October 31, 2013
Last spring, the administration announced to little fanfare that they would re-locate the Clinton Early Learning Center (CELC) a mile-and-a-half down the Hill to the Clinton Elementary School. The administration’s rationale rested on the dual assumption that Hamilton needed more dorm space and that the children would be better served by learning in the school that they would eventually attend. Moreover, the administration contended that the College would continue its relationship with the CELC, securing internships for students and providing early enrollment for the children of all staff.
The administration’s reasoning for the move initially appeared sound, but a growing chorus of dissent from students, faculty and staff has put their rationale into question. The Spectator believes that this issue deserves more debate than was originally granted by the administration and that, at the very least, the “losers” from this trade-off deserve a fairer deal.
While the administration says that the children will be better off attending daycare near their future elementary school, the leaders of the CELC believe that the outdoor environment of Hamilton is ideal for early childhood education. Just because the children will eventually go to a traditional school environment does not mean that they have to spend the preceding years in that same environment as well.
In addition, though the administration argues that this move will be easier for parents, many of the children at the CELC are Hamilton employees, who benefit from the current location. One parent, Anthony Juliano of Physical Plant, even commented to The Spectator that Hamilton’s on-site daycare center played a “major role” in his choice to work at the College.
These concerns are legitimate. Although it is unlikely that the administration will change its position on the issue—the CELC affects only a small minority of Hamilton’s community and the College desperately needs more on-campus housing—the school should do everything it can to ease this transition for those affected. For instance, transportation should be arranged to get student volunteers down the Hill and for supervised children to come up to the Glen. The administration should also meet with those who disagree with their decision and, if a reasonable location on the Hill can be found for the CELC, they should be willing to reconsider their original policy.