The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

What is… the Office of Residence Life at Wilkes University?

Evans second floor celebrates their victory in hall brawl back in October.
Residence Life Instagram
Evans second floor celebrates their victory in hall brawl back in October.

Wilkes University is full of groups that share the same goal: support. The Office of Residence Life, affectionately dubbed “Res Life” by those working in it, provides comprehensive support for students living on campus. From sending out forms to apply for housing, reminder and safety emails and filling the halls with Resident Assistants (RAs), Res Life is here for the students who call this campus home.

Residence Life is a blend of professional staff and undergraduate RAs. The director and assistant director of residence life work with students and sta to prepare the halls for move-in, deal with serious issues and send out the forms and information needed to apply (and reapply) for housing.

Residence life is also staffed by two graduate assistants, learners in graduate programs who live in the halls with RAs and students as an extra layer of support. These individuals work directly with RAs to ensure they are performing their duties and serve as a bridge between residential students and the directors of residence life. Then, there are 34 resident assistants who live and work directly with the students of Wilkes University.

First, to become an RA, applicants fill out an application and participate in individual interviews and a group processing day, which puts students in small groups and has them complete activities that allow current RAs and staff to see how applicants work in a team.

“It can feel pretty stressful leading up to the different events, however, once you are in the moment the stress disappears,” said Starr Sandt, a sophomore RA serving University Towers, floors two and three.

After the process is over, candidates are notified and assigned to their buildings. RAs are not necessarily placed in buildings because they want to be there, but because the professional staff believes your skill set is best suited to a specific building.

Nolee Ana Grabowski, who is also a sophomore RA on the fifth floor of University Towers, said, “…if you get the position and aren’t thrilled with your placement, keep in mind that your first year is all a learning experience. I was placed in Evans as my first year as an RA and I loved it. I created really great bonds with my residents and being an RA has really helped me grow in my leadership skills.”

All of this occurs in the spring semester. Before the new year starts, in August, RAs report to campus for a few weeks of training to prepare for their new roles as resident assistants.

RAs do so much in the residence halls, even if it goes unseen. Grabowski says that most of her responsibilities include hanging up posters, connecting with and checking in on residents, working to resolve issues, and serving on a residence life committee. There are four committees: New RA Selection, which focuses on the interview process to select new RAs; traditions, which focuses on hosting annual events, like the Waller haunted mansion or hall brawl; social media, which has students working to curate content for the residence life Instagram; and advisory board, which hears and resolves RA complaints and considers the changes suggested by the RAs. Another major aspect of the RA role is ensuring safety and enforcing the rules. Wilkes University is an open, urban campus and RAs must make sure the halls are safe and their residents are comfortable. If your RA seems very strict about propping open doors, there’s a good reason.

Resolving roommate conflicts and ensuring safety in the halls aren’t all that RAs are responsible for. They must also host two community builder events and two educational events for their residents each semester. These can be done for an individual floor, building, area or even campus wide. Last year, Grabowski hosted an event for her residents in Evans Hall.

“It was a Valentine’s Day event where I had written the names of every resident on the floor on the back of a heart and I gave my residents hearts with the other side of the hall’s name on it and vice versa,” said Grabowski. “I had my residents just write a sweet message on it and then flip it over and give it to the resident that they had. It was very sweet seeing the whole floor come together and at the end I handed out goodie bags to everyone who came.”

Events like these are examples of Community Builders: they focus on building a community, one way or another. Other examples of this include movie or game night, an interactive bulletin board or karaoke nights. One popular event is the highly-anticipated sex bingo.

“The RAs hosted a sex bingo for students to come learn about safe sex and play bingo at the same time,” said Sandt. “I loved seeing how engaged everyone was and overall it was such a fun time.”

Events like these are educational because they teach students something, even if it isn’t a “traditional” lesson. Educational events also include things like the recent cookies and cards, where RAs gave a mental health presentation, shared cookies and wrote Valentine’s Cards for a local nursing home, a tutorial on how to use the laundry machines or a kahoot about hall policies and the student handbook.

Being an RA isn’t all about the work. There are plenty of fun things going on in residence life. Sandt shared that the professional staff, or pro staff and RHC have recently shown their appreciation with gifts, like blankets and winter coats.

“Walking around with my Res Life jacket on rounds makes me feel “official” and puts a positive spin on certain job duties,” said Sandt. “I am always excited when we receive something, even if it is as simple as a bag of candy from RHC, because it truly shows that we as RAs are valued.”

There are other, non-material benefits.

“I have enjoyed getting to know my residents…I always have to smile when an old resident still feels comfortable talking to me about anything going on or even just saying hello when we are out and about,” said Sandt.

Grabowski shared that her connections with the Pro Staff are one of the highlights of her Res Life experience.

“It is very nice building close connections with a team of people that you will be working with very closely, they are all so helpful and are there to assist whenever you need it,” said Grabowski.

The Office of residence life is located in the second floor of Max Roth, at 215 South Franklin Street, directly across from the Farley Library. To keep up with residence life, follow them on Instagram @wilkes_reslife.