In mid-February of each year, the proctor selection begins. A twelve to thirteen person committee composed of students and faculty and headed by Dean of Students Toby Emerson, comes together to decide next year’s leaders for underclassmen on campus: proctors. The process is often grueling for both the committee and the juniors applying as the competition is steep and the stakes are high.
Every year, about one hundred to one hundred and fifteen juniors apply for the position, and about fifty actually earn a spot. Sifting through all these qualified candidates can be difficult, especially in such a short span of time.
Juniors attend a meeting in mid-February, and have until the end of the term to complete their applications. Members of the committee then read the applications over Spring Break. When classes resume, the committee gathers on three separate Wednesday nights, to discuss the cases of particular students. By April 12, all the decisions have been made. The entire process spans across only two months.
Assistant Dean of Students Jan Flaska said that one of the hardest questions he had to ask himself as chair of the committee last year was, “How do we minimize the time spent on the selection process without damaging its integrity?” Last year, the committee sent out a round of emails, creating a “first cuts” of sorts, which Mr. Flaska claimed to be, “hard, but effective.”
Each applying proctor meets with prospective dorm residents, trying to decide if they will be a good fit. But each dorm resident may have a different opinion as to who would make a good proctor.
Assistant Dean of Students Amie Creagh, a dorm representative, said, “I am looking for someone with the ability to do one of the hardest jobs on campus. They must be able to navigate the balance between authority figure and confidante. It takes confidence, poise, inclusiveness, and the ability to find common ground with anyone you meet.”
TaoTao Holmes ’10, one of three student members of the committee, echoed that she was searching for someone who had, “patience, a high tolerance level, good people skills, friendliness, efficient working and sleeping habits, and a good sense of humor.”
Mr. Flaska said, “I am looking for someone demonstrating good, commendable, contributing behavior throughout his or her entire time here. I am looking for whom they have been when they thought nobody was watching.”
Katie Binswanger ’11, believe the possibility of being proctor outweighs the trying selection process. Katie said, “I would absolutely love to be a proctor, because having experienced being a proctee, I really understand the role of proctorship and the qualities needed to be successful at it. Proctors have the ability to act as a ‘big sister’ on the hall to both new and old students. I would like to help make a new student’s transition into life at Deerfield as simple and fun as possible, just as my proctors did for me.”
While only one third of the juniors who apply are made proctors, committee members recognize that there are many more students who are equally qualified. Mr. Flaska advised the applicants, saying, “Prepare with optimism and a willingness to serve. Understand that the decision is out of your hands. You may not get the position, but respect the decision. There are others ways to lead, if you choose. Being at Deerfield is a heck of an accomplishment in itself.”