In a decision reflecting widespread faculty dissatisfaction and anger, the administration of the College has decided to sever all ties with Factrak, the popular new online student forum designed to promote anonymous discussion and rating of professors.
Hosted on campus-owned WSO servers at http://factrak.williams.edu and maintained entirely by students, Factrak will continue to operate much in the same manner as it has, but will not be expanded to include other services or programs that would have required internal College data, such as course registration information.
“[Members of the administration] told us that they understood why we were doing what we were doing, but that they didn’t support it, and could have no part in it at all,” said Jonathan Lovett ’04, one of the founders and designers of the web forum.
“I guess it makes sense from their perspective, because the professors are not overly pleased, but that won’t really have an impact on the site as it is now.”
While the administration opted not to interfere in the current workings of Factrak, Lovett and the other designers of the forum Spencer Wong ’04 and Samir Thaker ’04 â€“ have already voluntarily implemented a number of reforms at the site, including the new requirement of a Colrain login to utilize the discussion boards.
“Right now, it’s students only,” said Lovett, “just because there were concerns with all professors reading their own reviews, or of reading other professors comments on the site. If there’s a demand for a professor who wants to read what’s being said about them, that’s something we’re prepared to change.”Other changes to the site include the addition of more explicit disclaimers about the relationship of Factrak with the College and an expanded FAQ section that stresses the many of the same points.
“We’re always trying to make the site better,” said Lovett, “and this decision by the deans isn’t going make that easier. But at the same time, we’re looking for feedback from students about how we can improve it without involving the administration any further.”