I was dismayed to read about the Gaudino Option in the September 2010 Review. One of the greatest lessons the College is capable of imparting to its students is that we all are responsible for the work we do. Our school work and our professional work represent, in some significant way, the people we are. The Gaudino Option is a way for many Williams students to shirk the acquisition of this lesson and offers a perpetuation of the idea that perfection exists (as expressed through the form of GPA). A B-minus is not necessarily a bad grade. If the Williams diploma is worth the paper it’s printed on, employers, admissions officers, etc., will look beyond such an academic “low point.” Some students are pressured financially or by their families to succeed. When possible, these problems should be tackled through restructured financial support from Williams or between the student and his or her parent/guardian. Williams needs to reinforce that in life, all things worth doing require some degree of risk. Students should learn now—when it does not count in any kind of life-altering, significant way—that imperfection and failing to meet one’s own or another’s expectations is part of life. If students cannot bear the thought of a grade “no more than two-thirds of a grade below his or her GPA,” if they are truly scared to take a class because a grade they are not accustomed to seeing on their transcript might appear, Williams has serious problems to address: academic and intellectual cowardliness.
—Cary Choy ’09, Troyes, France