Investigating Williams myths

October 28, 2015 by Libby Dvir, Executive Editor

TIM NAGLE-MCNAUGHTON/PHOTO EDITOR The Record investigates whether Campus Safety does indeed track swipes into buildings.

TIM NAGLE-MCNAUGHTON/PHOTO EDITOR
The Record investigates whether Campus Safety does indeed track swipes into buildings.

Although the College is relatively small, and, after a few semesters on campus, students generally know how things work around here, there are always new surprises. Today, in fact, my friend, a Sawyer Library employee, informed me that students can renew books they have checked out online, something I will now definitely be using frequently. And, just this week, I casually mentioned to some friends that the College has a (hush-hush) consortium with other schools in the Berkshires – something they were completely unaware of despite being seniors like I am. As great as new discoveries are, we’ve lived at the College without this knowledge for months, or even years. Of greater concern and relevance to the wellbeing of Ephs, I’d argue, is the acceptance as fact of widespread rumors circulating on campus. I decided to investigate and ultimately debunk four prominent  campus myths.

As every first-year who has ever attended an on-campus party should know by now, students of all class years strongly encourage party guests to wait for someone to let them into the building where a late-night, social gathering is taking place, rather than swiping in themselves. This is a product of a prominent misconception that Campus Safety and Security (CSS) tracks the number of swipes into each building during popular party hours in order to find, and ultimately break up the festivities. Director of CSS Dave Boyer, however, effectively shut down this theory. “CSS does not count card swipes to locate parties. Please consider that rumor absolutely debunked,” he said. Whether or not to take the words of the man, the myth, the legend himself at face value, is up to you – I trust him, but I hypothesize that, despite his claim, the rumor will remain strong.

Another popular myth worrying Ephs across campus is that when they make the person swiping ID cards at a dining hall type out their ID number instead, they have to pay an additional $3 charge on their term bills. Although it is unclear why students believe Dining Services is out to get them, perhaps we feel bad for the extra work we cause the swipers on duty and thus believe that we must somehow repent for our sins, in this case with a financial compensation. Fortunately for all you forgetful, distracted and disorganized Ephs out there, this $3 charge is a complete myth. In the clear and easily interpreted words of the Departmental Staff Accountant of Dining Services Jill St. John: “We do not charge students if [they] forget [their] ID.”

Also on the minds of many Ephs are the more benign and fun speculations that circulate regarding the intentionality of idiosyncratic first-year entry compositions and roommate pairs. We’ve all heard the gossip on students whose entries were the same as that of one of their parents, and by now, surely all the members of the Class of 2016 are familiar with the Sarah Roo ’16 – Sarah Wu ’16 first-year roommate pairing in an entry with a Junior Advisor also named Sarah – Sarah Peters ’14. More astute observers have noticed patterns over the years, like how entrymates Rachel Krcmar ’16 and Rachel Lee ’16 occupied the rooms of Emma Benjamin ’15 and Emma Pingree-Cannon ’15, respectively, followed by Kelly Oh ’17 and Kelly Chen ’17. But Housing Coordinator Gail Rondeau Hebert insists that any funny business in first-year housing is merely a random coincidence, as the housing system for first-years is the result of a purely mathematical computer algorithm. This algorithm relies on variables of incoming students’ attributes, as reported by the Office of Admission, in combination with students’ answers to the Office for Student Life’s preference form for roommate compatibility. “I get this report back,” Rondeau explained, “and put you into rooms. Do I purposefully make funny combinations? I’m under a window of time of about a week, so no, nothing is ever done on purpose or made to be funny.” So when your little brother ends up in an inexplicable entry situation, you can explain to him that the housing gods, not the housing coordinator, were responsible.

Last but not least, students love to mock and belittle Mission Park for its rather interesting architectural design, never failing to mention that a prominent jail and prison architect designed the fortress’s floorplan. If you look up the architecture firm that designed the building, however, you can see that the company specializes not in incarceration institutions, but buildings belonging to educational and cultural institutions. Students also mistakenly point out that the first-year building is riot proof, citing its excessive number of doors and how the hallways run diagonally to one another, but various members of Facilities believe it to be merely a rumor, and a representative from the firm said it was unlikely. “It is true that we installed ‘prison-grade’ light fixtures in the hallways during the 2003 renovation, but that was purely functional.  Given the low ceilings, we needed something that would stand up to hockey and lacrosse sticks,” Mike Briggs, senior project manager said. According to Assistant Director for Custodial Services and Special Functions Dan Levering, the only thing notable about Mission is that the architect was fond of birds and designed the building such that, from bird’s eye view, it resembles a bird in flight. After a quick Google Maps satellite view, this appears to be true.

Evidently, there are plenty of College myths that could use some debunking. Some myths, however, might never be properly verified or debunked, leaving those aware of the legendary story of the naming of the Perry Goat Room, for instance, forever speculating about its truth.

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