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Counseling Group Restarted by Lewis

By Vivek Jain

A joint student-faculty committee designed to assist Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 in improving advising and counseling for undergraduates is being reactivated this semester.

The Committee on Advising and Counseling is being revitalized after approximately two years of dormancy.

The reasons for bringing back the committee were originally outlined in the 1994 Report on the Structure of Harvard College, co-authored by Lewis and Administrative Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Nancy L. Maull.

According to the report, "two particular areas where changes in advising are contemplated...are the better integration of academic departments and their faculty into the process of advising freshmen, and the more effective use of House tutors for non-concentration advising."

The Undergraduate Council, which has participated in the committee's revitalization, will hold a meeting tonight at 9 p.m. in Science Center 110 to elect three student representatives to the committee.

All undergraduates are invited to attend the meeting and nominate themselves for the positions, council members said.

Students will be given about three minutes for a speech, after which there will be a question and answer session conducted by the members of the council's Student Affairs Committee (SAC), according to Noah R. Freeman '98, vice chair of the SAC. Final votes will then be cast by all active members of the SAC, he said.

Brian R. Blais '97, council vice president, said the revitalized committee hopes to improve advising for both academic and non-academic matters, especially for personal or mental health problems.

The aim, according to Blais, is "not to let people fall through the cracks, leading to incidents like [the murder-suicide] at Dunster House."

Council members said that although the Dunster House events contributed to the reformation of the committee, there were other reasons as well.

Freeman said the committee has been revitalized because of "a very real void in advising [at Harvard] and the student perception thereof."

"Advising for students, especially after their freshman years, is abominable," he said.

Another issue cited as an impetus for the reformation of this committee is the upcoming randomization of the first-year housing lottery.

"Part of the reason for making this an issue now is that there has to be a minimum level of quality in advising in the Houses, especially now that the lottery has been randomized," said council President Robert M. Hyman '98-'97.

"I think that it is generally healthy to review the advising system," Hyman added. "We are looking forward to making a lot of progress."

In addition to the three students who will be elected to the advising committee tonight, Dean Lewis will appoint an as-yet-unannounced number of faculty members to the council, and will himself participate as an ex-officio member.

According to Hyman, Lewis's plan is to include House Masters, former Masters and Head Tutors on the committee. Advisers for first-years will not be a part of this initial committee, Hyman said, so that the group can focus on upperclass issues.

In an e-mail message yesterday, Lewis declined to comment, saying that since he had not yet invited faculty to join the committee, he thought it was premature to discuss the matter

Brian R. Blais '97, council vice president, said the revitalized committee hopes to improve advising for both academic and non-academic matters, especially for personal or mental health problems.

The aim, according to Blais, is "not to let people fall through the cracks, leading to incidents like [the murder-suicide] at Dunster House."

Council members said that although the Dunster House events contributed to the reformation of the committee, there were other reasons as well.

Freeman said the committee has been revitalized because of "a very real void in advising [at Harvard] and the student perception thereof."

"Advising for students, especially after their freshman years, is abominable," he said.

Another issue cited as an impetus for the reformation of this committee is the upcoming randomization of the first-year housing lottery.

"Part of the reason for making this an issue now is that there has to be a minimum level of quality in advising in the Houses, especially now that the lottery has been randomized," said council President Robert M. Hyman '98-'97.

"I think that it is generally healthy to review the advising system," Hyman added. "We are looking forward to making a lot of progress."

In addition to the three students who will be elected to the advising committee tonight, Dean Lewis will appoint an as-yet-unannounced number of faculty members to the council, and will himself participate as an ex-officio member.

According to Hyman, Lewis's plan is to include House Masters, former Masters and Head Tutors on the committee. Advisers for first-years will not be a part of this initial committee, Hyman said, so that the group can focus on upperclass issues.

In an e-mail message yesterday, Lewis declined to comment, saying that since he had not yet invited faculty to join the committee, he thought it was premature to discuss the matter

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