In an effort to increase awareness and accountability regarding students’ concerns, a new Residential Assistant Advisory Board will meet with Residential Education staff members, including deans, assistant and associate directors, over the next several weeks. The board will function as a liaison to various student groups and work to educate and solicit opinions from RAs on new ResEd initiatives.
The board, which will feature eight to 10 current first-year and returning RAs, aims to embody a range of residential groups on campus including all-freshman dorms, ethnic-themed houses and Row houses.
Brandon Jackson ’13, an RA in Castano, proposed the formation of the board as a way to provide feedback and respond to ResEd’s logistics.
“I wanted to create a formal mechanism that would allow student staff members to have a recognizable voice as ResEd continues to grow and develop,” Jackson said.
During fall quarter, Jackson approached ResEd assistant director Cisco Barron with an initiative that outlined a plan to better integrate RA staff into the department.
“The RA Advisory Board is not a voting board,” Jackson said. “Rather, it is a way for a select group of current RAs to represent the many different perspectives and viewpoints that student staff members and residents have.”
Jennifer Calvert, associate dean of ResEd, said that ResEd was also seeking a solution to better integration, and was on the frontier of this initiative.
“We envision the board as a group that thinks together,” Calvert said.
“As we are putting the board together, we have been looking for RAs who are able and willing to talk to and work with the RAs in their area to represent a spectrum of opinions to the board,” she added.
The inclusion of the new RA Advisory Board comes after months of concerns among RAs that ResEd did not fully consider student concerns when changes to the RA application process were announced last quarter.
“In the past, there have been some concerns from students about the lack of transparency and the overly bureaucratic nature of ResEd,” Jackson said.
“Hopefully, this board will be able to bridge the current perceived gap between students and administrators who they often don’t get to have much contact with throughout the year.”
Over winter break, ResEd sent out e-mails to all of the RA staff to get a sense of how interested they were in working to create the new board. In addition, ResEd held an informational meeting last Thursday, at the end of which they invited RAs to apply for the board. The applications were closed on Monday.
Nearly finished with the RA interview process, ResEd is now taking steps to prepare for managerial staff positions.
“ResEd is an incredibly large and complex organization,” Calvert said. “As we think about developing the residential program, we have many constituents and many variables that need to be considered. This board is one effort to ensure that our RAs have a systemic way to be a part of the conversation.”