To the Incoming Transfer Students:
Welcome to Williams! 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. All of us here want you to feel at home and to contribute positively to campus life. To that end, we have compiled the following list of resources with transfer students in mind. This informational guide is intended to supplement The Bell Book, a so-called “Cliffnotes Guide to College Living” created by a Williams alum, Christopher Bell ’98, for first-year Williams students. As a transfer student, it is possible that not all of the sections of The Bell Book will be applicable to you. We have excerpted portions of it below, though you are more than welcome to peruse The Bell Book in its entirety—it is filled with useful advice from former and current students!
We recognize that there is no typical transfer student at Williams. Transfer students come from different parts of the world, different backgrounds, and different kinds of academic institutions. If you do not find the answer to any of questions below, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dean Tamanika Steward or Student Transfer/Veteran Coordinator Zach Sturdevant, [email protected].
We send our best wishes, and we look forward to welcoming you to Williams!
Associate Dean of Students
Dean of Sophomore Year Students
Director of Transfer and Non-traditional Student Services
Zach Sturdevant ’25, Student Veteran Coordinator
Levi Hughes ’25, Transfer Coordinator
We encourage you to check out Williams Students Online (WSO) and other online resources for Williams Students. Below are a few examples of oft-visited webpages:
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 Student Life is the place to go to seek out these opportunities and to participate in leadership development workshops. You can also visit the Davis Center to explore opportunities, as well as the Center for Learning in Action to explore ways to get involved in the community beyond the campus here in the Berkshires, such as through the Lehman Council.
There are also some popular weekly/monthly meetings on campus to look out for, and they often include food & snacks! Some examples:
- Gaudino Lunches
- International Studies Colloquiums
- Career Center brunches
- Kaplan Council
- JRC Friday night dinners
- Log Lunch every Friday - $4 each time, or you can buy a semester pass (first-year students get a discount for the semester pass)
- Language Tables for lunch
- WASO discussion lunches
- Williams Teaching lunches
- Weekly harvesting at Sustainable Growers' garden - can pick food for yourself if you help at their work parties
- Chapin weekly music performance lunches
Williams has its fair share of insider terminology. We're sharing some of it here with you, so you can hit the ground running in August, sounding like you've been an Eph for years & years...
Brunch Night (a culinary dream-come-true), n. Breakfast for dinner is the concept, while you can get the usual grub in one food-line, who can pass up on freshly baked bagels, waffles-while-you-whistle, Egg McGreylock and more. Be sure to befriend the Omelet Man (official title) for the ultimate omelet experience.
Claiming Williams, n. An opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to take a break from the rigors of everyday Williams life and talk with (and listen to) each other about how each of us comprises an important part of the Williams community. Typically held the day after the first day of spring semester classes, and classes are canceled that day.
College Council, n. The student-elected governing organization for the student body, one of the primo ways to fine-tune and expand your leadership skills. CC gets involved in nearly all aspects of student life on campus and assigns students to important college committees to work with faculty & staff on important issues. Student organizations are recognized by CC and receive funding from CC; CC also provides oversight and accountability for student organizations as far as their roles, responsibilities, and financial management, with assistance from the Office of Student Life.
Common Room, n. A much loved and used room that will replace the old family den, living room, or room that you generally hung out in before you came to college. As relaxation spaces go, it is the best. With you and your dorm-mates’ help, it is usually replete with a comfy couch, some bean bags, an old TV, and several outdated issues of People (William & Kate had another baby?? No way!).
Do-It-In-The-Dark, v. The act of turning out the lights and unplugging unused electrical devices to do homework, shower, hang out or whatever it is you do. n. A competition between houses to see who can save the most electricity over a given month. This competition was praised by Thomas Friedman once he found out it was not, in fact, a nosy question. Winning houses receive, in addition to fame and glory, a night of fun activities and food and maybe even a chance to play with puppies. Plus, saving the environment is cool.
Entry (from the Latin term “habitus froshness”), n. As a frosh (slang for first-year - get used to it), you will live with a surrogate” family” which we at Williams call an “entry.” Imagine a house filled with a group of impressionable frosh and a couple of enthusiastic and seasoned juniors that bring everyone together. Entries can be either vertically or horizontally arranged, so you will either have these individual, yet connected “houses” next door or up and downstairs from you.
Eph (your newest nom-de college), n. The abbreviated title given to those who reside in the Purple Valley of Williamstown, and the name of the Williams College mascot, Ephelia the Purple Cow (if you haven’t figured it out yet cows are kind of a big deal here). It stems from Col. Ephraim Williams, who had commanded the northern line of defense in the French and Indian wars and left money for the founding of a school on the condition that the town be named after him. Today it is pronounced like “beef” and is used freely from “that’s Eph-tastic!” to Geology 101, where, on the first day of class, students are asked to locate “The Great Barrier Eph” on a map.
Junior Advisors (mum and pop), n. Juniors at Williams College who have devoted themselves to the absolute well-being of their frosh. A JA’s duties may include but are not limited to late-night discussions, organizing large-scale bowling events, academic/career counseling and ruling over the infamous Pumpkin Game. It may sound hard to believe, but they will become a HUGE resource for you during your first year, to be sure.
Lee Snack Bar (birthplace of the Ephburger and the grilled honeybun), n. Located in the Paresky Center and affectionately known as "Snar,", this space is a campus favorite. Many people will grab dinner here if they get back late from rehearsal or a sporting event. It is also a great place to read with some subtle background noise. Many believe strongly in the snack bar for purposes of a “first date.” One could suggest a meeting at the Snack Bar and there would be no connotations. Simple, good food and fairly neutral territory.
The Log (a rustic gathering place), n. An incredible log-cabinish space on Spring Street which is filled with old pictures, dark wood, food, and large, crackling fires (in fireplace). Why is it called "The Log?" Google "log Mark Hopkins" to find out. If you want a cheap slice of pizza or garlic knots, you can get them there - but you don't need to buy anything to just hang out & enjoy the place by yourself or with your best buddies. Also, home of the “Log Lunch,” a Friday event involving soup, freshly baked bread and a guest lecturer speaking on some interesting topic like “Biking up Mt Everest Barefooted” or “Recent Trends in Rainfall at Hopkins Forest.” The lunch is vegetarian, and speakers are environmentally focused.
Lyceum Dinners (stu-fac eat & greet), n. Extremely popular with students & faculty alike, these dinners are opportunities for students to invite their favorite faculty members to a fancy dinner at the Faculty Club (yep, this is how you get to see the inside of that building as a student!) to get to know each other better. When the email comes out, respond fast or you'll have to wait until the next one - the spots go fast!
Mountain Day (surprise!), n. A random special Friday in October, when the bells toll at 7:00am, classes are cancelled all day and students gather for celebrations and hiking in the Berkshires. Students, faculty, and staff gather on the Hopper to sing songs, eat apples, and enjoy the nice weather.
"The Mountains" (not just our location), n. The Williams alma mater song that you will be expected to know all fourteen verses of by the time you graduate (well, at least the first couple of verses). Your JA's will direct your Entry Choir in tribute to our beautiful location nestled in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
Neighborhood, n. Not to be confused with Mr. Rogers or with Harry Potter, the Neighborhoods are the organizational structures for residential life for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Here you'll have opportunities to engage in leadership opportunities and to participate in fun events & programs, for your years after your entry experience. Won't you be my neighbor?
Purple Cows (The Four-Leaf Clover of Cows), n. The bovine of choice around these parts. First developed here in Williamstown in the ‘30’s by the same WPA scientists who brought you Purple Horseshoes (Lucky Charms). They happen to be our mascot (the cow, not the marshmallow), as we compete against other mammals like the Camels (Conn. College) and the Jumbos (Tufts).
Spring Fling & Williams Day (the snow is almost melted), n. A weekend of fun student events to celebrate the beauty of the season in the Berkshires and to remind ourselves that there are only a handful of weeks of studying before finals - so enjoy it while you have the time!
Spring Street (urban Williamstown), n. The geographical and commercial hub of Williamstown, the Village Beautiful (yep, that's how we define it). From the honest grub of Papa Charlie’s Deli to the sublime offerings of Blue Mango Thai, the Street will satiate everything from your caffeine intake to your falafel needs. Restaurants and hair care happen to be Williamstown’s specialty: in both cases there is 1 (restaurant or hair specialist) for every five residents (or 1 for every cow).
Winter Carnival (embrace the cold & snow), n. A long weekend in February when Williams students brave the weather and enjoy snow sculptures, ski races, chilly outdoor hikes, and hot chocolate in their entries & houses. We love the winter so much, we cancel classes that Friday to pay tribute.
Of course, there are more but we don’t want to ruin the fun of finding it all out for yourself!
- May I look at my room over the summer? The Williams College residence halls are mostly packed each summer with participants involved in everything from sports camps to conferences to the nationally famous Williamstown Theater Festival. Outside of a presidential mandate or if you are signed up for the New England Banking Conference, you will have to wait it out with your fellow classmates from Alaska to Zimbabwe to see your room.
- Is there a place to store extra goodies, such as a trunk, giant pieces of luggage and boxes, or to store things during the summers? While you are in residence on campus: there is limited storage in the basement of some residential buildings. Custodians & other Facilities staff manage this storage on-campus - to reach them, call 413.597.2486.
- Summer & Interim Periods: limited free storage (up to three 18" x 24" boxes, which are provided by the College) is provided by the Jessica Park Mailroom and Connors Brothers for returning international students and returning financial aid students over the summer and during other interim periods when students are away. More information can be found here. Students who are neither international nor receiving financial aid, must make their own arrangements for storage directly with a storage provider, at their own cost.
- Risk & Liability: Using College-provided storage options are entirely at the risk of the student. Neither the College nor Connors Brothers accepts responsible for your things should they be damaged, lost, or stolen.We do not recommend storing high-value items. You might want to check to see if you have any coverage through your homeowner’s policy.
- Can you tell me about the housing situation over vacations? May I stay in my room?
It depends on the break period.
Thanksgiving Break - all residence halls remain open.
Winter Break - all residence halls close on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 @ 12noon. The halls re-open at 8 am on Saturday, January 4, 2020. Exceptions are made only for international students and independent students who meet specific criteria & application deadlines (which will be communicated during the fall semester); students granted an exception will be temporarily consolidated into one building (typically Fayerweather) during most of the break.
Spring Break - all residence halls close on Saturday, March 21, 2020 @ 12noon (this may change due to the Spring Break Pilot Program-see Spring 2019). The halls will re-open at 8 am on Saturday, April 5, 2020. Exceptions are made only for students who meet specific criteria & application deadlines (which will be communicated during the early spring semester); typically, students granted an exception are allowed to remain in their spring semester rooms; however, some could be consolidated into a smaller number of buildings during most of the break.
Summer - residence halls close for the end of the academic year on Tuesday, May 26, 2019 at noon.
- May I have a car during my first year?If you are an upperclassman (i.e. not a First year), you are permitted to have a car on campus. Please check out the Student Vehicles page for more information. For additional questions about student vehicles, please contact Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444.
- How do I get around if I can't have a car my first year? The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has a regular schedule Mondays through Saturdays with pick-ups & drop-offs at the Paresky Center. The College offers a free weekly shuttle on Sundays. Williams also has Zipcars available for students who sign up. Also, check out this Eco-Advisor-created transportation resource website.
- How about bike storage? There is a decent amount of bike storage around campus. Mission has A LOT of indoor bike storage, and the Frosh Quad isn’t half bad either.
- What about cell phones? Check with Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T - most of these providers have fairly good service throughout campus and much of the Berkshires. Just remember to SILENCE YOUR PHONE when you’re in class!
- Can I have a land-line phone in my room? How does voice mail work? Although most students prefer to use cell phones for more convenient communication with friends and family, one can bring a landline phone to use in one’s room. The service is for local and incoming calls only and you must sign up with a private carrier for a long distance calling card if you want long distance service. To use the landline phone you must request that your landline phone jack be activated. To activate the phone jack in your room, you need to log into PeopleSoft self-service and go to Self Service > Campus Life > Dorm Phone Activation. You will need to bring your own phone to plug into the jack in your room after you activate it. Without a long distance calling card, you can only use a land-line phone to call locally, including 4-digit campus numbers and 1-800 numbers. When you pick up the receiver of your land-line phone and you hear a stutter dial tone it means you have a voice mail message. You will receive voice mail instructions when you pick up your personal access card after you arrive.
- What's my mailing address?All mail must be addressed to your S.U. Box number. The full mailing address is:
(39 Chapin Hall Drive should be added here for packages)
(your S.U. Box #) Paresky
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 24 - 27, 2019 - always a weekend filled with events and top-notch food. Visit this page for more information.
- Where do students go to eat when our parents come to visit, or when we want something different from the options on campus? Williamstown is small, but it's big on food. Students point out the following on a regular basis within easy walking distance of campus:
-The Log - Ramunto's provides the food service, including pizza, pasta, and other top-notch cuisine. Show your Williams student ID and you get 30% off of your dinner to boot!
-The Purple Pub - burgers, sandwiches and the like, in a welcoming atmosphere.
-Hot Tomatoes & Domino's deliver delicious pizzas.
-Chopsticks & Blue Mango provide solid offerings of Asian cuisine.
-Pera offers food with a Mediterranean flair.
-Spring Street Market is a great grab-and-go option.
-Tunnel City has great coffee and baked goods - amazing muffins, older ones are reduced price on that side ledge.
-Casa Lina offers Italian as well as tapas.
-Spice Root - cheap & fast Indian food lunch buffet.
-Tony's Sombrero offers Mexican cuisine.
-Water Street Grille on Water Street offer sit-down-ish, pub-ish atmosphere & fare just around the corner from Weston Field, so the short walk will help burn off the dinner calories.
-Other popular places within a slightly-longer walking distance or a close drive: Chef's Hat, Desperados, Moonlight Diner, Olympic, Ye Olde Forge, Public, Ramunto's, '6 House, Mezze, Gramercy Bistro, Blue Benn, Brew-HaHa, A-Frame Bakery, the Hub, Coyote Flaco.
- 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.
Adam Jones '21, [email protected]