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Academics Then and Now

Williams:  A Brief Class “History”

Introduction.  When we entered Williams, 96% of our class were White, 1.5% were international students, and 23% received financial aid.  Today, 59% of the students are White, over 6% come from abroad, and a little over half receive financial aid.  Compare Williams 1970 with Williams 2017.

Table of Contents.  You can provide more information, background, or opinions on these events at the Forum Pages

  • Phasing Out Fraternities
  • Changes in Admissions Policies, 1963-71.
  • The “Ten Percent” Program:  Impact on the Class of ’70
    • Everyone Thought They were Ten-Percenters.  Impact on:
      • Public School admittees
      • Minorities
      • Others
  • Residential House System – Random Assignment; “Democracy;”  “Getting to Know You.”
    • Clash with “neighborhood living” in U.S.
    • Impact on minority groups
  • Freshman Year – 1966-67
  • Sophomore Year – 1967-68
  • Winter Study and 4-1-4: Academic Changes
  • Hopkins Hall Protest – April 1969
  • The Vietnam War
    • Protests
    • Moratorium Protest – October, 1969
    • The Draft and Williams’ Student Draft Advising Program
    • Strike!  May, 1970
  • Williams’ Administration. 
    • Cautious Implementation of New Policy
    • Support for Students
  • Analysis and Adaptation:  Lessons We Learned at Williams;
  • Implementing  Diversity
    • Phasing out Fraternities
    • Residential House System
    • Public/Private School Admissions
    • Implementing Racial and Ethnic Diversity
    • Coeducation
    • Tutorials
    • Need-Blind Admissions
    • Williams Today – “integrating” the “Williams family:”  Shades of the same issues we faced?

Note:  You’re encouraged to add your own memories, thoughts, and opinions to our admittedly complex “history.” You can add new History Topics in the site’s the Forum Section, where all Topics are listed, or you can click on the individual Topics listed below.

The Making of Today’s Williams College:  1961-1993 – Pictorial History, p. 183 – 272

One good source places the “modern Williams” as developing between 1961 and 1993. See A Pictorial History of Williams, Second Ed., Table of Contents, p.3, and the relevant articles below.

That’s thirty years, essentially, to fully implement the diversity and democratic changes that were started shortly before we, the Class of 1970, arrived.    The Class of ’70’s opinions on this issue seem to break down into three categories:  those who think the pace of change, roughly, was just about right and in keeping with sound educational policies;  those who think the pace of change should have been faster;  those who have not participated with Williams since graduating. 

One headline says,  “Racial and Political Protests Climax the Seething Sixties.”
See Pictorial History,  p. 204.

Since the Protests and all the Williams changes significantly impacted our experience, we’ve developed a two-part series of pages and discussion opportunities for you.

  • Brief Histories with Primary Source Material.  First, we’ve developed web pages for your review which provide primary resources and “at the time reporting.”
    • Forum PagesSecond, we’ve created a Forum Page for each item to give you:
      • A place to add background information we don’t have, or which aren’t in the contemporary Williams Record articles, and
      • An opportunity to discuss those issues.

See the Timeline and links below.  History pages and discussion links are provided for each topic.

  • 1961 – Sawyer, the Transforming President 1961- Pictorial History, p. 185.
    • 1962 – Phasing Out Fraternities – 1962 –  Pictorial History,  p. 188 – 192
    • 1965 – New Cluster Housing on Campus – Greylock Quad – 1965 – Pictorial History,  p. 193.
    • 1965 – Residential House System -Random Selection-Spring, 1965 – Pictorial History,   pp. 194, 225

——————–  We arrive.

——————- We graduate

September, 1966. “Then and Now” was an open conversation when we entered Williams in 1966.   Williams was in the middle of implementing momentous changes that affected all aspects of the College, including the experience we found during our four years at Williams.  Each of the New Williams policies below were “in transition” when we arrived in 1966. 

Fraternities: Eliminating fraternities, 1963;
Diversity and Democracy:  Increasing admissions of racial and religious minorities, public school students;
Residential House System:  Controlling the Residential House Assignment systems to avoid discrimination.
Admitting Women – Coeducation

None had been fully implemented.  This “partial implementation” led to many difficulties and problems during our four years on campus – not to mention the National Political Events (Vietnam War, The Draft) that roiled campus life even further: 

  • Protests
    • War Moriatorium October 1969
    • Strike! – May, 1970 – following Cambodia Invasion and shootings at Kent State, OH and Jackson State, AL

Note:  This page is “under construction.” Additional information and discussion will be available shortly.

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Class History breaks down into the following topics.  These topics also are presented on separate Forum Pages.   Forum Pages give you a chance to provide additional information, thoughts, points of view, or opinions. Please be kind, “family friendly,” short and direct. 

  • Analysis and Adaptation:  Lessons We Learned at Williams;
    • Impact of Partial Change , 1966-70
    • Timeline of Change
    • Hopkins Hall Protest
    • Implementing  Diversity
      • Residential House System
      • Public/Private School Admissions
      • Implementing Racial and Ethnic Diversity
      • Coeducation
    • Winter Study and 4-1-4: Academic Changes
    • The Vietnam War
      • Protests
      • The Draft
    • Williams’ Administration. 
      • Cautious Implementation of New Policy
      • Support for Students

,

There virtually are no archived pictures of us as a class until April, 1968.  After that, there are a treasure trove of our Class.
time

Timeline of Changes at Williams

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Analysis and Adaptation:  Lessons We Learned at Williams. Williams still was an all-male institution when we arrived and graduated. However, Williams was implementing significant structural changes before we arrived to diversify admissions and democratize student life.   Williams “got it.”  In retrospect, it just didn’t “do it” quickly or broadly enough during the tumultuous late ’60’s.

 

 

The very first article in our GUL Yearbook made one point quite clearly:

In virtually every respect, politics describes this year at Williams.
1970 GUL Yearbook, p. 21

Admissions

Admissions policies were under change at Williams in a significant way when we were at Williams. 

1962 – Present.  Removing Elements of Discrimination, and Democratizing Williams.  We heard stories upon entering Williams that, in the past, i.e., early 1960’s, some fraternities had discriminated against African Americans and those of the Jewish faith in admissions and thus, access to the best housing on campus.  The College undertook to end rushing, residential housing, hazing, uncontrolled partying in the houses, and racial and religious discrimination by removing fraternities from campus starting in 1962. See FraternitiesNov1968

In order to break the fraternities, Williams took the following actions.

  1. Williams removed fraternities from running the Residential House system in 1962
    1. 1966:  50% Public School Admissions.  Williams accelerated admissions from Public Schools nationwide, culminating in our Class, Class of 1970, being the first class where Public School admissions were 50% of all students.
      1. Ten Percenter Program Established – a 10 Year program of accelerating the process of broader admissions policies, not from Private Secondary Schools, by “being more gentle” with the admissions standards.
    2. Removal of Fraternities Entirely by June, 1970:  .  In 1968 the College Board of Trustees voted to remove fraternities entirely from Williams by 1970, prohibiting Fraternities from, effectively, recruiting from the Class of 1971 forward. See FraternitiesNov1968
    3. Coed Admissions to start September, 1971.  Board of Trustees, June, 1969.
        1. “137 four-year women began their Williams careers in 1971…”  See “The PHasing In of Williams Women, See Craig Lewis, Williams 1973-1993, a Pictorial History, © Williams College, 1993.
    4. Increased the Size of the School from 1200 – 1800

By removing fraternities from residential housing in 1962, increasing Public School Admissions to 50% by 1966, removing fraternities entirely by June, 1970,  introducing coeducation in 1969, and formally by 1971, ,  and increasing the size of the school in 1971, Williams made clear through the 1960’s its long-term commitment to increased diversity and democracy at the School.

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Diversity

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Ten Percenter Program

Ten Percenter Program

An article by then Admissions Director Phil Smith on the 10-year Ten Percenter Program appears in Craig Lewis’ Williams 1793-1993, A Pictorial History, pp. 234-6, © Williams College, 1993. The obviously glowing “corporate” article describes the program as a huge success.
 
Many in our class would differ. 

Residential Housing

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Public/Private Secondary School Admissions

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Protest:  Hopkins Hall

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Coeducation

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Academic Change:  Winter Study, 4-1-4 Semesters

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Vietnam:  Protest

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Vietnam:  The Draft

For many of us, The Draft was our first introduction to the federal bureaucracy, how to play it, and how to beat it.  The College was right there supporting us, with a “Draft Dodge” program that mirrored our common opposition to The War.

There’s a Williams Record article that describes the college’s draft advising program.  See

Also, in the Forum Topic “The Draft,” Classmates describe their experience with the Draft, the College’s draft advising program, and the results. 

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Williams Administration

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Impact of Change

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See some discussion after the Slide Show of Williams Today:

"First Gen" Students on Hopkins Gate Steps

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