Changes to Residence Life eliminate SRA, RD positions in fall 2015

Several changes are in the works for the Department of Residence Life, particularly in regards to the senior resident assistant and assistant residence director positions. The SRA position has been eliminated to allow for the formation of an all-ARD senior paraprofessional staff, while the corresponding professional position––residence director––will be phased out in favor of more area coordinator positions.

The Residence Life staff received a proposal last fall outlining a plan for establishing a 12-month, two-building professional staff. This plan would have streamlined Residence Life by eliminating the 10-month, largely temporary RD position and would have also involved eliminating the SRA position for the 2016-17 academic year.

More recently, however, two professionals resigned. Both former Residence Director for Monroe Hall and Saratoga Terrace Stephanie Haynes and former Suffolk Hall and Dante House Area Coordinator Luke Haumesser left Geneseo, causing the Residence Life staff to begin implementing the changes earlier than originally planned.

Dean of Residential Living Celia Easton was instrumental in making this shift. According to Easton, “The resignations came right in the middle of [SRA selection] and I said, ‘Pause. Let’s see where we are.’” Easton and her staff called a meeting for the candidates, who were informed that there would no longer be an SRA position, but they could be eligible for any of the new ARD positions that had since opened up.

“I know for the students, it seems like we’re changing things mid-course,” Easton said. “But in the long run, this is better for the student applicants.”

Area Coordinator for Writers House and Ontario Hall Noah Wilson said that the timing was not ideal. “I held a focus group and that’s why we had [a] meeting to discuss it,” Wilson said. “We wanted to be as transparent as we could because a lot was happening quickly for us, and we wanted to make sure [the applicants] had a chance to voice their opinions because they matter.”

While ARDs receive a higher salary and hold a more prestigious title than SRAs, many staff members––both student and professional––had expressed concern over the overlapping responsibilities shared by the two positions, according to Wilson.

“What they noticed was that there wasn’t a huge difference between the two positions,” Wilson said. “There really wasn’t a point in having them separate because they were essentially the same.” Easton added that it seemed “unfair” to keep a handful of RAs at a lower level position “rather than rewarding everyone and bringing them up to that higher level.”

Though the ARD position has typically been a two-building position, there will be ARDs who oversee just one building––especially during the next year––while the department is still in transition. “Circumstances are going to shape the work that people do within the common parameters,” Easton said. “So the work is going to be somewhat different.”

Although the SRA applicants have been most directly affected by the elimination of that position, according to Easton, “It’s not that we’re changing the ARD position. It’s that we’re doing a reorganization of the department.”

Another department change will affect the pairing of certain buildings—first in South Village for the 2015-16 academic year, and then in North Village beginning in 2016-17. The corridor-style, all-freshman Dante House was formerly paired with suite-style Suffolk Hall for geographic reasons, but it will now be paired with the similarly structured Niagara Hall instead.

The suite-style Suffolk and Nassau Halls will form the other South Village pair. “The person who is responsible for those buildings can have one plan,” Easton explained. “Suite-style buildings have very specific kinds of facilities needs.”

Residence assistant junior Elizabeth Wrisley is one staff member who will be directly affected by all of these changes. Wrisley, who had applied to be an SRA in the fall, was instead selected to be the new ARD of Nassau and Suffolk Halls.

“The biggest different in my case is that I applied to be an SRA, which was a one-building job, and now I am actually the ARD of two buildings,” Wrisley said. Although she will have more responsibility than she initially expected, she expressed optimism regarding this new transition. “Overall, I think the change will be positive—especially from a student staff perspective,” she said.

Wilson shared in Wrisley’s positive outlook regarding the changes to the department. “As a newcomer, it’s got me very excited,” Wilson said. “I think overall, it’s going to be a great thing.”