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 entry-mates and access to a list of all members of the Class of ‘24. You will receive an email from Ana Azevedo 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 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 Ana Azevedo, Housing & Residential Programs Assistant, 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,Doug Schiazza, Senior Associate Dean of Campus Life Christopher Sewell, Associate Dean for First Year Students Ana Azevedo, Housing & Residential Programs Assistant
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. Please note that bringing your own comfy mattress, and/or bedframe & box spring, aren’t permitted – refer to the college’s Bed Bug Policy for some really good rationale.
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 225 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 middle of nowhere, 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. Wild Oats is a local grocery co-op that sells healthy grocery items that some other local grocers might not have. There is a WalMart Supercenter in North Adams (10 minute drive), Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and BJ’s are available in Pittsfield (about 30 minutes away). OK, so we are a little bit in the middle of nowhere.
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 (see index)! 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 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.
"Mission provided me with the perfect living space, and the idea of leaving it for sophomore year is terrifying. It has truly become a home away from home. I loved having all my entry-mates on the same floor as me and having the large common rooms. It definitely made it a lot easier to form many friendships within my entry, and I count them amongst my closest friends on this campus. Also, the in-house dining hall is a game changer. Breakfast in your pajamas? Yes. Not having to go outside on cold days? Yes. The perfect place to live? Yes." - Isabelle Wood '22 "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 "Some people might say that not having suite style with more private common rooms in Frosh Quad is a negative, but actually the big common rooms are really nice for bumping into entry mates and just chatting. Also between each entry's two main common rooms and smaller side common room, there is almost always an available space for you and your friends to watch something or play a game." - Patrick Hodgson '22 "The dining hall makes the hill worth it! Going to breakfast in your pajamas is a huge plus. Also, having horizontal entries with large common rooms means you'll get much closer." - Ruthie Lawrence '22 "Mission is definitely a great place to live. The common rooms are big, bright, and very welcoming, so they are a great place to hang out and I usually see my entrymates whenever I walk by. Mission definitely seems more extroverted while Frosh Quad is more introverted. We share a lot in Mission and see each other a lot, while my friends in Frosh Quad have smaller common rooms for fewer people. Also, Mission is all singles so it feels like having your own bedroom in a house where the common room is the living room. The kitchenettes are super nice, too. The built-in fridges are great for storing snacks. And don't let the hill scare you! The walk from Mission is a whole lot better than the walk from some other places on campus. Life hack: if you live on the Armstrong side, the path on Park Street gets you to the back entrance of Paresky pretty quickly." - Bellamy Richardson '23 "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 "When you get sick (I got sick for two months) having a dining hall in the same building as where you live is a BLESSING. You don't have to go outside, and can get all of the tea, honey, and fruits that you need. Even when you're not sick, being able to get brunch after a long night without putting on real clothes is so nice. Also, having horizontal entries is the way to go. You get closer to your entry because you can just walk down the hallway and see all of yoour friends, and don't have to climb any stairs if you don't want to! I wish someone told me this: you don't need to get a mirror because there's one on the inside of your wardrobe and a smaller one on the wall. Also, sticky putty is one of the BEST things you can have to put up all of your posters/pictures from home." - Lilianne Au '22 "Mission is amazing! Not only do you have the dining hall downstairs (which is a huge plus in the winter), but the horizontal entries and large common rooms are really conducive to a super-close entry. Plus, the TV's are a must if you're planning on having late-night Mario Kart marathons!" - Max Chayet '22 "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 "Mission dorms are nice, but you don't really realize their value until the weather starts behaving like the typical northeastern weather. It is wonderful to be able to leave your room in shorts and a t-shirt to go grab a meal when it is 7 degrees outside. The walls are bare and make use of that! Put up decor to make the dorm your home for the next year." - Makund Nair '22 "Although Mission Park can seem to be very far from the rest of campus, it actually only takes a few minutes to get to Paresky. The fact you have easy access to a dining hall (along with - most likely - having your own room) more than makes up for this "inconvenience." In addition, having horizontal entries versus vertical ones does give greater cohesion to your entry. In short, living at Mission is a choice I have never regretted!" - Emily Kuwaye '23
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.
"Frosh Quad is a great place to live in during your first year at Williams! The location is nice because it is in close proximity to classrooms and libraries. The architecture is pretty, and the interior is interesting because room sizes can be random depending on if you are in a single or double, but this teaches you how to utilize your living space well. Also, common rooms are a perk for everyone :)" - Esther Kim '23 "I can already tell that I'll be nostalgic for Frosh Quad - the best location, great views, the nicest lawn, wood floors... Willy and Sage make a classic college setting that is easy to love. There is a common room for every three or four people, so small groups get really into curating a unique vibe and hosting events, which makes for awesome community, and watching the seasons go by really makes it feel like home. Don't stress it too much as you will probably love wherever you land, but Frosh Quad is a true neighborhood and next year I'll be missing my tiny basement double." - Gavin McGough '22 "Buy a mini fridge and microwave at the FCC Tag Sale at the beginning of the year. It is 100% worth the $70 investment or so (or split the cost with a suitemate!), especially if you ever need to store any leftover food or like to keep Odwallas or snacks from Lee's in there and since there's no access to a kitchen in Frosh. A Brita pitcher is also worth the $15 if you don't like the taste of the sink water and it's far more convenient to fill up from the sink than to trek to Paresky to fill up your water bottles three times a day. Despite these qualms, Frosh Quad is without a doubt better than Mission based on location alone." - Miriam Li '23 "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
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 "I switched my housing from single in Mission to double in Frosh Quad literally thirty seconds before I submitted the form, and it turned out to be one of my best decisions. Obviously, there's no guarantee this will be the case, but if it is, it's awesome. We both respect each other's space, take turns cleaning the room, and have plenty of dance parties. When we go to bed at the same time, we catch up on our days and random stuff, so essentially, I'm having a sleepover with my best friend every night! Lilia is the G.O.A.T., and I'm so glad I chose to live with a roommate." - Rachel Neugart '22 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 "A roommate can be your best friend or just an acquaintance you live with, but that is completely fine. As long as you and your roommate have respect for each other, you will not have a bad experience. For me, having a roommate is a nice way to meet someone new and talk about interests, and it is comforting to have someone to live with when I feel lonely." - Esther Kim '23 "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
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.
- Look on Switchboard & WSO for items (and if you have items you want to make available to others, you can do that here, too!). You might even get to know some other Williams students here, as well as faculty, staff, & alums!
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.
- 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 tablet (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 free 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.
Your Own Mattress, Box Spring, Bedframe
We have our reasons - not the least of which is Bed Bugs. The mattresses & frames provided in student rooms are well-suited for - you guessed it - college students. So leave your Purple, Casper, Nectar, Leesa, Serta, BeautyRest, or any other bed, at home.
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 "Coming from a place literally nicknamed 'The Sunshine State,' the bitter cold of Williamstown was definitely an adjustment! Winter can be rought, but the snow is beyond beautiful - as long as you're prepared for it. I can't stress the importance of wool socks and a thick jacket enough. And wearing leggings under your jeans can be a life saver! What's really wild, though, is the appreciation you'll come to have for 30 and 40 degree weather. When my friends that have been born and raised in New England first called a 32 degree day warm, I thought that they were absolutely insane. It rarely gets below 50 degrees where I'm from! But now, weirdly enough, I've come to agree with them." - Maya Cords '22 "If you are coming from a warm place, then Williams is most likely going to be very cold for you. But - as long as you layer - you have nothing to worry about. Still, always check the temperature before you leave the dorm. The temperatures here can rise and fall very quickly, so, if you are planning to be out all day, you may want to take an extra jacket for any night time activities." - Emily Kuwaye '23 "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 "Arriving from Texas, I was uncertain of what winter in Massachusetts would look like. I was excited to play in the snow and drink hot chocolate! However, no one told me that stepping into the cold would make my ears hurt. Have a scarf or a hat ready at all times!" - Karla De La Fuente '22 "The weather is quite turbulent here. The falls are beautiful, while winters can be windy and cold. Sometimes it can look sunny outside while the temperature is below freezing. Layering not only keeps you cozy, but it also can prevent you from potential sickness. Hats can keep your head and ears warm, and snow boots are a lifesaver because the sidewalks can be very slippery. Also, hot packs can be useful if you are outside for longer periods of time or have cold hands. Reusable or rechargeable ones are nice for sustainability!" - Esther Kim '23 "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 "We live in the middle of the mountains - so yes, it gets cold. Very cold. But you just bundle up in a puffy jacket and many layers and brave the freezing temperatures (it's worth is for snar). And remember, the cold weather only mmakes spring feel SO much nicer. You'll be surprised when you find yourself saying that 40 degrees Farenheit feels warm!" - Taylor McClennen '22 "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 "One of the best (and worst) things about the Purple Valley is the weather! In the fall, the mountains are slathered with several billion shades of reds, oranges, and purples. In the summer, the skies are always blue and you can always smell the trees as you stroll past the Quad. Winters are brutal, especially with wind chills, but sledding and snowball fights are just some of the best ways to make the most out of the situation! And who could possibly say no to hot cocoa and a whipped cream mustache while gazing at the snow from the inside?" - Huijun Huang '22 "As a Californian, I found that the weather changed so quickly, it was hard to expect what it would be that day; one week it could be 10 below, and the next in the high fifties. At Williams, the wind is insanely strong, so bring a windbreaker. Snow boots are a MUST as you can use them for both snow and rain." - Aidan Lloyd-Tucker '22 "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 "As someone from Hawaii, it gets really cold and really dry real fast. A good waterproof coat, and a really good pair of waterproof boots will go a long way. Make sure to layer, layer, layer, and keep your head, hands, and feet warm. If you're from somewhere humid (like how Hawaii is), moisturizing every day and investing in a humidifier will save your skin." - Lilianne Au '22 "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 "Growing up in Houston, I didn't know it was possible to look so nice but be so cold. More than the temperature being low, the wind chill is what will really take you by surprise. Layer up and protect your extremities. Often times you can manage to walk around fine on a 40-degree day if your hands, feet, ears, and nose are covered. *Pro tip* Spending some money on a nice quality jacket will get you a long way! Try the tag sale at the beginning of the year if winter wear around you is too pricey." - Makund Nair '22 "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
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, the Williams Environmental Council (WEC), & the Davis Center.
Once you're on campus, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the college's recycling guide. There are signs posted above the waste stations, but the link provides a more comprehensive version. You'll learn where you can take your batteries to be recycled and that pizza boxes can be recycled on campus.
Additionally, we compost food waste & compostable to-go items on campus. Click here to find more information about what is & isn't compostable.
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:"Skip the line and do your laundry at 1am! Put your clothes in the dryer before you head to bed and get it in the morning! Whatever you do, DO NOT let it stagnate for weeks iin your room!!!" - Huijun Huang '22 "Start a routine for yourself in regard to laundry, so dirty clothes do not have the chance to accumulate in your room. One of the best times to do laundry is in the early mornings (especially on Sundays). If you cannot wake up early enough, you can always check the "WilliamsMobile" app under the tab "Resources" - they have a "Laundry View" that shows which washers and dryers are currently in use." - Emily Kuwaye '23 "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 usually takes about an hour and a half. It's good to do 2 loads at once because a dryer often fits a much larger load than the washers." - Ruthie Laurence '22 "Doing laundry is definitely not the hardest thing to do at Williams, and often a good time to take a break from staring at your computer screen for too long! A few pieces of advice from my own experience: make sure you have a good load to do as the washer and dryer can hold quite a lot, and if you don’t throw in enough pieces of clothing, what might end up happening is they will start foaming after they are done. I also find Tide Pods the easiest to use as they don’t leak like a bottle of detergent could, and they are a lot lighter to carry downstairs. Also, bring some quarters with you because sometimes the washers erroneously don’t accept the entirety of $1.25/$1.50 from your Eph points! (Don’t be like me, when that happened, I just double swiped because I was too lazy to go back to my room and get the missing $0.25)." - Chen Chen Huang '23
"Color catching sheets are the best thing ever!! You can lump all of your laundry into one load, and not have to worry about colors bleeding. I've used them since the beginning of the year and have not had any accidentally pink/blue shirts since then! I also recommend getting scent boosters/fabric softener for your fabrics if you're sensitive to smell. The washers can get a little musty, and having the same laundry detergent and scents you had from home really go a long way in making sure you smell good and feel good." - Lilianne Au '22 "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 "Getting into a laundry routine is a must. Not only does having a routine ensure that you have enough clean clothes for the week, but it also serves as a nice break between readings and problem sets." - Max Chayet '22 "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 "Find time to do laundry when no one else it doing it! That's the easiest way to avoid people removing your clothes from the washer or dryer when they are done. Also, certain washers work better than others! Ask around to make sure you're using the best one! Finally, take your clothes out on time especially if you are doing laundry at one of the peak times. Students trying to get their laundry done will move your clothes out of the dryer/washer and leave them on the counter if you leave them there too long!" - Makund Nair '22 "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
First-year students in the Class of 2024 may arrive to campus on
Monday, August 31, 2020,
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) from the friendly staff of the Office of Campus Life.
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 cappella 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 Campus Life is the place to go to seek out these opportunities and to participate in leadership development workshops (such as the First-Year 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 engage in opportunities and activities that explore the ways culture, history, and identity inform your educational experience. opportunities. And the Center for Learning in Action with help you 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:
- Davis Center Brown Bag Lecturettes, Social Change Film Series, & identiTeas
- 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!)."There's a reading room in WCMA that's quiet and cozy. If you ever need a study break you can walk around and look at some of the beautiful paintings, which is a huge plus!" - Ruthie Laurence '22 "Everyone who knows me knows that Goodrich is my favorite spot. If you need to do work in the morning, its’s a lot easier to find motivation to get out of bed when there’s a bagel with avocado and a chai latte waiting at your study spot. It’s fun to hang out in the main area downstairs, which is super social and a bit louder, but if you really want to get work done, there are booths upstairs that are really comfortable and more quiet. I also love picking a spot in the library that faces the mountains so I can appreciate the beauty of Williams, even if I am doing work instead of spending time outdoors." - Zoe Bank '23 "I like to write papers in upper Resky, where the background noise of people downstairs is comforting but not distracting. Additionally, if you need a break after working for a few hours, you have food options right downstairs. If I'm working on a problem set or lab, I prefer the far back tables in Schow which are usually sunny and open. If I'm feeling lucky I might try for one of the tables in the back of the south science building, which have chalkboards and beautiful views." - Patrick Hodgson '22 "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 "I have a few choice study spots depending on what I'm doing. Long reading? Upper Paresky, where there are comfortable couches and a perfect level of background noise. Problem set or lab report? Schow, where MSRC is right around the corner. Long hours for a lot of work? The upper mezzanine in Sawyer, where you can spread out all of your stuff in a booth and look at the mountains for a break. There's a lot of different places on campus, and I think finding your favorite spots is a fun part of freshman year. And when you don't want to be alone, study rooms or common rooms are a great idea." - Nandini Seetharaman '22 "As a kickboxer, I appreciate it that the College has a heavy bag room in the gym. My friend and I often go there for a stressbuster after studying in a library. Also, a table next to the fireplace in the upper Paresky is always a nice place to study. You can see what's going on in Paresky, but it is not as crowded and noisy as in Lee's or Whitmans'." - Yuichi Fukunaga '23 "It's important to find a good environment to study. I found that the Williams Bookstore is my favorite place. The combination of the cozy low-stress atmosphere and built-in Tunnel Coffee cafe make it the perfect spot to get work done." - Bri Laycock '22
"Studying in the South Science Building is a dream. The alcoves near the research laboratories are extremely quiet, almost always vacant, and overflow with natural light. I loved studying at tables on the main floor, as saying hello to passing-by friends and professors made for an engaging experience. While it is less popular than Schow, Sawyer, or Tunnel, South Science has an ample supply of chalkboards - perfect for the occasional group study. Favorite places include the wooden tables and stools on the bottom floor, and the mats by the first floor windows. South Science is a bit hard to get to, but remarkable once you're there." - Jaya Alagar '22 "The South Science Building is a great place to study. The building is super quiet and just about every corner has a small work space. Students also have 24/7 swipe access to the building, and the building arguable has the nicest bathrooms on campus (including a shower which nobody knows about)." - Sanket Patel '22 "Probably a very boring example, but Sawyer is a great place to study. It has a variety of spaces for different purposes: cubicles if you really need to concentrate but want a good view (as they are next to the giant windows at the back of Sawyer), study rooms (which you can reserve online) for group projects and brainstorming sessions on a whiteboard, even Tatami-style enclosed spaces if you are feeling a little cross-legged crunching and also great for naps (let’s be real, everyone’s at LEAST done it once while studying). Alternatively, the South Science Building (new, quiet, has whiteboards and comfy chairs) and upper Paresky (have a nice ambiance of people passing by, and close to Snar in case you are feeling a bit hungry) are also great places to study." - Chen Chen Huang '23 "One of my favorite places is the ground floor of the South Science Building. The long tables (along with a very big board for writing on) makes this a really fun place to do group work; at the same time, it is usually very quiet, which is nice if you have to focus. In addition, the rooms at Sawyer and Schow are both extremely nice places to work, especially if you have friends you want to study with. You can always make a booking for a room in advance through Williams' library website." - Emily Kuwaye '23
"My favorite place to study is the first floor of Sawyer. It's worth the trek down two flights of stairs, because the green chairs at the bottom are super comfy, and even come with footrests! It's a peaceful, quiet, cozy place to work if you want to be comfortable while cracking out an essay or doing a class reading. Plus, you're right next to the Sawyer Cafe is you decide you want a snack." - Aliya Klein '22 "In my opinion, upstairs in Paresky is the best place to do work and study. There is plenty of room to spread out on comfortable couches and chairs and it stays relatively quiet up there. I find it isn't as stressful of an environment as the library and it is easy to work in groups or by yourself! Plus if you get hungry or need a break, there is food right downstairs!" - Maddy Mandyck '22
"I often avoid the library unless I'm in crunch mode - much better to enjoy the day a little while I work. Outside Science Quad is beautiful, and South Science is right around the corner in case some weather moves in (go all the way to the back of the fourth floor for the best sunset view on campus). The Environmental Center patio is also great for outside studying, and has lights at night. Indoors, the third floor of Hollander is usually really quiet without being stressful, and has a great view overlooking the main quad. Honestly, just go exploring! Don't limit yourself to Sawyer as beautiful as it is. One of my favorite things about first days was discovering all there was to see. Another tip - decorate your common room or a friend's, make it your home... so many good memories and late nights." - Gavin McGough '22 "Second-floor science building, next to the huge windows. If you like to study with VIEWS, this is probably the way to go. It's also the best place to take a nap. The sunsets there are also amazing. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I guess I'll need to start running there early to get a spot." - Huijun Huang '22 "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 "For studying, Sawyer 2nd floor and the back corners of Schow are great. I like quiet places with minimal peer interaction. These areas tend to be desolate and I can get a lot of work done. For hanging out, Paresky classrooms can be great to hang out with a bunch of friends if you get them in time." - Makund Nair '22
"An often overlooked place to study has definitely got to be Hollander. There are wonderful private lounges at the ends of some of the corridors, as well as a conference room on the 3rd floor, all of which are surrounded by windows for great natural lighting! An added bonus is that they’re great for both private or group study sessions as most of them have chalk boards/projectors if that’s your thing." - Nathan Szeto '23 "For a more social study scene, Tunnel City is great. Not only can you work in a great environment with just the right amount of background noise, but you'll definitely get the chance to do a healthy amount of socializing while you're at it. It's also not uncommon to see your professors there and grab a cup of coffee with them too!" - Max Chayet '22
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 feeling 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 Pond 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 Walgreens Pharmacy. Your prescription, faxed from Health Services, will normally be delivered by 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 & Rice Houses, 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. Davis Center staff is committed to providing an inclusive and equitable experience for our students. They work to ensure traditionally underserved & marginalized populations have access to a holistic, intentional learning environment.
The Office of Campus Life (413.597.4747, Paresky 219) - the staff manages student housing concerns, student organization involvement & leadership, student activities & programs/events, etc., and we're at Williams because we love working with students. Some of the best "Campus Moms" at Williams reside in OCL - Ellen, Ivy, and Kris, 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:
"If you need help in class, don't be afraid to reach out to your professors and fellow classmates! The atmosphere here is incredibly collaborative, and I have never met someone who would refuse to help me. In addition, take advantage of the resources the college provides - TutorTrac (for individualized help), MSRC (for assistance with homework for most introductory Div. III courses), and Writing Worship (for feedback on essays)." - Emily Kuwaye '23 "Professors are amazing here and there's so many opportunities to connect with them. You can simply go to office hours or invite them to Lyceum Dinner, where a group of 2-4 students have dinner with a professor. Professors also have school funding to go out for lunch with you!" - Aidan Lloyd-Tucker '22 "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 "Williams can be a challenging place, but keep in mind that various support networks are available if you choose to use them. Whether that be academic (your professors, academic advisors, classmates, Writing Center, MSRC, Dean's Office, etc.), social (your JAs and close friends), or lifestyle (the Health Center, IWS, Chaplain's, etc.), everyone here is dedicated to making sure you are having the best experience possible. So don't be afraid to reach out when you need help -- we all want you to succeed." - Kaiz Esmail '23 "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 "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 "The JA's are amazing! They're always around to talk about literally anything and also just super cool people to hang out with! Plus if you ever need help, they're a great place to start because even if they can't make something happen, they'll point you to the people who can. Explore the resources on campus! There are so many people here whose job it is to help you and are willing to go above and beyond - get to know them! They're all super nice and friendly and it's totally worth taking some time to get to know some of the amazing people who are here to help." - Max Chayet '22 "This will come in different forms for everyone, but personally I found my friends, professors, and the ’68 Career Center staff very helpful. Hang out with your friends—don’t always stress too much about getting that 100 on your chemistry test, it’s both healthy and important to spend time with people who make you laugh and relax. Reach out to your professors—as long as you are willing to take a step and connect with them (office hours, emails, Lyceum Dinners, etc.), you will find that they are genuinely caring and supportive of your struggles and dreams. As you start exploring your career paths, go to the Career Center as much as you’d like! It is a place full of very kind and very experienced people who help you review your resume and cover letters, provide information on opportunities that you might have otherwise missed, and in large shape and nurture your goals! Again, the common theme is that do reach out to different kinds of people--You are here, and we are all so happy you are here:)" - Chen Chen Huang '23 "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
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.
"As my English professor always said, 'You can be in a crowd of people and still be alone.' The first semester at Williams is hard for everyone. Especially for those who are far from home. Don't let shyness and homesickness stop you from making friends! There are other people like you here on campus! Be bold and venture outside your entry to find those people with common interests through clubs or groups! Having friends helps a great deal with homesickness. The second thing is finding a set time to call your family! Even if it's a message or if it's a whole video call one weekend night, keeping connected with your family can help you overcome the feeling of missing them. finally, do the things that you used to do at home here on campus. I used to watch lots of movies with my family and continuing to do that with friends on campus makes it easier to deal with the homesickness! The end all be all is to reach out to the wonderful people at Williams whether it be a student, faculty, dining hall workers, janitor, or anyone else. Most everyone here is willing to listen and help you through tough times!" - Makund Nair '22 "While being away from home is definitely difficult, it is still manageable, especially once classes start - you find yourself extremely busy with homework, which is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow classmates better. In addition, if you don't find a friend during First Days, that's okay! It takes some people longer to find a friend group than others; the important thing is just to keep on trying to introduce yourself to new people. Eventually, you will find your group." - Emily Kuwaye '23 "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 "Communication is what you make of it. You can choose to maintain the relationships that you value or to lose contact. I miss my family often and realized that calling my parents or sister, even if just for a few minutes, fills me with joy. My dad often brightens up my day by texting me funny jokes and pictures, and I think having pictures of family and friends on my phone or on my desk lessens my loneliness. Also, you are probably not the only one who feels homesick! Talk to others about your loved ones, and cherish fond memories together." - Esther Kim '23 "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
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, Spectrum, and Sprint/T-Mobile 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 four 18" x 18" x 16" boxes, which are provided by the College) is provided by the Office of Campus Life and Connors Brothers for returning international students and returning students who receive financial aid, 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 - residence halls close on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 @ 12noon. The halls re-open at 8 am on Saturday, January 2, 2021. Students who need to stay during the break must meet application deadlines (which will be communicated during the fall semester) and will be temporarily consolidated into one building during most of the break.
Spring Break - all student residences will remain open for Spring Break for all students. 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 2021 will come out in February & March of 2021.
Summer - residence halls close for the end of the academic year on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 12noon.
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/T-Mobile, Spectrum, 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 23 - 25, 2020 - 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. (Ramunto's also has locations in North Adams, MA, & Bennington, VT.)
- 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, though you can also sit & eat there.
- Tunnel City has great coffee and baked goods - amazing muffins, older ones are reduced price on that side ledge.
- 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, '6 House, Mezze, Gramercy Bistro, Grazie, Tres Nino's Taqueria, Blue Benn, Brew-HaHa, A-Frame Bakery, 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 '68 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.
"1) Get Outside! In all seasons! 2) Pack your Winter Study schedule full of activities and organize events (even if you later cancel some of them). There is so much freedom to take advantage of. 3) Get an on-campus job if you have time. There are lots of really cool ones and working can feel rewarding. 4) Go to Log Lunch (or anywhere else you feel at home) and appreciate all the wonderful people of Williams." - Gavin McGough '22 "Take advantage of all the events Williams has to offer. You should definitely try to see at least one Zambezi Marimba Band, Sankofa Step Team, and Kusika performance. Also, going to Frosh Revue's performance during Family Days is definitely worth it, as well as attending performances by the Berkshire Symphony and other musical ensembles." - Emily Kuwaye '23 "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 "Actually hike on Mountain Day! It's tiring but think about the apple cider donuts waiting for you! The mountains are absolutely gorgeous and hiking up on your own makes it a gazillion times better!" - Huijun Huang '22 "Winter Carnival is so amazing! It's like a second Mountain Day and it's amazing to just be outside. Also polar plunging is a must!" - Aidan Lloyd-Tucker '22 "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 hike! There are so many different hikes throughout the year that go all over the Purple Valley and they're all a great chance to get into the outdoors. WOC (Williams Outing Club) leads trips for all experience levels so whether this is your 1st or 100th hike, there's always one that you can go on!" - Max Chayet '22
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.
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, 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.
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 2024:Jaya Alagar '22 Nadiya Atkinson '21 Lilianne Au '22 Zoe Bank '23 Elizabeth Bigham '21 Wyndom Chace '21 Max Chayet '22 Maya Cords '22 Niku Darafshi '21 Morgan Dauk '21 Karla De La Fuente '22 Kaiz Esmail '23 Abby Fournier '21 Yuichi Fukunaga '23 Patrick Hodgson '22 Chen Chen Huang '23 Huijun Huang '22 Chulwoo Kim '21 Esther Kim '23 Aliya Klein '22 Emily Kuwaye '23 Ruthie Laurence '22 Bri Laycock '22 Amber Lee '21 Miriam Li '23 Aidan Lloyd-Tucker '22 Maddy Mandyck '22 Taylor McClennen '22 Gavin McGough '22 Mukund Nair '22 Rachel Neugart '22 Elba Obregon '21 Sanket Patel '22 Bellamy Richardson '23 Halle Schweizer '21 Nandini Seetharaman '22 Nathan Szeto '23 Isabelle Wood '22