Advising System Questioned

Students Ask Whether Tragedy Could Have Been Avoided

The deaths of two Dunster House juniors last week left students reeling in shock and questioning what could have been done to prevent the tragedy at a university that boasts an extensive network of support services and counseling resources.

In interviews yesterday, many students house senior tutors and assistant senior tutors said the College's network of tutors is not able to reach everyone, but that the system works as well as it can under the current structure.

But some are questioning whether the system works. And others ask whether it should be changed to increase staff contact with students.

"Ideally, there should be one person each student feels he or she could go to, and that never happens," said Steven D. Nelson, an assistant senior tutor in Winthrop House. "The Dunster thing is an example of that, and I don't think that's necessarily anyone's fault."

Under the current advising system, each student is assigned at least two tutors: an entryway tutor and a concentration adviser. Students are also assigned pre-med and pre-law advisers.

At the top of the system are the Allston Burr senior tutors, who

At the top of the system are the Allston Burrsenior tutors, who supervise the structure of theadvising system, and the house masters, whoorganize house and social activities.

At the University-wide public meeting Thursday,students harshly criticized what they perceived asthe inadequacies of the house tutor system.

"The role of the house master has decreasedsubstantially," one student said. "Senior tutor isonly a part-time job."

At one time, faculty members frequently livedin the houses and maintained daily contact withstudents. Now, masters are usually the onlyprofessors in the house, while resident tutors arealmost universally graduate students.

Few tutors or masters are mental healthprofessionals.

Two Roles

According to University policy, all houses mustprovide students with a sophomore adviser. "Theadviser is supposed to check in a couple of timesa semester at least" to discuss non-academicissues with students, according to Dunster HouseSenior Tutor Suzi Naiburg.

However, "a lot of people don't ever see theirsophomore advisers," said William Weitzel, aresident tutor in Cabot House.

Enforcement of tutorial regulations appears tobe relatively lax. The only evaluation ofsophomore advisers comes at the end of the year,when students do not expect to have future contactwith them.