Helping Your Student Nurture Healthy Relationships

Unlike hometown peer relationships, the ones formed at Williams are between students who also live with each other in close quarters on a small campus. And those students come from the widest range of geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds imaginable.

Students learn so much from each other in this unique campus environment that we often refer to it as the “second-half” of a Williams education—one that broadens perspective, deepens understanding, and increases empathy in ways that serve students well throughout their lives. Most of our alumni cite fellow Williams students among their very best friends and those with whom they’ve had very meaningful relationships.

But that doesn’t mean all Williams personal relationships are easy or simple. Roommates, classmates, teammates, close pals, and intimate partners all present challenges at one time or another, particularly within such a diverse student population during the deeply formative years between 18 and 23.

Williams takes these relationships seriously and sets clear expectations for the ways in which students conduct themselves with one another. You can help your student flourish at Williams, and contribute to the health and wellbeing of the student community, by talking to them about expectations and challenges around peer relationships in college.

Here are some simple “starter” questions:

  • Who do you know now, in our family or hometown community, who’s deeply respectful of others?
  • What are some of the ways you show someone you respect them?
  • If you saw someone treating a new friend in a way that’s unacceptable, how would you respond?
  • Where would you go at Williams if you wanted to talk about these kinds of things?

The Williams answer to this last one is “to any one of dozens and dozens of adults on campus who are trained and prepared to do so. Your student can find these people in the Dean’s Office, Integrative Wellbeing Services, the Chaplains’ Office, and in many other places here.

And encourage your student to explore Williams’ Rape, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Misconduct Policies.