By Aline Batawi
Beginning in fall 2018, several changes in housing and its staffing will be enacted in what administrators say they hope will make every aspect of living on campus easier.
Karl Rishe, vice president of student affairs, says the effort will make the campus “current” with normal student housing practices.
According to Rishe, he and the Student Life Department have been working for the past 5 months on a plan that hopes to make every aspect of living on campus easier.
“There will be many different changes within housing and resident life,” said Rishe, Vice President of Student Affairs. “We are bringing ourselves current.”
According to Rishe, the first step in the plan is to move to an online housing system and away from the current paper method.
“It’ll run online, on your phone, and a little bit like eHarmony,” said Rishe. “If you’re an incoming freshmen looking for housing, the app will ask you a few questions and pair you with your best roommate match.”
The goal with this new program is to make it more interactive for incoming freshman. Students will even get the opportunity to look at the dimensions of their dorm room before they choose it online.
“All first-year freshman and sophomores will live together on North Campus and everyone else on South Campus, apartments and small housing,” said Rishe.
Gelston and Bruske will be exclusively for freshmen and Newberry and Mitchell will be for sophomores. However, there will be some overflow of juniors and seniors placed in Newberry and Mitchell, but not many.
In addition to the housing system being online, students will be able to put in work orders, check in and out of their rooms and receive notifications regarding room-cleaning–all online.
Along with the changes in distribution of students living on campus, changes in housing staff are planned. Currently, halls are staffed with hall directors who have ancillary positions.
“We’re moving to Assistant Directors that will be in the halls more,” said Rishe. “Their offices will actually be in the residence halls.”
With upcoming renovations, set to begin in summer 2018, offices will be built within the residence halls to provide services to students closer to where they live.
“Offices that are in the CSO will also have satellite offices in the residence halls,” said Rishe. “With that, students won’t need to travel to the CSO or the student life office.”
According to Alice Kramer, the new director of residence life, the ultimate goal is to bring more resources to students.
“There will be three assistant directors, one for first year, second year, and upperclassmen students,” said Kramer. “Their offices will be in the halls where they are available for students.”
“I think that having living learning communities benefit students,” said Paige Emerson (’18). “As an RA, I see how a student easily copes and makes friends when the people who live near them take the same classes as them.”
According to Kramer, being focused on the needs of each age group is important. Freshmen need a different level of care than upperclassmen. This will be reflected in the number of RAs in each building.
“There will be more RAs for freshman and fewer for sophomores,” said Kramer. “Freshman require more mentorship and sophomores are more future focused.”
On South Campus, where only juniors and seniors will live, the RA position will be removed entirely.
“Graduate assistants from Central Michigan University for higher education administration will be on South Campus,” said Kramer.
“Research shows that a lot of times juniors and seniors don’t need RAs,” said Rishe. “Having graduate students live with juniors and seniors will give them a higher and more relatable level of service.”
According to Rishe, RAs were informed about these changes before they came back to campus. Some RAs have mixed feelings about this new system.
“As of now, I’m not a huge fan of the changes, but I’m open to them,” said Allison Fox (’20), an RA on North Campus. “I’m excited to see what will come.”
Current RAs were given the choice of whether they would like to continue with their RA position.
“Technically, jobs are being eliminated on South Campus, but we have all been given the choice to return,” said Fox. “I’m returning and I’m really excited.”
“It’s a drastic change, but I’m not sure how to feel about it yet,” said Alexis Blakely (’19), an RA on South Campus. “I still have some questions about it and I’m trying to keep an open mind.”
“I think some of the changes will be beneficial for the school, but others will be really hard (for students) to cope with,” said Emerson. “I think it’ll be hard for students in different years to not be allowed to live together in the same room.”
Ultimately, the goal with these changes is to cater to the specific needs of each class on campus. With these changes, the hope is for residence life to improve and for services offered to be more accessible to students.