Williams distinguishes itself from other elite colleges and universities by manifesting everyday the values upon which the college was founded and continues to hold dear. “Liberal arts,” for us, is not a platitude that serves a convenient purpose in our rhetoric but is a means of organizing our school so that students can maximize their four years in the Purple Valley.
This appreciation is certainly found in the classroom with professors who are willing to grade 50 pages of writing every week; while also participating in five classes in our tutorial program; professors who open up their courses to non-specialists to promote their love of learning and help student fill divisional requirements. However, the virtues of a liberal arts education are also found on the Williams campus in the entries right at the beginning of the year, over a tray of nachos at the snack bar in the middle of Winter Study and across all of the athletic contests, artistic performances and student publications that close out the year. At the college, the liberal arts is a state of being, an enduring appreciation for the complexity of the world around us and an earnest desire to shape our perspectives on it. Your gift helps to make that possible, both for me and all others who make this place home.
Let me tell you about Tuesday: I would be mendacious if I claimed I chose this day of the week at random, but I hope that my Tuesday schedule shows how each individual at the college is part of a greater whole. On Tuesdays, I need to rise early. My co-editor of the Record would have been hard at the work since 6 a.m. to accommodate her schedule and I need to pick up the baton as soon as it is tossed my way. Heading out from Greylock Quad, I make my way across campus to Goodrich Coffee Bar for a double latte and wheat bagel, hoping not to get too distracted by the myriad of friendly faces so that I can get to the paper in a timely manner. A conversation or two will not hurt, though, I advise myself.
Eventually, I make my way to the second floor of Paresky where the Record office occupies a cozy corner between the Chaplains’ Office and a conference room. My co-editor has left me an extensive note on what is and is not completed on the page and I know my responsibilities for the next few hours. I pull copy-edited articles, select appropriate photos, lay out pages and make some tweaks before submitting the paper to the executive board and ultimately the editor-in-chief. The work requires acute attention to detail and patience but, now as executive editor, I have the skills necessary to ensure we publish the best possible paper each week. My co-workers on the paper, some of my greatest friends at Williams, will trickle in over the next few hours. Ideally, a few of us get lunch together before I have to head to my physics class. The class, Spacetime and Quanta, is designed for non-majors in search of a fun yet challenging way of meeting those Div. III requirements. Our class meets biweekly together as a group of about 25, a small number by the standards of many colleges. Still, Professor David Tucker-Smith, feeling even this size was a bit too large for what he hoped to accomplish, divided the class into three smaller conference sections meeting once a week, taking more time out of his schedule to get to know his students and offer them additional outlets for mastering the material.
After conference section wraps up, I head across Route 2 to Hollander Hall for one of my two tutorials. Professor Jessica Chapman my partner and I examine U.S. foreign policy in the twentieth century to understand how ideology, culture and identity shaped the way foreign policy elites pursued their strategic objectives. My partner and I will have both read a full text for this meeting (potentially up to 400 pages) and each had to produce some writing.
Each week, one student in a tutorial pair will send his professor and his partner a 5-7 paper on the reading 24 hours in advance of their meeting. His partner then writes a 2-3 page critique of the work. Both members of the pair will read their papers out loud at the beginning of the tutorial meeting and then discuss the subject matter, the professor intervening only as needed to promote independent learning and self-discovery.
Tutorial completed I head back to the Record office and check in with my co-editor to see how the section is shaping up. I will complete all work yet to be done to ensure the paper can get to our printer on time , so our readers will have it to accompany their morning coffee.. As the pages go through final review, I will fit homework in between conversation and antics with my colleagues until we are given the all clear.
I return home to Mark Hopkins and my suite-mates, excitedly previewing tomorrow’s Record and highlighting some of the interesting moments from my tutorial meeting that day and, in exchange, hearing where their respective Tuesdays have taken them. Such is the nature of this wonderful place: passion begets passion, contagious in nature and limitless in supply. We work off what we have been given and work ardently to achieve more for our collective betterment over coffee, in conference section, during tutorial and through our extracurriculars. What better way to celebrate the liberal arts than to see it embodied in every facet of a residential community everyday? Thank you for your support in making this possible.
Jack Greenberg ’18
On February 17, 2016, the entire student body came together to celebrate all the things that members of the Williams community do for one another and to show their gratitude and “EphPreciation” for your Alumni Fund contribution by signing thank you cards. As such, the signature inside your card may not belong to the student profiled on this page. To learn more about the EphPreciation event, williams.edu/ephpreciation; to read about the students your gift impacts, visit williams.edu/ephprofiles.