Free nights and weekends still not worth it

We, as students, are incredibly lucky to attend a school such as Williams, especially at a turning point in the College’s history. With the creation of a new Theatre and Dance complex, the renovation of Baxter and the Stetson/Sawyer project on the horizon, the College is poised to tackle the new century with gusto. New social spaces, learning spaces and parking spaces are sure to keep Williams in a position of liberal arts leadership.

However, surely it is more than bricks and mortar that make Williams a special experience. There is a culture within the Purple Bubble, a way of life that almost all students here learn to love and cherish. Our isolation from the rest of the world can sometimes be detrimental, as we remain separated from such cultural centers as New York City and Boston. But at the same time, our small, intimate campus fosters lasting friendships with classmates and professors. And the beautiful environment that surrounds us only serves to add natural splendor to our educational and social experiences.

May we, then, beg a question of the student body, particularly the freshman class, whose members have yet to fully learn the ways of Williams?

Could you please turn your cell phones off?

We will not for a minute pretend to be sappy nature-loving environmentalists yearning for a return to yesteryear and an end to global warming and the ills of the industrialized world. But please, to preserve our college’s tranquility, could you at least put it on vibrate?

Whether in the Snack Bar, in class, or walking around campus, an undeniable fact exists: cell phones have invaded Williams and, outside of the dorm room, they are miserable objects.

We realize that communication in Williamstown is difficult; indeed, Billsville boasts a bustling Main Street, and Water Street is arguably an urban thoroughfare as well. The nearest e-mail stations are far away – at least a five-minute walk from any location in town.

There are also handy blue-light campus phones, which can be located by turning 360 degrees from any location on campus. Unlike cell phones, these phones provide free weekday, weekend and night service. Thus, it seems that most students on campus could survive without tormenting their fellow classmates with Britney’s latest on their ringer.

Undeniably, there are practical reasons for owning a cell phone. The long distance rates are cheaper than College rates and if students own cars, cell phones may be used to contact people in case of an emergency.

But cell phones can also be the bane of a professor’s existence. There is nothing more embarrassing for all students, and particularly the student who owns the phone, when a cell phone starts ringing in the middle of class. Or even, worse, when the student answers the phone, as has happened in some classes. And, goodness, how can a professor compete with a classic such as Beethoven’s Seventh blasting at maximum volume as you try to find the phone and dig it out of your bag to turn it off?

Admittedly, cell phones will probably never disappear from campus, but classroom etiquette will hopefully improve as students learn that perhaps a phone isn’t needed on campus.

Even in places such as the Snack Bar, Goodrich and the entry, though, please, think about holstering your Nokias and Motorolas. And if you choose not to, at least put the phone on vibrate, go somewhere private to answer it and let the rest of us continue to live in our Bubble.