Freshmen’s first friends

Emily Karrs always wanted to give advice to the freshman class, but she wanted an outlet where she didn’t have to be a disciplinarian as well. When GW Housing Programs created the house proctor program, she knew it was right for her.

Last school year Karrs spent her senior year living on the ninth floor of Thurston, a place she never thought she’d ever see. Instead of writing students for liquor violations, she was forging relationships, giving advice and helping freshmen get adjusted to life in Foggy Bottom.

Being a house proctor made Karrs feel useful, even though she said she was terrified to take the position. Her biggest fear was that something awful would happen and that she would miss it because she was not sure what she should doing. But despite her early concerns, Karrs was able to create a special bond with her residents and even cooked them a six course Thanksgiving dinner.

“It ended up being a really great college experience,” Karrs said. “It also taught me not to judge someone for living in Thurston.”

House proctors reside in first-year residence halls. They are responsible to help residents, “develop an environment?which encourages personal responsibility, reflection, academic growth and self-exploration,” according to the program’s Web site.

Residence halls for sophomores, juniors and seniors have similar students in similar positions, but each role differs depending on the needs of the class.

Before the program was implemented, community facilitators patrolled residence halls. They were mostly known for their responsibilities to document student violations and to administer the roommate agreement forms. The house proctor program, which was new to the 2006 school year, does not allow the student to document violations.

Senior Brooke DeLancey was not sure what her responsibilities would be when she began her job as a proctor last year in Fulbright.

“There was kind of just this basic outline and there were all these holes to fill in. It was kind of like a skeleton we had to bring to life,” DeLancy said.

Despite DeLancey’s initial unease with the program, she succeeded in making her freshman feel comfortable and safe at GW, said Dean Carson, one of her residents. Carson said her impact was so great it drove him to apply for the program for the 2007-2008 academic year.

“She made the eighth floor of Fulbright a home away from home for her residents and talking with her and seeing the things that she did to make our freshmen year a positive experience made me interested in being a house proctor,” Carson said.

DeLancey also felt a strong connection with her residents and said that separating her responsibilities as a proctor and a friend was one of her more challenging tasks.

While most freshman can not wait to move on to better housing after a year of Thurston, sophomore Julie DeMareo could not be more excited about unpacking her bags on the fifth floor of the all-freshman dorm. DeMareo heard positive feedback from her friends who were proctors last year and is excited to assume the role this year.

“I just want to be able to give good advice and I just want to be really supportive of my residents,” said DeMareo who lived on Mount Vernon as a freshman.

Like Carson, DeMareo also felt close to her proctor last year.

“Basically anything I had a question about, classes or I don’t know, anything GW related.I’d go in and just knock on his door and he was always there,” DeMareo said.

DeMareo said the most valuable thing to remember when dealing with roommates for the first time is the importance of honesty.

DeMareo said, “I think with your roommates and suitemates, be pretty clear and upfront with what you want.”

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