Campus life awards banquet to honor student body

With the hopes of recognizing faculty, staff and students for their outstanding contributions to the College community, the First Annual Campus Life Awards Banquet will be held May 2 at 7 p.m. in the Mission Park Dining Hall.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the awards banquet was this past April 11. The committee responsible for planning the awards banquet will meet this week to begin reviewing nominations and selecting awards recipients. At the meeting, they will also discuss concerns raised by the awards for “Student Employee of the Year” and “Best JA.”

Earlier this semester, students received pamphlets in their S.U. boxes describing the banquet and detailing the nomination process. According to the pamphlet, “This premier event will celebrate the out-of-classroom accomplishments of our student body and student organizations. As a community, we recognize the academic rigors of attending Williams, but rarely celebrate the co-curricular accomplishments. It is our hope that we can thus bring this to the forefront of campus life at Williams College.”

Barbara Agostini and Gail Rondeau, campus activities assistants, further explained what inspired them to propose the College’s first Campus Life Awards Banquet. “The idea for the First Annual Campus Life Awards Banquet came from attending the Multicultural Center’s recognition banquet last year,” they said. “Also, Rich Kelley, Campus Activities Coordinator, worked at Olivet College and organized this type of awards banquet.

“This type of recognition is also held on many other college campuses. We really liked the idea of rewarding students for a job well done with a group or organization, recognizing a staff member who has made a difference or a faculty member.”

In order to plan this event, review the nominations and select the awards recipients, a committee representative of the College community has been formed. This committee is comprised of Ari Solomon, assistant professor of Psychology, the four Community Life Coordinators, Nathaniel Gill, Tanesha Leathers, Lindsay Hayes and Brian Schwartz, Jean Thorndike, director of Campus Safety, two students who were chosen randomly, Andrew Giarolo ’04 and Marty Mudd ’04, as well as Kelley, Agostini and Rondeau.

Members of the College community who wished to nominate an individual for an award such as the “Faculty Service Award” or “Dedication to Service Award” were required to fill out the nomination form on the last page of the pamphlet, attach a brief essay explaining why the award should be given to the nominated recipient and submit the form by April 11. No self-nominations were accepted for individual awards. Recognized student groups, however, could submit self-nominations for group awards such as “Outstanding Service Program Award” and “Outstanding Educational Program Award.” Student groups also completed the nomination form, composed an essay and observed the April 11 deadline.

When deciding upon nomination categories, Agostini and Rondeau said, “The committee discussed what they felt were important categories to consider and what pertained particularly to Williams.”

The committee will meet this week to begin reviewing the nominations and selecting the awards recipients. According to Giarolo, “Based on the quality of the students’ nomination packets, their general impact on campus, visibility of their efforts (if applicable), and a few other requirements, we will be giving awards. We have not yet determined whether or not to reward one student or as many as we deem necessary based on the award and the nominees.”

This week, the committee will also continue planning the schedule of events that will take place at the Campus Life Awards Banquet. Although the schedule is tentative, Agostini and Rondeau said, “We expect that the evening will begin with an hour gathering with entertainment provided by a student group, welcoming remarks by Nancy Roseman, dean of the College, dinner and music provided by Camboulay, followed by the awards portion.”

Many in the College community have responded favorably to the idea of holding a Campus Life Awards Banquet in order to recognize outstanding contributions of students, faculty and staff. For example, “I think the Campus Life Awards are a good idea because having more awards will mean that somebody who has not been recognized for making a difference will be recognized,” Christine Hunt ’06 said.

Even though many members of the College community support the Campus Life Awards Banquet and its goal of recognizing out-of-classroom achievements, there have been concerns raised about specific awards such as “Student Employee of the Year” and “Best JA.”

Regarding the issues raised by the “Best JA” award, Giarolo, himself a JA, said, “the idea of being a JA was not about competition but being the best possible Junior Advisor for the first-years to whom you are assigned. The idea of having an award for ‘Best JA’ instills that selfsame competition that was never ‘in our job description,’ so to speak. It also goes against that idea of non-competition that makes our job easier, more fun, and more enjoyable.”

The committee will discuss the “Best JA” award and “Student Employee of the Year” award at their meeting this week. Giarolo said that one option for presenting the “Best JA” award was “to keep the award and recognize perhaps several JAs who have gone above and beyond.”

Members of the Campus Life Awards Banquet committee are optimistic that the banquet will encourage students to become more involved in campus life.

“The Awards Banquet hopes to bring recognition to members of the Williams community,” Agostini and Rondeau said. “Hopefully, this will also provide an opportunity for groups and individuals to see what others have done. It may encourage an individual or group of individuals to participate in a group or organization activities in the future.”

Similarly, Giarolo said, “I believe that the Campus Life Awards will inspire more students to become actively involved in community life.

“For the already established persons and groups, the Banquet is a way to say ‘Williams thanks you for all your hard work. Keep on truckin’!’ For those not yet involved, the fact that Williams is showing pride for its students, staff and faculty might inspire a movement towards involvement.”