This past spring, Geneseo's Office of Residence Life implemented a significant change in order to improve the programs and opportunities it offers for student involvement in the campus community.
The new curriculum, which began this fall, was put together by Kimberly Harvey, area coordinator of Wayne and Suffolk Halls, and Andrew Baker, assistant director of residence life.
Resident Assistants will put on three programs a semester - fewer than what has been required in the past - that work towards several goals for student enrichment. These include completing the transition to college life, increasing social skills and becoming a member of the community.
According to Dr. Celia Easton, who holds newly created position of dean of residence life, these changes were made in order to "increase connections between the students and life outside of the classroom."
Using the University of Delaware's program as the basic model, the department's new curriculum has specific learning goals for on-campus students. Easton believes that what can be learned as a resident will go beyond a student's college career.
"This is about practicing wisdom, moral virtues, friendship, citizenship and leadership for the rest of their lives," she said. "There is a myth about what college is like. If you look nationally at the habits across college campuses, for instance in the case of drinking, I'm sure that wouldn't happen as frequently if students who saw their professors outside of the classroom were going to see them the next day."
While she acknowledged student independence as vital, she said it is also important to take advantage of resources the college has in order to develop students beyond the classroom.
The resident assistants were introduced to this new program during summer training a few weeks before classes began. Charlotte Abram, a sophomore RA for Nassau Hall, stated that the main focus was that "each program we make has to have a learning outcome.
Staff members are encouraged to work with faculty, promote events on campus, or create their own programs. RA Jill Rabinowitz, a junior from Nassau Hall, plans on making her goal, "building unity and community." When describing her plans to make dessert for her floor she affirmed that, "free food is great but free food and a cause goes so much further."
Sara Unger, a sophomore RA from Onondaga Hall, plans on bringing in a professor to speak about opportunities to study abroad and a tour of GSTV in order to better familiarize freshman with activities on campus. Unger believes the new model will better serve the students and notes that in previous years, "things were just thrown together to fulfill requirements." The goal now is to bring the focus back to campus.
Programs that each of the resident halls provide will focus on the unique needs of their students. Allegany, an upperclassmen hall, is currently working on connecting majors with possible career opportunities.
In addition, there will be a new event entitled "Dinner Topics," that will bring together students and professors during an informal dinner at Red Jacket. The first dinner, themed "Fiction Writers," will include a fiction reading and conversation by professors Rachel Hall and Kristen Gentry.
As for students who live off campus, Easton anticipated that "since students begin on campus, we hope they make affiliations that they can keep over the next couple of years."
Easton is optimistic that Geneseo will adapt smoothly to this new curriculum because "there are already student faculty relationships outside of the classroom." As the year progresses, Easton plans on hearing feedback from the RAs in order to see what works well and what changes must be made in order to meet long-term goals.