PAFs and Proctors Advise Freshmen Before Blocking Deadline

Freshmen blocking group submissions were due at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, ending what was—for some—a period of drama and frenzy, despite efforts by freshmen proctors and Peer Advising Fellows to clear up misconceptions and offer advice throughout the process.

PAFs play a particularly unique role in advising during blocking because of the perspective they offer, according to Tiffany H. Song ’16, who is a PAF herself.

“Not only have we experienced and gone through the blocking process ourselves, but our advising experiences help show us what tend to be recurring problems or points of confusion year after year,” said Song, who is also a Crimson design editor.

Additionally, all entryways held a mandatory entryway meeting in which freshmen and PAFs offered advice.

“I think [the entryway meeting] was super helpful for some people, but I [had] asked a bunch of questions before then so I didn't really learn anything from the meeting," Matthew J. Naddaff '18 said. “But I could tell a lot of people did.”


The Freshman Dean’s Office and proctors had to strike a careful balance about when to advise freshmen about blocking. According to Michael C. Ranen, the freshman resident dean of Ivy Yard, discussing blocking too early can cause stress, whereas talking about it too late can also cause problems to arise.

“I had a student talking to me about blocking in October,” said proctor Bryce J. Gilfillian '12. “By discussing blocking too early in the semester, I fear that we reinforce this inflated sense of importance.”

However, Gilfillian noted that while the process is important, it is not worth too much stress.

“Certainly blocking groups and block mates can be a large part of a Harvard student's life, but these groups are really very transient in most cases as people's friend groups evolve over time,” he said. “I try to stress to my proctees that their blocking groups are certainly not the be-all-end-all of their Harvard experience.”

—Staff writer Annie E. Schugart can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AnnieSchugart.


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