Status Quo


A riddle: When is a tutor not a tutor? An answer: When he's a senior thesis adviser. Senior faculty members desiring to dodge the newly approved tutorial legislation are well aware of this semantic point. The legislation passed last spring requires all professors to teach tutorials, but defines tutorial broadly enough to include, senior thesis direction, not known as one of the more taxing tasks on campus.

Heads of larger departments such as Economics, History and English say they knew of the legislation--designed to increase student-faculty contact--but few knew how and if the reforms would effect their departments.

Dwight W. Perkins, chairman of the Economics Department, says he doubts his tutorial program will change. "The honest answer is no," he admits. Offering a common faculty argument for leaving tutorials in graduate students' hands: If the professor teaches tutorial, he will have to drop a lecture course. Perkins concedes that some professors have managed to carry the double load--Kenneth J. Arrow, Conant University Professor, is one distinguished example.

The legislation asks each department to set up a student-faculty committee to supervise the tutorial program. Ultimately the reform's effectiveness will depend on the committee's ability to pressure its professors.

Nancy Northrop '81, a member of the History committee which has existed for several years, says past committee action boiled down to "discussions and giving out of ideas." She says the committee members might "encourage" tutorial instruction, but adds, "It's not as though we can go around threatening to take away their tenure if they don't teach a tutorial."


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