Res Life shuffles staff duties, adds 2 area coordinators

Michelle Ma

Two additional area coordinators will supervise multiple dorms this year as part of a restructuring plan to relieve student residence hall coordinators from multiple responsibilities.

“We wanted to make RHC positions more manageable for the undergraduates in those positions,” said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director of Undergraduate Residential Life.

Last year, RHCs supervised as many as eight residence buildings.

The addition of two new area coordinators has reduced the number of buildings and resident assistants each RHC must supervise.

One new area coordinator will oversee Willard Residential College and what Koch calls some of “the small houses:” North and South Mid-Quads, Rogers House and 1856 Orrington. The other will supervise the new Freshman Quad, comprising Elder Hall, Hinman House, and 600 Lincoln. Northwestern is divided into seven residential areas with one area coordinator staff member supervising each area, Koch said.

In the past, an area coordinator staff member would only oversee one residential building. All area coordinators are full-time staff members of the university and live on campus in apartments, except for the new area coordinator supervising the Willard area.

These recent changes in residential life came from an outside review of the department’s operations about seven years ago, with the addition of two area coordinators representing one phase in the middle of the long-term restructuring program. This trend is designed to have more adults present in residence buildings at night, an issue that came out from the review, said Mary Goldenberg, director of Residential Life.

Although Koch said the office would like to have as many area coordinators as possible, additional coordinators probably won’t be hired because of a shortage of living places on campus.

Stemming from the same Residential Life review, senior RA positions increased from two to seven last year. The number of RHCs on campus has decreased from seven to four. Though undergraduates fill both senior RA and RHC positions, the flip-flop will encourage more student leadership, Goldenberg said.

Traditionally, RHCs run staff meetings and supervise all aspects of residence halls and colleges. Senior RAs’ responsibilities include more direct contact with residents and can vary depending on the needs of the building or buildings they oversee, Goldenberg said.

“A senior RA with multiple buildings might help with staff development, and (senior RAs overseeing single buildings) might focus more on programming,” Goldenberg said. “Senior RA positions are more fluid.”

Before, senior RAs reported to area coordinators and RHCs reported to one of three assistant directors. This year, all students in these leadership positions report to area coordinators, which allows assistant directors to focus on their specific area coordinators and to have a broader role in Residential Life. Three assistant directors now focus on staff training, community, leadership and technology management, Goldenberg said.

“Hopefully residents will see a difference in the quality provided through the changes,” Koch said.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]

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Res Life shuffles staff duties, adds 2 area coordinators