This week in Williams history: War strikes, property damage, JRC approval, residence robbery

Amina Naidjate

“This Week in Williams History” is a column dedicated to looking back at memorable moments in the College’s past through articles in the Record. This week in history, the College dealt with property damage from a party, green-lit the construction of the Jewish Religious Center, responded to war in Southeast Asia, and investigated a thousand-dollar heist at Susie Hopkins.

April 21, 1972: ‘Williams responds to the air war’

On a Thursday evening, 125 students, faculty, and trustees gathered in the Mission Park kitchen to discuss America’s escalation of its war in Southeast Asia. By a vote of 52 to 45, with ten abstentions, the group passed a resolution calling for a strike or moratorium on classes for the coming Friday in protest of the violence.

Of those present, many felt “anger and rage” at the United States’ role in the conflict, but a considerable number of those present were against the strike, which they felt “had no purpose or goal and consequently would accomplish nothing.” Opponents of the strike called it a “useless, emotional outburst,” arguing that the policies being protested had already been in effect for a long time, and by reacting with “moral outrage,” students were only revealing their ignorance.

In addition, the group adopted a resolution that called on the Board of Trustees to adopt the “Yale plan,” in which the College would regulate the activities and policies of companies it had investments in to prevent “companies from taking on contracts for the production of war goods.” 

April 18, 1978: ‘Party leads to property damage’

On a Saturday night, a party in Mission Park resulted in considerable damage to a Pratt suite’s common room and a personal dorm room. 

The damage reportedly occurred after party-goers began throwing furniture out of a window at around 2 a.m. In order to get a better look at “the results of this caper,” they entered an adjacent bedroom, which was vacant at the time, and its resident came back at 3 a.m. to find his room “devoid of its former contents and his room in shambles.”

His skis, stereos, and shelves were damaged, and his typewriter in the living room had been stepped on. According to Record sources, “no malicious intent provoked the inebriated group who agreed to pay for damages.”

April 19, 1988: ‘Trustees OK faculty housing, Jewish center’

In a meeting, the Board of Trustees decided to authorize several long-term construction projects, including a new Jewish center. 

According to College Treasurer and Trustee Secretary William Reed, the building was planned to be a stand-alone, on-campus structure that would cost somewhere between $1 million and $1.25 million. The money was expected to be raised from donations, and its construction was “a high priority for the trustees.”

At the time, the Williams College Jewish Association (WCJA) had been meeting in the Kuskin Center in the basement of Thompson Memorial Chapel, but within only two years, the Jewish Religious Center (JRC) on Stetson Court was completed, “reigniting Jewish life at Williams.”

The JRC now serves as a hub for Jewish students on campus, and it is the home of weekly Shabbat dinners that are attended by students of all backgrounds.

April 18, 2007: ‘Thieves raid Susie Hopkins’

At around 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning, more than $5000 worth of personal items were stolen from the Susan Hopkins residence, including an iPod, a laptop, a “very expensive” DJ mixer with two CD turntables, and a pair of sunglasses. 

According to a resident of Susan Hopkins, the Williamstown Police Department identified a couple of suspects with “a substantial amount of evidence against them, compiled by multiple people through the night.”

The robbery came after the residents held an unregistered party on Saturday night, which five non-Williams students attended. “I’m not implying by any means that non-Williams students are responsible,” then-Director of Campus Security Jean Thorndike said. “But it’s something to take into consideration.”

The residents announced that they were willing to drop all charges if the possessions were returned.