Williams College will provide you with a variety of essential goodies, but the clothing and décor are up to you. The rather stark room you will walk into in August will soon become your own personalized space, replete with your brother’s ceramic bird bank made in Mexico and/or Bart Simpson pen holders. One is strongly encouraged to buy posters and other decorations at the sale held on campus in early September (watch for flyers — it’s usually in or around the Paresky Center), and to get some of that Funtack from Staples or your local Funtack distributor …the use of nails and such are costly and it is always in your best interest to be on your custodial crew’s good side. A word to the wise: if you will have a roommate DO NOT immediately run to and buy out Bed Bath and Beyond! Chances are you and your roommate do not need duplicates of everything, especially if you want space to do things like breathe and/or move around while in your room. Try to coordinate with your roommate so you don’t waste money and resources.
Williams College’s first-year housing arrangements are broken down into what are known as “entries” as we explain briefly in the Dictionary section. There are 26 entries, each one a group of students living together with two JAs in a “family-ish” environment. The entries in Pratt, Dennett, Mills, and Armstrong are setup along a horizontal hallway. The entries in Sage & Williams are set up vertically. Most of the doubles in Sage and Williams are cozy (read small-ish), however, in most cases there will be an adjacent room, shared by 2 to 6 other students, which allows for students to expand into the common room.
Common rooms act as a personal living room and are fine places for everything from social gatherings to heated XBox or PlayStation battles to a space for much needed relaxation. It is a good place for comfy furniture you have brought from home (bean bags, somehow a staple in campus living, make good seats, foot rests or large-scale pillows in case a pillow-fight were to break out during exam week).
Things to keep in mind while transforming your room into a castle…
You are going to be living there for one year, not a lifetime. College rooms are smaller than you think. The college room itself is laden with college furniture, but not much else. Typically, you will find a desk chair, a desk (with two or three drawers suitable for a filing folders box, or loads of junk), a bed (if you are in a double, beds will usually be bunked), a comfy mattress, a dresser or a built-in equivalent (five-six drawers, including that thin upper drawer for miscellaneous goodies), a closet or wardrobe with a bar 3 feet across, a bookshelf of notable size and a pair of waste baskets; one for trash and one for paper (we do our best here at Williams to keep the forests of the world around). And for privacy/late sleeping purposes, each room is equipped with a pull down window shade. The furniture at first may seem as if Williams bought it at an auction that a Howard Johnson was having back in the 60’s. Ok, so we’re kidding. It actually works well, is incredibly durable and relatively aesthetically pleasing. Just think of it as a few tiers down from the Pottery Barn. If Pottery Barn were a HoJo from the 60’s. Trust us, it has character!
Although you may store College-provided furniture in Mission Park, you must do so with the direction of your custodial team. Do not leave furniture in corridors or common areas. You are responsible for returning all furniture (in good condition) to your room before you vacate your room or fines and charges will be assessed. In Williams and Sage Halls, however, the furniture cannot be moved easily through the building, so it may not be removed from rooms.
Coordinate with your future roommate, if you have one. Two of most things are too many. Well, maybe two toothbrushes would be a pleasant idea. But be sure to discuss things like a TV, stereo, fridge, etc. Your space may not accommodate duplicates.
Naturally, the rooms for Williams students come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most students think of this as part of the charm of a college that has been built up over the course of 200 years. Living in a double is an intrinsic part of the freshman year, though Williams is unique in that you might spend all four years in a single. And while they exist, try not to become that person who spends the better part of the year verifying that they have the smallest double on campus. Look on the bright side: it may be small, but it’s cozy.
Unless you are going to school in the boonies, a store with everything you could ever need is bound to be just around the corner, so don’t worry. Spring Street has some fun shops for decorations and necessities, and the grocery store about 2 miles away has things like crates, fans, and school supplies. There is a WalMart Supercenter in North Adams (10 minute drive), Target, JCPenney, Sears, & Best Buy are at the Berkshire Mall (about 25 minutes away), and Bed Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and BJ’s are just a bit beyond the mall (about 30 minutes away). OK, so we are a little bit in the boonies.
Think about what you really need. A recent study found that incoming freshmen on average brought 13 devices that plugged into the wall. The beauty of college residential living is that every student doesn’t have to be totally self-sufficient; think about what you can share with your entry mates and JAs. Plus, the less you plug-in the better the chance your building will win the Do-It-In-The-Dark Competition! ENVIRO-TIP: bring a power strip or two. All your appliances can be plugged in to the strip to eliminate “phantom draw.” It sounds like the title to a bad horror flick, but it’s actually electricity that’s used even when these appliances are off! Plus having a few extra outlets never hurts, right?
If you lack the comfy furniture, some students have hit up the many Western Massachusetts tag/garage/yard sales throughout the year, and have found everything from a well-worn Lazy-College-Boy to a faux museum-quality 4’ x 6’ impressionist painting. The Congregational Church Tag Sale, usually held early in September, is a gold mine of items that volunteers find at the end of each school year. The sale offers things like bed linens, random pieces of furniture (perfect for the common room!) and lamps, all at reasonable prices. And towards the end of September, the Greylock ABC holds a clothing sale that has piles and piles of quality clothing, winter jackets, and accessories, with proceeds going to charity. Please keep in mind that, at the end of the school year, you will be responsible for the removal of this furniture from your building.
And in case you are wondering about whether to bring that old ragged rug down from the attic to cover the floor, the Mission Park houses all have carpeted rooms, while in Williams and Sage there is a mix of carpet and vinyl flooring.