On Friday evening, members of the College’s Board of Trustees and administrators held an open reception in the Faculty House for students, offering them a chance to meet the trustees and talk about issues of concern to the college community. Peak attendance at the event reached about 40 students.
“It is great to have the opportunity to speak to students, and this is one of many venues to do so,” Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael Eisenson ’77 said. “It’s great for students to ask about what we do, how we think about things, and for us to hear first-hand what’s on their minds.”
The Board of Trustees held an open forum with over 100 attendees in October that allowed for larger groups of students to share their concerns and views with trustees (“Trustees hold second forum for students,” Oct. 19, 2016). Friday’s reception setting allowed for trustees and students to talk individually or in small groups.
“Different people like interacting in different ways,” President Adam Falk said, “and this also provides an informal way for people to get to know each other.”
Several students appreciated the less formal setting in which to meet the trustees.
“I found this event to be really cool,” Oliver Yang ’20 said. “The trustees have gone through the same experience as me [being a Williams student] and can relate. I thought they’d be ‘people in big suits,’ but they really just want to get to know the students as people.”
The more personal nature of this reception may have contributed to the less tense and adversarial atmosphere than at October’s open forum.
“The forum and reception are basically apples and oranges … the one-on-one [setting] obviously allows for more private, personal conversation and to get to know each other before getting into issues,” trustee Martha Williamson ’77 said. “You can see the trustee as a person rather than an adversary, allowing for more satisfying exchanges.”
At a similar reception held last year by the Board of Trustees, students organized and gave a lengthy toast to bring up issues including psychological services, financial aid and the Board’s lack of transparency concerning its operations. No such action occurred at this year’s event.
In addition, the event especially allowed student leaders such as members of the College Council (CC) board to discuss important issues with the trustees, according to CC Vice President for Communications Michael Rubel ’19. “We haven’t had a College Council meeting since the event to debrief yet,” Rubel said. “But speaking personally, I was really happy to see CC members and other students there, just in terms of really creating connections in the community and between the Board of Trustees, the administrators such as President Falk and [Vice President of Campus Life] Steve Klass and students. We can always talk about connections, but it’s events like this that really make it happen. It was great to see people talking casually and also constructively about how we can make the College a better place.”
The Board held the reception as part of its on-campus meetings from Jan. 20-22 and will next be on campus for its quarterly meetings on April 7.