Semester in review

Community Successes:

The Programming and bulletin boards, along with the Community Development activities, were the highlight of the Fall Semester. The West Quad RAs are creative and have the support of their Head Residents when Planning programs. Head Residents help to stretch their creativity as well as support them during the programs. The most successful programs this year included the FLY Program related to Career Exploration and Interview Tips and Tricks (this was widely attended by RA applicants) as well as programs in Smith and Curtis West where the RAs are highly involved and the communities are very close.

The Resident Assistants on West Quad are also very good with their administrative responsibilities. They utilize DuResEd@gmail.com (Password: George1800) to submit images of the Community Development Activities as well as their monthly bulletin boards. This helps the Assistant Director keep track of all of their requirements and make sure they are completed on time and meet the minimum expectations. This is also an opportunity to validate the hard work of the student staff and identify bulletin boards that can be laminated for later use.

Due to the presence of the student staff, the supervision of the Head Residents and the thoughtful programming initiatives, the First Year Class has done well with their social adjustment to campus. Many students who did have low level violations attended the Campus Values Class and have not engaged in repeat offenses. Others who have are well connected to Mark Moller and have other issues related to their transition to Denison. Mark Moller has been a great partner for the West Quad staff and constant effective communication was important for Mark and Molly throughout her time as an Assistant Director.

Programming Expectations for the Fall Semester

August: Community Development Activity (CDA)
September: CDA and Program
October: Program OR FLY Program
November: Program OR FLY Program
December: CDA

Molly suggests a similar model for the Spring Semester

Example of a First Year Newsletter (sent weekly): https://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/85uhk

Community Concerns

Curtis West had a very absent RA on the second floor. This typically quiet community became increasingly louder throughout the semester. There was a large party incident in October and there were complaints from many of the residents related to the lack of RA presence. The RA resigned and will not be on staff in the Spring Semester. However, the RA who will be in the community has a great deal of work to do to rebuild trust in the community.

Similarily, the Shorney 4th floor RA was replaced late November due to unethical behavior that violated the Code of Student Conduct as well as his job responsibilities. Molly interviewed 10 outstanding candidates and ultimately decided to hire and train Andrew Shediac. Andrew started his position on December 1st and although he is adjusting to the role, on going training may be necessary throughout the spring semester.

Finally, the first floor of Smith has a troublesome floor in the Fall semester because the RA struggles to relate to his peers. He tends to send condescending emails and is rather harsh when managing cases. He often neglects his administrative responsibilities and his morale for the position is low. He requires great support from his Head Resident and needs constant validation. He needs to know when he is doing a good job and struggles when areas of improvement are pointed out to him. Molly suggested an RJ Circle would be the best solution for the community to talk through issues of vandalism and disrespect to the bathrooms and hallway. It was decided that an RJ circle at the start of the semester would serve the community best.

Example of Staff Newsletter (sent bi-weekly) : https://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/hj07v

West Quad Plan

Knowing that she was entering a job/school search in the Fall or Spring Semester, Molly chose to do a West Quad Plan (syllabus) to help keep a structure and a format to her staff expectations and responsibilities. Molly chose to focus on topics related to the first year transition in the Fall and then dive into topics that all RAs should learn about and experience in the Spring Semester. Molly shared the West Quad Plan with the Director and the Assistant Directors so they would better understand her staff structure. She also shared the plan with her Head Residents to solicit feedback prior to her departure.

Molly also instilled professional development in her Head Resident Staff meetings. They engaged in a common read throughout the Fall Semester. Each HR became an "expert" on a chapter of the book, "Lessons Learned: How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake Made by College Resident Assistants." Molly did not expect the degree to which the HR would engage in the book. She was impressed! Each HR presented on their chapter and facilitated enriching conversations, utilized Tedtalks in their presentation and applied the chapter to their daily work at Denison. Molly suggests another common read in the Spring Semester related more to personal leadership, but was thrilled with the practicality of the Fall Common Read. Each HR kept the book and Molly left the book for the AD who will replace her (top right desk drawer!).

The West Quad HR staff is used to feeling as though Staff meetings are part of their class curriculum. They like productive, efficient and educational meetings. Each staff meeting was held at 12pm on Tuesday and never lasted longer than an hour unless we went out to lunch. We went to lunch 2x each semester as part of their staff development and we had one staff meeting each month dedicated to a reading or personal reflection. Therefore, they only met as a staff 3x each month. The staff loved utilizing staff as an hour to develop as people and professionals.