Housing and Residence Life implements community-building initiative

Weatherhead+Hall

Weatherhead Hall

Alexa Christianson, Associate News Editor

College residential life makes up a critical component of the college experience for students living on Tulane’s campus. The university’s Department of Housing and Residential Life seeks to ensure safer and more community-based living spaces for students through its new community-building initiative.

As part of the initiative, HRL reorganized the building quads and emphasized resident advisors to focus on orienting new students to campus and residential life.

Tulane RAs underwent a two-week training period over the summer that addressed a number of prevalent issues on campus.

“We have been trained a lot on suicide prevention and awareness, and in gender and sexuality education and microaggressions as well,” junior Amelia Lormand, a first-year RA, said. “Just to make sure that we are being welcoming and addressing everybody as equals and with respect. It was reiterated over and over that our job is to be here for the residents and to make an environment where people can feel comfortable.”

RAs acted on the training they received by creating bulletin boards and other colorful notices in hallways that address topics such as political correctness, sexuality and microaggressions.

“It’s really important that RAs are familiar with not just who are students are, but how to support them,” Associate Director for Residential Education Danielle Klein said. “It allows them to understand certain behaviors and work with students in their own development … giving the RAs the tools to engage in the community on a number of different levels.”

This year, HRL also regrouped the buildings into new quads. There are only four quads on campus this year as opposed to last year’s six.

Different from what students may consider them to be, “quads” for resident advisors outline spaces of operation across campus and are meant to indicate a grouping of housing spaces to encourage interaction between students in separate buildings. The quads also define where resident advisors conduct their supervisory rounds.

“Part of that was in an effort to provide some sort of geographic cohesion,” Klein said. “[In the past], you were in your building, and you were just in your building, and that was it. Having slightly larger quads allows us to cross more boundaries in those physical spaces.”

Grouped in quads together this year are Weatherhead Residential College, Butler Hall, Mayer Residences and Warren Hall; Wall Residential College, Paterson House, Irby House and Phelps House; and Josephine-Louise Hall, Barbara Greenbaum House at Newcomb Lawn, Willow Residences and Aron Residences. Monroe Hall and Sharp Hall physically share the same quad on campus, though HRL decided this year to have RAs in those halls only conduct rounds in their own buildings.

For an RA, rounds involve a blend of interacting with, monitoring of and community-building with students in the halls.

Lormand especially values her opportunities to connect with residents when doing rounds.

“We check up on the residents partially to keep the community standards of living followed, making sure people are following all the rules,” Lormand said. “But also … to let the residents know we are there. Sometimes we just stop and talk to people in the common rooms and the kitchens.”

Another first-year RA, sophomore Aliyah Daniels, speaks eagerly on the connections she hopes to forge with the residents in her hall and in Greenbaum, where she conducts rounds. For her, it is one of the main reasons she applied to be an RA.

“I was really excited to have a relationship with first-year students,” Daniels said. “A lot of the time they come in, they might not know a lot of people, and having someone who was in their shoes a year before or two years before is really helpful.”

Combined with quad reorganizations to promote wider campus programming and redesigned training material, HRL and RAs across campus feel ready to fulfill their role on campus.

“[The RAs] are community-builders; they are stewards of our buildings,” Klein said. “You really get to see the impact you have on people, and what it means to play a role in something a little bit larger than yourself.”