Dunster House: Reasons For Speaking My Mind


Over the last week and a half, there have been a number of articles and letters written to the Crimson concerning the recent controversy over the tutor hiring practices in Dunster House. There have been cries of nepotism, favoritism, and even fascism, but nothing has really come clear to the whole community. Instead rumors about the issue are passed through the courtyard, and The Crimson is only able to give pieces of the story. The reason I am writing is to explain to the Dunster masters, tutors, and all of the other people who said, "Why do you care, you're a senior, and you'll be out of the House next year," why I felt it was necessary to speak out on this issue.

For better or for worse, the administration has passed a system of non-ordered choice, and this is the first year where every student in the House has been somewhat randomly placed there. Already the community has been strained. It seems ironic to me, then, that the only people that choose a specific House are the tutors and the Masters, two groups that spend a lot of time outside of the House itself. The initial problem as I see it was that it did not seem like some of the tutors really liked being in the House. Students noted and commented upon the fact that a specific group of tutors seemed to hang out together all of the time. They would sit together, excluding students, when they were in the dining hall and they didn't seem interested in getting to know many students. This issue was brought up with the masters and some of the tutors, and I remember saying that if tutors took the time to try and get involved in House life and to mix with various students at meals or in activities, complaints about the tutors using the system for a free ride would be almost extinguished.

However, nothing changed this year. There was still that clique in the dining hall which didn't seem interested in becoming part of the community. In addition to the already existing appearance, the concentration of hiring power, the process of interviewing the new tutors, and the final appointment decisions, made the problem even worse. Why was only one candidate interviewed for each of the open positions? Why were the students chosen for the interviews hand-picked? How did it end up that both the brother and a good friend of the person responsible for selecting the short list of candidates got two of the four positions open for resident tutors? From looking at the facts of the case, there is the appearance of impropriety, and the actions of the tutors involved did not help quiet the rumors that started to surface.

Students, especially pre-meds, expressed concern and worry about the resulting situation to some of the tutors. This is where the other problem surfaced. No one wanted to hear the concerns of the students of the tutors with regard to this issue. It was not to be discussed in the House, so some tutors went to Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57. In doing so, many of these tutors felt they were risking their jobs since there was a stigma attached to speaking out.

That is one reason why I first spoke up. As a senior with a job, I had very little to lose by speaking up and expressing concern. In some ways, I felt it was my responsibility to stand up and ask for a more detailed investigation. Even though I felt I had nothing to lose, I was told time and time again that speaking out could, and would, hurt me. People, especially tutors and pre-meds, seemed scared to speak out publicly on this issue, but privately they expressed many concerns. In the end I feel speaking out helped, since it now seems that the system is going to be reformed.


The other reason I have continued to speak out and call for action, is that I feel the initial concerns of the tutors and the students have not been addressed. People are still worried about speaking up, and although there has been a lot of discussion on how to change the system for next year (which I think is great), there has been no investigation concerning the issues that started all of the controversy. I strongly believe that the actions that have led the House to this point have hurt the overall community. Tutors have resigned, students seem disgusted, and the tutor system itself has taken a beating. It's not a united community working together, and I can't help but wonder what's going to happen in the future. I feel an outside investigation would help to figure out exactly what happened, and it could help lay down guidelines for the system so that the problems that plagued the House this year don't happen again. Emily C. McNeal '93