by Jessica Ware
Residential Life has made significant changes within its department. Among the changes is a new position called Senior Resident Assistant (SRA).
“The SRA is like a super (Resident Assistant). We have just given them a little more responsibility and a bigger leadership opportunity,” said Jesse Leonard, director of public safety and interim director of Residential Life.
Although there are some similarities to the RA position, there are additional aspects to this opportunity that make the role unique. When describing the new position, Leonard said, “It’s a leadership position within our department, and it has some components of supervising the (Resident Assistants), but there is also components of mentoring them. A lot of it is management of roommate situations, if they are changing their bulletin boards and are the work orders being completed.”
Two Resident Assistants (RAs) were offered the opportunity to fill in the new positions of Senior Resident Assistants: seniors Megan Myers and Kirstin McKenzie.
The new positions were created to replace three Resident Directors who left the College. “We actually lost three Resident Directors. Fiona (Philippe-Grugan) moved on to pursue her degree in higher education. Then Steve (Ankney) and Jessica (Maxon), the RD of South Hall, they both stepped up thankfully to fill in full-time positions,” said Leonard.
With the shift in job placement, the College was left with need for accommodations. “Steve Ankney accepted a different position at the College. He is full-time at academic support, so he is still here, but he is not an RD,” said Myers. “There was a need for a kind of supervisor to be in Cloister – since Steve left from East, they put Kate McDonald, who was the RD in Cloister, at East.”
The alteration in employment is what created the SRA position. “It was a little bit like a trickle down affect to how we got to where we are today. There was some full-time professional staff that moved on. We had some RDs step up into that position. Then the SRAs came about in the same way. We had some RAs with some good experiences and they have kind of stepped into a more leadership role,” said Leonard.
McKenzie, who was previously the RA of Pink, has recently stepped up as a SRA. “I feel honored that they picked me to run an entire building. I definitely feel like we are very supported, so we are not out there by ourselves. Students shouldn’t feel like there is another student in charge of them because we still report to our higher-ups and we have plenty of support in that way as well,” said McKenzie.
Myers, who also has recently taken on the role of a SRA, describes the relationship of her position with an RD. “There wasn’t someone who was holding the staff meetings or someone who could be a point person. I was asked to be that point person and handle more administrative stuff in the building and send out emails,” said Myers. “That basically is what happened in TNT as well. Kirstin and I both report to an RD and the director of Res Life.”
When asked whether or not there were any complications with the whole process, Myers said, “I wouldn’t say there were any complications. During the transition period there are kind of not necessary growing pains, but more like ‘okay how do we approach this now since things are a little bit different,’ but we had a really great support from the director of Res Life and our RDs who said that we could do this. It was a great compliment and honor to just be promoted to this position.”
There was an urgency for empty positions to be filled. “Once Fiona left, it was actually pretty streamline from there,” said McKenzie. “Jesse Leonard realized where we had holes in Res Life, and just filled them as quickly as we could. I think it was done really well on all accounts.”
Even though their positions have changed, an SRA is not an RD. “I get a lot of people who refer to me as the RD jokingly or thinking I’m the new RD. I make a point to explain that I am not the RD, I am the senior RA. I have not been trained the way an RD has been trained,” said Myers. “Basically my job as the senior RA is to support the RAs in Cloister, help out with their programming events, keep them updated and in the loop and be a resource to them.”
When asked if the position will continue into the coming years, Leonard said, “I see it as something that could continue, to what extent, I don’t know—like if we would have more of them next year or less of them. So far it has proven to be a good model for us.”
With the recent changes in Residential Life and the possibility of a new reoccurring position, Penny Hooper-Conway, assistant director of Res Life, said, “Sometimes change can be good. Sometimes we get stagnate in our jobs because there are not a lot of changes. I think this has been a huge leap in the learning curve for us. It shows us things that we are doing right, things that we are doing wrong, and things that need to be changed and approved. I think our staff has definitely stepped up to the plate.”
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 6 News