The present Freshman adviser system is almost universally admitted to be a farce. The wonder is that there are a few isolated advisers who feel obligated to do more than sign study cards twice a year. An adviser should be qualified, of course, to give his advises some confidence that they are not playing blind man's buff with courses; beyond this he is, ideally, supposed to be guide, companion, expert in untangling personal, domestic, social knots in the Freshman's makeup. He is, in a word, supposed to be master of the study of the transition between school and college.
No one will argue that this is not a tall order, or that it does not demand specially qualified men. What, then, should the criteria for their selection be. Generally speaking, they should be young men, preferably graduates of Harvard who have been through the mill or, at least well acquainted with this college's highways and byways. Secondly, they should be thoroughly available. Thirdly, they should have a working knowledge of Freshman courses; for this purpose the college could publish a pamphlet requiring each professor who enrolls Freshmen in his course to give a concise hundred-word description of it. Lastly and most important, advisers must be elevated to a new dignity, made conscious of their usefulness, and compensated for their services.
To meet these criteria a new proctor-adviser system should be organized, with each proctor-adviser rewarded with a hundred dollars for his adviser duties, with room and board for his proctorship. Today proctors are officially little more than glorified yard cops; a surprising number, however, are already performing the services of the proposed office without outside suggestion or remuneration. In addition, nearly fifty percent of the present proctors are also advisers. The proctor-adviser should be drawn from the same groups from which proctors are presently selected, for there are both graduate students and instructors who are eminently fitted for the task.
Availability is a cardinal point in the new program. The proctor-adviser should live in the entry with his advisees, in large entries there might be two such men, and for commuters the advisers should live in or near the center of Freshman activities, the Yard. Furthermore, the number of proctor-advisers should be increased to fifty, so that there would not be more than twenty advisees assigned to one man. As for those who are willing to perform services of love-among them some excellent professors-they could be used most effectively in those places not covered by the new plan.
A hundred dollars would mean a great deal to many instructors and graduate students. Although the total amount is small, college authorities might be tempted to raise the bugbear of expense. "The Crimson," recognizing that the plan will present several difficulties and will necessitate the expenditure of several thousand dollars, is nevertheless convinced that the plan should be tried as an experiment for one or two years. It believes that any other course is short-sighted and that the educational and economic loss of the present system to the college is equaled only by the loss to the students. Today an adviser is rewarded with "a certain number of meals in the Union". It is a case of the college attempting to get something for nothing, often from the most over-burdened sources. Until the college actively undertakes reform, it will be paid in its own coin.
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