Welcome to Williams! The Bell Book is provided to give you a glimpse of what living at Williams will be like and to answer many of your questions about it. Scroll down the page and click on the chapters & sections to learn more.
Williams is a wonderful community and living among classmates and other students will come to mean much more than just living in a room in a residence hall. Being a part of a vibrant residential community is a big part of what happens here. All of us here want you to feel at home and to contribute positively to campus life. At Williams we value student self-governance, but with this freedom comes responsibility on your part. For example, in this information (lighthearted as much of it is), you will notice some heavy emphasis on safety and a clear request to leave candles [a primary cause of fires in college residences and not good for your lungs either] and certain appliances at home. We ask for your complete cooperation on that score, and more.
Sometime in late July to early August, you will be able to log in to the Williams Housing Portal and see your housing assignment, along with a list of your entrymates and access to a list of all members of the Class of ‘22. You will receive an email from Gail Rondeau Hebert to let you know when the housing assignments have been finalized. If another student’s assignment is the same as yours, then that student is your roommate (take a deep breath – it’ll be OK – and be sure to read the chapter in the “Book” on having a roommate). If no other student has your exact assignment, you have a single room. You should also see your campus mailbox number, referred to as an SU box.
And finally, if you haven’t yet or recently checked out the Dean’s Office’s website dedicated specifically to incoming first-year students, be sure to do so by following this link!
If you have any questions about housing that aren’t answered by reading The Bell Book, you may contact Gail Rondeau Hebert, Housing Systems Coordinator, at (413) 597-2555 or by email at [email protected].
We send our best wishes, and we look forward to welcoming you to Williams!
Sincerely,Dave Johnson, Associate Dean of the College & Dean of First-Year Students, Office of the Dean of the College Gail Rondeau Hebert, Housing Systems Coordinator, Housing & Residential Programs, Student Life Doug Schiazza, Director of Student Life
The Bell Book was originally the creation of a Williams alum, Christopher Bell ’98, who thought incoming first-year students needed more information than just a room assignment. He published what he called a “Cliffnotes Guide to College Living.” Eventually it was re-named in his honor.
The Bell Book has been updated over the years:
- In 2010 it graduated from hard-copy to the web for your ease of perusal.
- In 2012, the entire Book was reviewed & updated by Laura Berk ’12.
- In 2016, sustainability information was reviewed & updated by Postyn Smith ’15, then-Sustainability Coordinator at the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.
- Additionally, many current students (see the list below) contribute to the Book each and every year, and their advice & quotes are included on many of the pages. An important editorial note – we cannot vouch for the students’ quotes & advice – we’re just passing their words along, from them to you.
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. Each entry consists of a group of students living together with 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 about nine months, 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!
All College-provided furniture is to remain in your room. You are responsible for ensuring the furniture remains in your room and is kept in good condition, or fines and charges will be assessed.
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, 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 is 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.
An Important Note on Unwanted Guests (aka insects & pests)
You’ll notice especially during the months that the high temperature isn’t a balmy 20 degrees Fahrenheit, there are insects in New England; additionally, sometimes mice or bats make their way into buildings, especially during the winter (and especially when food is left out or doors or windows are left open and you’ve removed the screen…).
Despite our best attempts to keep these unwanted guests out of student residences, occasionally they still make their way in. The best things you can do to help is to make sure to keep your room relatively clean (i.e., don’t leave food or food containers out – that’s like an invitation for Mickey or Minnie to become your roommate) and always leave your window screens intact.
If you believe you have an issue in your room with insects or pests, contact Facilities at 413.597.2486 during regular Monday-Friday hours. If you have an emergency situation after hours, contact Campus Safety at 413.597.4444. Here is a link to these & other correlated Facilities policies.
Want to know more about our residences for first-year students? Read on!
The Frosh Quad
Williams and Sage form the Frosh Quad (which is great on warm days for Frisbee, studying at one of the picnic tables, or hanging out in the sun). Each room in the Frosh Quad varies by entry, making for a variety of living quarters – from singles to “intimate doubles” (read small, but cozy – very cozy) joined by a common room. Bathrooms are usually single-sex, and are shared by 4-6 people. The Frosh Quad is adjacent to the Paresky Center, which is a great place to hang out. First-year students & their JA’s also have their own dining halls at Mission Park (although all students, including first-year students, can eat in any dining hall).
Williams Hall, built in 1911, was named for our collegiate benefactor Colonel Ephraim Williams. Williams fell mortally wounded leading his troops near Lake George, New York, in 1755. A month before his death, Williams had completed his last will & testament leaving funds to establish a free school (quick quiz : that became a college in 179_) in his home town to be re-named Williamstown. Did you get it? If not, we hope you applied to Amherst – we hear they’ll take anyone. It may be of interest to future Amherst College enemies that while Lord Jeffrey Amherst also fought the French and Indians in the same lengthy conflict in which Williams lost his life, Lord Jeff did not arrive in North America until 1758 – three years after Williams’ demise. Thus, by historical accident (or fate?), Amherst was not Williams’ superior officer as Amherst’s historically inaccurate students will claim at sporting events.
Williams Hall Floorplans:
Sage Hall, built in 1923, is the mirror-image of Williams. Before there was a Sage Hall, there was a nice set of clay tennis courts, but alas, they are no more. And now there is Sage, a beautiful Georgian style building (relax, those of you who have not seen the campus, a few of the buildings may be of a similar style, but it honestly hardly will phase you. Besides, if you are going to have buildings in the same style, Georgian is a good choice). Both Williams & Sage were built by architect Ralph Adams Cram (architect of the giant St. John the Divine church in New York, just one of his many famous buildings).
Sage Hall Floorplans:
Mission Park is made up of four sections, each of which has horizontal entries. The central spaces in Mission Park have great lounges with pool tables, a kitchen, and comfortable couches. We’ll be the first to admit that Mission is a funny looking building (winner of an architectural award my foot) – but first-years who live there have no complaints. Almost all of the rooms in Mission Park are singles, but are situated along horizontal entries, in funny little zig-zag angled ways.
Mission Park takes its name from the part of campus where, in 1806, five Williams students gathered in the then-maple grove on a warm summer day to discuss their interest in spreading Christianity. When a sudden lightning storm interrupted their discussion, they took shelter in a nearby haystack (check out the Haystack Monument on your way to the building!), huddling and praying for foreign missionaries. Although not praying, ironically, to be hiding under something less flammable than a stack of hay…
Mission Park offers an in-house dining hall (appropriately named Mission Park Dining Hall), which makes for an easy venture for a good hot meal on a cold winter day.
Armstrong makes up the western-most section of Mission Park. Of course you’re just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from the dining hall, and close to Park Street. And don’t forget the beautiful views of the Park and the Mountains! However not only are you a stones throw from the tennis and outdoor basketball courts (IM Basketball anyone?!), you still can wake up and go to breakfast in your pajamas!
Pratt makes up the west-central section of Mission Park, and along with Mills sits just above some of the main common spaces where you and your entrymates can take on a game of pool or stay up late chatting each other up or studying.
Mills comprises the east-central section of Mission Park. Both Mills & Pratt have great views of Mission Park (meaning, the actual park – green grass, lovely trees, and the Haystack Monument) to the south, and the Mountains, the MOUNTAINS! to the North.
Dennett is the eastern-most section of Mission Park. Much like Armstrong on the other end of the building, you’re close to everything, have wonderful views, and can still hit the dining hall in your fuzzy slippers without having to step outside.
Please note that some rooms may not appear, and some former common rooms may now be student rooms.
Living in Mission Park (Armstrong, Dennett, Mills, Pratt)?
You'll find a convenient in-house dining hall, a hill that challenges you a bit on your way to class (but works in your favor on the way home), and some stunning views. Read below to hear what it's like from those who have lived it.
"There were many times I wished I lived in Frosh Quad where all my friends were. Then I would have those cold, laundry days and cannot be happier with being a Mission kid. Don't underestimate the wonders of having a dining hall downstairs and your entry mates right there on the same floor. Netflix and dining in PJs are the best! Oh and that hill - well who wouldn't want leg day everyday?" - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "Apologies to my Frosh Quad friends -- life at Mission is much more conducive to building a welcoming introduction to college. Although some people aren't, I am a bit fan of the entry system, and I think that the architecture of Mission entries allows for many more day-to-day interactions within entries. And on the really lazy or really cold days, it's life-changing and life-saving to live right above the dining hall. Mission Hill is not fun to hike up every day, but it's a small price to pay." - Amber Lee '21 "I love living in Mission because I have the best view on campus - every morning I open my curtains to see the Purple Valley mountains right in front of me! Whether the mountains are 500 colors in the fall, or sprinkled with snow in the winter, it always gets my day off to a great start." - Emma Reichheld '19 "For the first half of the school year, I thought I made a mistake choosing Mission. A hill, not as convenient a location as Frosh Quad, weary midnight walks back from the library... But let me tell you, I was singing a different tune once the warm weather passed. Freshman Fifteen set in, and all everyone wanted to do was stay inside. Here in Mission you have the luxury of just walking downstairs, in your pjs and slippers, and grabbing a meal without leaving the heated bliss - which is also great if you're sick and really don't want to dress and leave the building. And don't feel like walking all the way to the gym for a workout in the freezing cold? No problem! You not only have further to walk to class, but you get that leg workout going up and down the hill!" - Kristen Bayrakdarian '19 "Mission Park is great because not only are you close with your entry - because you all share a big common room - but you also get really close with all the Frosh in Mission. You run into the same people at breakfast, doing laundry, and playing pool or baking cookies in the lobby. You will get to know a ton of other freshmen just from seeing them around and bonding over how nice the Mission singles are! Don't let location dissuade you from Mission. sure, it looks really removed from everything, but its really just a 1-2 minute walk added on to Frosh Quad, which really isn't much of a difference! The convenience of the dining hall more than makes up for it. I can't understate how great it is to have a dining hall in the building. It makes getting breakfast before early classes so much easier, and it's really great to see all of your friends from Mission eating there most meals; whenever I walk into the dining hall I recognize most of the people there!" - Janelle Gowgiel '20 "I highly recommend living in Mission. Most rooms are singles which means you don't have to wake up when your roommate has an 8am class or feel like you need to keep your room clean at all because it is all yours. Mission entries are really close and have one shared common room (huge with a tv and kitchen) where we all hang out together. Having the best dining hall downstairs does not hurt either. I have repeatedly gone to breakfast in my pajamas (no shame)." - Niku Darafshi '21 "I was all for Mission before I came to Williams and for good reason! it is an awesome place to live. As a foodie, I was excited about having a dining hall right in the building but I didn't count on the amazing dining hall staff and friendly custodians. I am happy I got a 3-in-1 package." - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "An in-building dining hall, a single, a printer, no-stairs access to all of your entry mates, and one giant, convenient common room? What more could you possibly ask for? During those freezing winter days, you don't even have to leave the building. Roll up and roll out of your room to grab brunch in your pajamas - nobody will bat an eyelash!" - Angela Chan '19 "Living in Mission has been a real blessing! It's so convenient having a dining hall right below you. Plus Mission has a neat common room above the dining hall complete with a kitchen, a piano, pool tables, and a ping-pong table. So, whenever I find myself hungry and I can't bother dressing for the cold outdoors, I can just walk down to the dining hall in my PJs and sandals. Then I can go upstairs to play a quick game of ping-pong or pool!" - Chulwoo Kim '21 "I love living in Mission Park. I can't express how convenient it is to just have to go downstairs to eat a meal. The entries get really close because we all live on the same floor with one central common room. It is so nice to come back to my dorm after practice and sit in the common room with friends to talk about my day. Still though, whenever you feel like relaxing alone, Mission is also great because you are almost guaranteed a single!" - Josie Maynard '19 "I knew I wanted to live in MIssion coming in, and I never regretted my choice. Sure, Frosh Quad is a bit closer to the rest of campus, but the difference is usually a less than two minute walk. Besides, Frosh Quad students often eat in Mission, so they have to walk the extra distance anyway. In Mission, you live on the same floor as all your entrymates so you see them more often, and it's really nice to be able to go to dinner in flip flops in the winter. Plus, almost all rooms are singles!" - Louisa Nyhus '20 "In-house dining hall. Singles. Closer entry-mates. Good exercise to wake you up in the morning." - Jessica Munoz '19 "The sheer beauty of living in Mission Park has made my freshman experience at Williams College infinitely better. I mean, you have a dining hall right in your building! Trust me, that comes in handy when it's 3 degrees fahrenheit outside with a wind gust. I have taken full advantage of this and go to get breakfast in my pajamas. Aside from that, it just make more sent to me. The fact that we all have one common room opposed to Frosh Quad, allows us to have a central hub where the entry can congregate and partake in events. I love the freedom of my single and being able to have it as clean (or dirty) as I'd like. Plus, having a kitchen to make your ramen is always nice." - Mauro Renteria '19
Living in the Quad (Sage Hall & Williams Hall)?
You can expect the convenience of campus centrality, vertical entries, more opportunities to have a roommate, and lots of common rooms. Keep reading this page for more from those who have lived it before you.
"First off: it's beautiful. Second off: Snack Bar is next door!!! Third: Don't ever let a Mission kid tell you how nice it is having a big common room. Tight common rooms mean tight entries and entries will always have your back. Also, Mission kitchens are never clean. Just saying." - Megan Siedman '20 "Frosh Quad is close to everything. When I walk really fast, I can make it to Science Quad in about three minutes. Also, the brick buildings are beautiful in any season." - Emily Harris '19 "Frosh quad is not only an adorably picturesque corner of campus, but also a community. Its location is prime, and the vertical entries allow you to know not only your own entry, but people near you on your floor too. Having more personal common rooms allows for more hangout space, more storage, and opportunities to meet tons of new people." - Emma Ticknor '20 "Before coming here, all my expectations of college life were based on movies like Pitch Perfect or Legally Blonde. While I soon faced harsh reality, Frosh Quad remains one aspect of the college experience that movies get right. Every day I'll see groups playing frisbee and tossing footballs, hanging out on the picnic tables, or studying in the grass. You get to know all your neighbors, and it's such a friendly environment. Word of warning, squirrels will throw acorns at you in the fall. Either buy an umbrella or get really good at dodging them. Learn from my mistakes - don't try to pet the squirrels. They're only cute from afar." - Erikka Olson '19 "For anyone that has a lot of possessions, there is very little storage space. The closets are actually tiny and the drawers can only hold so much. Bring your own storage bins. You can place them under the bed (they rise - no need for bed lifts)." - Valeria Baltodano '20 "Don't listen to what Mission kids tell you: Frosh Quad is the best. You're close to everything, which is a life-saver during the winter and you have a dining hall that's only a two minute walk away. It's fun to sled down Mission Hill a few times, not walk up & down it every day." - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "Frosh quad is conveniently located near everything. That's a huge plus during the winter months, when it's freezing and snowing outside. The Paresky dining hall is only a 30 second walk from my entry, but even Mission (which arguably has better food) is only about 2 minutes away. Also, if you ever forget any books, you can easily make a quick trip back to your dorm." - Katarina Mattmuller '20 "Living in the Quad means everything is nearby! You live in basically the most central place on campus, which comes in super handy when the weather gets cold. Or if you're at the library and forgot your physics notebook, you can quickly get it and be back in five minutes. Convenience is everything, right?" - Krushi Maisuria '19 "Honestly, nothing beats the beautiful brick Frosh Quad buildings. It's the most picturesque spot on campus, with the best location! You might have to share a room, but the fact that you have your own common rooms gives you the option to decorate so much more space! It's really nice having semi-private common rooms because it allows you to branch outside your entry while also making it really easy to bond with your suite mates. The vertical entry system is really nice because it means you can have space to study and work quietly while still feeling surrounded by friends! Besides, going up stairs does wonders for your butt." - Miranda Weinland '19 "I wish I could live in Frosh Quad my whole Williams life. It is in the best location: close to Paresky for food, Sawyer for work and the gym for keeping fit. The common rooms are also nice, kind of bland at first but really easy to decorate... and you have the beautiful quad which is great to relax in during the warmer months and beautiful to see covered in snow when it's cold!" - Aanya Kapur '20 "There are a lot of perks to being in Frosh Quad, not the least of them being the social environment. Because of Frosh Quad's central location on campus, it's an easy place to meet up with friends, regardless of where they live, and people are simply way more likely to stop by (or set up camp to get out of walking) than they would be at Mission. Additionally, the suite system in Frosh Quad makes being social much more flexible. You can stay in your room, hang out in your suite common room, or go to the entry's main common room, depending on how much you feel like interacting with people. (Added bonus: if your best friends are on a lower floor than you, you can skip out on a lot of the stairs!)" - Joelle Troiano '20
Have you been assigned to a double?
Take a deep breath - it's going to be ok!
Although Williams offers a large percentage of singles compared to the rest of the country, a significant number of Williams students will live in a double for at least one year of their time here. In fact, approximately 40% of Williams students will have a roommate during their first year.
Student housing preferences, while taken into account, are not the only factors that are considered in the first-year housing assignment process. First & foremost, each entry is created with the goal of being as much a microcosm of the campus as a whole as it can be. After entries are created, specific room assignments are made, and sometimes the stated preferences for a single vs. double or for Mission vs. Quad are not fulfilled.
So, if you've got a roommate, what should you expect?
- Don't expect your roommate to become your best friend; if it happens, terrific, but don’t force it.
- Understand it may take some time for both of you to adjust.
- Don’t be afraid to be honest - but also be willing to compromise.
- Your JAs are there to work with you if difficulties become too hard to resolve on your own.
Some advice for you from those who have come before you:To be honest, I wasn't thrilled when I found out that I'd be living in a double -- but now I realize that I am so grateful to have a roommate! Sharing little moments each day with a roommate making Mountain Day morning more exhilarating, snowy winter nights more cozy, and long evenings of studying much less lonely!" - Wyndom Chace '21 "My roommate ended up taking a gap year. Instead, I ended up with a double to myself - a "dingle." I like to think we would have been friends." - Megan Siedman '20 "My roommate and I got ice cream together on move-in day and were close ever since. So, my tip is, start out the year right with ice cream. It does wonders for roomie relationships. (shoutout to Merudjina, C206 for life)." - Erikka Olson '19 "When I found out I was going to have a roommate, I was basically cursing her name (sorry Alison). Now, she's my best friend and I can't imagine not sharing the same tiny space with her. A roommate will, at worst, be tolerable, and at best, become your first friend in your new life. So don't stress out too much if you get a double when you wanted a single. There's no guarantee that you'll be best friends with your roommate. But I promise you'll survive, and it just might end up being better than you thought." - Catherine Brule '20 "You hear a lot of horror stories about living with a roommate, but if you're both willing to put in the effort to coexist, there's another to worry about! My freshman roommate and I were perfectly paired, and I'll never forget the late nights chatting, eating, and studying together - love you Carm! It's always nice having someone there to talk to, get outfit advice from, share popcorn with, and debrief about your days with at night. Having a roommate is a quintessential part of freshman year, and it's definitely not overrated! My freshman roommate and I could literally hold hands from our respective beds in our "cozy" Frosh Quad double, but it was like having a sleepover every night with your best friend!" - Miranda Weinland '19 Here is a link to an article written by Elba Obregon '21 entitled, "Living With a Roommate your First Year at Williams" on hercampus.com "Definitely start communicating early. On move in day my roommate and I made essential decisions on whose space was whose and it led to a very cooperative year. Also, a little respect goes a long way. If one of us was sleeping, the other wouldn't be working in the room with the light on - we would go to the common room, library, or some other good study space. A little goes a long way in terms of respecting each other and your spaces." - Erin Denham '20 "You and your roommate don't have to be best friends! The first priority is learning how to live together. If you two really don't mesh and you're confused on what to do, your JAs can be amazing resources and can even put you in touch with other people who may be very helpful!" - Toni Wilson '19 "Both my roommate and I wanted to be in singles. Both of us are now really good friends. It's actually really nice to have a roommate, because you always have someone to talk to or have dinner with or tag in memes." - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "As someone who really wanted to have a single coming into Williams, having a roommate has been one of the best things to happen to me this year. It's nice to have someone to listen when you're not having a great day, and celebrate with you when you are!" - Emily Harris '19
So, as we said at the top, take a deep breath, it's going to be OK. Get in touch with your roommate before coming to campus to introduce yourself & coordinate any items in the room that you might share. And keep an open mind - it could be one of the best experiences of your life!
Don't take the list below as creed as far as what to bring - you've lived for 18 years (give or take), and you know what you like & need. Bring those things. Don't bring the others.
From zerowastehome.com: "Get your 5Rs right:
- Refuse what you do not need,
- Reduce what you do need,
- Reuse what you consume,
- Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce, or Reuse, and
- Rot (compost) the rest."
When you think about what you're going to bring, we encourage you to Reuse what others have Recycled whenever you can & whenever it's appropriate.
- Check out the ABC Sale at the Congregational Church at the beginning of the year (this is a giant tag sale that includes a lot of things that Williams students have donated to the cause the year before).
- Visit Goodwill & tag/garage/yard sales for items, either near home or locally in the Berkshires.
- Check out the consignment section at Nature's Closet in bustling downtown Williamstown.
And you can also always make a run to a nearby store if you forget something and you can't find it in a Recycle location as noted above.
- 1 set of extra long twin sheets (do NOT bring regular twin-sized - the mattresses are 36"x80"). 1 set is enough; you only sleep with one set of sheets. You will wash your sheets when they get dirty. Otherwise, you will just end up with two sets of dirty sheets and more laundry to do.
- 1 extra long twin mattress pad.
- 1 bath towel. Same deal as the sheets re: laundry.
- Pillow case.
- Blanket/comforter. Start with one. If you find yourself too cold as winter sets in, get another blanket then.
- Hamper or Laundry Basket – one or the other will suffice.
- Collapsable drying rack - you'll save a few bucks on the dryers while you're helping the environment!
- Laundry detergent & dryer sheets.
You can purchase your own linens & bring them with you, or you can use the OCM Linens program sponsored by the Office of Student Life.
Personal Care Items
By now you should know what you need in this area - so bring what you need.
The basics, of course, are:
- Also a good idea to bring a small supply of your favorite pain/cold/flu meds, though you can always visit the Health Center when you're under the weather, and they'll have meds for you.
Bring what learning tools you used in high school. You may rework your learning style a little in college, but probably not so much as that you need to buy a 228 multi-colored highlighter pack.
The basics, of course, are:
- Stapler + staples.
- A computer is very highly recommended (though there are several computer labs across campus and you may find you don't even need one).
- A calculator might come in handy occasionally for tests, but most of the time you'll likely just use a calculator on your computer.
- A Bicycle (and helmet). Williams is a very bike-friendly campus, and the nearest Rite Aid is only a 5-minute ride away. If you don't have a bike or live too far away to bring one, the Purple Bike Coalition rents out bikes for free.
- Power strips make it easier to turn off your appliances/electronics, and conserve energy. Plus, this will give you an advantage in the annual first-year energy saving competition!
- Extension cords.
- Removable poster adhesive.
- Storage containers. Most rooms come with a dresser, desk, and a hanging area for storage so calculate that into your storage needs.
- Under the bed storage container.
- Cell phone. Nearly every Williams student uses a cell phone. If you're a die-hard land-line person, you can bring your own land-line phone, but be sure to bring a phone-card too for long-distance calls.
Firstly, a list of Please-Don'ts...
Though we're not going to fine you for having these, in most cases there really just isn't a need for you to bring them, OR you can find out once you get here if you really need them and then get them, OR you can get them cheaply at the ABC Sale (a great opportunity for you to Reuse something that someone else has Recycled).
Microwaves, Dorm-size Fridges, & Micro-Fridges
Mission Park has entry kitchenettes with microwaves & small fridges, and has a central kitchen as well. Frosh Quad JA's are known to bring microwaves & small fridges for their entries to share. There's just really no need to bring your own - they take up a lot of space in your room, and they suck up a lot of electricity.
There are TV's in most common rooms, and you can always catch up on your favorite shows through Netflix or Hulu on your laptop or iPad (just don't do it during class...).
Certain Wireless Devices
For bandwidth and sustainability reasons, certain wireless devices (such as routers, hotspots, wireless printers) are on the list of things not to bring. Click here for more details.
Your custodians will have pretty much everything you need to borrow (vacuum, cleaners, paper towels, etc.), so you don't need to stock your own. A deodorizing spray of a scent of your own preference might not hurt, but be cognizant of your entrymates' allergies.
Best to just bring a reusable mug. Most Williams students do not do a lot of cooking, but there are a couple of equipped kitchens on campus where you can cook if you think you're a Rachael Ray or Gordon Ramsay in the making. You'll be eating most/all meals in one of the College's several dining venues, and they have the dishes covered.
Plastic risers for the bed
Do you like sleeping very far off the ground on a lifted bed? If no, then don't bother. Your quality of sleep is more important than those extra couple of inches gained with risers.
Room lamps often end up unused, so hold off on this & see if you turn out to be a Williams student who spends a lot of time in your room, and then buy a lamp from someone who was not as wise as to wait & see what their Williams lifestyle is truly like.
Facilities will replace lights that come with the room when they burn out. If you bring your own lamp and want to bring extra bulbs, bring energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs, which last longer.
Use a computer calendar - you will get a Williams Google account, and it's great. Williams also sends out more free calendars than you will be able to use in a year.
The power almost never goes out; use your cell phone and if you are going on WOOLF you may have already brought a headlamp anyhow.
You will be given a reusable Williams water bottle; Williamstown tap water is delicious and healthy, and there are bubblers around campus as well.
We recommend visiting the ABC sale, they always have a ton for sale.
Next, a list of Have/Do-And-Be-Fined(-or-Worse)'s...
Williams grants students many freedoms and treats them with a great deal of respect. However, there are rules and regulations, and students are pretty good about following them. Each rule has its reasons and we don’t find them too extraneous, but in true Williams spirit, you should always feel free to ask “why” such rules are in place - there is always an answer.
The rules include a few things that the college strictly forbids. It will save you some grief, your item being confiscated, a not-insignificant $$ fine, and possible College disciplinary action if you take note of & heed the following list of may-not-have's. If you have any questions regarding the acceptability of a particular appliance or item not listed, call the Office of Environmental Safety & Compliance at 413-597-2406.
Even if you have any unlit (the theory is they could eventually be lit ... who knows?), they are not allowed. They have a habit of causing college-ruled paper fires and we can not have that. After your on-campus residency comes to pass, feel free to burn all the candles you like, in your own non-Williams home, within the terms of your own lease. But for your time at Williams, leave them at home & keep the College's Fire Safety Inspector at bay. (Students who need to burn candles for religious purposes may call the Chaplains' Office at 413-597-2483).
You are going to school in Williamstown, Massachusetts, not Death Valley. Bring a fan if you are really set on a chilled environment; an AC unit will only eat space, energy, and money. (Students who require an air conditioner for health reasons must submit a Housing Appeal request; submission of a Housing Appeal request does not guarantee approval.)
Other than fish in a small tank (less than 5 gallons), no student–owned pets are permitted in College housing. Sorry - Fluffy & Fido need to stay at home. (Students who require a Service or Assistance Animal, click here for important information.)
Appliances with Heating Units or Coils, including:
- Coffee Makers (big taboo). You can get it at breakfast. Or the Goodrich Coffee Bar. Or the Paresky Snack Bar. Or the Eco-Cafe in Schow. Or the vending machine in Sawyer. Or the Log. Or pick some up in the quality Tunnel City Coffee Shop on Spring Street. Or work off a Coolatta from Dunkin's by walking there & back. Or go to Cumby's. Or heat up a cup of water in your building's microwave & use instant coffee. Lots of options (we in the Berkshires love our coffee, obviously.) The cost of the fine will pay for a year’s worth of java.
- Toasters/Toaster Ovens. Why bring them in the first place? Bagels go bad in a day. Bread will get moldy. It really is more of an aesthetic than functional appliance when it comes down to it. Save space and money - leave it home!
- Hamburger and Sandwich Makers. Who ever came up with this nifty little invention? Probably a Williams graduate who was deprived of such things. Is George Foreman an Eph?
- Hot plates (good for little brother pranks, but not for your good standing).
- Crock Pots (no more stews, sorry).
- Broilers (mind you we do have dining halls).
- Bread Makers.
- Electric Space Heaters (get another blanket/sweater).
- Electric Wok (even those purchased on TV for $19.95, stick-free or not).
- Electric Fry Pans (seriously?? who are you, Martha Stewart?).
- Electric or Gas Stoves (leave the Coleman with Dad for his camping trips).
- Deep Fryers (again, we have dining halls if you really need to punish your arteries).
- Beer Coolers (don’t go there) and kegolators (nor there).
- Hot Pots.
- Any other appliance with a heating unit or coil.
Past students used them to raise their beds for additional storage. While carrying them up three flights of stairs might sound like a good beginning-of-year workout to you, many cinder blocks have been left behind in the past, making for an unnecessary end-of-year workout for the custodial crews. Save the workout for Lasell Gym for both you & your custodians, and if you absolutely need to raise your bed, bring the plastic risers instead.
Smoking is not allowed in any college building, nor within 25 feet of the buildings (who wants to be puffing during a snowstorm anyhow?).
So what’s the real story on the weather?
From the stories & advice below, you might think we live in Antarctica - but we don't. Well, not quite anyhow. What they say about many parts of the United States holds true here too - "If you don't like the weather in the Berkshires, just wait five minutes." The weather changes with the seasons, and while we do experience a real winter here, it does get above the freezing mark as well.
And yes, it's truly beautiful here - no joke."The cold is beyond worth the beauty. As long as you have good waterproof boots and a hood, snowstorms will be heavenly." - Abby Fournier '21 "As a Ghanaian, my greatest fear concerning Williams was the cold. In the end, I finally found the secret: layering and more layering. Plus the snow is fun. Also, don't get used to one type of weather, it's hot one day and cold the next. It's a good mix." - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "The cold and dry winter days are probably the worst it can get, and I have never appreciated 45 degree weather before coming to Williams. You really learn to appreciate all forms of weather, because once it gets nice and warm in the spring, you'l be craving for the winter chills." - Omar Kawam '20 "Coming from California, I had all sorts of wacky ideas of what the weather would be like here. I knew it would be cold but I didn't realize it would be as cold as it was. Surprisingly, I've actually come to enjoy the weather (well, to a certain degree, no pun intended). The snow is beautiful, and if you know what to wear (think thick jackets & layers), you'll generally be set. I know I would have certainly been a lot colder if I didn't buy all of the jackets/gloves/etc. that one needs to survive a Massachusetts winter. And certain don't let the winter deter you; Winter Study allows you to spend time indoors if you need to be warmer & definitely allows time for winter fun." - Elizabeth Bigham '21 "This past year the weather wasn't terribly cold! It's usually the wind that gets you, so I'd recommend scarves and gloves and hats to bundle up, and a nice jacket. Luckily, most buildings are walking distance at Williams, so you don't have to be out in the cold for long. And when it does snow, it's the perfect time to hang out with a few friends and make a snowman!" - Krushi Maisuria '19 "Boots, hats, mittens, scarves, warm coats, waterproof jackets... a strong mind that reminds yourself to attend classes and a warm heart that attracts friends to cuddle around you in the cold... then you are all set." - Xiaoyong Cui '20 "If there are three words that will let you survive the odd weather here: layers, layers, and layers. The weather here changes constantly, so be ready for sun the first day and 3 inches of snow the second. Good layers will let you be prepared for any type of weather that comes your way. Snow? Just put on an extra shirt. Sun? Just take off three jackets." - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "I always was cold back home. Everywhere I went, I had a sweater with me even when it was 90 out. Now that was in Miami, FL. Coming here, I was freaking out and saying my not-that-sarcastic goodbyes to my friends when the temperature dropped below 65. But I survived! It is currently in the 50s outside and I got so excited that I'm wearing a skirt! The easiest way to prepare is to check the weather every morning and layer. If you have never experienced winter, like me, you'll make some mistakes (I once put on a snow jacket thinking it was just a thicker coat at like 48 degrees) but you will soon learn. Also, snowball fights are fun so make the best of the winter!" - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "The changing of the seasons, and the wild weather swings that come with it, are one of the beautiful characteristics of living in New England. That said, it can make dressing for class each day a bit difficult! If I could only offer one piece of advice, I would say to bring sensible, sturdy shoes so that you are comfortable walking back & forth across campus in rain or snow, sunshine or ice!" - Wyndom Chace '21 "Never go outside with wet hair in winter. Your hair will freeze and it's not fun." - Erikka Olson '19 "Everyday, I think that I'm stronger than the cold - but I'm not. I always need more layers than I think I do. Do not underestimate the cold. Also, huge gloves are VERY important. Don't get me wrong, winter is fun, but only when your fingers aren't in pain." - Cristina Mancilla '20 "Being a California boy all my life, I sure was not ready for New England weather. What I can say is that it's all about being ready clothing wise. Don't be like me and walk outside in the middle of winter without a form of headwear or gloves - or else you will return to your room with frozen hands and ears." - Mauro Renteria '19 "Freezing hair is an actual thing that happens. If you're a morning showerer run it through a towel a few times before you go outside or else you'll spend your first class waiting for your hair to thaw." - Megan Siedman '20 "I lived in Boston before coming to Williams, so I wasn't expecting to be surprised by the weather here. On most days, this holds true: I'm used to fluctuating sunny, rainy, windy, snowy, cloudy days. What I wasn't prepared for was how windy it gets here. There have been a few special days during which it's been too cold to go outside unless necessary, and on those days, I literally cannot keep walking when the wind starts. However, this is a rare occurrence. more importantly, the scenery around campus is really just stunning and really does brighten my mood even on the most miserably cold or gloomy days." - Amber Lee '21 "I'm from Massachusetts, but I only realized this year that surviving the winter is a lot easier if you actually own a warm coat (and a hat and mittens)! Turns out there are actually super warm coats out there - who would have known...!" - Emma Reichheld '19 "Be prepared for anything: you may get snow, you may get freezing cold, or your may get a weirdly warm and slushy January. Keeping a good attitude towards the weather is most important: let yourself be excited by the first snowfall and try not to get too annoyed with the constant cold. The snow makes the Berkshires gorgeous, you just have to be able to appreciate it!" - Janelle Gowgiel '20 "Dress for the weather! I can't stress how important it is to have gloves, warm socks, and something to cover your ears. Sometimes, I'll find myself making a trek outside in the cold weather without a winter hat or gloves and by the time I get back inside, I'm wishing I didn't have to warm up my frozen ears or hands. These little things can make a huge difference!" - Chulwoo Kim '21 "It's really hot and nice out during First Days, and the early autumn is beautiful too. However, winter is extremely cold. It will snow as early as October. As a New Yorker who only lives 3 hours away from Williams, even I was surprised by how frigid the temperature gets up here! Never go outside without gloves unless you want your fingers to go completely numb, get some durable snow boots, wear scarves, and drink lots of tea and hot cocoa!" - Katarina Mattmuller '20 "As a Californian, rain and snow were foreign concepts to me. I learned early that hiking boots will get you very far; they are waterproof AND slip-proof in the unpredictable New England weather. Add long, puffy jackets and bug repellents on your list and you are good to go! This year was particularly warm, but there are no guarantees for next year. Just be extra careful of seasonal sicknesses especially if you are not from the Northeast." - Serapia Kim '19 "Weather here is not awful. It changes all the time through. One day it will be 60 degrees and the next day it's snowing and 15 degrees. So always be prepared for anything. Winters can be really cold but nothing a good down jacket and a scarf can't handle. It's great that nothing is far away at Williams so the time you're outside is not long enough that you need to worry about the elements." - Niku Darafshi '21 "Fall in the Berkshires is world-class leaf peeping season, and winter is equally as stunning. Just remember to bring gloves. The secret is layering. Forget the flimsy see-through sweaters and go out and buy some real clothes made of wool, fleece, and flannel. The weather is pretty easy to manage if you're prepared for it. Here's a trick: look at the temperature in Celsius. It will make the Fahrenheit number sound less cold. Promise. My friends all made fun of me for talking about the temperature in terms of Celsius, but it always sounded way more impressive to say it was a chilly -16 degrees. Until it was actually -16 degrees Fahrenheit..." - Miranda Weinland '19 "Layering is absolutely essential. It does get cold, but bearing the weather is definitely worth the gorgeous seasons here in the Berkshires. First Days can be pretty hot but it cools off quickly. Fall is my favorite - it isn't too cold and all the trees are so many different colors. The mountains are breathtaking. The most underrated essential winter gear is warm socks - they make a world of difference. Don't forget a hat and glove too" - Erin Denham '20
Part of leaving home to live in a new place is learning about responsibility in your own terms. Sustainability is one of Williams' core values. Williamstown is a beautiful place as you'll find out soon enough first hand, and we all want to keep it that way. An important thing you can do to help in the weeks leading up to arriving here is making your college purchases wisely:
- Only get what you absolutely need.
- Re-use things from home.
- Ask friends if they have something you're looking for and ask to borrow it.
- Wait until you get here to buy things (a lot of times it turns out you don't need half the things you thought you did).
- Think about where the things you're buying are coming from and the impact they have on our environment.
- Refrain from bringing a mini-fridge for your room (one of the largest energy-consumers on campus).
- Power strips enable students to easily turn off appliances and electronics and to stop energy vampires (who knew there were vampires here?!? But now that we know, they must be stopped!).
- Reusable mug - help our campus cut down on waste by joining the many students and employees who bring their own mug with them.
- If you bring your own lamp, bring energy-efficient (and longer-lasting) CFL or LED light bulbs, rather than incandescent bulbs.
- Clothes Drying Racks - use a collapsable drying rack to dry your clothes. You'll save money and help the environment by reducing energy usage!
- You don't need to bring bottled water. Besides the fact that water bottles are a huge waste issue in the world, you will be given a beautiful reusable Williams water bottle AND the Williamstown tap water is delicious and healthy AND there are bubblers across campus!
- When you are ready to venture outside Williamstown or travel home for break, there are a number of more-environmentally-friendly options (bike, bus, rideshare, Zipcar). A Williams College Eco-Advisor created this transportation resource website for additional information.
While you can participate in the College's sustainability efforts in simple ways like above, you can get more directly involved through working with College offices & groups like the Zilkha Center and the Williams Environmental Council (WEC).
One of the many college rites of passage, laundry is one of those things best experienced and mastered early on. Williams makes it relatively painless - each one of the first-year buildings has a large number of washers and dryers available. Laundry is managed by Dining Services, and the online LaundryView system allows you to monitor the status of washers and dryers through a Web browser on your phone, tablet, or computer - you can check from the comfort of your own room whether there are machines available in real-time, and how much time is left on machines in use. It'll even send you an alert when your laundry is done. Handy!
Laundry costs $1.50 per wash or dry cycle. Laundry can be paid for by conveniently adding points on your student term account - visit the Dining Services web site and choose "Purchase EPH Points" to enter your value. You can also use cash if you prefer. You can save money and reduce energy use by drying your clothes on a collapsable drying rack.
Some advice from those who have come before you:"Word of advice, do your laundry during the day time, usually they are empty then. Also, you should totally put two loads in the washers at one time and then you only have to use one dryer cycle. Nifty!" - Mauro Renteria '19 "Buy some detergent, some stain remover, and some of those nice dryer sheets. Lump all of your clothing together in the washer, load up your quarters or Eph Points, press "COLORS," and voila, you just washed your clothes. Stick them in the dryer with some dryer sheets and you're done! Honestly, laundry is one of the least complicated things you'll do at Williams." - Maria Hidalgo Romero '20 "Coming to college, I was already in the habit of sorting, washing, drying, and folding my own laundry. (I've been called a laundry snob before.) Nonetheless, it does become annoying at times to dedicate a full hour and a half at least to complete the whole process, especially if you have a million other things going on. It can be helpful to keep a little stash of quarters so you're always prepared; otherwise, EPH points are great, too. Really, it's not that bad, especially if you have a laundry buddy! If all else fails, bring LOTS of extra underwear." - Amber Lee '21 "Laundry Laundry Laundry! Definitely get your JA/parent to help you figure it out on the first try. Or try and figure it out with the other freshmen there with you, it makes great teamwork and new friends." - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "I didn't used to do laundry before coming to Williams, and at first, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of lugging dirty clothes around and washing them on my own. I know, I sound like a spoiled brat, but hey it's the truth. But now, laundry has become a nice break for me. I almost always meet someone new on laundry day and so, the small talk can make a tedious task into a great way to socialize and meet new friends." - Omar Kawam '20
"Who needs quarters when you h ave Eph points? It's so easy to realize you don't have enough quarters and thus saving to run around with your laundry not getting cleaned. Also, it's a great way to have someone pay you back... just make them swipe for you!" - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "Laundry is super easy and I find it really relaxing. Definitely come to college with Tide pods, they are so much easier than lugging around washing detergent & fabric softener. The machines have timers that can be monitored on your phone so you know exactly when they are done. If you're old school like me you can pay with quarters but you can also pay online, either works." - Niku Darafshi '21 "The best way to keep up with your laundry is to establish a routine. Do it at the same time every week (or two weeks or whenever), when you know the machines are empty, and then it doesn't become a struggle when you have no clean clothes left. Also, set a timer to remind yourself to get your laundry or move it to the dryers when it's done - other people are waiting to use the machines and you might not want them moving your clothes. The laundry room can get really crowded before and after breaks, so plan ahead for those times too." - Erin Denham '20 "My secret to laundry is you don't actually have to use the dryer - you can save a ton of money by just hanging it up on a rack in your room! Plus, it helps keep the room more humid in the winter." - Emma Reichheld '19 "Laundry doesn't have to be a chore! I actually find it quite relaxing. Grab a friend, turn the music on, and fold some laundry together. (It's only stressful when someone takes your clothes out of the washer/dryer for you. Be courteous and don't move people's clothes!)" - Cristina Mancilla '20 "If there's anything that I learned quickly during First Days, it's to get Eph points. It's so much nicer to just swipe your ID than run around frantically looking for a quarter machine because you're short change for laundry." - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "Admittedly, there were periods of time where I would avoid doing laundry for a few weeks. And besides running out of clean clothes, it made trying to do five loads of laundry at the same time as the rest of Frosh Quad pretty heinous. I don't recommend slacking on laundry. You hear horror stories of the ruthlessness of doing laundry at some schools. That is not Williams. People are generally really respectful of your clothes and conscientious of the order of the waiting line for the washers. On the second day of school a complete stranger agreed to bring up my clothes out of the dryer while I was at practice, and now she's one of my good friends!" - Miranda Weinland '19 "Laundry Life Hack: If you're in a pinch for clean clothes, the dryers in Mission can hold loads from two washers." - Francesca Barradale '19 "Try not to leave your laundry sitting around for hours after you do it. No matter how clean it is, it's still gross to have to move somebody else's wet clothes out of the machine because they didn't come to pick it up." - Megan Siedman '20 "If you don't want to use EPH points all the time, get some quarters! There is a change machine in Paresky and one in Mission (the one in Paresky takes only $1 bills though!). - Toni Wilson '19 "Don't worry about it! It will probably be a lot easier to manager than you think, and it doesn't have to be something to stress out about. Don't be afraid to call your parents to ask for advice; they will love the chance to help out however they can! Using Eph Points for laundry makes it so much easier, and you never have to worry about running out of quarters. Load some on in the beginning of the semester and you won't have to carry around a bag of quarters!" - Janelle Gowgiel '20 "Try to wash all your new clothes at least once before you come so you can just throw them all in the wash here without worrying about colors bleeding. It really helps when you need some undies but also want to wash your favorite (and smelly) flannel." - Abby Fournier '21 "You only need one capful of laundry detergent, even for a big load of clothes (or else you will run out very quickly). Also, try not to over-stuff the washing machine or your clothes won't dry." - Emily Harris '19 "I was actually really surprised at how easy it was to do laundry here. The machines are super easy to figure out and I didn't really have much trouble even though I had never had to do laundry before college. I got into a routine where I would do my laundry before my class mid-day every Tuesday, and I never had any trouble finding an open machine during the morning on a weekday!" - Josie Maynard '19 "You know you've become a pro when you no longer have to walk back to your room in frustration because all of the washing machines are full or you forgot your quarters or detergent. Getting the laundry app which tells you the vacancy of the laundry machines is absolutely a great idea." - Xiaoyong Cui '20 "It really isn't that hard! All you need are dirty clothes, a hamper, detergent, and quarters. If you don't want to use quarters, then put Eph Points on your swipe the day before! Do your laundry at least once a week. You don't want to be carrying tons of clothes up and down the flights of stairs. But if you need help, call your mom or the person right next to you. I've asked for help when my white pants turned pink after I washed them with my red clothes. So don't worry, ask for help!" - Jessica Munoz '19 "Doing laundry is far easier than I expected it to be. Even if you don't really know what you're doing, there are instructions posted on the wall in the laundry room. The one thing you need to do is be very punctual about taking out your laundry on time - if you don't, other people will remove your laundry and often carelessly throw it aside so they can use your machine. You can avoid this though by doing your laundry early in the morning or in the evening during the week, when it's usually less busy." - Katarina Mattmuller '20 "You'll reach a point in the semester when you procrastinate homework by doing laundry. Embrace it." - Erikka Olson '19 "I wash my clothes and then dry them on a rack in my room. You wind up spending half the money! And it's great if you're lazy like me - you never have to fold your clothes if you just grab them off the rack when you wear them. My other advice is to do laundry in little breaks you have during the day. I like to do mine Tuesday mornings before class because I can choose any machine I wants (and some are better than others)." - Louisa Nyhus '20 "Avoid the pain of quarters and simply load up your card with EphPoints instead! Establish a routine to make things easy; I get up early on Sunday morning to do laundry, and there's never a fight for machines. Biggest tips I learned the hard way? Check the machine and your pockets for any stray items, and don't tumble dry for too long - unless you want child-size sweaters!" - Angela Chan '19
First-year students in the Class of 2022 may arrive to campus on
Monday, August 27, 2018,
beginning no earlier than 8am.
Step One: Check In at the Paresky Center. Check-In will take place on the 2nd floor, and this is where you will pick up your room key (Williams & Sage) or room code (Armstrong, Dennett, Mills, Pratt).
There will be a First-Year Parent & Family Resource Fair going on in Paresky's Baxter Great Hall (1st floor), at which you and your family can pick up useful information from local businesses as well as some campus offices. There you may also obtain a campus map and directions that will lead you to either Mission Park or the First-Year Quad. Feel free to check it out when you get your key/code.
Step Two: move your things into your room. As you near your residence hall's location, a Campus Safety Officer will help you find a drop off point for all of your belongings and direct you to a designated parking area. If you sent things to campus ahead of time, visit the Jessica Park Mailroom (Paresky 1st floor) to retrieve them. Once you have actually moved everything into your room, the hardest part of First Days will be behind you!
Step Three: find your Junior Advisors (JA's). They'll welcome you, introduce you to others in your entry, and let you know about things coming up throughout the day and the week (like going as an entry together to take care of your Williams ID, and where to go for First Days programs).
From there, you will begin your journey into first-year orientation, or what we at Williams call "First Days." More information about the First Days schedule can be found via the Dean's Office website.
Coming to campus for the first time as a Williams College student will be fun, exciting and maybe a little scary. Believe it or not that’s normal! Don’t worry too much right away about unpacking everything and getting things in their right place. Spend time getting to know your entrymates and hanging out with your family and friends before they have to leave. Yes, eventually we DO kick them out - because you’re the student, not them. So make a mental note to hit them up for some cash in a week and send them on their way. The next few days will be so full of things to do and see, so buckle up and hold on - it’ll be a crazy ride!
Be sure to visit the Dean's Office Website for more information about Getting Here & Moving In
To get a great overview of all of the existing student clubs & organizations right off the bat, be sure to attend the Student Jamboree and the Purple Key Fair, typically held around the first day of classes. The Jamboree showcases many performing student groups (like a cappela groups, dance, etc.), and the Purple Key Fair gives all student organizations an opportunity to show what they do and how to get involved, and you can sign up then or later on. And if you don't see a group that fits what you're looking for, you can start a new one!
After the Jamboree & Purple Key Fair, the Office of Student Life is the place to go to seek out these opportunities and to participate in leadership development workshops (such as the Freshmen Leadership Weekend, a great opportunity for first-year students to build leadership skills, meet other student leaders & active community members, and learn about campus resources). You can also visit the Davis Center to explore opportunities, as well as the Center for Learning in Action to explore ways to get involved in the community beyond the campus here in the Berkshires, such as through the Lehman Council.
There are also some popular weekly/monthly meetings on campus to look out for, and they often include food & snacks! Some examples:
- Gaudino Lunches
- International Studies Colloquiums
- Career Center brunches
- Kaplan Council
- JRC Friday night dinners
- Log Lunch every Friday - $4 each time, or you can buy a semester pass (first-year students get a discount for the semester pass)
- Language Tables for lunch
- WASO discussion lunches
- Williams Teaching lunches
- Weekly harvesting at Sustainable Growers' garden - can pick food for yourself if you help at their work parties
- Chapin weekly music performance lunches
Though your room is your castle, the Williams campus offers an abundance of additional nooks & crannies to study & hang out, from the very-public to the very-private. You'll find nice views, a variety of noise levels, and good size ranges. When you need to find an alternate to your room, you'll find other locations that work well for you for either studying or hanging out (or both!)."The new Sawyer is an absolutely wonderful study space through and through. I often camp out on the first-floor forum, where the green chairs and round, white tables form a soothing color scheme that doesn't distract you from your essay. There's easily-accessible hot and cold water, a vending machine, and lockers on every floor so you don't have to haul your textbooks back and forth!" - Angela Chan '19 "I have three go-to spots: upstairs Goodrich, Tunnel City, and the Clark Art Library in the Manton. The first two have all I need: coffee, friendly baristas, and semi-comfortable seating. The third is a gem I discovered halfway through the fall semester, and my only issue is that I didn't discover it sooner. Though going to the Clark is quite a trek, I found the investment (in terms of the energy and time spent getting there) worth it. I knew I had to get a substantial amount of work done to justify the twenty-minute walk, and this mindset has helped me power through several papers and readings. Plus, my breaks consisted of looking at incredible art in the galleries. What more could I ask for?" - CJ Salapare III '20 "I like to study anywhere that's not my room - Sawyer, Eco, Schow... That way my room is a place where I can relax and not be thinking about having to get work done." - Emily Harris '19 "Personally, I find it necessary to switch up my study spaces every now & then, so I like to hop around campus. Favorite spots include upstairs Paresky, the reading room at the Zilkha Center, the bookstore on Spring Street, and, on my laziest days, my bed." - Amber Lee '21 "Tunnel is trendy but it can be pretty crowded and hard to get actual work done. If you're looking to study in a more social environment and still feel accomplished, visiting lower level Paresky during off hours (usually between 2 and 5) is a great option. It's amazingly quiet and if you ever want a break, social life is just a staircase away." - Megan Siedman '20 "The Zilkha Environmental Center is the perfect place to both hang out and study! There are comfy couches and tables, and the design of the building is just like a home, so if you ever get homesick, just spend some time there!" - Krushi Maisuria '19
"Finding a great place to study is all about knowing the ambience you want. If you like the energy of being in an open space with other people, you choose upstairs Goodrich or Paresky. If you want a quiet place with an inspiring view, you pick Sawyer or study areas on Thompson. If you like more of a classic library feel, you can go to Schow. Or if you like working in a classroom, consider Clark Hall. Any of the buildings on campus can be a great place to study. You just have to be willing to explore." - Franky Barradale '19 "I found that Sawyer Library was the best place to study whenever I was feeling lazy orcas not in the mood to learn. The ambience, with everyone studying would always give me a reminder of what was at stake." - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "I love having different study spots depending on how I am feeling. Sawyer is amazing, and can accommodate tons of different types of studying: group study sessions in the oak-and-marble Mabie Room, reading by the fireplace in the 24-hour study room, and getting some serious work done with a view on the top floor mezzanine. It's great to have different spots, and don't be afraid to switch it up and try upstairs Goodrich, the couches in the Zilkha Center, or a classroom in Hollander or Schapiro. While the weather is still nice and warm (and the trees are gorgeous) take advantage of the outdoors! The Williams campus is truly beautiful, and doing homework or hanging out with friends at a picnic table or under a tree is a great way to appreciate it. Try new places and see what works best for you." - Janelle Gowgiel '20 "I love going to Goodrich in the morning. If you show up a little after 9 there's no line and you can sit and read or socialize while enjoying your breakfast. If you wait until after 9:30 though a swarm of people come in on their way to 10 o'clock class and you'll waste time waiting in line. It's a great place to go if you want to work alone but not in silence. The building is also open even if the coffee bar isn't, it's a great place to go in the afternoons." - Erin Denham '20
"I'm a big proponent of the Eco Cafe. There's skyr and coffee, what more do you need?" - Erikka Olson '19 "If you are like me and like to study in a low light setting, upstairs Paresky has a round room that is dark after sunset. There are lamps around you that allow you to control the amount of light that hits you but does not affect others. Plus, if you do not wish to leave the building for hardcore studying reasons, food is served in Paresky four times a day. It's great!" - Mauro Renteria '19
"When I came here, I thought I would be able to study in my room. Turns out, that it is really difficult to study in your room when you want to make new friends freshman year. Fortunately, there are a lot of interesting places to study in! There are times that I want to be surrounded by people to study so I go to the bean bags in third floor Sawyer or to upstairs Paresky. But then there are times when I want to be by myself so I go to one of the big classrooms in Hollander or sit near the compact shelving in Schow Library. When it is really nice outside, however, I like to sit at the tables in front of Science Quad or by the Dennett entrance. There are so many places to study in and it is all up to you to discover your personal study space!" - Jessica Munoz '19 "On nice, sunny, and warm days, take advantage of the soft Science Quad lawn. Of course, it often is not like that so spending time at the tables inside science quad (the one in the corner of Morley is particular nice), inside Dodd on the booths, or even the '62 Center. There are so many comforting and quiet places hidden all around campus." - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "Definitely check out the new Tunnel City in the Williams Bookstore! It's not as loud as the Tunnel City across the street but it's still a cozy, warm, coffee shop environment. Besides, if you get bored, you can always browse the Williams swag upstairs." - Nadiya Atkinson '21
"I enjoy my cozy room when I feel like some time alone and the library is flooded with people. I appreciate upstairs Paresky when I'm feeling energetic and craving for some open space to converse. During finals, Schow library rooms and Sawyer library OIT room are my top choices to discuss problems and review with friends. The best place to study for me always varies depending on my mood at the moment." - Ziaoyong Cui '20 "I'm a huge fan of studying with a view. There are some great spaces in the top floors of both Hollander and Schapiro with floor to ceiling windows that look out over the purple mountains. Sometimes I get so distracted by the view that I'm not that efficient, but it's a nice way to keep calm and remember there's more in life than the math problem set I'm flipping out over. Hanging out in the '82 Grill on a Saturday night is bound to leave you with some great stories and unforgettable experiences. The terrace outside the Zilkha Center is really nice to sit and have long chats with friends or do some reading on a nice day." - Miranda Weinland '19
Your Junior Advisors (JAs), of course, will probably be some of the first people you talk to when you need help with something - and that's great, because that's what their role is! But sometimes you'll need some help from someone other than your JAs. Here are some pointers on where to go and who to connect with.
When you're not feeing well or if you'd like to talk with a counselor about something that's on your mind, the Student Health Center is a great place to go for support.
- Integrative Wellbeing Services (413.597.2353), located in Hewat House on Hoxsey Street, include individual and group therapy/counseling as well as medication consultation and outreach - including workshops. Appointments are required for all counseling services.
- Medical Services (413.597.2206), located in Thompson Health Center on Hoxsey Street, including on-site medical practitioners for general medical services and consultation including orthopedic clinic and well-woman exams are available. Nutrition, health education and wellness, including travel health consultations are also available for students. There is an RN on duty 7 days/week during open hours. When the Student Health Center is closed, call the Center to access the physician or counselor on call.
- Services are free but there may be a cost for lab tests or other referrals as necessary outside of Health Services. Appointments are highly recommended for medical services and will help your schedule by not having to wait for availability. You can usually get a same-day or next-day appointment for medical services.
- If you need a medication, you can set up an account at the local Rite Aid/Walgreens Pharmacy. Your prescription, faxed from Health Services, will normally be delivered by Rite Aid/Walgreens the following business day to the Center for your pick-up.
- Transportation (413.597.4545) for scheduled healthcare appointments is provided free to charge by appointment only in the local area. Call to schedule transport.
- Several student/faculty/staff groups are advised by the Health Services staff, including Peer Health, the Mental Health Committee, and Active Minds.
Here's a quick run-down of other offices & people who are really good at lending a listening ear or a helpful hand:
The Dean's Office (413.597.4171, Hopkins 2nd floor) - they'll help you with personal & academic concerns.
The Chaplains' Office (413.597.2483, Paresky 205) - the chaplains are awesome listeners and are happy to chat with you about anything, religious or not.
The Davis Center (413.597.3340, Jenness House, Morley Circle) - the staff advises the student groups that are part of the Minority Coalition (MinCo) and works closely with the students who are involved with those groups.
The Office of Student Life (413.597.4747, Paresky 219) - the staff manages student housing concerns, student organization involvement & leadership, student activities & programs/events, etc., the Jessica Park Mailroom, and we're at Williams because we love working with students. Some of the best "Campus Moms" at Williams reside in OSL - Gail, Ellen, Ivy, & Debby love to chat with students and provide a listening ear (or even a shoulder to cry on when necessary).
Academic Resources (413.597.4672, Paresky 203) - they coordinate several services to help you improve you quantitative skills and/or writing skills (including the Writing Workshop in Sawyer Library and the Math & Science Resource Center in Schow 030B. They also provide disability support services.
The Registrar's Office (413.597.4286, Hopkins 2nd floor) - they'll help you with choosing classes, drop/add, etc.
The '68 Center for for Career Exploration, aka the Williams Career Center (413.597.2311, Mears House) - the Career Center is here to help everyone, from students who have no idea of what they want to do, to those who have identified their ideal company, position, & start date. It's never, ever too early to connect with the Career Center!
Faculty drop-in office hours - don't be afraid to make use of those times, the faculty love to work with you!
There are many more people around campus who are willing to sit & listen & talk with you. Be open to finding those connections with faculty, staff, and other students as you experience Williams.
Some advice from those who have come before you:
"It can be kind of intimidating to talk in class at the beginning of the year. But your thoughts are completely valid and can bring you to some very interesting thinking once you open the dialogue. Keep a running list of ideas you have but didn't get to share during class. Then, meet your professor during office hours to talk more about those thoughts. It will give you greater confidence in joining classroom discussion and help you get to know the professor all in one." - Megan Siedman '20 "The professors here are probably some of the nicest people I have ever met. I have yet to have a professor that it intimidating. Attending office hours is a godsend. They are willing to talk to you, even if the conversation has nothing to do with the class!" - Mauro Renteria '19 "Talk to your professors! The last thing they want you to do is fail. Don't be afraid to ask them for help and sometimes even an extension if things are piling up. I went to office hours once a week with each professor. They want to know you and help so go talk to them!" - Niku Darafshi '21 "If you're struggling in a class, go to office hours! Your professor won't bite, they're here to help you." - Erikka Olson '19 "Williams College is full of incredibly intelligent, driven, and talented students who are very active & involved. It's easy to compare yourself to other people and feel like you aren't doing as well or as much. Just remember that you are here because you belong here; you have so much to offer this campus and the world - don't doubt yourself!" - Halle Schweizer '21 "The Deans are the "bestest" resource ever. They can make anything, and I mean anything, happen. Even if they can not help you directly, they will refer you personally to someone who can and will get the job done!" - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "Don't be afraid to reach out to people if you have questions, professors & students alike. Everyone here wants you to have a good time, and are always willing to help. Talk to your JAs, your professors, your classmates: they're always there for you." - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "Your JAs, EphVenture leaders, profs, entry mates, friends, dining hall staff are always there for you. It's always comforting to know that everyone on campus looks out for each other. Whether it's worrying about a class or friend issues with a professor or just making a connection with the dining hall members, people at Williams are always there to listen and care for you." - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "Be really nice to the janitors. They do a lot to keep your entry clean and are unsung heroes. They are great resources to have if anything happens, whether a light bulb goes out or your window screen breaks & bugs get in." - Niku Darafshi '21 "Whether you believe it or not, everyone here wants to help you succeed. Reach out to the staff and faculty - your custodians, dining hall workers, professors, counselors - and you'll find a community of wonderful individuals who will go out of their way to help you make the best of your Williams experience." - Angela Chan '19
Homesickness happens to almost every student at some point in their college career. For many, it happens early on, though it's not restricted to that specific time period. Homesickness is to be expected, and rest assured, if you're feeling it, you're not alone. Keep reading for some stories & helpful hints from other students.
"Being homesick is no fun but I quickly realized that calling my parents or friends back home every so often always helped. Also, my friends and I decided to make a list of fun things to do to keep ourselves busy, especially when one of us was feeling down. But the weirdest feeling is when you're homesick of Williams when you are back home..." - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "I was afraid of homesickness before coming to Williams, but when I got here I was so caught up in classes, my entry, as well as extracurricular and social activities that I didn't have the time nor did I feel the loneliness to become homesick. I surrounded myself with great people to support and to be supported. What also helped tremendously was the daily communication I kept with my loved ones back home. No matter how busy I got, I made sure to call up my family and you should too." - Cristina Mancilla '20 "If you are worried about being homesick, you are in the same place I was before I came to Williams. You are probably worried you are going to miss the people and the environment where you live, just like I was. While it is true that you may miss your family & friends at some point throughout the year, you should know that Williams is also your home, and it definitely feels that way. The people here are so welcoming and friendly that once you go back home, you will find yourself missing Williams!" - Morgan Dauk '21 "Homesickness, it comes! But you have the power to not indulge in it. By all means call up your family and friends but go out also and make new friends. You are going to be with them for the next four years of your life." - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "When you go onto social media, it can be pretty easy to convince yourself that all of your friends from back home are having a way better college experience than you. It's no secret that everyone looks perfect online. That shouldn't have to be something that makes you feel like you're doing college incorrectly or that you're in the wrong place. You're in the right place. You just have to remember that while it's great to keep in touch with your friends, it's important that you unplug and invest yourself in the opportunities around you, too. It's not going to be Instagramable all the time - especially not at first. But it will become your home if you let it be." - Megan Siedman '20 "I didn't realize homemade food was such an integral part of my life until I started eating dining hall food everyday (nothing against the quality of food though). As a Korean-American, I was not used to the influx of American food in my life and lost my appetite at times, making me feel extremely homesick. Even if you're completely used to this type of food, you may be missing your mom's homemade cookies, boba, etc. Luckily, my friends were very generous in sharing food with me. Not only does cooking or backing with your friends take your mind off of the loneliness you may feel, but you're also rewarded with yummy food! Be adventurous and explore other cultural food, too. There are a few great options available on Spring Street." - Serapia Kim '19 "For me, being homesick was not about missing my actual home, but rather missing an environment I knew and felt comfortable in. I am an international student so not only did I fine myself adjusting to the college environment but also to a completely new country. I found so much comfort in the international family and through joining clubs on campus to keep myself busy. Just remember that a lot of people feel as lost as you, so find comfort in the company of each other!" - Aanya Kapur '20 "Realize that homesickness varies for everyone; some of my friends were up and running upon the first day of arrival, whereas I, two months in the semester, still wanted to go home almost everyday. Sometimes it just takes time! Try to get involved, stay on top of classes, and explore the campus. Once you get to know the school and its people, the place will start to feel more welcoming and less foreign. There's nothing wrong with staying in touch with family and friends back home as well, whether via Skype or snail mail." - Angela Chan '19 "Social media and our quick efficient communication makes it easy, but in some ways it can make it harder. Don't get caught up clinging to your phone waiting for people from back home to contact you. I stayed in touch with family/friends by contacting them when they had a specific event. So I would call my sister the day after I knew she had a big exam/essay. I would facetime my friends from home after they rushed their respected fraternities/sororities. If you're homesick, when you talk to them, pick out a time after their or your next big event and contact them again then. It will give you peace of mind and something to look forward to. Then you can focus on all the amazing opportunities and people here on campus knowing when you'll talk to them next instead of hovering by your phone." - Erin Denham '20 "For lots of people, college is the first time people have spent an extended period of time away from their families. Don't be afraid to talk to your friends and JA's if you're missing home - chances are they feel or have felt the same way." - Emily Harris '19 "It's always hard leaving home, but it gets easier eventually. I make sure to call home every day, even if only for a few minutes: it doesn't take long and makes me feel better. I highly recommend downloading Skype!" - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "I came to college expecting to get pretty homesick, but it was better than I thought it would be. While the beginning was definitely not easy, I was able to forget my homesickness by going out and meeting new people. Basically everyone gets homesick at some point, and that was comforting to remember. By hanging out with new friends, I got over my homesickness pretty quickly. And of course, you always have your JA's and faculty who would always be more than willing to help you!" - Josie Maynard '19 "Coming from a Mexican-American household where the only language spoken at home was Spanish, homesickness hit me pretty hard. It troubled me that it is possible to go a whole day without speaking Spanish here. For that, I eventually learned that listening to music helped as I can sing along in my native tongue. I tend to miss the smallest things. Whether it may be waking up on weekend mornings to the loud music my mom would play or noticing how religiously my parents watched the late-night soap opera, it got to me. I for one, deal with homesickness by calling my parents simply to talk about their everyday activities. It reminds me of them and brings back pleasant memories. As well, it always helps if you can convince your parents to send you a care package with food you would eat back home. That is a must." - Mauro Renteria '19 "The most difficulty part about my transition to Williams was being away from the support system that I have relied on for all of my life: my parents. It was hard to not consistently get the kind of encouragement and support that I was used to. I, like many other students, get most homesick during times of stress: finals, starts of new semesters, etc. When I am stressed I find myself missing the support and comfort I got from being home and surrounded by love and family. However, I am learning that living in a new place requires building new support systems and learning to be able to rely on new people, and also yourself. My parents will always be my support system, but since I have come to Williams, I have grown that support system." - Catie May '20 "For me, homesickness didn't hit me during the first few weeks of College. I kept myself busy. I joined clubs, spent hours studying, went to Williams events, tried to make new friends every day, and explored the town. It wasn't until later that I started to miss my parents and my cats from home. I didn't even think it would be hard for my parents but it was. Now I try to call them every day even if it is just to say "good night." We will all experience homesickness in different ways but eventually, you will consider Williams your second home!" - Jessica Munoz '19
The Office for Information Technology (OIT) has some great resources available on their website. Be sure to check it out!)
As one might imagine, the personal computer is an integrated part of the educational experience at Williams. Faculty members correspond with students via e-mail, materials are distributed through the network, and some assignments are turned in via the net. Williams College makes general use computers and printers available to students in various labs around campus, many of which are open 24 hours, but most students find that it is an advantage to be able to work in their rooms or other comfy locations around campus, especially during crunch times such as midterms and finals when the labs are busy.
The College supports both Mac and PC platforms and educational discounts are available for Apple and Dell computers through their online stores. Laptops are preferred to desktops due to their portability and energy savings. All dorms have wireless access. Some public buildings including restaurants on Spring Street do as well. Some students also make use of tablet computers, though mostly as a secondary tool rather than a primary one at this point.
For those of you who prefer to be wire-connected for higher performance, you can connect to the internet jack in your room and/or the common room. All dorm rooms have a network jack to accommodate a wired (ethernet) connection. The jack is off by default in order to save energy, however it is easily activated by filling out a form and sending it to OIT. Again, most places on the Williams Campus have wireless access.
If and when your computer (or other computing equipment) has breathed its last breath, hold onto it so you can responsibly dispose of it at the end-of-year OIT sponsored GreenUp Program - for free. Why recycle this stuff? Computers have all sorts of toxins that are hazardous if disposed of incorrectly. Additionally, computers will have their hard drives removed & destroyed to eliminate the possibility of data theft. Equipment which can be reused will be refurbished by OIT and donated to local schools and non-profit organizations. The rest will be removed by a recycling firm.
Moving on to phones, all student rooms are equipped to accommodate a land-line phone. For information about land-line phones, click here. The reality is that most students no longer make use of them, instead walking around campus on their individual mobile device of choice, looking like zombies while they text, tweet, snapchat, instagram, check-in, update their Facebook status, or tell their parents on the phone how awesome Williams is (seriously folks, as important as it is to let the Twitterverse know about your most-recent latte purchase at Tunnel City, be polite & look up from time to time to use your words to say Hi to someone you’re meeting on the sidewalk… or at least to avoid running into them). If you’re going to bring a cell/smart phone, check with your provider about coverage. Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint have been known to work here in town (partially thanks to the towers mounted on our own power-plant smokestack).
If and when your cell phone decided to call it quits, you can responsibly recycle it for free at the College as well. Learn more by looking under Electronic Equipment on the Campus Recycling Guide.
May I look at my room over the summer?
The Williams College residence halls are mostly packed each summer with participants involved in everything from sports camps to conferences to the nationally famous Williamstown Theater Festival. Outside of a presidential mandate or if you are signed up for the New England Banking Conference, you will have to wait it out with your fellow classmates from Alaska to Zimbabwe to see your room.
Is there a place to store extra goodies, such as a trunk, giant pieces of luggage and boxes, or to store things during the summers?
While you are in residence on campus: there is limited storage in the basement of some residential buildings. Custodians & other Facilities staff manage this storage on-campus - to reach them, call 413.597.2486.
Summer & Interim Periods: limited free storage (up to three 18" x 24" boxes, which are provided by the College) is provided by the Jessica Park Mailroom and Connors Brothers for returning international students and returning financial aid students over the summer and during other interim periods when students are away. More information can be found here. Students who are neither international nor receiving financial aid, must make their own arrangements for storage directly with a storage provider, at their own cost.
Risk & Liability: Using College-provided storage options are entirely at the risk of the student. Neither the College nor Connors Brothers accepts responsible for your things should they be damaged, lost, or stolen.We do not recommend storing high-value items. You might want to check to see if you have any coverage through your homeowner’s policy.
Can you tell me about the housing situation over vacations? May I stay in my room?
It depends on the break period.
Thanksgiving Break - all residence halls remain open.
Winter Break - all residence halls close on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 @ 12noon. The halls re-open at 8 am on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. Exceptions are made only for international students and independent students who meet specific criteria & application deadlines (which will be communicated during the fall semester); students granted an exception will be temporarily consolidated into one building (typically Fayerweather) during most of the break.
Spring Break - as part of a 1-2 year pilot program, all student residences will remain open for Spring Break for all students. This pilot program begins with Spring Break 2019. Many campus services are reduced or not available during Spring Break, including Health Services (Medical and IWS), athletic facilities, dining, and others. Campus construction work may be increased, including earlier & later hours. Some residences will close for up to 24 hours during the break for life safety system testing, resulting in temporary student relocations. More information for Spring Break 2019 will come out in February & March of 2019.
Summer - residence halls close for the end of the academic year on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at noon.
May I have a car during my first year?
No. Lack of parking makes it impossible to allow first-year students to have cars. If you have questions about this policy, you should contact Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444.
How do I get around if I can't have a car my first year?
The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has a regular schedule Mondays through Saturdays with pick-ups & drop-offs at the Paresky Center. The College offers a free weekly shuttle on Sundays. Williams also has Zipcars available for students who sign up. Also, check out this Eco-Advisor-created transportation resource website.
How about bike storage?
There is a decent amount of bike storage around campus. Mission has A LOT of indoor bike storage, and the Frosh Quad isn’t half bad either.
What about cell phones?
Check with Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T - most of these providers have fairly good service throughout campus and much of the Berkshires. Just remember to SILENCE YOUR PHONE when you’re in class!
Can I have a land-line phone in my room? How does voice mail work?
Although most students prefer to use cell phones for more convenient communication with friends and family, one can bring a landline phone to use in one’s room. The service is for local and incoming calls only and you must sign up with a private carrier for a long distance calling card if you want long distance service. To use the landline phone you must request that your landline phone jack be activated. To activate the phone jack in your room, you need to log into PeopleSoft self-service and go to Self Service > Campus Life > Dorm Phone Activation. You will need to bring your own phone to plug into the jack in your room after you activate it. Without a long distance calling card, you can only use a land-line phone to call locally, including 4-digit campus numbers and 1-800 numbers. When you pick up the receiver of your land-line phone and you hear a stutter dial tone it means you have a voice mail message. You will receive voice mail instructions when you pick up your personal access card after you arrive.
What's my mailing address?
All mail must be addressed to your S.U. Box number. The full mailing address is:
- (Your Name)
- (39 Chapin Hall Drive should be added here for packages)
- (your S.U. Box #) Paresky
- Williams College
- Williamstown, MA 01267
What banks do students use?
Williamstown has several banks that will have information for you at the Resource Fair on move-in day regarding their services, and the prizes (water bottles, clipboards and the like) that will result if you get an account through them.
Are there kitchens in the residence halls?
For those of you Rachael Ray or Bobby Flay wanna-be's, Mission Park has a kitchen available on the first-floor for student use. Some nearby upperclass houses contain kitchens, and most entry common rooms have a refrigerator.
Do I need a refrigerator?
No. And mini refrigerators are also the number one consumer of electricity in student dorms, so as part of Williams’ commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions we ask you to consider sharing your entry’s common refrigerator, rather than bringing your own mini-fridge.
Just bring a sharpie to write your name on items you don’t want to unintentionally share. All first year students are required to be on the twenty-one meal plan, and with so many food options available both on campus and on Spring Street many frosh who bring refrigerators find that they don’t often use them.
If you absolutely have to bring one, we recommend the Refrigerator Leasing Company.
I have been a heavy coffee drinker for a while and was planning to bring my coffee maker. What if I decide to ignore the advice about appliances?
Ignore our advice?? Bite your tongue! We’ve have already gone into a slew of options, which can save you some money, time, and will support the local businesses. But, if you choose to ignore the advice, as mentioned before, the Fire Safety Inspector or someone from the Campus Safety and Security Office will fine you and treat themselves to a night on the town (OK we made that last part up - but the fine is real).
When are Family Days?
This year they are scheduled for October 26 - 28, 2018 - always a weekend filled with events and top-notch food. Visit this page for more information.
Where do students go to eat when our parents come to visit, or when we want something different from the options on campus?
Williamstown is small, but it's big on food. Students point out the following on a regular basis within easy walking distance of campus:
- The Log - Ramunto's provides the food service, including pizza, pasta, and other top-notch cuisine. Show your Williams student ID and you get 30% off of your dinner to boot!
- The Purple Pub - burgers, sandwiches and the like, in a welcoming atmosphere.
- Hot Tomatoes & Domino's deliver delicious pizzas.
- Chopsticks & Blue Mango provide solid offerings of Asian cuisine.
- Pera offers food with a Mediterranean flair.
- Spring Street Market is a great grab-and-go option.
- Tunnel City has great coffee and baked goods - amazing muffins, older ones are reduced price on that side ledge.
- Casa Lina offers Italian as well as tapas.
- Spice Root - cheap & fast Indian food lunch buffet.
- Tony's Sombrero offers Mexican cuisine.
- Water Street Grille on Water Street offer sit-down-ish, pub-ish atmosphere & fare just around the corner from Weston Field, so the short walk will help burn off the dinner calories.
Other popular places within a slightly-longer walking distance or a close drive: Chef's Hat, Desperados, Moonlight Diner, Olympic, Ye Olde Forge, Public, Ramunto's, '6 House, Mezze, Gramercy Bistro, Blue Benn, Brew-HaHa, A-Frame Bakery, the Hub, Coyote Flaco.
I know it's a long way off, but I'm thinking about what I want to do when I graduate. Who can help me think this through?
Funny you should ask - that's exactly why the '66 Center for Career Exploration is here! As Don Kjelleren, Director of the Career Center, says, "All Dreams are Welcome Here!" If you don't have a dream, that's OK - they'll work with you to build it together.
To take advantage of the Career Center as a first-year student...
- Register for a First-Year Launch Session! Great news - they've designed a first-year program to get you started on your career journey! The goals of the session are to get you familiar with the Center, and help you make more intentional career & academic decisions.
- Fill out your Handshake Profile & Career Interests. Handshake will help you get internships! By filling out your profile, you provide the Career Center staff with details on your industry, academic, and personal interests, which inform the types of employer information sessions, career treks, workshops, and emergent opportunities they'll send to you.
- Register & Connect with Alums via EphLink. As a Williams student, you're part of a network of 25k+ alums positively impacting the world in just about every field imaginable. Better yet - the Career Center has designed a tool to help you better tap this network and connect you with people who specifically want to help YOU. Register for EphLink and send a message to an alum you'd like to speak to.
The Career Center is located in Mears House (right across Park Street from the Frosh Quad), and they have walk-ins daily from 1-4pm, or you can schedule an appointment.
Any other helpful tips about life at Williams?
- The Williams College Bookstore on Spring Street is the place in town to get your books.
- With a $10 membership fee, you can rent outdoor equipment from the Williams Outing Club (WOC) in Paresky.
- You can invite your favorite professor, Dean, Campus Safety officer, coach, custodian, etc., to a meal or snack at an on-campus dining venue and get the professor's food paid for by the Committee on Undergraduate Life (CUL) - they love getting to spend time getting to know you (and they enjoy the food too)!
- For lunch during the week, Paresky is really busy and lines for food can be a bit long, so explore options to see what will work best for you.
- Check out summer travel fellowships, summer research opportunities with faculty, summer campus employment, & alumni sponsored internships for good options for summer involvement on campus or affiliated with Williams.
- There are change machines in Paresky & Mission, though most vending machines on campus will accept bills.
- You can check out movies/cd's/video games from Sawyer.
- You can check out headphones, nice computers, chargers at the libraries instead of lugging over your own.
- The Jessica Park Mailroom & Information Center in Paresky lets you borrow things for free, including board games, card games, and even 2-wheel dollies to bring that stack of packages from Amazon back to your room.
- You can get a locker at the library to store your books - different from a carrel - so you don't have to lug your stuff.
- As strange as it may be to think about moving out before you move in, we're here to give you the holistic view. At the end of the spring semester, the Center for Learning in Action organizes Give It Up!, a program that enables students to donate unwanted items to local charities and non-profits, and in the process - to decrease waste. All you need to know, as of now, is that by mid-May you will see moving/storage pods outside of the dorms with Give It Up! signage - these pods are dedicated to any items that you want to give up.
What are some of the things you should do before you graduate from Williams? Here are some suggestions from those who have come before you.
"Take an hour out of your hectic Sunday evening and go to Storytime. I've learned so much about my fellow students and it's a great study break. Plus there's cookies. And there are always so many events and speakers on campus. Go to one! Don't be lazy like me." - Erikka Olson '19 "Definitely do All Night Trivia with your entry over Winter Study. It's a lesser known Williams tradition but it's ridiculously fun. Making it to 6AM answering questions about passing kidney stones by riding roller coasters is hands down one of the greatest memories I have from college. Stock up on some Snack Bar and junk food now." - Megan Siedman '20 "Have a breakfast picnic in the treehouse in the woods by Sandy Beach. It's cool to read the wooden etchings and imagine who else has been there before you. I also love being high up and taking time to just breathe in an area that doesn't feel like it's on campus. Another favorite memory of mine has been watching a meteor shower out on the field behind Mission with a loved one. Honestly any night with a clear sky is a blessing: the view of the moon & stars here is so so beautiful." - Amber Lee '21 "So you are in Williams College, these are the 3 things you should do: Mountain Day, Sleighing down Mission Hill, and Ace Stressbusters, you will appreciate it!" - Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 "Sunrise Hike! It is so hard to convince yourself to wake up for a 6am hike on a Friday morning, but trust me, you will be so glad you did! Try to go on at least one before you graduate, to take advantage of Williams' location. The hike up Pine Cobble isn't bad, and the views from the top are more than worth it. It is incredibly peaceful and empowering to look out over all of campus, knowing almost everyone is still asleep. You will feel productive when you have climbed a mountain by 9am and your friends are just waking up to get breakfast! Also, try all the restaurants on Spring Street and in Williamstown. I don't think I can let myself complain about not having any off campus options if I don't take advantage of what we do have, and there are some good surprises! We may not be in Boston or NYC, but there is still some great food practically right on campus." - Janelle Gowgiel '20 "Go up Stone Hill and stargaze and pet a cow. Go swimming in the Green River, especially when the water is still not absolutely freezing. Watch your friend's dance performance. Do all night trivia! (There may be some regrets at 4am but trivia with your friends or entry is absolutely memorable!) There is always so much going on campus that there is no way you can be constantly bored." - Alexia Barandiaran '19 "If you want to take advantage of living in the Purple Valley, you can go apple-picking in the fall, build an igloo in the winter, and hike Pine Cobble in the spring. To take advantage of Williams you can go to a volleyball game, laugh at an improv show, and watch a planetarium presentation. You'll have trouble fitting it all into four years!" - Miranda Weinland '19 "1. Canoe on Group Pond. It is beautiful, and there are a lot of loons that live there. 2. Cross-country ski on the golf course. Honestly one of the best experiences I've had this year. 3. Go to snar. If you have extra meal swipes, stock up on some Odwallas or enjoy a lovely pizza from '82 Grill. 10/10 would recommend." - Nadiya Atkinson '21 "Take a Free University course during winter study, whether it be League of Legends, pie-making, or ballroom dancing. Courses are taught by your fellow wonderfully talented classmates, and it's a great way to spend your time during the depths of winter instead of staying in your room all day - although sleeping for 24 hours straight isn't a bad idea either!" - Angela Chan '19
Williams has its fair share of insider terminology. We're sharing some of it here with you, so you can hit the ground running in August, sounding like you've been an Eph for years & years...
Brunch Night (a culinary dream-come-true), n. Breakfast for dinner is the concept, while you can get the usual grub in one food-line, who can pass up on freshly baked bagels, waffles-while-you-whistle, Egg McGreylock and more. Be sure to befriend the Omelet Man (official title) for the ultimate omelet experience.
Claiming Williams, n. An opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to take a break from the rigors of everyday Williams life and talk with (and listen to) each other about how each of us comprises an important part of the Williams community. Typically held the day after the first day of spring semester classes, and classes are canceled that day.
College Council, n. The student-elected governing organization for the student body, one of the primo ways to fine-tune and expand your leadership skills. CC gets involved in nearly all aspects of student life on campus, and assigns students to important college committees to work with faculty & staff on important issues. Student organizations are recognized by CC and receive funding from CC; CC also provides oversight and accountability for student organizations as far as their roles, responsibilities, and financial management, with assistance from the Office of Student Life.
Common Room, n. A much loved and used room that will replace the old family den, living room, or room that you generally hung out in before you came to college. As relaxation spaces go, it is the best. With you and your entrymates’ help, it is usually replete with a comfy couch, some bean bags, an old TV, and several outdated issues of People (William & Kate had another baby?? No way!).
Do-It-In-The-Dark, v. The act of turning out the lights and unplugging unused electrical devices to do homework, shower, hang out or whatever it is you do. n. A competition between houses to see who can save the most electricity over a given month. This competition was praised by Thomas Friedman once he found out it was not, in fact, a nosy question. Winning houses receive, in addition to fame and glory, a night of fun activities and food and maybe even a chance to play with puppies. Plus, saving the environment is cool.
Entry (from the Latin term “habitus froshness”), n. As a frosh (slang for first-year - get used to it), you will live with a surrogate ”family” which we at Williams call an “entry.” Imagine a house filled with a group of impressionable frosh and a couple of enthusiastic and seasoned juniors that bring everyone together. Entries can be either vertically or horizontally arranged, so you will either have these individual, yet connected “houses” next door or up and downstairs from you.
Eph (your newest nom-de college), n. The abbreviated title given to those who reside in the Purple Valley of Williamstown, and the name of the Williams College mascot, Ephelia the Purple Cow (if you haven’t figured it out yet cows are kind of a big deal here). It stems from Col. Ephraim Williams, who had commanded the northern line of defense in the French and Indian wars and left money for the founding of a school on the condition that the town be named after him. Today it is pronounced like “beef”, and is used freely from “that’s Eph-tastic!” to Geology 101, where, on the first day of class, students are asked to locate “The Great Barrier Eph” on a map.
Junior Advisors (mum and pop), n. Juniors at Williams College who have devoted themselves to the absolute well-being of their frosh. A JA’s duties may include but are not limited to late-night discussions, organizing large-scale bowling events, academic/career counseling and ruling over the infamous Pumpkin Game. It may sound hard to believe, but they will become a HUGE resource for you during your first year, to be sure.
Lee Snack Bar (birthplace of the Ephburger and the grilled honeybun), n. Located in the Paresky Center and affectionately known as "Snar,", this space is a campus favorite. Many people will grab dinner here if they get back late from rehearsal or a sporting event. It is also a great place to read with some subtle background noise. Many believe strongly in the snack bar for purposes of a “first date.” One could suggest a meeting at the Snack Bar and there would be no connotations. Simple, good food and fairly neutral territory.
The Log (a rustic gathering place), n. An incredible log-cabinish space on Spring Street which is filled with old pictures, dark wood, food, and large, crackling fires (in fireplace). Why is it called "The Log?" Google "log Mark Hopkins" to find out. If you want a cheap slice of pizza or garlic knots, you can get them there - but you don't need to buy anything to just hang out & enjoy the place by yourself or with your best buddies. Also home of the “Log Lunch,” a Friday event involving soup, freshly baked bread and a guest lecturer speaking on some interesting topic like “Biking up Mt Everest Barefooted” or “Recent Trends in Rainfall at Hopkins Forest.” The lunch is vegetarian and speakers are environmentally focused.
Lyceum Dinners (stu-fac eat & greet), n. Extremely popular with students & faculty alike, these dinners are opportunities for students to invite their favorite faculty members to a fancy dinner at the Faculty Club (yep, this is how you get to see the inside of that building as a student!) to get to know each other better. When the email comes out, respond fast or you'll have to wait until the next one - the spots go fast!
Mountain Day (surprise!), n. A random special Friday in October, when the bells toll at 7:00am, classes are cancelled all day and students gather for celebrations and hiking in the Berkshires. Students, faculty, and staff gather on the Hopper to sing songs, eat apples, and enjoy the nice weather.
"The Mountains" (not just our location), n. The Williams alma mater song that you will be expected to know all fourteen verses of by the time you graduate (well, at least the first couple of verses). Your JA's will direct your Entry Choir in tribute to our beautiful location nestled in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
Neighborhood, n. Not to be confused with Mr. Rogers or with Harry Potter, the Neighborhoods are the organizational structures for residential life for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Here you'll have opportunities to engage in leadership opportunities and to participate in fun events & programs, for your years after your entry experience. Won't you be my neighbor?
Purple Cows (The Four-Leaf Clover of Cows), n. The bovine of choice around these parts. First developed here in Williamstown in the ‘30’s by the same WPA scientists who brought you Purple Horseshoes (Lucky Charms). They happen to be our mascot (the cow, not the marshmallow), as we compete against other mammals like the Camels (Conn. College) and the Jumbos (Tufts).
Spring Fling & Williams Day (the snow is almost melted), n. A weekend of fun student events to celebrate the beauty of the season in the Berkshires and to remind ourselves that there are only a handful of weeks of studying before finals - so enjoy it while you have the time!
Spring Street (urban Williamstown), n. The geographical and commercial hub of Williamstown, the Village Beautiful (yep, that's how we define it). From the honest grub of Papa Charlie’s Deli to the sublime offerings of Blue Mango Thai, the Street will satiate everything from your caffeine intake to your falafel needs. Restaurants and hair care happen to be Williamstown’s specialty: in both cases there is 1 (restaurant or hair specialist) for every five residents (or 1 for every cow).
Winter Carnival (embrace the cold & snow), n. A long weekend in February when Williams students brave the weather and enjoy snow sculptures, ski races, chilly outdoor hikes, and hot chocolate in their entries & houses. We love the winter so much, we cancel classes that Friday to pay tribute.
Of course there’s more but we don’t want to ruin the fun of finding it all out for yourself!
Student Contributors to The Bell Book for the Class of 2022:Nadiya Atkinson '21 Valeria Baltodano '20 Alexia Barandiaran '19 Francesca Barradale '19 Kristen Bayrakdarian '19 Elizabeth Bigham '21 Catherine Brule '20 Wyndom Chace '21 Angela Chan '19 Xiaoyong Cui '20 Niku Darafshi '21 Morgan Dauk '21 Erin Denham '20 Abby Fournier '21 Janelle Gowgiel '20 Emily Harris '19 Aanya Kapur '20 Chulwoo Kim '21 Omar Kawam '20 Serapia Kim '19 Amber Lee '21 Krushangi Maisuria '19 Cristina Mancilla '20 Katarina Mattmuller '20 Catie May '20 Josie Maynard '19 Jessica Munoz '19 Louisa Nyhus '20 Elba Obregon '21 Nana Ama Ofori Atta '19 Erikka Olson '19 Emma Reichheld '19 Mauro Renteria '19 Maria Hidalgo Romero '20 CJ Salapare III '20 Halle Schweizer '21 Megan Siedman '20 Emma Ticknor '20 Joelle Troiano '20 Miranda Weinland '19 Toni Wilson '19