On October 19th, at 8:00am, 500 students received an email from President Maud Mandel identifying them as in the top 25% of miserable looking students, known as the Pathetic 500. The email stated that those in this group will be required to participate in a new initiative dedicated to increasing first-year applications to Williams; students in the Pathetic 500 are now required to hide indoors for the duration of all prospective student tours.
Comprised of 489 members of the class of ‘24, 376 Division III majors, and 412 students without cars, each of the 500 students have been asked to sign an agreement contract to follow the Pathetic 500 Protocol. The contract describes a new text alert system, similar to what the government uses for natural disasters, that will notify students in the Pathetic 500 when they need to move to an indoor space other than the Sawyer lobby. The Haybale contacted Williams College Director of Admissions, Jane Treetrunk, to learn more about what drove the creation of the Pathetic 500 Protocol, colloquially known as the P5P.
“We noticed that many students who tour Williams don’t end up applying the following year, which shocked us. The nature is beautiful! Sawyer is beautiful! We don’t show them the inside of any dorms or other buildings! What could possibly be deterring applicants? We decided to take a closer look at the campus tour feedback surveys, and noticed a disturbingly high number of surveys noting the general oppresively miserable mood displayed by current students on campus.”
Treetrunk paused, gesturing out the window to a group of bummed out students looking at a sad piece of litter and displaying physical signs of intense weary.
“Our own students are so dejected that they’re sabotaging our future applicant pool. So, if we ensure that prospective students bear no witness to Williams’ worst and saddest, we expect to receive many more applications.”
When we asked Treetrunk for students in the Pathetic 500 to interview, she told us, “Just open your eyes, you’ll see them. We literally chose these students based on how visibly upset they look at all times.”
Utilizing this advice, we spoke to the gloomy group of students who were loitering around an academic building while looking horrible and kicking sad little rocks. One student, James Wall ‘24, was happy (?) to share his experience being included in the Pathetic 500, “When I read the email, I was kinda like, well, yeah, fair enough.”
Another student, Andrea Bench ‘24, spoke with similar conviction, “I dunno. It’s fine. I guess. Yeah.”
As a campus publication dedicated to bettering the community, we offered them advice on how to be happier, which was found to be unwelcome.
“I am not going to turn my frown upside down. I’m not even frowning. I just look like this.” Bench told us, then sulked away before we could respond.
Peter Mop ‘24 was less enthused about his inclusion in the Pathetic 500, “I liked being miserable in front of campus tours. I felt like I was making a difference. I always thought that maybe some bright, happy kid would look at how visibly depressed I was and think to themselves, hey, maybe I shouldn’t go here.”
If you have been included in the Pathetic 500, Treetrunk emphasizes, “While we understand being included in the Pathetic 500 may feel harsh, we want to express that by abiding to the P5P, you’re playing an integral role in a happier future for Williams. We at the Admissions Office hope that you take pride in your responsibility to hide your utterly despondent body language and dismal expression from our future donors.”