William Smith Congress and Hobart Student Government hosted the first forum in a community dialogue series addressing the Colleges’ coordinate heritage, the ways it informs campus culture today, and what it could look like in the future.
Open to all HWS students, “Moving Coordinate Forward” offered students large and small group opportunities to ask questions, share experiences, identify challenges and propose solutions.
The goal for the first meeting was “to have a general discussion about what students want to see changed about the coordinate system,” says Sophie Ritter ’20, president of William Smith Congress. “We know the Board of Trustees has stated that they will be keeping the coordinate system but we hope to alter the ways in which it operates. So really our focus is discussing the important aspects of coordinate and what they mean to students as well as what would make the experience of going to a coordinate college most beneficial for all students.”
The coordinate construct that has joined Hobart and William Smith since the early 20th century has evolved in the decades since, says William Smith Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22. “We don’t want to lose those traditions that make us special and unique, and we have to continue to make campus an inclusive place. We’re looking forward to hearing more ideas about what we need to do to make coordinate work for everybody.”
“Students are leading these great conversations with urgency and purpose, and we want to support their purpose,” says Hobart Dean Khuram Hussain. “One of the goals of the coordinate dialogues is to give the deans’ offices and Hobart and William Smith student leaders opportunities to work collaboratively to create a space and context to talk about coordinate — what it’s been and done for people, what it can do in the future, but also how to address inclusive excellence within the coordinate system.”
Students explored the current impact of the coordinate construct on issues ranging from housing to the traditions of each College, and stereotypes to athletic programming, as well as future incarnations of the system and its expression in the Office of Admissions and Orientation Weekend, Commencement proceedings and institutional identity.
Continuing next semester, the forums will bolster ongoing discussions around the Colleges’ heritage. The HWS Board of Trustees passed a resolution at the fall meeting, asking the Student Experience Committee, working with Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D.’12 and the greater campus community, to create recommendations that will adapt the coordinate construct to ensure that all students are welcomed and supported.
Over the next year, the Student Experience Committee will gather ideas from faculty, staff, students, alumni, alumnae and parents during on-campus sessions, webinars and via a survey. With input from a range of perspectives, the committee intends to identify prevailing themes and innovative ideas that have the potential to evolve the coordinate construct.