In Between Classes

A new residential hall opened in the fall. It’s the first one built since Mission Park 40 years ago, and it exemplifies a community centered vision of college life. Horn Hall has 40 single rooms and 10 doubles organized into six-person suites, several lounge rooms, study areas, a collaborative meeting room and classroom space, and a backyard with a patio. This design reflects an understanding of the importance of the residential experience and a desire to foster social interaction in an age when we can feel increasingly divided. It re-affirms Williams’ recognition that an aspect of our learning at college has nothing to do with academics and everything to do with friendships and experiences—what happens in between classes.

As alumni we come to find out that the community we join upon graduating is just as important as the community we were a part of for four years in Billsville.

What happened between your classes? Was it Friday night bonfires before fall home game weekends, spring lawn party weekend, hanging from the overhead track in Lasell for basketball games, freshman “mixers,” and late-night pool games in Baxter basement? Or participating in trike race or freshman quad mud slide, eating 99-cent tacos at the Purple Pub, going for midnight swims in the pool (via steam tunnels), guest meals, and the trivia contest? How about late-night visits to the donut man, knitting Icelandic sweaters, or playing KAOS during Winter Study, swing dancing, traying on Poker Flats, broomball, fluming in Baxter Hall, or hanging out at the Log? Maybe enjoying brunch night at Greylock, or make-your-own pizza in Mission, Mountain Day, a cappella concerts, Storytime in Paresky, polar bear swims, concerts in Goodrich, and sunrise hikes with Scott Lewis? Or eating Baxter brownies at cookouts, or, more recently, the upgraded, much tastier version that I hear are called Knock-You-Nakeds?

While no one’s Williams experience is exactly the same, and everyone has his or her own unique set of memories, there are some things that are universal to us all. The sound of the Thompson Chapel bells. The mountains that really do look purple in a certain light. The warmth of the sun on your face on Chapin Beach after a long winter. The smell of grilled honeybuns in the Snack Bar.

And here’s the big secret: As alumni we come to find out that the community we join upon graduating is just as important as the community we were a part of for four years in Billsville. You are a student for a short time. You are an alum for life. Somewhat unwittingly, by attending Williams, you become part of something that not only shaped your experiences while there, but also becomes and remains a part of who you are—a part of your life story.

At Williams, in between classes, we found joy in learning about and from each other, whether in a late-night conversation, within a club or as an athlete, or in service or art or advocacy. Like many alums, I’ve found that passion for connection and enjoyment of community only grows after college and helps to explain why, whenever Ephs gather, they don’t need a classroom or even the purple mountains to experience that Williams bond. They need only one another.
Jordan Hampton ’87, President, Society of Alumni
hamptonjordan@hotmail.com