At What Cost?

The goal of the Gaudino Fund is to perpetuate Robert Gaudino’s emphasis on reflection, confronting our own biases through immersive engagement with otherness and, through that experience, learning to know ourselves more deeply and differently.

Over the next three years, the programming supported by the Gaudino endowment will carry on the Gaudino legacy by considering the question “At What Cost?”  At the personal level, the notion of “effortless perfection” has entered our college discourse, but underlying that fallacy are other questions: What are you willing to give up for success at Williams?  Why do we work so hard at what we do (whether academics or athletics, teaching the perfect class or service to the college), and what might we learn if we took more time to reflect on the choices we make?  Does our emphasis on individual, collective, and institutional achievement and excellence come at the cost of communal responsibility?  At a societal and global level, many issues including health care and climate change lend themselves well to extended consideration of costs and trade-offs.  We will also explore the less grandiose theme of individual experience during times of crisis or cultural upheaval.  Every one of us fortunate enough to be sheltered by our “Purple Bubble” can discuss and critique global events, societal challenges, or “different” cultures in the abstract, and yet have little idea of the experiences of the individuals who live those realities.

One facet of the “At What Cost?” initiative will center on witnessing, i.e. truly hearing the stories of those whose experiences reflect costs borne, but also bringing those stories back to Williams.  This programming will, among other things, include short residencies by authors, documentary film makers, or artists whose professional work embodies witnessing.   The goal of these residencies is to provide enhanced opportunities for students, but also faculty and staff, to hear and experience lives very different from their own, and to share encounters that captured their hearts and minds, as well as our own stories, with others on campus.