Questions of quality

To the Editor:

Education is a tricky business. Perhaps that’s why the administration struggles to make the Williams College experience a truly memorable experience one for students. While I have greatly benefited from the College over the past four years, looking around me in these final days on campus, I realize that this place fails to deliver on the essential needs of the students. Now I know what a typical response to my concerns is: College is an awesome experience. We have it good here at the College with all the hotel suite amenities that are available.

I agree. For a consumer, Williams is a student’s dream. New buildings, Odwallas, all-you-can-eat dining halls, top-notch professors and, who can forget the hundreds of supposedly important people who visit the College (for a large speaking fee).

When it comes to the essentials though, we students are in deep trouble. One on one, I’m not surprised to find that we have fun, engaging and attractive personalities on campus. The minute you put us in the classroom, we become a disaster. We don’t speak up during lecture because we’re afraid of what people might think of us. We are keen to cut corners and not do the readings because the workload is unrealistic. We also don’t follow the honor code for the same reason. We take drugs to concentrate on our work that we’d much rather avoid. We pander and pick courses so that we get a competitive GPA.

Is it any wonder that our seniors are unconfident individuals without a sense of direction? We go to an institution that not only tells us but also encourages us to sacrifice everything for that GPA. The College doesn’t focus on what is essential. They don’t tell us to find our vocation by trial and error. Instead they prefer us to have few trials but with no errors. Of course the student population has no clue as to what they really want to do after college. They haven’t been able to find themselves because there’s simply no time for that. Between the papers and the labs and the office hours and the problem sets and the speaker and the recital and the presentation and everything else, we have no time or direction to become what we are supposed to become: individuals who strive and succeed at making this world a much better place. I’m disappointed to have talked to the President, the deans and a variety of other leaders at this College who agree that we have some serious problems but choose to not act swiftly to make the College a place for an innovative education. We’re a mediocre Four Seasons at best.