In the past year, The Office Of Residential Life, headed by Interim Director Ann Marie Przywara , has implemented several changes. The first includes the elimination of the Head Resident position.
Last year Skidmore had what was called Head Residents. These were undergraduate students, normally juniors or seniors, who oversaw the Residential Advisors(RA) within their dormitory and worked with the Area Coordinator to help with the running of the residence halls and Apartments. Skidmore was “unique having student building managers and it wasn’t a uniqueness that made our colleagues at other res life institutions say wow that is a great opportunity,” Przywara said. Colleges like Skidmore that had Head Residents were trying phase them out because there were not many benefits to having them.
In previous years, the Head Residents had direct supervision of the RAs. In turn, the Area Coordinators, who are trained full time professionals, had direct supervision of the Head Residents and Unit Assistants (UA), but indirect supervision of the RAs. This year Residential Life has streamlined the hierarchy so that Area Coordinators directly supervise the RAs, too. Simplification should have perceivable benefits. “I think having direct supervision of RA’s and UA’s gives us a really good opportunity to be developmental with them and to give them some skill training with a skill set they can use even beyond Skidmore” Przywara says.
Eliminating the position of Head Resident is the first of Residential Life's two big changes. Last year Residential Life had four main responsibilities: programming and events within the residential life, housing, student conduct and off-campus relations. This year, though, oversight of student conduct has been given to Campus Life, directed by David Karp and Assistant Director of Student Conduct Erin Dagle.
Residential Life still deals with first and second level AOD violations, but most violations are now managed by the Office of Campus Life. As such, they have much more time to deal with other student issues. For example, “last year if you were a first year student, second, third or fourth year student and had housing related concerns, was worried about a friend who was experiencing a crisis, [then] we probably wouldn’t see you in the same day. It would probably be a couple of days later because our schedule was filled with a lot of student conduct meetings,” Przywara says. “Now if you call even at 10:30 [in the morning] we can probably see you like early afternoon because we are budgeting time and being strategic about that, to give time and space to help students as immediately as possible and get them connected to resources.”
Residential Life also has implemented smaller changes that include requiring RAs to send in weekly reports and creating a student-staff advisory board. They are also looking at residence hall traditions because, as Przywara says, they don’t feel that students have a real sense of connection to their residence hall. Expect more changes to come.