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ALEX BAL: BUILDING AND PAVING AVENUES OF COMMUNICATION

(From On Campus, June 2006)

By Mark E. Rondeau

Despite the proliferation of digital gadgets, talking to people face-to-face arguably remains the best form of communication.

Alexander Bal '06 spoke with many people during his four years at Williams as he got things done on campus, particularly through the College Council. Being involved in the council taught him about leadership, motivating people, leading a group, and making an idea become reality.

"Collaboration is key. No matter how good your idea is, unless you can actually follow through and accomplish it, it's not of much consequence," he said. "And the only way to accomplish it is if you have the support of other people."

Alex served as treasurer of the College Council during his sophomore year and as council president during his junior and senior years.

"It's been a terrific experience," he said during an interview this spring.

The economics and math major said that the most important accomplishment of his tenure as College Council president was to change the composition and structure of the council to make it more efficient and accountable. The council also dealt with issues of social life and school policy.

"One of the things in terms of the council that we tried to do is just make the council members visible, so that if anyone on campus had an idea, they knew who to turn to and felt comfortable telling me or telling one of the other council members," Alex said. "We made communication with College Council a more informal process."

"We also tried to make sure that we used lots of different avenues of communication," he added, "so when we were advertising something, rather than just using posters or just using email or just using flyers in mailboxes, we would do all those and more. We tried to use a lot of different avenues to get to as many people on campus as possible."

College Council members worked hard this year to link the college and town in constructive ways. "We attended the Williamstown Board of Selectmen meetings; we worked with Spring Street businesses to get student discounts; and one member is planning a 'Spring Street Extravaganza' for next fall."

When he ran for student government president, Alex and others formulated a survey as part of the election campaign. Some of the questions dealt with the residential house structure at Williams.

"I was very involved in trying to make sure that the changes to the residential housing structure reflected student opinion," he said. "Unfortunately, the council members weren't able to achieve exactly what we hoped, but we think we at least had some input in working to make a better outcome."

Alex's other activities at Williams included serving as treasurer of the Lehman Community Service Council, the umbrella organization under which all volunteer and service oriented groups on campus operate. He spent four years on the varsity tennis team; his first two years he was also on the varsity squash team.

What does he think about Williams, now that his four years here are drawing to a close? "I love it. There's no way I'd go anyplace else if I had to do it again," he said. "I think my favorite part about Williams is that it's conducive to getting involved and participating in a lot of things in a big way."

He thinks he's convinced his two younger sisters to apply to Williams.

Alex will be working in investment banking at Morgan Stanley in New York for the next few years. Accepted on a deferred basis, he will begin Harvard Graduate School of Business in the fall of 2008.

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