“This is being Black at Williams:” Instagram account amplifies Black voices, issues of racism within the College

“I remember a white student complaining to me about how me and my black friends participated too much/too well to the point that we ‘dominated’ the class, and informed me how other non-white classmates felt the same way,” reads a June 30 post from the Instagram page @blackatwilliams. “It was as if he was asking me to give him a chance. And to top it off, it was an Africana course. His entitlement infuriated me.’”

College signs amicus brief supporting Harvard and MIT lawsuit against ICE

In an email sent out to the College community on July 8, President of the College Maud S. Mandel condemned the federal guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which, among other restrictions, prohibits international students from returning to or remaining in the country if they are enrolled exclusively in online courses during the fall semester. 

Yesterday, the College signed an amicus brief — a legal document filed by parties that have an interest in a case — supporting the lawsuit filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) seeking to block the ICE directive. The College signed it jointly with 58 other institutions of higher learning, including Amherst and seven Ivy League universities.

A breakdown of the changes to cost and financial aid this academic year

The College announced last week that it will decrease the cost of tuition by 15 percent this coming academic year, waive the work-study contribution and provide a personal allowance to all students on financial aid for the upcoming academic year. The first to do so among peer institutions, the College announced these changes as students and families across the country have questioned and have even brought lawsuits against universities, arguing for decreased tuition for a partially or completely online education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

First Days, entry system, JA role modified for fall semester

With the College’s decision to welcome students back for an in-person but socially distanced fall semester will inevitably come changes to first-year student traditions, including EphVentures, the entry system and the role of Junior Advisors (JAs). The College’s decision to make First Days fully virtual will affect first-year students’ transitions into college this coming fall, while JAs currently worry that their role is evolving in detrimental ways due to potential changes to the entry system.

WPD use of force policy falls behind advocates’ benchmarks, six reported uses of force in past two years

A Record review of the Williamstown Police Department’s use of force practices revealed six officially reported uses of force in the past two years and an official use of force policy that does not meet several of the benchmarks set by anti-police violence advocates. The policy is currently being revised through an internal review, according to Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson.

Key takeaways from the past two faculty meetings

Last Wednesday and today at two extraordinary faculty meetings held on Zoom, President Maud S. Mandel and Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom gave updates on next year’s academic calendar and faculty voted on changes to the class schedule and Pass/Fail policy, as the College figures out what next academic year will look like amidst the pandemic.

Here are the main takeaways from the meetings.

Mandel outlines College’s commitment to racial justice, faces renewed criticism

After more than two weeks of pressure from students, alums and other members of the College community, President Maud S. Mandel released on Friday an outline of actionable steps the College will take to fight racial and social injustice. The initiatives are divided into four categories—people, philanthropy, partnerships and programming—and Mandel said each will continue to develop in the coming weeks and months.
In response to calls from community members to put the College’s financial resources to use to support Black communities amid nationwide protests against police brutality, as Amherst and Bowdoin have done, Mandel committed in her email to investing “at least $500,000 over the next five years to specifically support racial justice organizations and efforts nationally and in our region” under the umbrella of “philanthropy.”

College faces criticism for response to national BLM movement as Amherst establishes matching campaign

At a time when predominantly white institutions across the nation are responding to widespread protests denouncing police brutality and anti-Black racism, members of the Williams community — particularly students and alums — are placing increased pressure on the College administration to hold itself accountable for what they see as its delayed and limited support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.