Spotlight on Residence Life Director Elizabeth Swantek

Rebecca Bolus, Correspondent

According to the Residence Life office on Wilkes University’s website, their goal is to foster a residential environment supportive of individual student growth and development through programming, training and the room selection process.

Director of Residence Life Elizabeth Swantek does more than that.  She is in charge of the RAs, assistant director and graduate assistants.  She works with facilities to make sure the buildings are in good condition and also deals with judicial and disciplinary affairs for on-campus residents.

Swantek also works with the living learning communities, where learning happens in the residence hall.

“We work with professors as well as the RAs on developing different living learning communities on campus,” Swantek said.

A big part of Residence Life is the housing process for freshman. Residence Life does not just put random people together and hope for the best.  There is a process and work involved with choosing who lives where their first year.

All first-year students must attend freshmen orientation where they fill out a housing contract and take a survey.  They have the opportunity to tell Residence Life a little about themselves such as studying and sleeping habits, if they smoke, if they share clothes, etc. This data is then compiled and organized into Excel.

Besides this survey, incoming freshman have another way of getting a roommate.

“At orientation, they have an opportunity to meet someone,” Swantek said. “If they get along, they can fill out a form saying they want to live together.”

Those students that find someone they would like to live with are then taken off that Excel spreadsheet.  At that point, Swantek and the assistant director go from who put down their housing deposit first and use the surveys to pair up those remaining students.

Residence Life also goes over their handbook to see if there needs to be any new rules or regulations or if any current ones need to be modified.

One rule that has already been set in stone and passed by the university is now requiring the incoming freshman of 2012 to live on campus for both their freshman and sophomore years.

“We decided to look into the sophomore living requirement because most of our area colleges and our peer groups and aspirational groups have this requirement,” Swantek said.

With this new regulation, students will live in the one of the ten residence halls for their freshman year and then move into upper classman residence halls for their second year on campus.

“I am really glad that I lived on campus my freshman year because I got to meet a lot of friends,” Makala Flottemesch, sophomore communications major, said. “I think with this new rule, students will be able to feel even more comfortable and feel more at home at Wilkes.”

Wilkes has placed a lot of emphasis of getting involved and living on campus. Swantek and RAs feel it is important to get involved.

“It is a great way to make new friends by getting involved on campus and it also keeps you busy,” Amber Konopka, Residence Assistant for freshman at Evans Hall, said.

One of the jobs of Residence Assistants is to do hall activities to give residences a chance to get to know one another.

Swantek said that attending the RAs events combined with getting involved with activities on campus is her best advice for incoming freshman.

“You will feel more attached to campus if you get more involved with on campus activities,” Swantek said. “You will feel like you belong more if you found your niche or created your niche.”