Peer counselors will no longer be eligible for proctorship beginning next year. The decision, the result of collaboration between Head of School Margarita Curtis, the Residential Program Committee, and the Health Education and Wellness Group, was designed to have peer counselors become a part of the upperclassmen residential program.
Last year, Deerfield students participated in a survey, the results of which revealed that the community does a great job supporting underclassmen but that the support system for upperclassmen is lacking.
“It really drops off with our juniors and seniors who are just as in need of a safety net,” said science and health issues teacher Kristin Loftus, “The new residential program will look to provide that support to the upperclassmen dorms.”
Dr. Curtis agreed when she observed that several boarding schools have proctors in all dorms, even in upperclassmen dorms. She believed that the new peer counselors would have “enhanced roles, increased responsibilities in the dormitories and the opportunity to work closely with the faculty.”
Proctors are expected to remain engaged in the dorm throughout the year and be aware of their proctees’ behavior. They have to provide guidance and keep dorm rules consistent and enforced. Meanwhile, peer counselors are expected to run bi-weekly freshmen discussion groups and be accessible to peers.
Current proctor and student member of the Residential Program Committee Jennifer Chu ’11 remarked, “Some students are really good in peer counselors and proctorship roles. However, there is an issue of time commitment. This was definitely a factor contributing to the new residential status of peer counselors.”
Some peer counselors welcome this new idea as it will “spread leadership opportunities around campus and have people take on different roles,” said peer counselor Daniel Rivera ’13.
“The new residential status of the peer counselors would give it more teeth, potentially give it more status and really have [the counselors] more available for their peers. Their job description will be the same, but the new program will emphasize their accessibility and availability in the upperclassmen dorms,” said Ms. Loftus.
Current peer counselor Willa Gustavson ’12 agrees. “Peer counselors would be relied upon when put in leadership positions in the dorms.”