A week in Williams history

The end of the semester i s a time for assessment – of our grades, College facilities and services and the trials and tribulations of the past few months. For our last issue of the fall, we decided to take a look at how other semesters on campus have ended. 

-Sam Hine ’15


Dec. 6, 2006:The end of the academic year just six years ago saw the doubling of average house damage bills. Damages in dorms totaled $7900 as of Nov. 3; College officials chalked up the dramatic increase to “a few acute incidents,” including a single unregistered party in Spencer house. According to the article, “Partygoers punched holes in the walls and ceilings of the recreation room with pool cues. They also cracked the pool table’s slate stone, found under the felt playing surface and damaged its ball-return mechanism” (“House damages double average levels,” Dec. 6, 2006). It took a repair team 34 hours to restore the room to its previous condition. A subsequent investigation pinpointed several students responsible, and they were reportedly charged for repair costs.

 Dec. 7, 1993:In its last issue of the year, the Recordreported on a fight that broke out on Spring Street on Nov. 29, 1993. Four female students were arraigned in court for assault and battery after a confrontation at the Purple Pub that led to a fight with police on Spring Street. According to witnesses, a male Williamstown resident directed a homophobic statement at the women, who confronted him about it. When the bartender attempted to forcibly remove one of the women from the premises, a scuffle ensued outside the Pub between some of the women and a number of men. As the women made their way up Spring Street they were accosted by a police officer. After an exchange of words one of the women kicked the officer, who maced and arrested the four of them. The College had no comment on the incident (“Four arrested in Spring St. scuffle,” Dec. 7, 1993).

 Dec. 9, 1967:In the last issue of the fall semester, the Record reported that it would adopt a new format beginning in the first Winter Study, first held in 1968. The Record had been publishing twice a week during the regular semester, but would only publish once a week during the Winter Study period. The article even suggested that the name of the Record might change for the four Winter Study issues, according to Editor-in-Chief John Stickney ’68. “We decided that since Winter Study is a new experiment for the College, we ought to change the schedule and format and size of the Record to try a little experimenting ourselves,” Stickney said.  The name of the weekly paper did not ultimately change, but a new humor section, “Charivari,” was added, bearing the tagline “An oracle of the Winter Study” (“Revamped RecordTo Adopt New Format During WSP,” Dec. 9, 1967).

 Dec. 12, 1939:The fall semester of the 1939 academic year saw the fewest number of students receiving a “warning” grade of ‘D’ or ‘E’ in one or more courses; however, the percentage of students receiving such grades was still a stunning 48.7 percent. Calling it a “new scholastic high,” the Recordreported that this was the first time since the College began keeping records that less than half of the student body received a final warning sent out before Thanksgiving recess. The first-year class saw the highest percentage of men receiving a warning, with 61.4 percent of the class having been warned that year, though the percentage of first-years warned had decreased from 62.8 percent in 1938. As an overall percentage of grades reported, 16.1 percent were ‘D’s and 3.2 percent were ‘E’s (“Students Receive Fewest Warning Grades Since 1925,” Dec. 12, 1939).

 Dec. 2, 1930:

The Record reported that a total of 177 College alumni, or 4.54 percent of grads overall, were listed in the 1928-29 edition of Who’s Who in America, placing Williams eighth in the list of over 500 colleges whose living alumni had been accorded the honor (“Williams Ranks Eight in Percentage of Graduates Listed in ‘Who’s Who’ With 177 Alumni Represented,” Dec. 2, 1930). Hampden-Sydney, a small college for men in Virginia, topped the list with 7.45 percent of grads, or 52 men, listed, followed in order by Amherst, Harvard, Wesleyan, Trinity, Yale and Hobart. When ranked according to the actual number of alumni on the list, the College fell back to 18th on the list. Harvard, Yale and Princeton headed the column with 1374, 937 and 480 men, respectively.

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