What Residential System Should Williams Use?

Williams is in the process of evaluating the current residential system and trying to come up with new models for housing. Currently, the College uses the neighborhood system, wherein the College is divided into four neighborhoods. Upon finishing the first year, students enter a given neighborhood and remain within that neighborhood for their time at Williams. Although the system has provided interesting programming for students, and a diverse living environment that prevents homogeneous enclaves from forming, students are frustrated by the fact that their housing choices are limited to their neighborhood and they cannot live with their friends who happen to end up in a different neighborhood. Groups of students can decide to switch into the same neighborhood, but are penalized in the housing lottery within that neighborhood.The Neighborhood Review Committee is currently considering other models. These include modifications to the current neighborhood system. For instance, first year students could enter neighborhoods in groups with their friends to be assured of having friends with whom they can live in the neighborhood. Or any group of students from across the neighborhoods could decide to be put into a neighborhood together, but without the choice of neighborhood and without any penalty in the lottery. Or seniors would be able to choose their housing anywhere on campus, even though they would keep their neighborhood affiliation for social reasons.

Other models include a system of free agency where neighborhoods, if they are preserved at all, would be so just for the purposes of social programming. Another model under consideration would keep sophomores together in one portion of campus and allow free agency for juniors and seniors over the other housing on campus.  Another model, which is a strengthened neighborhood system, would move first year entries into the neighborhoods rather than keep them separate in the frosh quad and Mission. This would provide neighborhood bonding right from the beginning of arrival at Williams.

These are just some options under consideration, listed to provoke discussion. The final model may be none of the above, or pieces of the above. Do you have thoughts? If so, feel free to e-mail me, Colin Adams, a member of the committee.