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Wood House, the former Zeta Psi fraternity, is now a Williams College residence hall that sleeps 30.

Williams College Investigating 'Unsafe Party'

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The president of Williams College is calling on the people responsible for a maskless party to come forward and take responsibility for the incident.
In a letter to the college community on Saturday, President Maud Mandel reported that between 80 and 100 people participated in the party at Wood House, a residence hall at the corner of South Street and Main Street.
"When Campus Safety arrived on scene, the attendees fled," Mandel wrote. "CSS noted that many people at the party were either completely without masks or were wearing them around their necks, on their wrists, etc. As you can imagine, the crowd was tightly packed in such a small space."
The school's Campus Safety and Security is investigating the party, which ran afoul of the college's COVID-19 protocols.
Mandel called the incident "deeply disappointing" and said that, as a result, she is postponing a previously announced plan to move the college to Phase 2 of its spring semester plan.
"Specifically, we will not allow indoor socializing with non-podmates, requests for pod mergers, or athletic transportation, since it entails non-podmates traveling together in vans," she wrote, explaining the activities that would have been allowed starting Monday.
Instead, she wrote, the college tentatively plans to enter Phase 2 on March 15 if the college sees no "evidence of viral spread," Mandel said.
"I understand that students are tired of COVID preventing them from interacting with friends and peers," Mandel wrote. "My own friends and relatives and I all feel impatient to see each other, too. If you are feeling exhausted or just need to connect with someone, I encourage you to turn to some of the many safe options available to you, including Integrative Wellbeing, the Dean’s office and the Davis Center, the chaplains, various physical and creative outlets and student groups.
"What we may not do in those circumstances is make choices that put people around us in danger."
Mandel said parties like the one that took place on Friday night have been "superspreader events at other schools."
Mandel wrote that those who planned and/or participated in the party need to "come forward and live up to your responsibility." If they do, they will be asked to finish the semester remotely.
"That information may prompt some of you to consider not owning up," Mandel wrote. "So I will also note that CSS is conducting its standard investigation of the incident. Anyone who has not come forward voluntarily by the end of that investigation, and who is later determined to have organized or attended the party, will also be transitioned to remote learning and will additionally be subject to our full conduct process. That process may very well lead to disciplinary consequences, up to and including suspension."
Mandel noted that the college had the confidence to return to in-person instruction in the fall, in part, because students were required to sign a pledge that they would adhere to the COVID-19 protocols while on campus.
"Last night’s gathering undermined that confidence," Mandel wrote. "If you were involved, I want you to step up and restore our faith in Williams’ ability to safely offer an in-person education."

Tags: COVID-19,   Williams College,   

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Mount Greylock District Builds Diversity Training Days Into 2021-22 Calendar

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee last week approved a 2021-22 academic calendar that includes six half days for all-staff professional development with an emphasis on diversity training.
"When it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work, that's a community effort, and it starts with the community in the central office and goes to everyone who works in school buildings or around school buildings," Superintendent Jason McCandless said in proposing the calendar.
"I would suggest to you that if we adopt this calendar, it becomes, in many ways, a template for moving forward with inclusion of half days as professional development time. We need time to reflect, to gather and learn from one another, and we need time to learn from experts, whether joining us in person or virtually, who are helping us become better practitioners all the time."
McCandless scheduled the half days for staff training on Oct. 8, Oct. 29, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 11 and April 18 — all Fridays. He also built into the schedule a full day for professional development on Friday, March 18.
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