Freshmen and their advisors expressed support this week for the Harvard Undergraduate Council's proposal to supplement the present freshman advising system with informal, non-resident, upperclassmen advisors. However, they rejected a second HUC suggestion to have resident upperclassmen advisors.
The two HUC proposals, which were presented last week to F. Skiddy von Stade Jr. '38, dean of freshmen, are first that about 35 groups of junior and senior roommates act as non-resident advisors, each group working with one freshman entry, and second that six juniors or seniors live in selected freshmen dorms as advisors.
Almost all of the fifty freshmen interviewed accepted the first suggestion enthusiastically while advisors gave it much more guarded approval. The second proposal found little support among freshmen, and absolutely none among the advisors questioned.
Freshmen came up with numerous reasons for supplementing the advising system with non-resident upperclassmen advisors. They repeatedly invoked the "undergraduate perspective" as a valuable dimension which juniors and seniors might add to advising. Specifically, they think that a senior or junior would probably have the most up-to-date information of courses, teachers, and fields of concentration. They also think that undergraduates would know more about extracurricular activities and might help freshmen become involved in University life.
The prospect of getting and early introduction to the Houses through an upperclassman advisor appeals to many freshmen who say they feel that living in the Yard "cuts us off from the main stream of college life."
There are some problems--for example social problems--which several freshmen say they would prefer to take up with another undergraduate rather than someone older. One student said he had difficulty talking openly with his advisor who is only a second year graduate student.
Freshmen like the idea of being able to select an upperclassmen advisor from a group of junior or senior roommates. They believe there is a good possibility that within any such group of advisors they might find one with similar interests.
Might Be Detrimental
The two students who rejected the idea of non-resident advisors thought the "undergraduate perspective" might be more of a detriment than a benefit. They feared that anyone still immersed in the undergraduate world might inadventently infect their advisees with personal prejudices about courses and fields of concentration.
Freshman advisors echoed many of to select an upperclassman advisor from favoring the HUC's first proposal. Senior advisors Christopher Wadsworth '62, Seamus P. Malin '62, and James E. Thomas agreed that upperclassmen can and already do perform valuable advising functions. They said that they already refer a number of specific advising problems to undergraduates they know in the Houses.
"The best way I know to help a student decide if he wants to major to major in Economics," Thomas said, "is to send him down to the Houses to talk with a student I know who's an Ec major."
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