A week in Williams history

Jan 18, 2006

Dean Roseman and the Committee on Undergraduate Life proposed to reduce the number of “clusters,” or, as we now call them, neighborhoods, from five to four – a monumental shift that created Mission first-year housing. Entries living in the cluster of East, Fayerweather and Lehman would be moved into Mission, a change that upperclassmen, who loved Mission’s abundance of singles and large common rooms, were reluctant to support. While the move was mostly conceived to increase the size of each cluster, it also would centralize the first-year class and, because of Mission’s unusual layout, further improve entry and class bonding (“New proposal houses first-years in Mission,” Jan. 18, 2006).

Jan 26, 1988

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1988, a visiting professor and a visiting alumnus filed for a complaint of assault and battery against each other. Visiting Professor of English Robert Chrisman claimed Reverend Muhammed Kenyatta ’66 “caused a small cut on his lip” and broke his glasses. Kenyatta countered that Chrisman had “grabbed him by the coat, wrist and hands and held him briefly.” Chrisman was on campus teaching a first-year seminar on the Harlem Renaissance, while Kenyatta, perhaps ironically, was teaching a winter study course on the moral philosophy of Dr. King. The nature of their conflict was not reported, and the college did not take any action on this very minute instance of violence (“Rev., prof claim assault,” Jan. 26, 1988)

 Jan 21, 1977

Nightlife at the College briefly heated up in the cold month of January when Prospect House threw “Aruba Night,” a tropical party with an exciting twist. An attending couple, after paying the admission fee of $10, would be selected at random for an all-inclusive four day, three night vacation in Aruba – and they would be shuttled to the airport that very night. Prospect House paid for both the unusually lavish party – Mission Park dining hall was to be heated to “tropical temperatures” and decorated as such – and the impromptu Caribbean trip, which cost over $2000 (“Aruba offers sun, fun,” Jan. 21, 1977).

Feb 10, 1955

A February 10, 1955 issue of the Record reported the establishment of Snack Bar in the Student Union in late January of that year. Boasting quick service, reasonable prices, and good (not necessarily nutritious) food, the inaugural Snack Bar, not very different from the Whitmans’ and Lee Snack Bar of today, was described as “the meeting place of insatiable appetites.” The décor, said to contrast the modernistic style of the Student Union with its log cabin feel, featured charcoal-colored iron lamps, captain’s chairs copied from those in the nearby Lawrence Art Museum, pine board flooring and overhead wooden beams preserved from a barn that witnessed the 1704 Deerfield Massacre. Behind the counter, there was a malted milk machine, a new grill and soda pumps. According to a poll, the men of the College preferred hot dogs to hamburgers 2-1, due to the installation of a new hot dog grill, whereas in the alumni house the reverse was true (“Snack bar opens in student union,” Feb. 10, 1955).

Jan 24, 1946

VoxPop, short for Vox Populi or Voice of the People, one of the nation’s most famous radio programs, hosted a full-capacity event at Chapin Hall that was broadcasted nation-wide about married life at the College. The “stars” were four married veterans and their wives, who spoke of college life as new parents. In a subsequent Record editorial, the event was said to have “virtually trampled into the dust” the rights of bachelors on campus, and a Bill of Rights for Bachelors was called for. The editorial stated the radio program changed the reputation of the College of one from pre-war obscurity to an institution composed solely of married men, despite an overwhelmingly large single majority.  (VoxPop Interviews Veterans From Chapin.” Jan. 24, 1946)

Feb 4, 1926

As the College geared up for the festivities of the 1926 Winter Carnival, a banner headline across the top of the Record read, “Intercollegiate Carnival Added to Usual Midwinter Festivities, 150 Girls are Expected.” Advertised to all of the isolated men of the Purple Valley were 10 to 15 parties hosted by various fraternities, evening dances, musical concerts, ice skating on Sage Hall rink, and five “tea dances,” crescendoing in the announcement of the arrival of women from nearby college sororities. Not only was it stated that the multicolored dresses of the women would break the somber Purple of the Berkshires, but also continued to list on the front page the names of the 150 individual women who would be in attendance, among whom were Gwendolyn Talbot, Blanche Rogers, Katrina Van Dyke, and one Dorcas McEwan (“Intercollegiate Carnival Added to Usual Midwinter Festivities,” Feb. 4, 1926).