Firstly, congratulations. You’ve gotten into one of America’s best colleges; an acknowledgment of your intelligence and future prospects for success. Because of that very intelligence and potential, I am sure you’ve been admitted to other institutions of similar caliber. Please, for the love of God, go to one of those.
As the present moves further and further away from my own Williams graduation, I am devoid of any nostalgia for my time there. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a more apt assessment. That is, if you believe those who consider themselves representatives of ethnic groups on campus (BSU, QSU, VISTA, etc). If so, prepare for war! You’ll be indoctrinated into a way of thinking that alienates all who don’t share your excessive paranoia, your vehemence towards the administration, and your disdain towards non-marginalized classmates (who are supposedly white supremacists, or white supremacist apologists).
What a scary perception of the future those who subscribe to this way of thinking must have. The natural extension of this line of reasoning is that the real world will be even worse; there you won’t have an “administration” or student body to voice these sentiments to. It will be you against the world, and barely anyone will give a damn.
This is how I have tried to rationalize the vociferous minorities, but it ultimately makes no sense: they’re Williams students, and are not stupid or misguided. Their grievances must have at least a shred of truth to them. I’d take it a step further: Perhaps they are completely on the money and the only thing that’s wrong is the delivery of their message.
Or better yet, there’s something wrong with how it’s received.
The non-oppressed Williams students and the administration are the recipients of this message. Members of the former, to put it bluntly, have full license not to care. Ultimately, they can never fully understand where you’re coming from. Even worse, they might opt to deliver (what has been so wonderfully phrased by those at Williams) “white tears.”
Expressing valid concerns about one’s treatment will fall on deaf ears and be returned with empty smiles. Some administrators will label anything they do as right regardless of how many people it alienates. Others will only shrug and say “sorry” with faces that actually look disappointed.
I am at fault for not acknowledging this putrid aroma, as the red flags were popping up before I even matriculated to the College. In my senior year of high school I was accepted as a Questbridge finalist, but unfortunately none of the four schools I ranked in the “Questbridge Early Action process” accepted me. But in early December, I received an e-mail from Williams College “congratulating me” for my status as a Finalist, in which an express track for applying to the school with a rapid notice of admission was laid out. I did not have to submit any additional application materials, only “forward” the essay I wrote for Questbridge and the transcript provided, and I would be notified of my admission to Williams eleven days later, when the regular ED candidates would find out.
The supposedly best college in America was offering an eleven-day admissions window, with a timeframe shorter and required set of application materials sparser than that of two-year community colleges. I did not take them up on this, but then was allowed to have those materials considered in their RD process. Why not?
Perhaps the best skill Williams helped me develop is my skepticism towards those whose help I was being offered, or in some cases had to seek out. Had I been as jaded then, alarms would have rung. Why so simple? Why eleven days to gain acceptance via ED? Was the school that desperate to attract “higher quality” POCs?
Had I been aware of its history, I would have understood. One such event was a cross burning on campus in 1980. Williams loves pretending all its racial and class problems went away in 1970 when they let women in, banned frats, and accepted minorities in greater droves. But a cross burning. In the supposed racism free northeast? During Williams’ supposed liberal Renaissance?
Looking at the present day racial transgressions wrought by my esteemed alma mater only furthers my negative impression. A recent issue was that some insensitive young white women dressed up in Mexican themed clothing for Halloween, labeled themselves the Taco Six, and filled their social media with accounts of a night of “spiciness.” It became a big issue with people of Hispanic origin, but there was neither a formal apology nor a reprimanding by the administration. Yet, at NESCAC peer Bowdoin, when the administration caught wind of a group of students being insensitive to students of Native American descent, they strongly condemned it.
Our supposed “inferior” liberal arts peer Bowdoin (as an aside, thanks Forbes for further contributing to the overinflated egos at Williams) is better at handling these issues. The “lesser” Bowdoin condemns transgressions against a minority group that comprises a lower percentage in America than Hispanics. The lower ranked Bowdoin can show minority students it actually cares. While Williams does not.
Across America, the current racial zeitgeist is heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, which gained prominence in response to unethical (at the very least) treatment of blacks by law enforcement. These movements worry me, as they invite the hordes of “white allies” into the hen house; wolves showing up in sheep’s clothing. It’s practically provided a strawman for these white allies to pontificate against, and hide their own transgressions under. Racial oppression? Here at Williams? Heavens no! That happens out in the big wide world where blacks are gunned down for no reason. Not here at Williams, where you’re treated as equals!
Oh, cross burnings, someone writing “all niggers must die,” entry mates treating you like some sort of minority pet, teachers telling you that as a black or hispanic person you should be happy with the grades you get as most of your kind do worse here, thinking all people of an ethnic minority group think the same, and countless micro-aggressions wrought upon you over your four years? That isn’t racism, or insensitivity. The real racism is the gunning down of blacks. That doesn’t happen here.
A fair amount of you just to attended Previews, definitely the best dog-and-pony show Williams can put on. If that experience convinces you to attend, God help you. If you must go, the only advice I can lend is cruel: abuse it. Every teacher you have exists to further your knowledge, sharpen your skills, and make you a successful adult. Abuse these resources with reckless abandon. Every administrator you encounter exists to accommodate your presence and make your time at Williams more pleasant. Hold them accountable for the transgressions wrought against you, and instead of fighting them head on, merely alert third parties (alumni, local and national media). There’s nothing Williams hates more than bad press.
But if you can avoid it, for the love of God do. Any of the other schools you were admitted to will be able to provide everything Williams can, and might even admit its own shortcomings. An acknowledgment of shortcoming. Perhaps that’s all I have wanted from Williams. That would provide some sort of catharsis
But I suppose this will have to do.