The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 39.0°F | A Few Clouds

Dorm advising threatened

By Chris Schechter

The Undergraduate Academic Support Office plans to discuss the future of the residence-based advising system this year, including the possibility of disbanding the system altogether.

According to Associate Dean for Student Affairs Travis R. Merritt, the residence-based advising system is suffering from many problems, including a decrease in the number of students signing up for residence-based advisors, a lack of organization in the assigning of residence-based advisors to freshmen and the relative lack of diversity in residence-based advising groups.

The program, which is available in Baker House, Next House, McCormick Hall, Bexley Hall and three independent living groups, is an alternative to the faculty-sponsored freshman seminar and advisory system.

Number of residence-

based advisees drops

The number of residence-based advisees has dropped significantly this year, Merritt said. He attributed this to the marked increase in freshmen advisor seminars offered this year, which take potential advisees out of the system. Approximately 60 seminars were offered last year, as opposed to the 95 offered this semester, he added.

Merritt expected this number to grow, leaving fewer students left to be advised in their dormitories. "We are not sure how to have one system grow without expense to the other. . . . we are thinking about it." Merritt said.

Another problem with residence-based advising is the lack of organization in the assigning of advisors, Merritt said. Students decide if they wish to participate in the program the day before the advisory picnic, by which time advisors and advisees have already been paired.

"We have to find a way to quiet down the confusion," Merritt said.

Seminars assure that

advisors, advisees meet

"The freshmen have no time to make a decision," said Michael S. Gull '92, who coordinated the advisory process at Next House last year. "There has to be a better way to organize advising. But doing away with [residence-based] advising would be throwing away a great source of support for students," he added.

Faculty advisory seminars, unlike the residence-based system, also assure that advisors and advisees will meet for at least two hours a week for 13 weeks in an organized fashion, Merritt said.

"[Residence-based] advising is very dependent on the associate advisors who run it in every different dormitory," Merritt said. For example, he said, Bexley Hall provides tutoring and group discussions as well as advisory meetings.

Another feature Merritt stressed was the diversity of students that can be found in an faculty advisory seminar as opposed to a group of students from the same living group.

The UASO will have a "fact-finding meeting" with students, faculty and associate advisors this fall, Merritt said. Another meeting will be held this spring to discuss the future of freshmen advising.

"Residence-based advising offers a better chance for students to get to know their associate advisors, since they live in the same dormitory." said Kathryn E. Howe '93, associate advisor at Next House.