Last Monday, July 2, new details regarding the Residential Life Area Director positions were released. On-campus interviews will begin next Monday, July 15. The selected RLADs would step into their roles no later than Aug. 3.
RLAD candidates have already been interviewed via phone by deans Barbara A. Baker, Henry J. Humphreys, and Julie E. Rothhaar. Baker and Humpreys are student life and residential life deans, and Rothhaar’s title is director of the first-year experience.
A month ago, Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80 wrote to housemasters that RLADs would be introduced in nine dorms in the fall. His letter was leaked to students in an anonymous email.
Students and Graduate Resident Tutors expressed surprise and concern in response to the leaked letter, especially since the GRTs had recently renewed their contracts, but heard no mention of the new RLAD positions.
According to the Division of Student Life website, only five of the nine original dorms — Maseeh, McCormick, New House, Next House and Simmons Hall — will have RLADs. In a previous interview with the Tech, Grimson said that some of the dorms needed more time for dialogue to give students a sense of what is going to happen.
Various student representatives including Undergraduate Association President Jonté D. Craighead ’13, met with Grimson, Humphreys, and Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo several times over the past weeks in an effort to hash out a plan that would include students in the RLAD selection process.
The timing of the decision was a concern, because most students are not on campus during the summer.
“It is challenging for students to stay informed because they don’t see their student leaders during the summer as much,” said Craighead, emphasizing that students should focus on how to best utilize the RLADs and make them a strong, trusted part of the community. He said that community discussion needs to continue even after implementation.
GRTs are concerned that the RLAD position described in the leaked letter would undermine trust between students and their GRTs, and that a residential system with RLADs is incompatible with the current system of faculty housemasters and GRTs.
According to Angela E. Kilby G, a Senior House GRT (and member of the class of 2007) who started a working group to discuss RLAD issues: “As a body, GRTs haven’t yet received any official communication about this issue from the administration.”
Kilby says that the administration seems to be advocating for the RLADs as an improvement based on residential systems at other schools. However, she says her preliminary research found no school with a hybrid RLAD-housemaster system. Schools tend to have either a residential system based on RLADs and undergraduate RAs, or one based on faculty housemasters and graduate advisors.
Furthermore, Kilby said, peer institutions, such as Harvard and Princeton, tend to have a housemaster-based system; other support personnel are part of the academic system, and hold PhDs, lecture classes, etc. The RLAD position is one that is already well-established in the field of higher-education administration. However, it is generally not found alongside a housemaster system.
“If they wanted to make it a primarily supportive role, they could have chosen a name to reflect that.” Kilby said.