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A special committee of the Faculty has recommended changes in the House system designed to improve contacts between undergraduates and Faculty members.
The Committee on the Role of the Faculty in the Houses issued its report yesterday, after considering problems of the administration of the undergraduate Houses since April 1968.
The committee, chaired by George C. Homans '32, professor of Sociology, said in its report that undergraduates consider stronger informal ties to the Faculty an item of highest priority: "There is nothing that many undergraduates want more, except the presence of women as regular inhabitants of the Houses."
The report recommends that every tenured member of the Faculty have the opportunity to be an associate of a House. In addition, the report suggests that resident tutors take on responsibility for inviting to the House the Associates in their department.
The report also considers the problems the tutors themselves have in advising students. This function of resident tutors is less effective as an "avenue of reaching students... than might be supposed," the report says.
It then suggests that Masters "could select the tutors more carefully than they always do now, and could instruct them more carefully in what is expected of them," particularly with regard to their role in student discipline.
The committee also pointed to the danger that resident tutors "may adopt a policy of never saying anything at all about students to the Master and Senior Tutor." The group reported that investigations following several student suicides revealed that some people who had had "scattered evidence of potential trouble" had never reported it and had never done anything about it.
In order to facilitate contacts between the House staff and undergraduates, the report recommends that every House experiment with a system similar to the one in Quincy House, where every sophomore has some House tutor-not in his entry or field of concentration-as his advisor.
The committee said it recognizes a need for undergraduates to know graduate students. and urged that more undergraduates be allowed to move out of the House. if their places are taken by graduate students from various faculties.
Another problem affecting House staffs is the increasingly large number of recommendations Masters and Senior Tutors must write.
To relieve the pressure on Masters andSenior Tutors, the committee recommended adding a half-time tutorship, held by Assistant Senior Tutors, to be used for administrative duties.
The Committee also approved the offering of House courses, if the following provisions are met:
No single House offers a large number of courses:
The courses are changed frequently:
All House courses receive the approval each year of the Committee on General Education, which is responsible for the finances of such courses.
The committee also suggested improvements in facilities of the Houses to improve the setting in which Faculty members meet students and in which students meet each other.
For example, the report recommends that the dining rooms be left open after 7 p.m. with a coffee machine in operation, so that people may remain in the dining halls after dishes have been cleared.
Dining halls would be more attractive to Associates if there were better sound-proofing, tablecloths at certain meals, and general improvements in physical facilities, the report adds.
The House Committees come in for praise in the report, which says they are "as close to the grass-roofs as any groups in the College."
The report asks the dean of the College to encourage the formation of a committee of House-Committee chairmen and suggests that the dean and the Committee on the Houses "pay close heed" to the views of that committee.
While the Committee on the Role of the Faculty approved the current system of House Committees, it proposed that other Houses follow Eliot House in instituting a House Council.
This body, including undergraduates, tutors. Fellows, and Associates, is meant to supplement the House Committee, most or all of whose members would also be on the Council. It would have the broad charge of recommending to the Master action which might improve the quality of life in the House, but would be only a consulting group.
The report also asks the dean of the Faculty to grant each House Master money-in addition to funds now available for House activities-to be used for activities organized by the House Committee and given the final approval of the Master.
This sum is to provide the House Committee with some risk capital so that it could experiment with new activities, "freeing it to some extent from the need of promoting activities, such as mixers, which are merely certain to make money."
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