It’s been many weeks since I’ve had an opportunity to write to you. I apologize for the delay, but I must confess that I was very excited to have some time off this summer. I believe that I told you earlier about my plans to visit friends in North Carolina, stop in Washington, DC to do some work, and then visit my brother in the Boston area. That all went really well. Mrs. Sid and I then started the recording of a Piano/Vocal CD and we just finished that this past Monday night. I started back here at work in the beginning of August and have been frantically trying to get ready for the new school year! It’s been crazy, but I’m hopeful that we’re going to have a great year!
I wanted to let you all know that I spoke with several returning students yesterday who were concerned about some of the changes that they are hearing about with regards to the dormitory. In particular, there seems to be great concern about the implementation of a program involving “hall monitors”. Having heard the concerns, I wanted to send out an email to help clear up some confusion and to hopefully allay at least some, if not all, of people’s concerns. Of course, with anything new, there’s always bound to be some trepidation. But, in this case, I’m hopeful that the majority of the concern comes from some misunderstandings. I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Vinal, Mr. Warner, and each of the RI’s to discuss matters, and I think that I can give everyone a clear picture of what we’re trying this year and how we see it working out.
First let me say, that the term “hall monitor” is not a term that we are going to be using. This term was indeed being used as we initially discussed the idea, but I think that we all agree that it doesn’t accurately reflect the role that we’ve envisioned. In fact, in talking with students, I can see that it actually sends a very negative vibe. Two of our RI’s attended boarding high schools that had similar positions, and their schools used the terms “proctors” or “prefects”. At this point, we really haven’t settled on a name, but for the sake of this email, I’ll stick with the term proctor.
One of the immediate concerns that students have expressed is the idea that proctors might be in positions of authority over other students – particularly in positions of handling discipline. Let me assure everyone that this is NOT the model that we will be using, though, one of our RI’s noted that students in these positions were at times responsible for handling discipline at her alma mater. We all (Vinal, Mr, Warner, the RI’s and I) agreed that this was not something we were interested in having.
The whole idea came up earlier this summer when it became clear that it would be beneficial to have students who were available, and even responsible, for assisting the residential life staff with some of their “non-disciplinary” duties. As it turns out, we will most likely not be starting the school year off with a full residential staff and, thus, having students to be able to assist has become even more important to ensure the smooth operation of the residence hall. (Let me interject at this point that we currently have Vinal, Leslie Crowell (English), Alex Westcott (History), and Matt Durham (Math) who will be living in the dormitory on a full-time basis, and Mr. Long (Business Manager) and Mrs. Long (English Instructor) who will be living there on the weekends and potentially assisting at other times. Mr. Warner is still working diligently on filling at least one if not two more full-time positions and has some promising candidates that he is currently speaking with. But, I digress….)
In addition to assisting the RI’s, it was felt that there might be times that students needed someone to talk to about serious issues that they might not feel comfortable bringing to a staff member. The proctors would be students designated to be available for such situations, and then, if need be, the proctors could follow up on behalf of the student(s) by speaking to someone on staff. Leslie noted that this was also an important role of proctors at her high school.
Finally, it is believed that the MSSM needs to be more proactive in creating opportunities for students to develop and grow as leaders. Having proctors provides one more opportunity for that to happen. (As the year progresses, it is my hope, and even my intention, that other opportunities will arise as well so that such opportunities are available to all of our students.) Not only will this help students to grow as individuals, but it will also benefit students in giving them an extra way to shine when applying to colleges that continue to become increasingly competitive.
So, that’s the basic gist of what the proctors will be doing. It’s almost as though we’re simply giving additional responsibilities to the students who were working the RD desk as happened last year.
Now, I’ve also heard that some students are concerned about the way that proctors have been selected. When Vinal and I first discussed this idea, he had some names of students that he had observed in the dormitory last year that he felt had served as good examples in the dorm. They were each responsible, conscientious and trustworthy students. He ran the names by me to see if I had seen anything different in them, and my observations of those students were in line with his. He also asked me to suggest some other students that I felt exhibited these characteristics and I did so. In the end, we agreed that it would be best to offer these roles (at least initially) to students who will be here for a third year. We also agreed that the people we were asking were not necessarily the only ones who demonstrated such qualities, but rather “among” those who demonstrated these qualities. I have heard the concern that the students picked were people’s “favorites”, but I certainly was not thinking in terms of “favorites” when I suggested names and I have full confidence that Vinal was not thinking that way either. At the same time, all of us who spoke about these issues here at the MSSM feel that the idea of having interested students apply for these positions is the best way to have people selected. In fact, there are still two male proctors needed (so that we’ll have two proctors per wing), and we so strongly like the idea of students applying, that we’ve decided not to fill the final two positions until after the school year has started and students have had a chance to apply. At that point, Vinal, the RI’s and I will select from those who have applied for the final positions.
The final concern that I’ve heard is that students who will be serving as proctors have been given singles in exchange for their services and that students not serving as proctors are not being given singles. Vinal and I went over the rooming list today and I can assure everyone that this is not the case. There are many singles that have been given out to students who are not serving as proctors and the only people that Vinal did ask if they would like singles are people that he intended to approach regarding singles whether or not he was planning to ask them or whether or not they were willing to serve as proctors.
Wow – I didn’t intend for this to be so long when I started, but I did want you all to know that this is something that we are committed to trying, but we agree that it is not set in stone. If we all come to the point where we agree that it has flopped, we’ll do away with the program. On the other hand, we may all come to realize that this is a good thing. We’ll certainly never know until we try!
Lastly, I wanted to thank Mr. Pedersen for encouraging students to speak with me about their concerns regarding this change. A big part of my new role as Dean of Students will be to be someone that students come to when they have concerns about anything – school related or not. My hope is that I may be able to shed light on situations that students are feeling initial concern about before the concern circulates through the entire community and leads to chaos! =) So, thanks Mr. Pedersen for getting us started in that direction!
In any case, I am looking forward to having you all back and am hopeful that we have a great year ahead. Please feel free to be in touch in you have any questions or concerns!
Enjoy your last couple of days of break and see you Saturday!