By Tess Steele
Starting in Advent semester of this year, the Proctor and Assistant Proctor (AP) system will shift to an exclusively Proctor system, addressing the serious financial compensation discrepancies between the two positions while revitalizing residential life to promote dorm networking.
The current Proctor system consist of four Head Proctors, who each assume a particular focus in one of the following administrative areas: programming and community engagement, Proctors, Assistant Proctors, and first year programs. Proctors are juniors or seniors who work under Head Proctors while enforcing regulations within the dorm, planning activities, and supervising APs. APs, a position exclusively for sophomores, facilitate the freshmen orientation process and, like Proctors, make sure rules are followed within dorms while helping with dorm events.
Director of Residential Life Kate Reed (C’08) spoke of the reasons for changing the system, a process that began upon her return to Sewanee almost three years ago. The most serious issue raised by students was the inadequate pay systems of APs. Proctors receive full coverage of room and board, amounting to upwards of $10,000, while APs are provided with semester stipends that are just a fraction of what Proctors are reimbursed with for their efforts. “One thing was abundantly clear, APs and Proctors were compensated very differently for a very similar job, and that’s not okay. From there, our team began to work through ways to address this significant issue and make meaningful change to an important position,” said Reed.
The new system has 51 student staff positions, consisting of two Head Proctors, with similar responsibilities to previous generations of Head Proctors. Lead Proctor is a new position for students with experience in residential life who will assume greater administrative duties than first time Proctor staff members. The remaining 41 positions are Proctors, meeting the same expectations found in the old system. There are at least two Proctors per building, maintaining a consistent Proctor to resident ratio. To address a fair distribution of residential life duties, the new system alters the way dorms collaborate with one another. Reed elaborated on this, stating “Proctors and Lead Proctors in two or three buildings, which I’ve been calling “neighborhoods,” will work together for duty and programming in their area. The work of a Proctor will be more evenly distributed and the opportunities for collaboration will be exponentially increased.” The same application process is carried over, and a record number of applications were received in light of the new system.
The changes to the Proctor system will be felt in other areas, namely with freshmen orientation. “FYP and Orientation will have dedicated mentors and leaders for their programs. What this means is that every first year student will have multiple people, a Proctor, an Orientation Leader, AND a FYP mentor or PRE parent or fellow athlete, to introduce them to life at Sewanee and serve as a resource as they join our community. For the mentors and leaders, the commitment is one semester and creates more opportunities for leadership positions, particularly the ability to serve as a mentor and leader in the fall and study abroad in the spring,” shared Reed.
Reed is excited that all the staff will be fairly compensated for their work, and she anticipates a smooth transition because this system has already been in place at Hodgson and Phillips, and has been a success. Nonetheless, she knows Sewanee has a tendency to accept change slowly and hopes that the community can embrace the new system that is the product of serious deliberation and mindful consideration. “I expect that these changes will broaden networks for students and create connections with neighboring buildings that have not existed consistently over time. I hope friendships and healthy competition will flourish.”