THINGS TO CONSIDER: 1. Consider the individuals who make up the community. Assess their needs and interests before you determine the direction the community should take. 2. The physical layout of your floor will define the boundaries in your community. Different levels, doors, or visual barriers will affect your community development efforts. 3. Activities should be diverse enough to attract all of your residents at one time or another. 4. One good indicator that a community is developing is the communication that goes beyond the superficial and encourages the formation of inter-dependent, interpersonal relationships (i.e.; forming of study groups, intramural teams, eating together/socializing).
BUILDING COMMUNITY The Residence Life Staff’s enthusiasm, ingenuity, and creativity are all important in setting the tone and atmosphere of each housing area. A residence hall can be as exciting and as challenging as we, the staff, make it; listed below are some helpful hints for working with residents to create a “community spirit” conducive to positive and effective living and learning: · By knowing a resident’s name, you make them feel that they are important as an individual · By being interested in the residents, listening to their ideas, and finding out the things they are interested in will enable you to work with them in a more personal way. Seek their opinions, ideas, and constructive suggestions · By knowing residents well, you are able to spot problems sometimes before they arise. When problems do occur, you are better able to handle the situation and approach it more professionally if you know the resident well · By providing opportunities for group activities, you help residents to adjust more easily. Shy and withdrawn students are hesitant about joining a group activity. A little encouragement from you might be just the push they want and need. Aim at getting all of the residents involved · By being aware of campus organizations and activities, you can help residents get involved from the very beginning. It is your responsibility to know what is happening on campus, and it is you who should pass this information to the residents. An attractive bulletin board might be a good channel of communication for these events. Nothing, however, is more effective than personal contact · By providing opportunities for residents to get to know each other, you aid in their adjustment Wing/building/floor meetings are an effective way for residents to get to know each other and for imparting information · By appreciating individuality, you can work more effectively with residents. As a staff member, it is not your job to become close friends with a few and ignore the rest. It is your responsibility to know each resident in your area · By getting involved in the activities in your housing area, you will enjoy your job more. Residents often reflect your attitude. If you get enthusiastic and involved, many will follow your example. Majority participation is not the only key to success. The measure of a successful activity is the enrichment and enjoyment of those who participated ·By referring residents to the Counseling Center or Student Health Services when appropriate, you enable them to get the help they need. When you are working with a resident you feel needs referring, discuss this with your supervisor, and together you will decide the best way to approach the matter and the resident · By maintaining a professional image, the residents will respect you because you have earned their respect, not simply because you hold a staff position · By being consistent, the residents are able to build confidence in you as a staff member. They can see that what is expected of one resident will be expected of all. In working with residents, be consistent, considerate, friendly, firm, and reasonable
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER It is helpful for you to do some specific things throughout the semester in order to create a positive community. It is important not only to program, but also to do some little extra things throughout the year to strengthen the community. Here are some things to keep in mind throughout the entire year:
Before residents arrive: 1. Door decorations ("door decs") 2. Decorate bulletin boards 3. Plan first floor meeting and post signs announcing it 4. Staff bonding time 5. Become mentally prepared 6. Get some rest 7. Brainstorm program activity ideas for the first week to get residents interacting and acquainted 8. Put a sign on your door that tells where you are and when you’ll be back 9. Post a map so that upon arrival everyone can mark where they’re from 10. Post a map of campus to help students to get oriented to their new environment 11. Make welcome signs 12. Wear your staff shirt on opening day 13. Plan to be available and helpful during check-in and begin your relationship!
During the first two weeks of school: 1. Visit the rooms of your floor members to meet them and get to know them 2. Keep a sign up showing when you are in your room so that residents can stop by and get to know you 3. Introduce floor members to each other 4. Introduce other staff members to your floor residents early in the year 5. Encourage residents to plan “spontaneous” events (movies, nights on the town, etc.) 6. Seek out floor leaders early 7. Encourage residents to run for campus leadership positions 8. Inform residents of the proper manner in which to handle complaints/concerns 9. Assess the needs and wants of your floor members so that you can introduce people with like interests 10. Work to create an atmosphere of responsibility and cooperation so when conflicts arise, the residents will feel more comfortable confronting one another 11. Provide information about the role of a Resident Assistant and be consistent in that role 12. Inform residents of proper safety and security issues such as locking doors, not letting strangers into the building/or leaving their doors open after hours, etc. 13. Make residents aware of policies and why these policies help in community living 14. Encourage residents to plan and implement programs of their own 15. Discuss at early floor meeting residents’responsibilities to each other regarding issues such as noise, etc. 16. Discuss at an early floor meeting the responsibility residents have for their guests 17. Create a place for residents to list their classes and coordinate study groups on the floor 18. Floor dinners
By Mid-Semester: 1. Continue to organize community development activities 2. Have a program on safety and security issues 3. Seek out those students who are not getting involved and encourage them to join floor activities 4. Have rooms next to one another get together and get to know one another 5. Make sure you are spreading out programming responsibilities and types of programs so residents do not feel alienated or lose interest 6. Ask your supervisor to attend at least one meeting to give students a chance to ask questions or voice concerns
Continuously throughout the Semester: 1. Be a role model, demonstrating community spirit 2. Recognize the achievements of residents 3. Encourage attendance at campus events such as sporting events, concerts, etc. in which floor members are participating 4. Encourage residents to confront each other about problems occurring on the floor 5. Post signs in a timely manner about events on campus and in the hall such as CAB, special events, etc. 6. Be sure to take down old signs so that residents do not get “poster blind” 7. Confront policy violations consistently and constructively 8. Make sure you are doing a wide variety of programs 9. Do programs which reflect your community’s interests and needs 10. Update bulletin boards about weekly events, informational items, and academic dates 11. Continue to publicize your events in an effective and creative manner 12. Know resources and be able to act as a referral person for your residents 13. Report any safety equipment problems such as fire extinguishers, door locks, etc. 14. Ask for feedback about the sense of community and programs that have occurred 15. Take suggestions and complaints seriously 16. Post special dates, events, and activities 17. Recognize and celebrate residents’ birthdays 18. Have planned study breaks
End of semester: 1. Determine how to keep in touch 2. Create floor photo album or yearbook 3. Post a board of memories 4. Floor party 5. Finals study/stress relievers 6. Plan ahead for the next semester 7. Set new goals Don’t feel limited to this list! If you try something new that works well, let us know and we will include it on next year’s list!
HEALTHY VS UNHEALTHY COMMUNITIES
CHARACTERISTICS OF POSITIVE & HEALTHY COMMUNITIES · Residents respect one another · Residents do not abuse alcohol or drugs · Residents talk out their differences · People are valued · People talk to one another · Programs and activities are successful · Students care about what happens to one another · People can trust one another · Residents can study peacefully in their rooms · Residents hold each other accountable · Residents make successful academic progress
CHARACTERISTICS OF UNHEALTHY COMMUNITIES · Excessive alcohol and drug use · Facilities damage and vandalism · Intolerable noise levels · Separated racial groups · Residents don’t know each other · Residents can’t study in their residence hall · Residents don’t participate in programming efforts · Residents are afraid of or uncomfortable with each other