about the new NESCAC regulations that restrict the number of teams that may attend national competitions from individual conferences. To increase awareness of the restrictive nature of the new NCAA rules, some council members passed out copies of the opposition’s statement, as well as a Record article by Amherst student Ben Katz protesting the new regulations, at last weekend’s home swim meets and at the Williams-Amherst basketball game.

One of College Council’s major initiatives for the new year is to fully investigate class size at Williams. A committee is currently discussing class size issues with professors in departments with particularly large average class sizes; its hope is to identify possible solutions by working hand-in hand with the administration and faculty. Many of the departments being investigated, such as the computer science department, have seen huge leaps in student interest over the last few years which have not been matched by increases in professors or resources for the departments. In examining the ideals of the professors and aligning them with the desires of the students, the council is aiming to develop ideas for obtaining more productive, smaller classes that address the needs of students and the frustrations of faculty.

Undoubtedly College Council’s most prominent and divisive issue is the Committee on Undergraduate Life’s proposal for substance free housing at Williams. CUL’s proposal to make Hubbell House a substance free housing option for upper-class students has been discussed thoroughly in a series of heated debates beginning last semester. Last week’s meeting included the council’s “final” discussion about CUL’s proposal as co-presidents Will Slocum and Kate Ervin compiled the pro and con arguments into a statement for the dean. While College Council itself cannot block the establishment of substance free housing at Williams, it voted 7-14-1 against supporting any form of substance free housing at Williams. In addition, by a wide margin of 2-19-3, the council voted against supporting the specific proposal of the Committee on Undergraduate Life.

The council overwhelmingly agreed on the need for more campus-wide discussion concerning this heated topic as currently only College Council and CUL have been involved. Accordingly, CUL will be having open time in Baxter Lounge from 7-9 this Thursday, January 21, so that students may speak with the authors of the proposal. In addition, Dave Walfish and Liz Lee are arranging a campus wide forum on substance free housing Tuesday, January 26 which will be moderated by a student and hopefully include individuals from all realms of the Williams community. Signs will soon be posted around campus with details on these opportunities for campus discussion.

College Council meets from 7:30-9:00 on Wednesdays; student opinions are greatly appreciated and can be contributed through your own representative or at opinions@wso.williams.edu.

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