2010 Q&A

These questions were posed during January and people submitted answers anonymously.
Click on the question for the answers.

  • Everyone has a privilege of some kind. How does your privilege affect your interactions with students, faculty and staff at Williams?
    As a white, seemingly straight female faculty member, I have the authority of all of these identifiers (with the possible exception of female) when I interact with others. Alum status also gives me certain privileges and respect, opening doors to me that otherwise not be.

    I feel that sometimes my status as student leads faculty to condescend me and at the same time I feel that it stifles my interactions with some staff.

    Thanks to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, I don't know what it's like to need to work to make ends meet, even though my family can barely make ends meet.

    I have the privilege of working in Campus Life. So we have great interactions with students. Wish we had more with faculty.

    Brown people treat me nicely because I am a white person.

    Claiming Williams is a huge waste of time and money.

    My privilege is being able to get financial aid to go here. Other schools don’t have this, and every day I am grateful that we do.

    I'm black – my only privilege was getting accepted to the school.

    I feel like I don't have to try or care in order to get good grades.

    I'm sorry that's a thesis.

    I don't think about this very often, but I don’t think it affects my interactions. I'm not sure I'm "privileged" either.

    I get to come here. This makes me feel equal to students and faculty here, but I always think the staff must get tired of snobs.

    I feel like I have to play down my family's wealth to a lot of my friends.

    I feel extremely privileged to be a Williams College student. This helps me interact with everyone with respect and care.

    I have a job that I can show love to my patrons. I guess this is the greatest gift.

    I'm privileged that my parents went to college and push me to do my best academically.

    I'm privileged to come from a very stable, traditional family. I try to learn from other people's harder experiences of family, and to offer them some of the love I was given as a kid.

    Having been raised between two cultures has facilitated my interactions with peers. I appreciate how different we are and love it when there's a cultural trade between us (ex: music and language).

    I have no privilege!!

    I go to Amherst. Privilege epitomized, baby.

  • Finish this sentence: I am ____and this means____.
    I am staff member. And this means college officials feel we are easily replaceable.

    I am white. And this means I have to work to understand.

    I am an American and a Williams student. And this means that my race, gender, sexual orientation, and class are not the most important aspects of my identity.

    I am southern. And this means I am just like you, but different.

    I am just a person. And this means I’m alive?

    I am a person. And this means I transcend the boxes you put me in: Hispanic girl, poor, urbanite.

    I am not a senior administrator. And this means my opinions, ideas, suggestions are not of value to the institution.

    I am at Williams. And this means I’m privileged.

    Claiming Williams is a full wasted day. The people who might benefit will not attend.

    I am skeptical that the cards you chose to display are random. And this means you are intentionally misleading this campus to suit your agenda.

    I am a fan of Desperate Housewives. And this means I have guilty pleasures.

    I am intelligent, creative, and caring. And this means I am part of the majority at Williams.

    I am from D.C. And this means I appreciate internationalism.

    I am disabled. And this means my life is disrupted in ways many people cannot understand or “see.”

    I am biracial. And this means I claim my right to express pride in my extensive and colorful background, to define myself rather than having others define me, and to embrace all aspects of myself without having to choose between one or the other. I am “other” because my race doesn’t fit in a box.

    I am Asian. And this means I wish everyday this means nothing, but it does.

    I am a student at Williams! And this means I work hard and play hard. I love Williams!

    I am a staff member. And this means I am very fortunate and grateful to have a job.

    I am an individual. And this means I’m me.

    I am American. And this means that my race, gender, and sexual orientation are not the most important aspects of my identity.

    I am a female administrator. And this means I make less than male administrators.

    I am of the opinion that this is complete bullshit. And this means... see all of the above.

    I am brown. And this means that I am brown. Nothing else.

    I am me. And this means nothing!

    I am me. And this means that I am undefined by boundaries that
    other people set.

  • How have you been affected by racism? classism? sexism? heterosexism? or religious intolerance?
    As a queer female student on financial aid at Williams in the mid-to late 80s I felt very marginalized and often openly discriminated against. Now I feel more the silent un-ease/disapproval of some colleagues and students as to my intellectual and political commitments but nothing I could put my finger on.

    Williams has an interesting obsession with class. I think we're generally very racially and sexually tolerant but anyone here who is either of very poor background or very wealthy feels immediately as though they've done something wrong.

    I'm not racist! I have many black friends…

    In the workplace…Belittling, de-empowerment, undermining of skills based on class level.

    I get called a homophobe because I don't want to watch my teammates make out in front of me… cool.

    In a way counter to the normal expectation, my dad has been affected by sexism. He's been on the verge of breakdown for years because his boss believes all men are vile, evil things that must be expunged for women to have rights. She's from Williams.

    I went to a private school that judged me by my color and the fact that I lived in Brooklyn. I'm proud of who I am. They can SUCK IT!

    NO.

    I am no longer allowed to say "Merry Christmas" to people when I wish them well.

    I have been constantly judged by some for being white and privileged.

    Sometimes I feel that in such an academic and secular environment, I'm somehow "backwards" or "old-fashioned" for practicing my Roman Catholic.

    Sexism: in my job at Williams. The behavior shocked me, but then (and now) I look around and see that many men in positions of power at Williams have stay-at-home or non-professional wives, and I see how hard it is to change attitudes, culture, and understanding.

    No. Especially not at Williams.

    Some intolerance toward female bisexuality.

    When the college sends all-campus emails after "racist" incidents, I feel most conspicuously "Asian."

  • How valued do you feel at Williams based on your status as student, faculty or staff?
    As administrative staff, I feel more valued than support staff (as I perceive how they are valued). But less valued than students or faculty since it seems Williams changes only with their say-so.

    Hugely valued: I'm faculty. I try not to take this privilege for granted.

    I am a staff member. I feel valued. We work in a beautiful atmosphere. Great people. We are lucky to have our jobs. STOP complaining. Claiming Williams is a waste of money and time! Nonsense to spend so much time on isolated incidents that do not reflect the entire college community.

    Incredibly valued. As a student, all of my professors have made themselves very available. And people here care a lot.

    Student. EXTREMELY undervalued.

    I am invaluable.

    $367.20

    As staff I feel valued by the students but not by my boss.

    I feel marginalized and unappreciated as a white, middleclass male.

    Sexist attitudes are alive and well at Williams.

    100 percent value.

    I feel valued as a freshman. The entry system makes me feel like I have a family and belong.

    Mucho valued.

    I feel valued structurally as a faculty member. Individually, I often feel overburdened as I see few of my colleagues working to support significant initiatives to change the course and/or support students in these efforts.

    I often feel portrayed as the bad guy because of some of my characteristics. Why are some groups on campus obsessed with making straw-man accusations against me for my mainstream lifestyle?

    I feel loved.

    I always feel valued by professors and staff, usually by students too, but occasionally misunderstood by all of them.

  • What do you notice about socio- economic class at Williams?
    “Social capital,” which often comes with socioeconomic privilege, is a big issue and disparity among Williams students.

    Learning how to navigate college (in general) at Williams takes longer for students from lower income families.

    Faculty are over staff. Administrative staff are over support staff. Support staff get the least or worst of everything. (I am a member of administrative staff).

    No matter what class you are it’s difficult to understand the other side.

    That it is just that – CLASS. Everyone puts on their best “wealthy face.”

    I never felt poor before I came to Williams.

    It drives social life at Williams. Creates divide between groups.

    The majority of Williams students are spoiled. How is it that financial aid students, and those not on
    financial aid, can afford to buy fancy new clothes, drive around in new cars and go on extravagant vacations?

    The problem comes from Hopkins. Pres. and VP office. Faculty and students are only important to them.

    It is perhaps the hardest thing to be open or “out” about... It seems a source of deep shame for many.

    It’s not as bad as it can be, or is at other schools/places. We don’t need cash much on campus and there aren’t many places to splurge so conspicuous spending is less conspicuous.

    There is little discussion of socioeconomic class at Williams and a great deal of bias against anyone of lesser
    means/lower privilege.

    Minorities feel overly privileged.

    Lotta rich dudes.

    Lotta white dudes.

    The division grows with class year. First-years have none or few indicators as students are not separated by the college (housing, special treatment, etc.). As students progress, some get apartments, bring cars, have the luxury of leaving more and greatest of all not worrying about life after Williams.

    My “rich” friends know I’m low-income and they get embarrassed if they have to talk about their wealth or explain aspects of their lifestyle to me. But this acknowledgment does not make them socially-conscious at all. It’s baffling.

    There’s lots of wealthy people here.

    Not much. People seem to get along.

    I feel like everyone’s socio-economic class at Williams is ignored. Nobody cares about how much money you have but at the same time, people from different socio-economic classes don’t understand the financial struggles their peers go through.

    I haven’t taken that class, so I can’t comment.

    None.

    Some Williams students are so privileged, it’s sad that they don’t even realize
    that wealth is not a given.

    Claiming Williams – is a total waste of resources.

  • What do you think keeps Williams from being as all-inclusive as it can be?
    An overemphasis on demographic diversity instead of diversity of interest.

    Separating departments, i.e. MCC, International and BSU.

    The JA system's autonomy. The way Williams financial survival is thought to rest upon perpetuating the elite class (who will then give money to the college) and thus change can only ever go so far.

    By putting people in “boxes,” the MCC really encourages co-existence rather than community.

    The way students are already so programmed before they get here to be competitive and individualistic – they must be in order to get in – with some notable exceptions.

    Illegal substance abuse!

    Nothing to do here, thus little opportunity to bond.

    Homophobia, no jamba juice, no warm weather and stupid hook up "culture." It's NOT a culture god dammit!

    Complacency. Or the assumption that the inherent privilege we all have as Williams students counteracts the effects of discrimination and for prejudice.

    The college doesn’t make its standards clear in a way that teaches respect or honors human dignity; it always seems to over react to stupid incidents and blames everyone.

    People's nature. It's really not as bad as it can be. But, I'm a half-full kind of girl.

    The obsession with "diversity" of race, class, gender, and sexuality as opposed to intellectual diversity.

    "Inclusion" seems to translate into a proliferation of meaningless committees and advisory boards where endless discussion is the only product. Talking about a "problem" doesn't solve it.

    A lack of education across lines of difference that precipitates a culture of ignorance, apprehension, and animosity.

    To me, Williams will remain not as all-inclusive because thought remains the same. As long as we, as a community, continue to accept the status quo and put the onus of change on already marginalized groups, Williams will most likely remain the same.

    Narrow mindedness of students.

    My skin color and lack of money.

    The exclusiveness.

    Sports teams.

    Poor, brown people a) don't apply/want to come here b) don't perform as well in high school.

    I think the people themselves aren't very open-minded to other cultures. People need to be willing to try new things and place themselves out of their comfort zone.

    Claiming Williams – won't change anything.