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CSL Starts Mentorship Program

By Swetha Kambhampati

The Committee on Student Life of the Undergraduate Association is spearheading a new program this year, the CSL Mentorship Program, which pairs freshmen with upperclassman mentors. To kick off the program this year, 50 freshmen will be paired with an upperclass mentor. Preference will be given to those freshmen who do not have residence-based advising or another advising program.

The program will cost approximately $10,000 per year, CSL Chair Zahir S. Dossa ’08 said.

The program was started to facilitate a peer-to-peer relationship between an underclassman and upperclassman, which will serve as a complement to the regular faculty advising that MIT provides, Dossa said.

“My inspiration for this program comes from the close big brother, little brother relationship I had in my fraternity,” said Dossa. “I know I always looked up to my big brother, and I would like all the incoming freshmen to have this close bond as well.”

According to Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75, the committee also took on this project when “many surveys showed that undergrads were dissatisfied with their advising.”

Julie B. Norman, the associate dean of Academic Resources and Programming, will be supervising the program for the next few years, during which time the committee hopes to see the program expand to include all MIT undergraduates.

The committee’s original plan, Dossa said, was to have freshmen pair up with a junior and keep the same mentor for two years. Once the freshmen become juniors, they can give back to the program by mentoring entering freshmen.

The basic program agenda includes one or two big events each semester, such as a formal dinner or ice skating event. In order to facilitate further meetings, two restaurant gift certificates will be given to each pair per semester.

“I am delighted and honored to become a mentor,” Ali S. Wyne ’08, UA senate vice chair, said. “As a junior, I look back and remember how difficult it was to be a freshman — emotionally, mentally, and academically. I would like to help people and offer whatever advice I can.” Some freshmen seem interested in what the program might offer.

“You never realize how many questions you have,” Grace Lee ’10 said. “It’s always nice to have someone to go to, especially a student in your major or involved in the activities you’re interested in, who has gone through what you will eventually face.”

“It’s very natural for people to be intimidated and anxious, especially when you don’t know what to expect,” said Jayanthi Jayakumar ’10.

An information session for freshmen will take place on Monday night from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in 1-190.