Gearing up for the College’s third Claiming Williams Day, the Claiming Williams Steering Committee is reviewing the proposals before organizing this year’s schedule. The committee had solicited proposals for events to fill Claiming Williams Day, and it collected the proposals last Friday.
The theme for this year’s Claiming Williams is “Our Stories, Our Responsibilities, Our Community.” This theme ties the purposes of Claiming Williams together, calling upon the students to reject stereotypes and to embrace one another’s differences. For this reason, Whalen emphasized that student control over the scheduling of the day is crucial.
According to Carmen Whalen, associate dean for institutional diversity and professor of history, students are interested in having more opportunities for discussion and fewer lectures this year. Whalen said that the steering committee is working to respond to this request.
“There are many exciting proposals for panels and discussions on a wide variety of topics,” Whalen said.
The committee is working to include films with accompanying discussions and performances with question and answer sessions to supplement the forums and lectures of Claiming Williams.
According to Whalen, the selection of proposals is an “interactive process.” Because the student body has so much control over Claiming Williams, the event can take many directions.
“Our only possible limitations will be our budget – for those proposals that require funding – and scheduling if we can’t fit everything in,” Whalen said. “I do not think that will be the case as there will be several sessions with several events running simultaneously.”
Claiming Williams was born out of the Stand With Us movement, which developed after a racial slur was written on a dormitory door.
Claiming Williams Day is intended as an opportunity for students to learn from one another and improve community relationships. The day consists of forums and lectures that typically cover race, sexuality and socioeconomic class and aim to provide community members with the opportunity to grow together through understanding.
“The Williams community must take it upon itself to build an enlightened and accepting community,” Whalen said. “We are working to craft a schedule that will allow for still more opportunities to talk and get to know each other, to address important issues, and to work together to build community.”