Maintaining a legacy of excellence in student life

When Tom McEvoy, former director of housing, departed almost two years ago, students lost one of their most valuable allies in the administration. Although McEvoy was technically employed by Buildings and Grounds (B&G), he tirelessly advocated for improvements in students’ social lives and their living quarters. Jean Thorndike, director of campus safety, worked alongside McEvoy, and added her own energy and expertise to social planning groups and residential life committees. The McEvoy-Thorndike team provided students with staff in both Security and B&G who were willing to work with students to improve campus life at Williams. When McEvoy left, Thorndike was left to fill the void on her own. She expanded her role, helped All Campus Entertainment (ACE), working on the House Coordinator system and assuming responsibility for many aspects of social life at Williams. Indeed, Thorndike’s institutional knowledge of social life at Williams and her strong desire to help reform and improve the system made her an invaluable asset to ACE’s founders and those organizing the House Coordinator system.

Thus, when the College announced it was seeking candidates for a newly formed director of residential and student life position, Thorndike applied, seemingly an obvious candidate for the position. Somewhat surprisingly, Doug Bazuin was chosen instead. Bazuin comes from Union College, where he worked for McEvoy in his capacity as the dean of residential life and campus life. Besides having an exceptional resume, Bazuin is obviously familiar with Williams from the time he has spent with McEvoy. Without a doubt he is perfectly qualified and will potentially be a great asset to Williams.

However, picking someone who is new to the College places pressure on the administration and Bazuin to prove the correct choice was made. Campus life has changed dramatically in the past two years with the CUL’s residential life recommendations and, perhaps more importantly, the consolidation of social planning into the ACE organization and the creation of a legitimate House Coordinator system. Students are used to a lot of freedom at Williams – a fact that Bazuin has already recognized – but they also need allies within the administration who understand the B&G bureaucracy, who can address student housing concerns and who can help students achieve the reforms they want. Hopefully, Bazuin is a fast learner who is willing to tackle these important and sometimes complex issues.

Students should feel optimistic about the coming year; the College has finally created and filled an administrative position to address residential life. It has retained an invaluable resource in Thorndike, and added a promising young administrator in Bazuin. Thorndike’s return to a full time role at Security will certainly benefit that department and return it to full staffing. Bazuin’s appointment and Thorndike’s continuing commitment to Williams mean a new team has been formed to help the College and its students for many years to come.