Junior Advisor Selection Committee

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The Junior Advisor Selection Committee (JASC) selects the Junior Advisors (JAs) for the following year. The JASC is composed of approximately 25 student members but works closely with the Deans' Office. Self-nominations are usually solicited in the fall; committee work begins during Winter Study. All JA applicants are offered interviews with Committee members. The selection process occurs mostly in February and March, with all applicants notified of the results during the week prior to Spring Break. The co-chairs of the JASC for 2006 are Chris Geissler '06 and Sarah Connell '06.

Eric Hsu '05 and Nicky DeCesare '05 were in charge in 2005. Maria Lapetina '04 and Dan Ohnemus '04 headed the JASC in 2004. There were 140 applicants that year, slightly more than the typical average of 130. Maria provided this overview of the selection process at that time:

"The application consists of 3 recommendations --- self, peer, and JA --- and a 3 hour interview with scenarios and a group section. After all the interviews are conducted (usually over winter study) -- the committee begins to meet late at night to deliberate. We read every recommendation out loud then discuss the candidate's interview --- then people who know the candidate can speak. After the discussion, we vote. If the candidate has a majority vote they move on to the second round. In the second round, we briefly re-cap everything that was said in the first round, voicing additional concerns if necessary. After completing the second round, each committee member has 60 votes: 30 for girls, 30 for boys. After voting, the 38 candidates with the highest number of votes make the final ballot. The second round is split by gender. The final ballot is 6 tiers and each committee member votes according to their preference.

Top 25 boy[s] and 25 girls get it. The next 10 of each gender are waitlisted.

The main difference is that we now discuss and vote gender-separate. In the past, it was just one big pool of applicants."

Richard Dunn '02, notes (see the link for full context):

"As a former member of the committee, let me explain how things work.

First, a majority of the committee is comprised of current or former JA's. The only times available to meet were from 10pm to 1am because these were the only times that didnt conflict with practice, rehearsal, or snacks. The current JA's were already leading quite busy lives, while the former JA's were frantically finishing theses and planning for life after Williams. I completely reject the notion that these individuals were on selection committee to gossip. First, we were too busy with other things to have an extended gossip section. Second, for the former JA's, we were discussing our frosh, and our friend's frosh. In other words, they were some of closest friends, and frankly, one of the more difficult parts of being on committee is revealing that you believe there is something that disqualifies one of your frosh from consideration. Often, we would just sit in silence until someone spoke up and said, "Hey, wait a minute, weren't they your frosh, Rich?" In the end, I think we all spoke up when we thought it necessary, despite our attachments and allegiences because we felt it important to make an informed decision.

That said, a candidate should not and is not immediately disqualified because their former JA, or any committee member for that matter, has reservations. We cannot simply say, "Well, you just have to believe me on this one." We have to support what we say with first hand evidence. A "less naive alum" could learn something because in committee, we cannot say things like, "I heard from" or "I've been told." If we believe an individual is not capable of handling the stress of being a JA, we have to say why we believe that and sometimes the reason is that when they get stressed, they turn to alcohol, they become depressed, they become suicidal. Is this gossip? Depends on your definition. Is it important and sensitive information? Undeniably. But the trade off is between blind trust in someone's opinion and privacy. I believe candidates know this coming in, and if not, the committee should make it plainer.

But there are many other "personality traits" that are important and certainly cross the line into gossip. The committee needs to know if a JA candidate is a raging bitch who only associates with people that they believe are cool. We wouldn't want that person as a JA. We need to know if someone consistenly shirks responsibility. We need to know if a person is so opinionated they will not respect their frosh's or co's opinions. We need to know whether an individual is a good listener and can keep secrets. These are all important traits for a JA to possess and sometimes discussing these matters sounds a lot like gossip. But the information is still necessary, and so we do our best to maintain a respectful tone. We are not an admissions that will never face these people again. We understand the responsibility entrusted to us, and we also understand that these are our friends, our classmates, our frosh, and our colleagues.

It may be that a handful of individuals do not live up to this expectation. But this is the exception and not the rule.

Additionally, much of what we disucss is not gossip at all, its what they wrote in their personal statement, what other's addressed in their recommendations, how they answered questions in their interview, how they interacted with others in the group part of the interview. We make positive notes when they mention various resources on campus and mentally deduct when they inadequately address the hypotheticals they present "How do you deal with a drunk and violent frosh?...Answer: I tackle him and restrain him with duct tape."

Really, we spend a lot of time talking about how intelligent, caring, respectful, thoughful, strong, compassionate, funny...the list goes on...these candidates are. From my experience, there are about 35 people who just knock your socks off, you knew they were JA's from the time they walked into the common room ... and then 15 people have to be chosen from a group of 50 really strong people, many of them wonderful friends.

Finally, there will be those who say that the committee is too secretive. This is always a complaint that comes out after the actual selection has taken place by individuals who never asked how the process operated in the first place. All of us on committee are more than willing to explain the process, the various checks and double checks to ensure every candidate gets a fair shot, and that unsubstantiated opinion is not allowed to influence our decisions."

The JA Selection Process 2012

The Application:

Each candidate is asked to submit an application as well as ask a JA (former or present) and a peer to complete a recommendation form on their behalf.

The Review of Application:

Each application is read by junior and senior interviewers prior to the interview and given an informal rating of 1-7 by each interviewer. The rating does not impact the applicants overall chances of getting JA and is simply a personal reference for the interviewer. All applicants receive an interview.

The Interview:

Twleve junior and senior members of the JA Selection Committee conduct interviews. The twelve interviewers are paired up and divided into 2 groups of 3 pairs each. The application pool is then divided equally between these two groups. Each pair is assigned one of three question topics that they are responsible for asking during each interview. During the interview, the applicants rotate between the three pairs until they have been asked questions from each pair. At the end of the interview, the applicant has the ability to not count the interview towards the application for any reason.

Selection Committee Deliberations:

The final selection process consists of deliberation and three rounds of voting. NO hearsay is allowed during deliberation. Anything that is said or written about a candidate must be first-hand, personally observed or experienced by Committee members or the candidate’s recommender(s).

The First Round:

Candidates are discussed in alphabetical order by last name and by gender. A candidate’s name will be read aloud, any member of the Committee who has serious objections to a candidate is allowed to propose a pre-emptive strike. If two or more additional Committee members support this strike, the candidate’s application will be put aside for the time being.

Each candidate’s application and interview is read aloud and discussed. Committee members who know the candidate are given the opportunity to speak about the candidate. Then discussion is opened to the floor, reading the application and the following discussion should last no more than 25 minutes. The Committee Co-Chairs will be the discussion to a close and ask the Committee “Can this candidate be a JA?”. The Committee will vote (blind) and the candidates receiving the majority vote will move on to the second round. The votes are counted by the Co-Chairs. The result is released directly after the vote.

After considering every application in this manner, any candidate that has not qualified for the second round by pre-emptive strike may be reconsidered. If any member of the Committee wishes to reconsider a candidate, the Committee discusses that candidate again and votes again on the question “Can this candidate by a JA?”.

The Second Round:

Candidates are discussed in the same order as the first round. One of the current JA Co-Presidents will read aloud the notes of the Committee’s first-round discussion of each candidate. Any new information can be introduced and candidates will also be considered in the context of the JA class as a whole. Parts of the first-round discussion will be explored in more detail without rehashing previous discussions.

The Committee will vote on whether to continue an applicant’s candidacy after the discussion of each applicant, but in this round, each Committee member has 52 votes that not gender specific. The top 40 female and top 40 male vote-getters will be placed on the final ballot. At the end of the second round, like in the first round, the Committee may reconsider any candidates who have not qualified up to this point. This is the last time to discuss these candidates for JA.

The Final Ballot:

Each Committee member will consider the male and female applicants who are eligible for the final ballot. Committee members will be allowed to use their own notes and will have access to candidates’ applications and interview transcripts. The final ballot uses a six tier voting system. Each Committee member will vote for their top 36 candidates of each gender, placing six candidates in the first tier (30 points), six candidates in the second tier (25 points), seven candidates in the third tier (20 points), seven candidates in the fourth tier (15 points), five candidates in the fifth tier (10 points), and five candidates in the sixth tier (5 points). The points are tallied for each candidate and top 26 male and 26 female vote-getters are accepted as JAs while the next ten of each gender are waitlisted (in order).