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Have you ever wondered who keeps those crazy college kids in line while living in a dormitory? That near impossible task is left up to a residence hall coordinator. A Residence Hall Coordinator or Residence Hall Director is an individual employed full-time through a university or college and is responsible for the management and direction of day to day operations of an on campus residence hall or dormitory. They are the so-called boss of the Resident Assistants, also know as RA’s, and are in charge of the management and training of the Resident Assistants. Resident Assistants are normally college students that supervise the residents living in the residence hall or dormitory. Resident Assistants normally earn and hourly wage when they are on duty and are also compensated with free room and board. They are normally assigned to one floor, which they also live on, and are responsible for keeping their floor safe and making sure it’s an enjoyable environment for their residents to live in. They are also usually required to be on duty in the residence hall a certain number of times a month, during which they may have to cover the front desk, oversee events in the residence hall or what is called “roving” the residence hall.
Roving is when a few of the Resident Assistants walk around on each floor of the residence hall to make sure the residents are obeying quiet hours and not breaking any of the residence hall policies. If a resident were to break a policy and a Resident Assistant were to notice, the Resident Assistant is then responsible for giving a documentation to the resident and would then need to report it to their Residence Hall Coordinator. The university or college normally has a list of policies and rules that residents of its residence halls must follow. It is the job of the Residence Hall Coordinator, with the help from their Resident Assistants, to enforce these rules and policies. When the rules and policies are broken, the Residence Hall Coordinator is responsible for enforcing the university’s disciplinary policies. For example, at West Virginia University, if a resident breaks a policy, say possessing alcohol in their dorm room, they will get punished by having to serve ten hours of community service, taking an online alcohol education course as well as answering a set of questions regarding the policy that was broken.
The Residence Hall Coordinator is then responsible for making sure the resident completes the punishments by a certain deadline and gives out fines if they are not completed on time. Not only do they enforce rules and policies, but they also serve as a mentor or counselor to their residents. College life has it challenges and the Residence Hall Coordinator is able to meet with residents and give them advice about the issues they may be facing. Residence Hall Coordinators have already gone through college themselves and have also worked as a Resident Assistant, so they have experienced many of the things that residents may be struggling with. This makes them a great resource to residents and enables them to provide more help than a parent or friend may be able to. But not only are they responsible for dealing with the many negatives of residence hall life, they are also responsible for coordinating social events for the residents. These events could range from arts and crafts to major-specific seminars to trips to places off campus. They also don’t just plan the events but many times will also attend or chaperone them. The final thing Residence Hall Coordinators oversee is a very important part of residence hall life: roommates. Roommates can pose many problems between residents which I have experienced first hand while living in a residence hall. For example, recently one of my friends: Danielle started to have issues with her roommate: Maddy. It started off as just little conflicts such as not keeping the room clean, invading each other’s space and bickering over the smallest of things.
Danielle would come to me and complain about these issues and would tell me about the awkward tension there was between them. These little conflicts started to pile up and would annoy both of them more and more to the point where it started to create drama between the two. As many girls do, they started to talk about each other behind their backs and they both knew the other was talking behind their back. One day Maddy got fed up and went onto Danielle’s laptop and read through her iMessages. Maddy saw that Danielle had said some things about her and said she was annoyed with her, which escalated the problem even more. Later that night when Maddy saw Danielle at the club she told her that she saw what Danielle had said about her and the two started to verbally fight. Danielle was extremely mad that Maddy had gone through her laptop without her permission. Their friends then broke the two up and they both separately left the club. Once Danielle got home Maddy called her and started to fight with her again. Maddy said some nasty and unnecessary things to Danielle, making her cry and think the whole situation was all her fault, which in reality it wasn’t. The night ended and the two avoided each other as much as possible.
Danielle wouldn’t spend much time in her room and would either just keep to herself and not talk or leave when Maddy was in the room. About a week passed without much conflict but the awkward tension was extremely high between the two. The next Saturday night Maddy came back to her room very intoxicated and started saying nasty things about Danielle without realizing that Danielle was in the room next door and could hear everything she was saying. Danielle then decided to confront Maddy and the two started screaming at each other, which then escalated into Maddy punching Danielle and starting a full on fist fight that resulted in blood. The fight got broken up and the police were called. The police came and resolved the situation and did not allow that the two be in the room together and the next day Maddy was removed from the room and moved into a different dormitory. Residence Hall Coordinators are responsible for dealing with situations like this, and in this example the Residence Hall Coordinator for Danielle and Maddy’s residence hall was faced with dealing with this particular situation. Residence Hall Coordinators are on call twenty-four-seven in case any emergency situations occur. Danielle and Maddy’s Residence Hall Coordinator was called into the dorm when this event occurred and handled the situation with the police. She was the responsible for facilitating a room change for Maddy. Residence Hall Coordinators often have to listen to and deal with issues like the example above as well as many other issues between roommates that many not be as severe.
Heidi Muller is a Residence Hall Coordinator at West Virginia University. She oversees the daily operations of Summit Hall on the downtown campus. This is her fifth year as a Residence Hall Coordinator. Before that she was an Undergraduate Resident Assistant for two years and a Graduate Residents Assistant for one year. She chose to become a Residence Hall Coordinator during her year as a Graduate Resident Assistant when her supervisor suggested the position to her. She enjoys the job but says there are many difficult aspects that come along with the position. Her favorite part of the job is being able to work with her staff and residents and watch them grow and develop into professionals. Heidi says that the hardest part of the position is when there are a lot of issues going on with residents and having to deal with them on a day to day basis. She says it breaks her heart when she sees a resident going through a hard time and knowing that there is only so much she is able to do to help them. The part she dislikes most about the job is being on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. She doesn’t like that she always has to have her phone turned on and on her at all hours of the day in case of any issues or emergencies that may arise in the residence hall. Her day to day activities and responsibilities include checking up on conduct infractions, fining for those conduct infractions, meeting with Resident Assistants, planning programs and residential activities and meeting with students. She also holds positions on many different boards and committees outside of the residence hall. She is currently working on Resident Assistant training for the 2016-2017 school year, where she will be interviewing, selecting and then training the Resident Assistants for next year. Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in social work, which allows her to be a Residence Hall Coordinator. She goes through a three week training every summer with qualifies her to hold her position.
Heidi told an interesting story about her very first year as a Resident Assistant at West Virginia University at Lincoln Hall. She had a student who had gotten very intoxicated and came back to the residence hall. She was at the front desk talking to another Resident Assistant and saw that the student had come in and was noticeably intoxicated. They noticed that he was trying to swipe into the residence hall using his passport instead of his student ID. She asked him to sit down as a precaution because she was concerned about him. She said that at that point he wasn’t in trouble, but then he refused to sit down. He then ran away from her and the other Resident Assistant and started to run upstairs. Heidi was his Resident Assistant so she knew where he lived and had a feeling he was going to try to go to his room. She then followed him upstairs, with the other Resident Assistant and sure enough found him in the hallway trying to key into his room using his passport again: it was not working out well for him. His roommate finally opened the door and Heidi went and talked to the roommate and explained that she thought he was okay but that he was just very intoxicated. She made sure that it was okay with the roommate that the intoxicated student stayed in the room and made sure the roommate was okay with looking after him. The roommate was an older student that had just finished basic training, so Heidi said she felt okay leaving the intoxicated student there. He went inside his room and she explained to his roommate that he would probably get documented for not listening and being disruptive. As soon as she walked down the hall, Heidi and the other Resident Assistant heard a loud banging noise that sounded like someone had been thrown across the room. So she ran down back to the room and keyed into it without even knocking in order to see what was going on.
The roommate had the intoxicated student pinned against the wall with his arm around his neck. At that point Heidi then had her co-Resident Assistant call 911 because she believed the situation had gotten out of hand. She came to find out that what had happened was the drunken student had touched his girlfriend inappropriately. Once the roommate put the intoxicated student down he immediately ran to his suitemates room through the bathroom but she knew he wouldn’t get very far so she walked outside of the room and waited for him to come out of the other side. She heard him crashing around in his suitemates room and then very shortly after he opened the door and yelled “FUCK” as soon as he saw Heidi standing there. She said he then ran out of the room and down the hallway faster than she had ever seen anyone run before. She started to run after him and heard the alarm to the side door go off because it was past 9:00 pm so she knew he had left the building through that door. Her and the other Resident Assistant then followed him outside only to find that he had disappeared. They knew he was very intoxicated and would eventually decide to come back into the building so they went back inside and waited. She said not even ten minutes later he walked back in, again trying to swipe in with his passport. She walked up to the door and let him in and asked if he was okay and if he needed any help. She said he had vomit all over his forehead and leaves in his hair, down his shirt and all over his body as if he had he just tumbled down a hill while he was outside. She then told him that she wanted him to come sit down and he responded, “You know what I want? I WANT YOU TO SUCK MY COCK.” She said the lobby was full of students that clearly heard him scream it and that she remembers being completely embarrassed. At that point she had no idea what to do and while trying to decide the best course of action the intoxicated student got up and ran right back out of the building. At that point Heidi’s Residence Hall Coordinator woke up and came out into the lobby and she proceeded to tell him that she needed help with this student. Shortly there after she saw the University Police Department pull up and catch the student right in front of towers. They then went out to talk to the police and her Residence Hall Coordinator started to talk to the intoxicated student. He said to him, “Well you’ve had a little bit too much to drink, now didn’t ya?” and the student replied, “I’m in a frat, duh.” Heidi says this is one of her most memorable stories while working in Residence Hall life. She says it’s the first story that comes to mind when she is asked if she has any interesting stories during her time as a Residence Hall Coordinator and Resident Assistant and says it’s a good example some of the incidents residence hall staff deal with.
Being a Residence Hall Coordinator is in no way an easy position to hold. They have many difficult tasks to deal with on a day to day basis as well as being on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They never really seem to be able to catch a break. From dealing with intoxicated students, to filling out paperwork, to dealing with conduct issues, a Residence Hall Coordinator is much more than someone who just manages the operations of a residence hall.
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