Bridging the gap

First-years at Williams College have it good when it comes to housing. We’re organized into wonderful entries, all located very close to dining halls, and many first-years are even lucky enough to get singles. However, the first-year living experience is not perfect, and it’s always important to strive for improvement. One flaw in the first-year housing system is its divisiveness. It’s very difficult for those in Frosh Quad to meet their compatriots who live in Mission. I’m not saying we should do anything about this. As a “Missionary” myself, I have absolutely no desire to interact with anyone from Frosh Quad. However, there’s another even more terrible divide between first-years: the divide between Armstrong/Pratt (AP) and Mills/Dennett (MD).

Because of the way Mission was constructed, Armstrong is just a hallway away from Pratt. The same is true of Mills and Dennett. However, because the architects who designed Mission were trying to prevent riots, segregate the sexes or generally just be annoying, they made the terrible decision to separate Pratt from Mills. Now there is no easy way to get from Pratt to Dennett or from Armstrong to Mills.

All college students are inherently lazy, and due to the construction of Mission, AP frosh are almost as far away from MD frosh as they are from Science Quad. This problem could easily have been avoided if the architects had simply connected Pratt and Mills. We’ll have to wait several more years before we can travel back in time and fix this egregious mistake, but luckily there’s still a way to solve this problem in the present: Build a bridge.

It so happens that Williams is a very wealthy institution. Though not nearly as wealthy as the second-best college in Massachusetts, Harvard, Williams still has enough money to afford to have all of Old Sawyer torn down and replaced with a grass field, rather than taking the much less expensive route of converting it into a laser tag arena.

Simply put, Williams has the money to do some minor constructive surgery on Mission and build a bridge connecting Pratt 4 to Mills 4. This bridge would practically double every Missionary’s social circle and lead to new friendships that otherwise might never exist.

Additionally, this bridge could add a lot more to Williams College than simply reuniting two twins that were separated at birth. The bridge could be a wooden plank, allowing Williams students to practice their balance and get their adrenaline pumping every time they cross the divide. The bridge could be a glass tunnel, providing Williams students even more opportunities to view the beautiful surroundings. Finally, the bridge could be an obstacle course, giving every Missionary the chance to exercise without heading all the way to Lasell Gym.

Representatives from College Council have, to paraphrase, called this idea stupid, impractical and based in laziness. Though at first this bridge may seem to be all of the above, almost every Missionary I have talked to has supported this idea. From those who miss their best friend who lives on the other side of Mission to those who simply want to meet new people, a bridge would facilitate student bonding in a way few other expenditures of money could.

Freshman year is a critical time for forming relations and meeting new people. Unfortunately, because of poor architectural designs and the inherent laziness of people like me, many first-years are unable to meet the number of people that they should be able to. Though it would no doubt be quite expensive, building a bridge to connect the two halves of Mission would lead to many more relationships and shared experiences. You can’t put a price on friendship.

As I don’t live in Frosh Quad, I can’t speak personally for those that live next to the fabled land that is Snack Bar. However, it seems only fair that if Mission gets a bridge, Frosh Quad should get some sort of renovation as well. My initial idea is tunnels. Tunnels between the various Sage and Williams Hall entries in Frosh Quad could facilitate inter-entry bonding in much the same way a bridge in Mission could. Additionally, a tunnel to snack bar could really help out the Frosh Quad kids in the dead of winter.

Although the dream of a bridge bringing all of Mission together may never be realized, those with the power of money allocation should still consider the basis of the idea. Many first-yearsnever get the opportunity to meet large segments of the first-year population because of where they live, and while money allocations for extra cooking supplies or new furniture may be nice, the college experience is made by the people you meet. It makes the most sense to spend money on things that can help to bring people together. Whether that means bridges and tunnels or something much smaller, the focus should always be on facilitating student relationships.

Ned Lauber ’18 is from Ithaca, N.Y. He lives in Armstrong.

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