Kersten Stevens ’06 said she did not relate to her freshman faculty advisor on an academic or a personal level.
“He was in drama, and I don’t do drama, period,” she said. “He wasn’t even personable. He didn’t try to know who I was.”
In response to many similar complaints, the Yale College Council passed a resolution Wednesday to modify the freshman faculty advising system. The changes would give freshmen more personal attention from faculty members. The resolution, which passed by a unamimous 23-0 vote, was inspired by the academic review released last April by the Committee on Yale College Education.
YCC Vice-President Nirupam Sinha ’05 said he expects that the resolution will “enhance the freshman academic experience and ease the transition to Yale.”
Under the resolution, only faculty who teach undergraduates will qualify as freshman advisors. As of now, professors affiliated with Yale University can become freshman advisors even if they do not teach in Yale College. Sinha said his freshman advisor, a program coordinator at the Law School, knew little about undergraduate life.
The resolution also recommends that residential college masters and deans provide students with a list of college fellows and establish an introductory meeting between fellows and students.
Sinha said college fellows are an untapped and largely undiscovered resource for academic advice. Liz Jordan ’06 said she was not even aware that college fellows existed.
The resolution’s provision that freshman be made aware that their housing forms are used in assigning academic advisors engendered debate within the YCC. The forms currently ask students about their academic interests.
“Some people thought [the provision] would cause undue stress,” Schram said.
The resolution further suggests that Yale appoint a coordinator of advising, a position the academic review specifically outlined. The coordinator will help develop an advising Web site for freshmen, answer questions from students and parents during the summer before students come to college, help recruit and educate faculty advisers, and work with faculty to best support advising practices in departments.
Andrew Schram ’06, the YCC representative for Calhoun College who presented the resolution, said he expects that the training and recruitment program will create a bigger and better pool of advisors.
The resolution also mandates that each residential college hold an academic fair on the Tuesday of Freshman Orientation. Sinha said many, but not all, colleges currently do this. The fairs provide a friendly, relaxed environment where students can chat with faculty members and college fellows about academics, Sinha said. If, for example, a student’s faculty advisor is in a science department but the student hopes to major in history, the student can talk to a history professor at the fair.
Sinha said the council will present the resolution to Yale College Dean Richard Broadhead Saturday.
“Now it’s up to the dean’s office and the appropriate administrators to decide [whether to accept the resolution],” he said. “But hopefully the changes will take place next year.”