Residential life is part of almost every college or university. When most people think about residential life, they think of dorms and roommates; however, residential life is much more. The organizations are mostly divided into three units that make it all work: residence life programs, housing operations, and room assignments. (“College and university,”) Residence life is one of the major parts of a student’s environment. They only spend about twenty percent of their time in classrooms, as they spend most of their free time in housing.
Residential life helps students to develop as young adults and future leaders. “The purpose of residence life programs is to provide educational programming, nonclinical counseling, and support for student learning”. (“College and university,”) People who are employed in residential programs mostly focus on improving student life and its safety, which helps to develop communication skills among people and also increase personal growth among student peers.
The second unit of resident life is housing operations; they deal with daily tasks such as cleanliness, construction, and management. In a residential setting, is important to keep the environment clean and the buildings running properly in order for the community to work. The last unit of residential life is room assignments, in which finding the best-fit roommate is the most important. This area of residential life is designated to make room changes and monitor the occupancy of other housings.
If there is a situation where problem occurs among roommates, the roommate assignment staff tries to find the best solution to find a resolution. Although it is often not realized, Residential Life is a big part of student life as it is a major factor in shaping a student’s experience in the institution. To ensure that residential life is at its best, the institution hires educated and professional staff. Almost every floor in each dorm has a residential assistant, who is responsible for maintaining a positive environment and be there for students if they are having a hard time adjusting.
Residential assistants also welcome the students back to their dorms and inform students about upcoming activities and clubs. At the beginning of the school year, the RA creates a Facebook page for the people that they are responsible for and have group meetings to discuss issues and regulations. This helps new students feel welcome in their dorm and creates an environment where students can interact with other people in their dorms. Most dorms also have residence directors or graduate assistance.
“Their responsibilities usually include staff development of their RAs, student counseling, educational programming, enforcement of institutional policies in the residence halls, and may also include other functions such as academic advising, intramural sports adviser, and facilities management”. (“College and university,”) If the RA cannot deal with a problem, they report to residence director or graduate assistance, depending on who is available to their building.
The staff goes through training to make sure that every need of a student is met. “There is a strong need for well-qualified, educated, and trained entry-lever live-in professional staff in campus residence halls to support and achieve the academic and educational goals of the institution” (Belch, Wilson & Dunkel). It is important for students to be engaged and connected to school spirit, as it is more likely that they will remain in that institution. (Brooks).
Each institution wants to give the best experience and education possible to their students. The person that oversees the Residential Assistants, Residential Directors, and Graduate Assistances is the Assistant Director of Residential Life. Keyne Cahoon is the Assistant Director of residential Life at Northeastern University and has many tasks during the day that keep her busy: “My primary responsibility is to directly supervise 5, 2 GAs, and indirectly supervise approximately 50 RAs.
Additionally, I am responsible for the overall administration of the residential student conduct process (so I work with OSCCR to review and assign cases where residential student are involved), I am in charge of the professional staff recruitment and selection process (so I recruit and coordinate the process to hire all RDs and Assistant Directors of Residential Life), and I serve as a core team member of We Care”. (Cahoon, 2013) Being an Assistant Director of Residential Life is more than just dealing with housing situations.
It involves a lot of communication among co-workers, documentations, and solving sometimes-unrealistic problems. Keyne Cahoon enjoys this challenge: “I enjoy students’ energy and excitement. I enjoy helping them figure out a problem and helping them solve it themselves”. (Cahoon, 2013) She is really involved in the community and enjoys every second of it. She finds her job very interesting and her passion makes her job a hobby. The only person who oversees her work is Brie McCormick, the Associate Director of Residential Life.
She supervises the Assistant Director of Residential Life and deals with a lot of day-to-day issues for the department as a whole. The Associate Dean of Cultural, Residential & Spiritual Life of Northeastern University is Robert Jose. He represents the Residential life as a whole unit. The theories that Residential Life uses are theories of organizations and campus environments, typology theories and models, and student success theories. All of these theories have the main focus to improve on student life outside of the classroom.
Residential Life aims to provide complex learning by giving students the opportunities to make friends, be part of a groups or a clubs, play a sports, and much more. Living in dorms teaches them how to deal with every day situations in classrooms or outside. Students will be able to be “able to apply acquired knowledge to everyday situations, able to communicate clearly and effectively, acts responsibly to others, is civic minded, understands and appreciates those of other nationalities and cultures, is self-aware, and has a sense of connectedness to the university”.
(Brooks) Living in the dorms helps students prepare for life after college or university and enables them to apply the things they have learned to a variety of situations. References Belch, H. A. , Wilson, M. E. , & Dunkel, N. (n. d. ). Cultures of success:recruiting and retaining new live-in residence life professionals. The College Student Affairs Journal, 27(2), 176-193. Brooks, S. E. (n. d. ). The connection between residence life and first-year student retention at the university of Pittsburgh.
The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 37(1), 12-23. College and university residence halls – purpose of residence halls, organization and administration, residence hall staffing, residence hall student government read more: College and university residence halls – purpose of residence halls, organization and administration, residence hall staffing, residence hall student government. (n. d. ). Retrieved from.