The Committee on Community Interactions (CCI), formed by College Council (CC) last year, underwent a reevaluation and redesigning of its mission during CC’s weekly meeting last Wednesday. As a result, CCI will both redirect and narrow the focus of its original initiatives.
CCI initially formed as a CC-initiated response to both the Willy E racist graffiti incident and the resulting Stand With Us movement. The Committee was formed with a two-step mission. Its first directive was to “establish if there is a problem with the way people in [the Williams] community interact with each other and the way Williams handles social infractions.” The second job of the Committee was to formulate a proposal to address the problems if any were found.
In the process of conducting its research, CCI members realized that the College has a professional research analyst, Cristina Cruz, working on community analysis and student interaction. CCI began to rethink its strategy for the purpose of complementing the professional analysis, settling on the decision to focus on weekend culture at Williams.
Upon reporting this decision to CC, however, it was rejected on the basis of deviating too far from the original mandate. “When we met with CC at the end of January, they said we needed to take a different approach,” said Emily Spine ’11, a member of CCI.
According to former CC co-presidents Peter Nurnberg ’09 and Jeremy Goldstein ’09, CCI now has a new mandate with which to work for the remainder of this semester, as well as more concrete ideas about the ways to gather information. The general feeling on the part of CC was that CCI needed a mission of its own. “It didn’t make sense to duplicate what was already being done professionally,” Nurnberg said.
CCI’s reformed mission is to “collect information and disseminate it amongst the student body,” as well as to “analyze the Willy E incident and the administrative response,” as established during last week’s meeting. Much of this information about student interaction will come from surveys and anecdotes, as well as from public records from both the College and other similar schools. CCI will also brainstorm creative ways to bring the acquired information to the campus’s attention. The Committee is to submit a report by May 1 detailing their findings.
One of the first projects CCI has decided to carry out is to set up an easel in Paresky that will display statistics relating to the life of the student body. Students will then be free to write comments about the statistics. “We want people to be talking about it and wondering about it,” Spine said. “We hope it will get people to start thinking about things in their everyday lives.”
CCI has faced challenges in making its purpose and presence understood in a way that acknowledges its independence from the Stand With Us movement. “We are an institutionalized response to the problems that arose,” Spine said. “The people on the Committee now weren’t necessarily involved with Stand With Us.” CCI was, in fact, formed with the goal of representing different opinions. As the Committee goes forth, members expressed hope that their diversity of viewpoints will allow them to fulfill the refined two-part project laid out for them.