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Mather House has designated resident tutor Jason B. Munster ’07 to serve as the House’s inaugural first-generation tutor, formalizing an advisory role that other tutors across the College have also played to address concerns of first-generation college students.
Tutors who live and advise students in the Houses generally specialize in subjects, ranging from race relations to pre-law. Mather created the new first-generation tutor designation, according to Munster, after he had several conversations with other tutors and House Masters Christie McDonald and Michael D. Rosengarten.
Munster, who was a first-generation college student, said he first approached Mather’s House masters about creating the new role because he thought it was a necessary resource for first-generation students at Harvard. Munster is involved with the Harvard First Generation Alumni group.
While he acknowledged that some tutors have already been supporting the College’s first-generation students, Munster said the new role identifies a point person for first-generation students to speak to about concerns unique to them.
“Someone whose parents didn’t go to college have a very different experience to someone whose parents did,” Munster said.
Anthony A. Jack, a race relations tutor in Mather who has conducted research on first-generation college students, agreed that the designation would be helpful. Jack said that concerns from first-generation students in Mather have “disproportionately” been addressed by race relations and minority tutors in the House.
Still, some tutors have worked previously to address this issue, Jack said, including a coalition of tutors in the Quad who emailed Quad residents identifying themselves as first-generation college students and offering to serve as resources.
Jack and Munster said they hope that all Houses will eventually designate their own “first-gen” tutors. Munster plans to work with the Harvard College First Generation Student Union and the Harvard First Generation Alumni group to mentor first-generation students at the College.
Ana M. Barros ’16, president of the First Generation Student Union, praised the new tutor role in an email, writing that “this is a great step to creating a more inclusive environment in the Houses.”
Tutors with some specific designations receive training and additional resources from the College. While Munster said he does not currently receive extra resources, McDonald said House administrators would discuss the issue in the future.
“Because we’re just at the start of this, we’ll have to see,” she said.
—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @qnhule.
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