2020 Organization Features

While social distancing restrictions have changed the way clubs operate on campus, many organizations of wonderful students are still coming together to work towards a more sustainable campus!

Williams Environmental Council (WEC)

WEC movie night of The Ground Between Us, a film about conflicts over public lands in the US.

What are the goals of WEC, and how does the club operate in a typical year? How does WEC engage with campus sustainability?

The goals of WEC are to push for sustainability initiatives on campus while also raising awareness about environmental issues at Williams. Although there are other groups and committees focused on this as well, we are the only group composed solely of students. In a normal year, we collaborate with other clubs on campus to organize events such as a sustainably-sourced Stress Busters; host our own events including star walks and movie screenings; plan themed weeks such as Food Justice Week and Earth Week; work on initiatives such as implementing compost bins in the library; and go to a conference at Yale on New Directions in Environmental Law.

How have you continued with these goals despite campus restrictions? Have you come up with new projects, shifted goals, etc.? 

It has been challenging to continue with our goals this year, as we are very limited in what we can do in terms of events on campus. Therefore we have focused on bringing the first-years up to date with the current status of campus sustainability, as well discussing possible ways to lessen the environmental impacts that come from many of the new COVID restrictions and mandates. We have communicated our ideas with members of dining services and facilities, and have been in conversation with them about the new restrictions, what they mean, and how they are working to meet them in a sustainable way. We also decided that we want to work to get to know our new members better, and create a space for conversation, learning, and problem solving. Because of this, we have been focusing more on community-building events such as meals, hikes, and outdoor movie nights. We hope this will keep them engaged, and we plan to work on projects as ideas come up.

How, if at all, have you engaged your existing members/recruited new first-years?

At the beginning of the semester we attended the virtual Purple Key fair and spoke to quite a few first-years there. More than 80 first-years filled out our interest form! Since then we have been having weekly Zoom meetings, and have had pretty consistent attendance. There’s a good group of first-years who seem really interested in WEC’s mission, and a solid group of seniors as well who have been part of the club for many years. When we decided we really wanted to focus on getting to know the first-years better, we pivoted a bit and organized more in-person events such as WEC meals outside, a movie night, and a hike.

What is the hardest part about running WEC this year? Is anything easier/surprising? 

The hardest part has been that so much is now virtual, but also that the college has taken so many steps backwards in terms of sustainability because of COVID. While health concerns are of course of utmost importance, it has been sad to see so many of the sustainability measures that used to be in place exchanged for much less environmentally friendly practices. However, it has been really nice to see the interest and enthusiasm of the first-years who have joined the club, and we look forward to working with them more!

Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus (WRAPS)

What are the goals of WRAPS, and how does the club operate in a typical year? How does WRAPS engage with campus sustainability?

WRAPS has two goals: alleviating food insecurity and reducing food waste. In a typical year, we run three pickup, three packaging, and one delivery shift a week. For pickup, volunteers drive to Driscoll and Mission, bringing trays of excess, unserved food to Paresky. Then during packaging our volunteers use this food to create individual meals in clamshells, which we freeze. Once a week, our delivery volunteer(s) bring these meals, along with excess produce from Wild Oats, to three centers in North Adams. Our community partners are Mohawk Forest (a subsidized housing area), the YMCA, and ROOTS (a teen center).

How have you continued with these goals despite campus restrictions? Have you come up with new projects, shifted goals, etc.? 

Since we’re not allowed in the kitchen, we’ve been focusing on other ways to get food to our community partners. We partnered with Williams for Williamstown to deliver restaurant meals to Mohawk Forest this fall. We’ve continued delivering excess produce from Wild Oats. Another major project has been collecting and sorting untouched nonperishable food from the initial quarantine period. We’ve been able to provide much of this food to our original community partners.

How, if at all, have you engaged your existing members/recruited new first-years?

We haven’t had as many volunteer opportunities as we would like. We have had shifts packaging and sorting nonperishables, and we had some first years volunteer. We’ve also had a few outdoor dinners for first years to meet the club leaders.

What is the hardest part about running WEC this year? Is anything easier/surprising? 

The hardest part is that the pandemic has simultaneously exacerbated food insecurity everywhere and complicated food recovery on campus. Our community partners are counting on us the most when we have the least to offer. From a food waste perspective, it’s been hard to watch the level of waste on campus without the ability to redirect the food.