Office of Student Life expands annual Frosh Leadership Weekend

Twenty-nine members of the class of 2015 took part in Friday and Saturday’s Frosh Leadership Weekend (FLW), an event that students have been running off and on since 2005. According to Ben Lamb, interim assistant director for student involvement, differences between this year’s program and those of the past include the marketing of FLW as a retreat for Frosh Council members and other interested first-years, the raising of the cap to 30 individuals and an increase in the budget. The addition of a meet-and-greet with the trustees and the invitation of upperclassmen student leaders to the dinner on Friday night were also minor changes to the event.

The 26 members of Frosh Council were automatically admitted to FLW, and 20 of these students attended the weekend’s events. The total cap for first-year participants in FLW was 30 students, and the other nine first-years who took part in the program applied for the remaining spots by writing a brief paragraph expressing their interest.

This year’s FLW was structured both to allow for optimal networking between the first-year students and upperclassmen leaders and also to educate first-years about how to use the resources available from the Office of Student Life.

The weekend began with an icebreaker in Greylock Hall followed by a dinner with a diverse group of student leaders, including Francesca Barrett ’12, College Council (CC) co-president; Jack Noelke ’13, CC treasurer; Krista Pickett ’13, CC secretary; Zach Evans ’12, CC all campus community and diversity representative; Peter Skipper ’13, Williams College Democrats co-president; Austin Davis ’12, managing editor of the Record and former Junior Advisor (JA); Caroline Miller ’14, a member of last year’s Frosh Council and the cross country team; and Sarah Freymiller ’13 and Haotian Xu ’13, current JAs.

According to April Jenkins ’14 and Adrian Castro ’14, both members of the Sophomore Advisory Board, the dinner was the biggest success of the weekend. The Sophomore Advisory Board consists of last year’s Frosh Council members and helps to run Frosh Council.

Next on the agenda was a how-to activity with FLW leaders, during which first-years learned how to implement their creative ideas to plan campus-wide events. First-years learned how to obtain funding, reserve rooms and take advantage of on-campus resources, specifically those available through Student Life.

First-year students also received a special opportunity to meet and mingle with the trustees, on campus for last weekend’s board meeting, and Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass.

“I like the fact that not only do we have this big group of students, using this as their way to figure out [the College], but the fact that the second-years got to take the lead – this was an incredible opportunity for them to take a leadership role,” Klass said.

Saturday morning kicked off with Winter Blitz leader training. Five groups of five students each worked in local areas to prepare houses for the upcoming winter season. After their work, FLW leaders attended a lunch with Lamb.

Lamb discussed achieving the perfect balance between the social and academic aspects of a college student’s life. He also focused on diversity in opinions and ideas in leadership and emphasized campus resources.

The last event on the agenda was a photo scavenger hunt that united the students participating in FLW, according to Castro and Jenkins, and reiterated the goal they were all working towards: making the College an even better place. The scavenger hunt was aimed at documenting landmark College sites.

Through the course of FLW, the students discussed several ideas that they hope to take the lead on moving forward. In particular, the students discussed organizing entry mixer events – specifically the intermingling of Mission and Frosh Quad entries – and bringing the different classes together though campus-wide parties and community service projects in the Berkshires.

 

FLW history

 

Lamb attested to FLW’s evolution in recent years. “FLW was developed around six years ago as a way to get first-year students at Williams engaged and educated in terms of what resources are available to them and what skill sets they would need to really launch themselves into a successful leadership position here at the College and beyond,” Lamb said. After it’s original conception as a weekend solely organized by students for students, FLW did not return to the College’s docket until 2009.

Schuyler Hall ’10, student centers coordinator for the Office of Student Life, and Jerusa Contee ’11 reinstated the program in 2009 as a weekend that was still student-run, but supported by what was then the Office of Campus Life.  “In 2009 and 2010, the program was small yet successful,” Lamb added.

“This yearas I entered into my role in Student Life, I integrated the organization of FLW into one of my student intern positions,” Lamb said, referring to the position held by Jenkins. “By doing so, we now had a paid position that was coordinating much of the logistics, recruitment and design of the program. We took everything that was great about the program before, but then added special elements that we found and collaborated with other offices and departments on.”

Lamb views this year’s FLW as a success, and confirmed that event organizers will look to the weekend as a model for the 2012 FLW.

Reintroduced last year, Frosh Council is an executive board aimed at involving the first-year class in making decisions concerning the larger College community. Each entry elects one of its members to serve on Frosh Council.

As Frosh Council is a fairly new development, the Sophomore Advisory Board plans to evaluate the program over Winter Study and reconstruct the group’s constitution accordingly. The Sophomore Advisory Board hopes to institute a rollover of Frosh Council members into the Sophomore Advisory Board in the coming years.

There is a proposal to integrate the Frosh Council board with the SophomOrientation board, but Jenkins said that there are no plans to instate a Sophomore Council. “We need to prioritize our energies on getting an effective and focused Frosh Council,” she said.