A week in Williams history

After perusing issues of the Record stretching back a hundred years, a certain pattern has emerged, particularly in recent decades: February, it seems, is a time for school politics.

In addition to our usual motley variety of events, this week features a number of notable decisions from both the faculty and College Council (CC).

Feb. 22, 2006

As part of CC general elections, the student body approved a measure to decrease the size of CC from 36 to 22 members in conjunction with the impending shift to the neighborhood system. Only 40 percent of students voted in the elections. “The last time an amendment was proposed, it did not pass because voter turnout was below the required 33 percent,” said Alex Bal ’06, then-CC president. (“Students vote to shrink Council,” Feb. 22, 2006).

Feb. 25, 1997

In a move that the Record expected would be popular among students, the faculty decided to eliminate classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for the upcoming year. According to Frank Morgan, professor of math and chair of the calendar and schedule committee at the time, the faculty had been holding back on the change for fear that if students were “given a little leeway” they would simply “take the whole week off.” At the same time, the faculty considered extending reading period from four to five days, but this measure was voted down.

Feb. 22, 1983

Nearly 30 years ago, the faculty voted to make women’s studies a concentration. The decision was nearly unanimous, with only one professor voting against the measure. In this early iteration, the concentration was to require five courses, including a broad introductory course. Dean of the Faculty Francis Oakley said that the new concentration would “enrich and vitalize our curriculum in ways we may not be able to appreciate today” (“Women’s Studies voted by faculty,” Feb. 22, 1984). Another member in support of the proposal commented in the same article, “If the program is truly successful, I hope it will self-destruct.”

Feb. 24, 1954

Telford Taylor ’28, a principal prosecutor at the Nuremburg Trials, publicly accused Senator Joseph McCarthy of resorting to “inquisition, passion and lynch law” (“Alumnus attacks McCarthy probes,” Feb. 24, 1954). The remarks gained widespread attention, though McCarthy denounced them. Taylor was planning on coming to the area to give a lecture on the topic later in the month.

March 4, 1932


First-years voted overwhelmingly for the affirmative side of a debate on the question: “Resolved, That the motion picture industry has a degrading effect upon the morale, manners and tastes of our times” (“Freshmen find movies degrading in effects,” March 4, 1932).  Debate attendance was compulsory for first-years as part of a required course in public speaking

March 6, 1926

In an editorial, the Record lauded the Christian Association for arranging meetings with special guest, Ashley Day Leavitt. The paper urged students to take advantage of this opportunity: “The students of Williams have been told on a number of occasions that their interest in one of the most vital and interesting things in life, religion, is far too small, yet for the most part very little is done to change this condition” (“The Christian Association campaign,” March 6, 1926). Though the hot topic of the day may have changed, the message to “get involved” sounds vaguely familiar


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