Bascom House is a bad choice

What should the College do with one of the most beautiful houses on campus, a house that routinely goes as a top five choice in the upperclassmen housing draw? Of course, move the Admissions Office into it and no longer use it for student living space. It may have slipped past many Record readers in the Nov. 13 issue, but the transformation of Bascom House from student housing to the new home of the Admissions Office will commence early this summer.

Bascom is the most coveted non-co-op house on campus by seniors, with its prime location near the center of campus and a small, intimate atmosphere, yet still retaining the stately character of the row houses. Indeed, in the original article current members of the house stated that it is one of the best houses on campus.

The current plan for Bascom is to use it as a temporary home for the Admissions Office, with the possibility of using it as the future full-time home. I am incised at the lack of student input that went into this decision, since it greatly affects the quality of student housing on campus. Mayo Shattuck, a student member of the Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR), which makes decisions about campus building projects using student input, agrees that “The administration’s decision to use Bascom House as the Admissions office deals a serious blow to the quality of student housing at Williams. While the administration was limited in its options, I am disturbed by the lack of student input in this decision.”

One primary reason to move Admissions into Bascom, and not another house like Brooks or Harper, is the fact that this space will be the first impression for students visiting Williams. Supposedly, the appearance of an Admissions Office can drastically affect the decision of a student to attend a school. Personally, I could not tell you what the inside of Mather House (the current location of the Admissions Office) looks like, and that did not affect my decision at all to attend Williams. Current Williams first-year Jonathan Landsman agrees, “The Admissions Office was just that to me: an office. No matter where they move it, they will be taking a bite out of Williams living and replacing it with office space, gutting it. If Bascom truly is as desirable for living as I’ve heard, then it should not be sold out to become an office.”

I strongly urge the administration, and specifically the CPR, to rethink this decision and to at least make a commitment to current and future Williams students that in several years Bascom House will be returned to student housing. If you agree, please email Provost Catharine Hill, Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Eric Beattie, Director of Housing Tom McEvoy and voice your opinion as a student and future alum. However, if you are hesitant to email administrators directly, email me at 02tgs and I will compile pertinent comments to send to the administration.

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