I was excited for the Franzen/Sullivan talk, held on the ’62 Center’s big stage last Tuesday, October 21. The two names wield a lot of literary and intellectual star power. For those unfamiliar, Jonathan Franzen is a well-known novelist and sometimes journalist, standing somewhere between literary fiction and mass-market paperbacks. Andrew Sullivan is a political author and blogger who covers a wide range of current events and is noted for his idiosyncratic political views, which are informed by, among other things, conservatism, gay rights advocacy, and the practice of Roman Catholicism.
The question you pose is “how much social awareness is too much?” You argue that the Williams community’s emphasis on microaggressions has led to a “period of hypersensitivity that has hindered much of what [you] thought the Williams intellectual community would become in [your] time here.” This is not a unique sentiment, and I have had many discussions with people who feel frustrated and/or stifled by this “emphasis.”
MISSION PARK – A recent investigation at Mission Dining Hall revealed an error in an old order for quinoa, the Mexican grain known for being rich in protein and fiber.
Investigators report that the mistake in the order – placed in October 2006 – resulted in a surplus quantity of quinoa in the magnitude of ten thousand. This slip-up proved fatal when the quinoa, delivered too quickly, ended up crushing a Mission chef. “We were hearing a lot about quinoa,” a dining hall source reports, “so we thought we’d try to order some for a dinner to see how people liked it. Well someone must have typed a bunch of extra zeroes because we ended up ordering like five truck fulls of the stuff. We were knee deep in quinoa for a week. One of the chefs drowned.”
Investigation revealed that the surplus quinoa was eventually stored in empty singles in Dennett Basement and has been served ever since. “Sometimes students come in joking and acting surprised about the quinoa,” the source said. “For me, it’s no joke. I still have nightmares.”
I lack self-discipline. I’m a self-loathing millennial in this way; I procrastinate on work, sometimes wash down one post-class beer with an unnecessary second, and have put off Sunrise Hikes for three years running in favor of two more blessed hours of sleep. I’m by no means alone in this; I suspect many other college students–both from our present generation and those to whom we’re heirs–partake and partook in the same extensive tradition of mediocrity. Yet one demarcation between us and them in this realm of overindulgence is the omnipresence of social media among young people today. Much has been written about sites and apps like Facebook or Yik Yak–mostly overwrought hand-wringing that serves as a convenient example of the heightened level of self-awareness we feel about the online identities we create and neurotically maintain.
Frosh Revue has come under fire recently with the College Council-mandated censure which removed the freshmen performance troupe from subgroup allocation process for the next 26 months and froze this year’s budget (a whole of $150). Since this news broke, people have not held back their resentment for the group in public, on Facebook, and on the ever-so-powerful platform of change and progress, Yik Yak. And rightfully so. Hazing is a serious allegation that puts a strain on what the Williams Community is supposed to represent. However, how this has been handled by several organizations, particularly The Record and College Council, merits its own critique.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s installation Stop Telling Women to Smile is a street art project designed to confront the frustration many women have felt as a result of street harassment. This harassment, whether it comes in the form of silent leers or the infamous cat calls, is confronted by women on a daily basis–when they are on their way to work, heading home or just strolling about. Seldom do women get the chance to confront their harassers or feel comfortable enough doing so–Fazlalizadeh has given them the platform to accomplish exactly that.
I used to make movies. I attended a fairly artistically inclined high school that required students to take three semesters of art class. Since my paintings would only be considered “art” by the most modern of modernists, I followed my interest in movies into the filmmaking class. For four years (two and a half more than the required amount) I cut through the monotony of high school life by writing and directing short films. Though I received credit, the class was pass/fail.
The following is adapted from a faculty meeting last year. The Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) is sponsoring a year-long initiative called “Why Liberal Arts?” Please check out their tumblr at williamswhyliberalarts.tumblr.com.
I believe that the goal of a liberal arts education is to prepare our students to be thriving citizens in a pluralistic democracy. Given that I believe in pluralistic democracy, I don’t believe that everyone will or should have the same goal. But I do hope that many of you will share this goal.
There are four chief ways our curriculum can serve to prepare our students to be such citizens:
We’re all familiar with the likes of reddit and Yik Yak; the two are similar in that they both serve as social forums in which posts can be made and ideas shared. In order to maintain its status as the “front page of the internet,” reddit uses a system called “karma” as the chief mechanism to link users to content. If one redditor likes a post that another has made, he or she will give that user an upvote, boosting the other’s karma ranking on the website. On the other hand, if the user posts what others consider bad content, he or she receives downvotes that will eventually remove the post from view.
CURRIER QUAD – In a move without precedent on the Williams campus, sophomore Cassidy Goldberg chuckled at a cartoon in the Williams Record this Wednesday.
Eyewitnesses report that Cassidy was reading the Record with a friend at Driscoll and let out a slight snort when he saw the cartoon, which depicted a tired-looking freshman holding a number of textbooks.
More on this story as it develops.