ResLife Myth #3: Community Happens… Magically

Believing that community building happens naturally and doesn’t require intervention is a myth. This “myth” is often not one that is widely believed by most professionals that work in residence life, but rather those that work outside of it. What many individuals do not realize is the amount of work and intentionality that goes into developing happy, healthy, and productive communities. Rather than just providing “sleeps and eats,” campus housing and residence life departments construct living spaces with intentionality. This intentionality has many benefits beyond just the “warm fuzzies” of community belonging. It… Read More

Closing Time… Reflection and Closure Activities for Residence Life

As May approaches at colleges and universities across the United States, the end of the academic year brings a number of rites of passage and end-of-the-year celebrations–from banquets to award ceremonies to graduations. Students are preparing for finals, saying goodbye to friends, planning for summer work and internships, and, for some, leaving the university for the last time. Recognizing the closure of a community experience in the residence halls is important final learning opportunity for students living in the residence halls. When developing closure activities, there are a number of outcomes one may hope to… Read More

ResLife Myth #1: Food is Necessary for Program Attendance

We’ve all heard it before: Residents won’t attend a program, particularly an educational program, unless there is food. While I’m not naive to the fact that food is a great draw, I do believe that we rely on food too much and that it often gets in the way of educating residents. Don’t get me wrong. I love food more than anyone. Ask any one of my friends on Facebook how often I post about food. There are many benefits to food in a community environment. Food is an excellent way of bringing individuals together. A… Read More

Which of the Residential Curriculum Elements are the Hardest to Achieve? And Why?

The Residential Curriculum Institute defines a curriculum as having 10 “Essential Elements.” These are the features and principles that a residence life department’s educational program should adhere to if it is to be considered a “true” residential curriculum. In 2013, while in my PhD program, I conducted some research on schools implementing this curricular approach. I wanted to find out more about how the Elements were put into practice and the extent to which schools were successful in fulfilling them. A subset of that research is presented here. This post explores the successes and struggles that schools encounter in enacting each of the… Read More

Residential Curriculum Element #1: Directly Connects to the Institutional Mission

Curriculums do not exist in a vacuum. They exist on college campuses which have unique histories, traditions, contexts, cultures, and demographics. To this end, a well developed residential curriculum should be built not only off of peer-reviewed research and national and international standards, but also on the unique aspects of an institution. Many institutions starting a curriculum for the first time may skip over this step, but it is critical to ensure that a curriculum is built off a solid foundation. A curriculum is not merely a schema of categories and check boxes…. Read More