Last week, The Index reported on the changes to the Residence Life curriculum. During the time of reporting only about 40% of the new curriculum had been planned out. While it is a little early to make judgement on the new curriculum, from what I heard from the Res Life Director’s plans and from what I have seen in the halls, these changes are not what Truman State University needs. Hall residents need to be aware of these changes and be vocal about their opinions of the changes.
Students usually choose Truman for its affordability and small-town atmosphere. Here, students feel as though our professors and staff know us on more of a personal level, rather than as a number on an ID card. Part of that uniqueness comes from the on-campus living atmosphere.
The new curriculum for Res Life has changed how door decs are created. They are no longer handmade by SAs, but instead they are designed by a hall director. The current door decs are a major step down from the handmade door decs that highlighted the specific house communities. There is a lack of creativity, originality and personality with the new door decs. In case you haven’t seen them, they are designed as a postcard with the resident’s name and a get-to-know-you question with a small stamp in the top right to indicate which hall an individual resides in.
I realize the time it took to handmake the tiny decorations and how something so small might have been overlooked, however, it was a cute experience to see something another student made for you on your door. I’ve talked to many students who say they remember and appreciate their freshman door decs, and most kept them, so obviously these small gestures are not for nothing. Many students treasure the decorations that SAs put on their doors.
The new curriculum is also said to have less activities and more unity. Under the umbrella term “unity” it sounds positive, however, the real term should be “bureaucratic.” Now, activities in the halls will be the same through all the halls, and hall directors will bring forth the content they think students should know rather than the SAs deciding that information. Of course the hall directors have more life experience and are valued members of Res Life, but it is a breath of fresh air to have student-created and student-led events on campus. Through most of our lives superiors have dictated what we did — having a group of fellow students plan events made them more in-touch with what students actually like. A lot of SAs take on that role to have more responsibility and to be leaders among their peers. The control hall directors and Res Life staff have now robs the SAs of valuable learning and teaching opportunities.
Within the Truman community the majority of on-campus students identify themselves with their halls. We love our halls for the differences they have. It is naive to think a student chose Missouri Hall over Blanton-Nason-Brewer Hall just because of the community-style bathrooms option — each hall comes with its own identity. However, now the halls will all hold the same events and have unified content given to their residents.
I understand SAs have a lot riding on them, and it sounds nice to alleviate some of their stresses, but there are better ways to do this. Instead of central office taking over duties completely, they should be more of a support behind the scenes helping SAs rather than taking over for them. For instance, the door decs should still be decorated by SAs, but if an SA doesn’t want to put the extra time in or they don’t want to participate, then they could use staff-made templates. SAs should still bring forward content they want students to know in their own unique ways, however, ResLife should be allowed to dictate what is on the hall bulletin boards at certain times of the year as they do for winter break and check-out time.
During my interview with Residence Life Director Jamie Van Boxel, one thing he said was that ResLife would be looking for student responses from the changes they are making. Since they asked, we should supply them with responses. I, for one, am not liking the direction the new changes are going in. Residents within the dorms on campus need to speak up, whether they love the new changes or not.