CUL examines house ‘anchor model’

Though still weighing various ideas for residential reform, the Committee on Undergraduate Life (CUL) has introduced a new possibility, the anchor-affiliation model, as opposed to the previously discussed cluster system. The CUL has been working to invigorate the College’s residential life, with goals to enrich students’ exposure to diversity and increase a sense of campus community; in particular, CUL wants to further integrate people of different backgrounds and class years.

“The challenge all along in our charge to look at residential life is to combine a maximum amount of student autonomy and independence?with a residential system that provides some kind of structure and some kind of staff that promotes things like class interaction and allows opportunity to meet people,” said Charles Dew, professor of history and chair of the CUL.

The new residential model would grant students an “affiliation” to an anchor house beginning with the second semester of their freshman year, which they would retain for the rest of their time at Williams. The affiliation would be social, rather than residential, with each anchor house sponsoring events and having permanent staff dedicated to organizing activities such as intramural sports or community service projects. Another aspect of the affiliation system would be the return of row-house dining, with the “anchor houses” serving lunches or Sunday brunch to affiliated students. Faculty and staff would also be provided with affiliations, allowing them to also use the row-house dining facilities and meet and interact with students.

Comparing the anchor-affiliation system to the cluster system, Dew said, “[This will] give students access to a better social structure?but give students more freedom as to where and with whom they’re living.”

Though the anchor-affiliation model was introduced as a new alternative, it has certainly not been chosen or even selected as preferable to other models discussed. “We need time to think about it, we need to talk about it with other people,” said Dew, in describing how the committee is still weighing this and every other model’s pros and cons. CUL member Susan Combs ’04 further emphasized this, describing the day’s meeting as “just throwing ideas out there.”