Underfunded and under-resourced

Caroline Broude

I did not know what I was getting myself into when my JAs asked me to join this committee called Frosh Council, and I especially did not know what I was getting into when I accepted the position of Historian. Little did I know that I would have to fundraise for many, many hours so that Frosh Council could put on our two signature events: Frosh Formal and JA appreciation.  

The first mode of earning money was selling our Class of 2023 sweatshirts. Last year’s Frosh Council sold over 150 sweatshirts, so we were tasked with selling the same number. But let me tell you, getting people to buy those sweatshirts was extraordinarily difficult, and earning a profit was even more so. We needed to meet the 150-sweatshirt goal so we could even come close to having enough money for Frosh Formal alone, and with a profit margin of $8, we were not on the direct path to success. But another impediment to our success quickly appeared: First-years were not purchasing the sweatshirts as they were either uninterested or unable to afford the them. In attempts to mend this socioeconomic obstacle, we reached out to many of the College’s organizations, such as the Office of Student Life (OSL) and the Davis Center. No one was willing to provide the funds to pay for a sweatshirt for those who could not afford it. Honestly, hearing the school say no to a request to give everyone their class sweatshirt was disappointing. I would have thought that the College would have been more open to purchasing a handful of sweatshirts for frosh just as they do on Mountain Day. We were below target on sales, partly because the school would not offer financial aid.  

After sweatshirt sales, our entire council bemoaned our marginal profit and wondered how in the world our $500 profit was to pay for all of Frosh Formal and JA appreciation. I found myself frustrated and feeling helpless in the situation because it honestly felt that the College had thrown us into the ocean and expected us to swim. I do recognize that Frosh Council is certainly not the most important group on campus, but Frosh Council is a tradition that the school should work to maintain, not watch idly during its downfall. I was devoted to this council, however, and I was not going to watch it crumble. At our bake sale, I personally purchased $50 worth of items, and a group of us on the committee spent all day on one Friday yelling at any passersby to please support our council. Although we did end up earning $160, it was very uncomfortable for me to basically beg students and faculty to give us money. Countless times during the bake sale and throughout the year, I have been asked why we are not given money by the school, a question which I never knew how to answer. The College never offered or accepted our requests for funds. Although it appears that Frosh Council will survive on our own, it was at my and the council’s expense. 

 I have loved my time on Frosh Council, but I have also found the experience frustrating at times. Although we are a council of competent students, we all would love some help — both financial and simple logistical help. But I would not trade this experience for anything; I was forced to spread the love that I felt for our committee and ask that others love the council in the form of donations. I’ve never had to fundraise this hard before, and it was an experience that I would not trade. Frosh Formal was an amazing event, and that is because of the Council’s hard work in fundraising and planning. While I would have loved some support from Williams, this event was even better because we earned that money. 

Caroline Broude ’23 is from New York, N.Y.