How many tutors is too many tutors?
That's the question College officials should be asking as they look for ways to ease overcrowding in Harvard's 12 upperclass Houses.
In order to meet the needs of increasingly savvy consumers of higher education (for whom suites with one less bedroom than the number of occupants are declasse), the College already has looked into expanding the size of its "overflow" housing in DeWolfe, pondered the feasibility of building a 13th House, and even hired a consultant to figure out if current space in the Houses is being used efficiently.
But before they decide that the broom closet down the hall from you might make for a new cozy single, administrators ought to focus their attention on the nearly 250 tutors who live among students as part of the resident tutor system.
They live in some of the best housing on campus--but do the jobs they do justify the resources devoted to them?
Sadly, I believe, the answer is no. Due in large part to the changing needs of the student body, and in small part to the limited role that many tutors actually play in House life, the residential tutorial system should be scaled back. Halving the program, or even just reducing it by a quarter, would provide the College with much-needed space while not harming the House system as it was designed.
As it was originally conceived, the tutorial system was part of a larger plan to make the Houses not only residential, but also academic communities. As part of then Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell's plan to construct residential colleges modeled after those at Oxford and Cambridge, resident tutors were to be matched up with a pair of students who lived in the House and were in his field of study. The tutor would work with those students over three years on all things academic, ultimately helping them prepare for oral exams and the such.
A lot has changed since then, most significantly randomization, which radically changed the way students interact with their House. As post-randomization students increasingly find "community" in groups that exist outside House borders, students are spending less time in the House and thereby spending less time with tutors. What's more, the realities of Harvard's curriculum ground our studies solidly outside the House.
TUTORIAL LIMITEDAny survey of tutorial work will reveal its unsatisfactory position in the college curriculum. For years it has stood in
General Comments of Tutors in Reply to Questionnaire on Tutorial System Given---English Department Starts SeriesOne hundred and twenty-six tutors, or approximately 50 per cent of the total number, have to date answered the questionnaires
AGAIN THE TUTORSThe tutorial system is a hardy plant, it blossoms even in those occasional weeks of the college year when the
Twenty Per Cent of Tutees Obtain Little Benefit From Tutorial System, States Overseers' ReportFollowing is the fifth installment of the Report of the Overseers Committee on the Tutorial System. Before attempting to tinker
WILL EXCHANGE TWO TUTORS NEXT YEARArrangements have been made for an exchange of tutors next year between Harvard University and Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The
HOUSES OF MIRRORSIn establishing the House Plan, President Lowell wanted the Houses to be "mirrors" of the College. They were to contain,