As much as we complain to our friends at home about the size of the College, many of us have found that the campus is still big enough to offer new places to explore. For most people, one of those places is the Record office, a suite some have stumbled into after being called in on an urgent request by an editor during an infamous “Record Tuesday,” our production day. Though the office is foreign to most, for us editors, it becomes our second home, a place in which we spend a minimum of 15 hours during a typical week.
The glass-walled boardroom is where all the editors gather for meetings to plan the upcoming issue, discuss the Record board editorial and check in on the status of incoming articles. Appropriately, the boardroom features a grand and majestic hardwood table, usually littered with Record newspapers from issues past, as well as the occasional copy of the Amherst Student or the Berkshire Eagle, and first or second drafts of Record pages with edits by the executive editors.
The table, apart from being featured in the Record’s version of the Harlem Shake (YouTube it), is hallowed among the board for its lewd history. “When the section editors of my year were first welcomed to the Record board, we knew the table had a special significance – writers don’t really have the chance to step into the boardroom and use the table,” Managing Editor Nicole Smith ’14 said. Eventually it came out that the campus editor on the board the year before had in fact “consummated” the table, and so “it became the goal of many editors to consummate the table again, and the table is now recognized as a sex symbol among the board,” Smith said. Many of the current editors have expressed this sentiment as well, including Arts Editor Will Gutierrez ’16 who, upon learning its history, declared to the office at large: “I’m reserving the table for this weekend, guys.”
Both inside and outside the boardroom, many of the walls are covered in large dry-erase boards. The boards keep track of the editing progress of the 12 to 16 pages in the Record each week, as well as offer space for section editors to figure out the layout for their respective pages.
On the left of the wall flanking the entrance to the office are the shelves and containers full of Record archives, sources of much amusement to those who’ve had the chance to leaf through their pages. Sawyer Library has bound the Record issues of each academic year into hardcover books for about a century, and the Record has archives in the office spanning back to 1914. From time to time, editors browse through the archives when writing the column “A Week in Williams History,” and uncover crazy things about the College’s past. One interesting recent find by Editor-in-Chief Megan Bantle ’14, was an issue from 1945, when the College was single-sex and populated only by “Ephmen,” wherein the girls of nearby and competing liberal arts schools were classified into caricatured dating profiles. “The Record archives are a valuable window into the College’s past culture that we can’t get any other way,” Bantle said.
Tacked onto the wall next to the archives is a collection of photos that always puzzles visitors to the office. Ryan Gosling, Ira Glass, Jennifer Aniston and a graffitied Justin Bieber are among the figures posted up by Record board members throughout the years. Dubbed the “inspiration wall,” Record members print out photos of their personal inspirational (albeit more likely crushable) icons and put them up as a reminder to keep pushing forward during the long Tuesday nights. “My inspiration is Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen because they took a lack of acting talent and turned it into a billion dollars,” Gutierrez said, “They took nothing and made it into something, and that’s what we do at the Record every week.” Regardless of whether or not we actually get that extra push of motivation when we glance at the wall, the celebrity faces do make for some pretty good decoration.
The leftmost third of the Record office turns, on Record Tuesdays especially, into a little sanctuary of sorts. Tired board members can often be found curled up for a catnap or immersed in homework on the couches that form the Record board’s very own makeshift living room. When we have free time in between pages, the couches provide welcome comfort (as well as often much needed distance from the computers we sit in front of all day). “I spend most of my all-nighters here,” Photo Editor Robert Yang ’15 said, “Part of me wants to go home, but when I see the tempting couches I lie down and end up falling asleep. I wake up at 6 a.m. when the custodians come and make a ruckus. It’s a very weird experience but you just wake up and forget that it ever happened.”
Directly behind this cozy little setup is one of the Record office’s best-kept secrets: the balcony. When the weather allows for it, Record editors love to take a step through the glass door and lounge on one of the two Adirondack chairs that sit in the sun. The breath of fresh air is always a welcome relief from the stresses of the office. Editors have also sneaked peeks of moments between President Falk and his dog from their perch, as the balcony looks into the Sloan House backyard.
It’s true, only a few more than one in 2000 Ephs have swipe access to the Record office, but we welcome anyone interested in seeing where we hide every Tuesday to stop by.