Goodbye, WNY?

After years of debate about the viability of the Williams in New York (WNY) program, the committee charged with reimagining WNY appears to have halted its discussion, choosing instead to offer city-hungry students of the College a study-away program at NYU. We commend the College for establishing a new option for study in the city, but we cannot say the same about the lack of publicity given to this option thus far. In addition, it seems that the fate of WNY itself is still hanging in the balance after a full two years of suspension.

WNY provided students with a unique opportunity. For the admittedly small number of students who wanted a semester of city life and the type of hands-on education not always available in the classroom, WNY was a good match that students valued highly – as attested by the students who fought to maintain WNY in the spring of 2008. Yet the fate of the program has been ambiguous for an extended period of time, and if the committee has determined that WNY is not financially viable – particularly with the closure of the Williams Club’s Midtown premises – it must make the definitive decision to simply put the program to bed.

Another manifestation of this administrative limbo is that nothing has been disclosed about the status of the WNY committee while its director is on sabbatical. Although we appreciate that terminating the program may have irreversible consequences for the networks that it developed over the years, sometimes students are best served by clear options. The current sophomores, who matriculated when the College was still advertising WNY and who are currently grappling with study away indecision, could benefit from a definitive conclusion to the WNY saga. They deserve at least to be updated about the fate of the program and notified about the NYU alternative even if the partnership was established after the initial round of study away meetings.

Fortunately, the absence of WNY does not have to mean that students cannot have a similar experience. Like WNY, NYU: Spring in New York provides for-credit internship opportunities. Now that the College has approved the NYU program for College students, this relationship should be publicized as a study-away option. The committee should be applauded for recognizing what students liked about WNY and continuing to offer students a comparable semester, but their efforts can hardly be noticed if students are not made more aware of the new NYU program.

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