Once upon a time, Williams printed a directory of alumni contact information. Alumni, in turn, purchased this Manhattan-phonebook-sized collection of addresses and phone numbers.
Not surprisingly, as time went on, fewer and fewer copies were sold, not because alumni cared less about contacting each other but because access to that same information was now available through the online alumni directory. The last hard-copy directory was printed in 2007.
Compiling those directories was part of a mutually beneficial process for the college and its alumni. We asked you to update your data so we could keep in touch with you, and we shared that data back with you so you could keep in touch with each other. As we undertake this effort today, the contract is still the same, but we all acknowledge shifts in the societal landscape. Where there was once implicit trust in an institution to be faithful stewards of personal information, the onus is on the keepers of that data to make clear why they need it and how they’re protecting it.
Thank you for sharing your personal information and trusting Williams to be good stewards of it.
The question of why we need your personal information can be broken down a few ways. There are the obvious answers that relate to our ability to communicate with each other—for you to receive news and information from Williams and to find each other through robust, password-protected search platforms. That extends to career networking capability for when you’re the person seeking to expand your Williams connections to support a fellow Eph who has reached out to you. When we talk about commitments within the Williams family, none is more important than perpetuating career support and connections for each other.
As we embark on our most recent effort to update your information, we will send you by email or postal mail a copy of the data we have on file for you. You may wonder why we need the breadth of information requested. Why isn’t address, email, phone and career info enough? Our efforts to engage with you as alumni mirror the breadth of the data needed; there are times when we reach out to you because you are affiliated with a specific undergrad activity or by your major. When we offer the College Admission 101 program (http://bit.ly/EphAdmission101) every spring, we’re able to invite you and your child because you let us know 15 or 16 years ago that you added a new family member. Most importantly, you have the ability to not only share what you want but also to control what is visible to fellow alumni in the directory. We appreciate you taking a few moments to think carefully about both.
Williams takes seriously its obligation to protect all personal data it holds—for students, faculty, staff and alumni. Our collective efforts cross campus, and you can read the college’s most recent privacy policies at http://bit.ly/WilliamsPrivacy. On behalf of the college, I thank you for sharing your personal information and trusting Williams to be good stewards of it; you should expect nothing less of us.
With best wishes from Williamstown,
—Brooks Foehl ’88, Director, Alumni Relations