The Office of Residence Life (ORL) has developed a new long-term plan for improvements in the residence halls that will gradually go into effect over the next three to five years. Many of the items listed are already being implemented, but the strategic plan outlines the office’s goals in one document..
Some of the goals include:
- Creating a safety plan for each dorm and communicate this with residents.
- Hosting events with faculty members
- 75 percent of all students attending a one-on-one meeting with their Resident Assistant (RA) within the first 30 days of each semester. Sorority dorms will be allowed 60 days during the second semester due to recruitment. Heritage Commons RAs will not be required to meet this standard due to the large amount of residents per RA.
- 75 percent of returning Resident Directors (RDs) and RAs will be placed in the same residence hall the following year.
- Half of all fall residential programming will align with the UNV 101 curriculum.
- Both RDs and RAs will go through diversity and inclusion training and must attend at least one diversity-focused event each year. There will also be one returning RA in every hall more adept at planning diversity events.
- Every LLC will have a course that connects to the focus of the community.
- 25 percent of programming for second year students will focus on living off campus.
“If I were to sort of summarize what the changes are, it’s just that we’re more intentional in our work and connecting what we’re doing to the functions of why we exist,” said Vicka Bell-Robinson, director of ORL.
The plan is based off of the five core functions of residence life: to provide safe and healthy homes, to assist in increasing persistence and retention, to promote inclusive and diverse communities, to extend the learning environment beyond the classroom and to ease students’ transition into adulthood.
Each of the five pillars contain objectives to accomplish within that area. Then, each objective is broken down into metrics which describe practical changes that can be made to reach these goals.
For example,the first pillar addresses safety, and the first objective under that pillar states the desire to “partner with students and other units to provide healthy and safe communities,” according to the strategic plan. The application of this involves collaborating with the Miami University Police Department, Student Counseling Services and Student Wellness to create a program to train students on safety measures.
A large portion of the plan addresses the role of resident assistants (RA) and resident directors (RD) in the residence halls.
“RAs have a lot more influence over the community than I think we often realize in terms of what is normalized in the community,” said Delaney Heisterkamp, RA in Emerson Hall.
The plan also took into consideration that residential communities are not identical.
“Everything is so vastly different from dorm to dorm,” said Jessica Packet, President of the Community Leadership Team in Emerson Hall. “It lacks a lot of consistency.”
Previously, all RAs were required to meet one-on-one with each resident in their hall within the first 30 days of each semester. This requirement seemed unrealistic for sorority residence halls, especially, with recruitment taking place during the beginning of the spring semester. In the updated plan, they were allotted extra time to complete the required meetings.
“I think [the strategic plan] summarizes really well the direction that we’re moving to and that we would like to move to and ultimate goals,” said Rachael Lange, RD of Peabody and McKee Halls. “And, I don’t see anything that I would say, in terms of residence life, that isn’t addressed in here from our work with the students that would improve it.”