Written by Jenni Chadick, Assistant Director of Residence Life.
This past weekend was the official kickoff of the 2013-2014 Res Life season. Just as the M’s showed off Safeco Field last week, so we too in Res Life like to show off our buildings, our communities, and our players (aka student staff). This upcoming year brings a whole lot of change to Residence Life. It will be the first year all first and second year students will be living on campus, we are opening a 135 bed-space building in August, and our staff team will be fully filled after our departmental restructure last summer. To face these new dynamics we have one of the most diverse and talented staff teams we’ve ever had.
As we begin to think about the year ahead, it can be easy to get carried away in the new initiatives, the new people, and the excitement that comes with change. Throughout the weekend I was reminded of the importance of understanding our mission as a department, grounding where we are to go in the future. It beings with a simple question:
Why Res Life?
I asked the new staff this question, and the responses I received were exactly what any housing processional would hope for. It’s a safe and inclusive living space. It nurtures growth and development. It’s fun. It’s convenient. It’s a community. Residence Life is a place on campus where the practical elements of getting an education and the recreational elements of a fulfilling life begin to blend. What emerges is the awareness and skills to build a meaningful adult life. In our residential spaces there are lounges used to discuss academics and philosophy. There are whiteboards to practice o-chem homework, and pianos to practice musical pieces. And there are soft couches to lounge and discuss the presidential debates, fireplaces to make s ’mores, and long hallways for long conversations about the latest YouTube sensation. As a student, these experiences are essential to student success and well being Being able to be yourself, as a scholar and as an individual, are important components to staying in school, and graduating with a degree that is meaningful. Working through roommate conflict prepares you for living with others (future roommates, future partners, future family). Learning how to express opinions respectfully about a political show or video helps you learn how to navigate the politics of a workplace environment in the future. And we can’t forget learning to do you laundry, make a healthy dinner, and effective sleeping habits! Watching this growth from move-in day for the recent high school grad to commencement as a senior is what brings joy to my career path. And it all starts with our Residential Leaders.
We do have big initiatives emerging on our campus, and we have ever more scrutiny from students, family, and the public to ensuring we are providing a quality education inside and outside of the classroom. Keeping these central tenants in mind – creating a safe, inclusive, and vibrant living community – I have every confidence that our staff team next year will rise to meet these challenges. I can’t wait for the next season for Residence Life!