While you’re out partying with your friends on a Saturday night, they’re staying in their dorm rooms in case the phone rings. No, they’re not desperately waiting for cool people like you who are already out to give them a call. In fact, if someone calls, it’s bad. It probably means DUH time.
Staying in on weekends is just one of the many jobs Yale’s freshman counselors are expected to perform. At least one person in every residential college must be on duty every weekend night. That’s not so bad, though, according to Krissa Lanham ’02, a freshman counselor in Davenport College.
“It’s nice to have a night in every once in a while, especially now when we’re trying to get our senior theses done; people are actually trying to trade to get more nights on duty. It’s a great excuse to do work,” she said.
An excellent point. Say you feel you should be doing something productive, but your friends ask you to go out with them. Telling them “I should probably stay in tonight and do work” will, of course, only lead to nagging until you ultimately give in to their social demands. But just think if you could say, “I have to stay in tonight. Yale’s making me.” That’s pretty damn bulletproof. Even your most eager, overbearing friends, brilliant Ivy Leaguers that they are, can’t shoot that one down.
Lanham says one of the biggest draws to being a freshman counselor is the opportunity to live on Old Campus again, an experience she describes as “awesome.” She said she loves being surrounded by freshmen because she feels they enter Yale with a new view of everything that she finds refreshing.
William Messmore ’02, a freshman counselor in Pierson College, reiterated that Old Campus is the place to be.
“It’s great because it makes you intentionally set aside time to go visit your friends in your college. It gives you more of a mission to see them,” he said.
But with a chunk of freshmen housing being shifted over to Swing Space next year, the bonus of living on Old Campus has been withdrawn for some.
Ben Wallace ’03, an upcoming freshman counselor in Ezra Stiles College, and Lauren Gold ’03, an upcoming freshman counselor in Berkeley College, are two examples of students who would have lived on Old Campus under the current housing system, but will instead live in Swing Space next year with their freshmen. Wallace, who is already living on Old Campus as a junior, said the switch actually works out better for him.
“Swing Space is right across from Stiles, which is a lot closer than Old Campus is,” he said.
Gold noted that there were a low number of applicants in Berkeley this year, but she doesn’t think that can be attributed to Swing Space.
“It’s a combination between the great Berkeley housing and the tightness of our class. The housing in Swing Space definitely gives it an advantage over Vanderbilt [Hall], though,” she said.
To become freshman counselors, Wallace and Gold recently finished undergoing a process that began with a very simple application that included a brief statement on why they’d be good freshman counselors. From there, more interviews with the college dean and master commenced, described by both students as “informal” and “relaxed.” Gold pointed out that the current freshman counselors from Berkeley sat in on her interview, but she feels they were there more for informative purposes than for evaluative ones.
According to Lanham and Messmore, freshman counselors are a lot busier and encounter many more problems during the first semester. Now that academic and rooming issues are mainly resolved, most freshmen have hit their stride and don’t need quite as much guidance. Finals week will still likely be a busy time, but for the most part, these two freshman counselors are beginning to feel that their work here is done.
“The nature of the job changes in the second semester,” Lanham said. “Now we can do less counseling and just be friends with our freshmen.”