Grad students picked to live in dorms

by Christopher Kao | 5/16/93 10:00pm

The Office of Residential Life has selected five graduate students ranging in age from 23 to 30 years old to live in different undergraduate dormitories next year.

The five were selected as part of a two-year pilot program called Graduate Students-in-Residence. Each of the five students will live for one year in a two-room suite in one of the most popular dormitories on campus.

A selection committee chose Bruce Sneddon, Len Wisniewski, Stephanie Beebe, Maureen McGrath and Shawn-Marie Mayrand from a pool of 13 applicants.

Sneddon, 30, a third-year doctoral student in pharmacology from Toronto, will live in the Russell Sage-Butterfield cluster. He received his bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Toronto.

Wisniewski, 24, is a third-year graduate student in computer science and the former president of Dartmouth's Graduate Student Council, the graduate equivalent of the Student Assembly. Wisniewski, a Philadelphia resident who attended LaSalle University, will live in the Wheeler-Richardson cluster.

Beebe will live in Rip-Wood-Smith. She is a first-year graduate student in Earth Sciences. Beebe, 23, from Utica, N.Y., graduated from Colgate University last year. She is a teaching assistant and lab instructor for earth sciences courses.

McGrath, who graduated from the College in 1992, will live in the New Dorms. She is a graduate student at the Thayer School of Engineering.

Mayrand, a biochemistry graduate student, will live in Massachusetts Row.

Most of the graduate students said they applied for the program because graduate students are isolated from campus and feel "left out."

Sneddon, who did not live in a dorm when he went to the University of Toronto, said he applied for the position because he wanted to be more involved with undergraduates and the College.

"You sometimes feel as a graduate student that you are left out of the mainstream of College life. You have to seek out things to do," he said.

Beebe said she "always wanted to be an RA at Colgate. I saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of that kind of situation," she said.

Wisniewski said increasing the interaction between graduate students and undergraduates is "a great idea because there are a lot of things we can learn from each other."

Sneddon, a disc jockey at WDCR and a Fall term program director, said he already interacts with many undergraduates.

"I like the people around here," he said. "I just wanted an opportunity to live in a dorm and serve as an adviser."

Beebe also said she will have no problem relating to undergraduates.

"I found it easy to get a long with the students in the lab and some of my classes are still with undergraduates," she said. "I definitely can still identify with the undergraduate experience -- just last year I was an undergraduate."

The graduate students said their role in the dorms is as advisers, not as police officers. The five will be largely responsible for writing their own job descriptions, which is currently a mixed bag of academic and post-graduate advising, mentoring and personal counseling.

The program will not replace the current Area Coordinator and Undergraduate Advisor positions.

"I don't see myself as a policeman or anything like that," Sneddon said. "I just want to try and serve as an example and show [students] that you can be successful in school and pursue outside interests and also have a well rounded life at Dartmouth."

Sneddon said graduate students have a lot of knowledge to share with the undergraduates.

"I have a different perspective. It's good for the undergraduates to have as many different viewpoints as possible," he said.

"I'm going to do my best to be the academic mentor primarily." Wisniewski said. "We're there to share our experiences more and less to be a parent."

He said graduate associates will "give our perspectives on what we've seen and went through before."

The graduate students are aware of the controversy surrounding the program. They said some students may be mistrustful of the graduate associates.

"We got kind of a bad rep from some people," Sneddon said. "I think that this is a good opportunity for us as graduate students to dispel some stereotypes -- that we're lab bound bookworms -- and to show that we can relate to undergrads and what goes on in their lives because we were that way too."

The selection committee, composed of Jennifer Beams '93, an Area Coordinator, Jennifer Suhie '94, an Undergraduate Adviser, Jim Brennan '96, Alison Keefe, assistant dean of residential life, Richard Birnie, dean of graduate studies and Dawn Dekle, a graduate student, reviewed applications and recommendations and conducted hour long interviews with each candidate.

Keefe said undergraduates played a large role in the selection.

"Their voice was the most important voice on the committee, " Keefe said.

Sneddon agreed. "It was nice that the undergrads had a big say in it," he said. "If they have confidence that I can do a good job, it gives me confidence that I will do a good job."

The committee looked for candidates who demonstrated a good knowledge of what undergraduate life is like, friendliness, commitment to the program, the ability to relate with undergraduates and to give good advice about graduate school and life after college.