We often talk about how we as students are different at the end of our career at the College from how we were when we entered. But what about the campus itself? While hours are spent reminiscing over our past years and cataloguing the changes in ourselves from eager, uninformed first-years to jaded, wise seniors, it seems that few seniors take the time to look around and realize that the Williams they see around them isn’t the same school they knew in the fall of 2009. From food to the campus calendar to entirely new architectural additions, let’s take a quick look at some of the things that have changed since the Class of 2013 stepped on campus for our first year.
One simply cannot begin a reminiscence of the senior class’s four years at the College without acknowledging the monumental shift that took place our sophomore year: the closure of Greylock and Dodd dining halls. A point of pride for this year’s seniors is that we are the last class to remember the dining mecca that was a Williams with five dining halls. Once we graduate, no longer will a single student leave dinner wishing they’d been able to go to wrap night at Greylock instead, nor will they skip brunch knowing it can’t possibly measure up to Dodd’s nor spend their Sunday night jonesing so hard for kid’s night that they’d wait in the 30-minute line in the cold if they had to for those chicken fingers and that mac-and-cheese. Whitmans’, Mission and Driscoll do their best, but in certain instances, they simply cannot compare.
In addition, once the Class of 2013 leaves, will anyone really remember why Old Snack Bar is called Old Snack Bar? And will the ridiculously confusing sentence, “I’ll meet you at new old snack bar,” which has become a necessary phrase since Lee Snack Bar reopened for late night service, finally go out of use? While its loss is often overshadowed by the movement of late night service to Whitmans’ from Lee Snack Bar, many among the seniors fondly remember breakfast swipes at old Snack Bar where pumpkin tea bread was a legend and was probably one of my main food groups freshman year – though I never did get my hands on that recipe.
And as Jen Turner ’13 pointed out to me, Goodrich Coffee Bar has seen its fair share of change. While many would think first of the coffee bar’s diversified food offerings, Turner is still lamenting the mysterious disappearance of the jalapeno cream cheese sometime last year.
Despite all of the changes that make many of us nostalgic for our entry days, there have also certainly been welcome campus updates. While this may be more of a mixed bag for some, the abolishment of the First-Year Residential Seminar (FRS) seemed a well-timed removal in many seniors’ opinions. When we and the Class of 2014 graduate, the once-held stigma of being in Willy F will hopefully dissipate from the groups of poor, bewildered first-years who have no idea why their entry inspires such a reaction.
On a more academic note, I don’t know a single Class of 2013-er who isn’t eternally grateful that they never again need to wait in an agonizing line to rent their books out from the 1914 Library each semester – though many may wish that fate on all of the underclassmen who get to enjoy the new Stetson-Sawyer Library and the updated Weston Field complex (and particularly those revamped bathrooms).
Not to return to food too early, but I pity the underclassman who never got the chance to try the That’s a Wrap Thanksgiving Preview. But you all do get a full four years of $5 burger nights at the Purple Pub and a new Mexican restaurant, so perhaps that culinary pity is a two-way street.
Our class also saw more culturally and socially substantial institutions develop during our four years here. The institutionalization of Claiming Williams Day took place largely during our tenure. This increased focus on community, both in relation to serious issues and to simply having fun, also saw the advent of Williams Day. While I’m still not sure what it will look like each year, I will forever be indebted to any event that allowed us to meet a kangaroo.
But, as with all great things, Williams stays the same even as it changes. I’m sure that, no matter what the kids call it in the future, the Class of 2013 will always be able to recognize a Chapin Beach day, a long Winter Study dinner or the frenzy of room draw when we see it. The campus, its makeup and its calendar may change, but Class of 2013, never fear – Williams, in its most fundamental form, will always be here, waiting in the Purple Valley for us to return.