Residence Life staff reflect on changes

Freshman Micaela Merrill reads a book in Missouri Hall. The top three floors of MO Hall will be closed next semester. Photo by Bidan Yang

Residence Life at Truman State University is partially closing four residence halls and permanently decommissioning the Randolph Apartments. Floors on four residence halls will be closed for the upcoming semester. 

The reason for closing the upper floors of the halls is to keep options open for residents, Alex Graham, community coordinator for Missouri Hall, said. Residents can still choose suite or community-style, preferred location and more with the way the halls are closing off floors. 

Tucker Murry, community coordinator for Centennial Hall, said his position will not be affected by the changes. Murry said fewer student advisors means fewer people to work with, but the core responsibilities really do not shift. 

With fewer people in a building, Murry said, it might even make the job easier. 

Mary Ingrassia, a student advisor for the fourth floor of Centennial, said a problem residents are facing is the inability to squat their rooms. Usually, students who live in the residence halls can reserve their current dorm room for the following semester. However, the students who are on floors planned to close get priority to choose a new room for next semester. 

Since no one on Ingrassia’s floor could keep their current room, she said it caused her residents some stress.

Ingrassia said when she first heard the news of the hall closures she was shocked, crushed and really hurt.

“I didn’t know I would have a reaction like that,” Ingrassia said. ‘“I guess I am a very sentimental person and just thinking about what Centennial was my freshman year versus, like, what it’s become [because of COVID].”

Ingrassia said as a freshman she felt like Centennial was full of life and the place to be. 

Her freshman year all the floors were full, Ingrassia said, people kept their doors open and were talking to each other all throughout Centennial Hall. 

“So just watching the slow decline of residents in the building and now the floors closing, it makes me very sad because I want people to have the experience that I had,” Ingrassia said. “I know that future freshmen will make the best of it because they don’t know what Centennial used to be like.”

Ingrassia said as a student advisor she became attached to the floor to which she was assigned. 

She said last year on the second floor she became attached to the physical space and the residents, and the same for this year on the fourth floor. 

“We always say [Centennial is] just quirky and energetic,” Ingrassia said. “COVID has really skewed the true vibe of Centennial, but we, as [SAs] really tried to keep that up this school year and are trying to keep the spirit of Centennial alive.” 

Residence Life held the annual college cup during Truman Days this academic year, with special COVID precautions. 

Murry said even though it is a difficult year, it really was comforting to see the college cup for another year. 

“And [it was in] that moment of watching these people do the cheers, everyone wearing yellow, I looked at the building and all the residents, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really a part of something bigger here than myself,’” Murry said.

Graham said she first chose to live in Missouri Hall because of the layout. 

With Missouri Hall’s different layout, three halls of the floor share one lounge as opposed to most residential halls where one or two halls share a lounge. Graham thought the localized lounge would create a good space to meet new people.  

“I don’t regret it,” Graham said. “It was a really fun first semester for me.”

Once she became a student advisor the second semester of her freshman year, her experience shifted. 

Graham said her perspective and memories are all shaped at this point by Residence Life.  

“When you come as a freshman to Truman, a lot of times you don’t know a lot of other people, and so your first year is like the first set of people that you meet,” Graham said. “To be a student advisor and to see all these people come and become friends [is] a really cool experience. I still see them like a year or two years later and they’re all still really close friends.” 

Graham said looking back on who you live with and the people you meet can make up those favorite memories.

Due to the lower enrollment over the past few years and the floors closing in the next semester, Residence Life will hire fewer student advisors than usual.

Graham said ResLife wants to give as many students as possible the opportunity to become a student advisor because of the personal and professional experience.  

“So it’s discouraging to some degree,” Graham said. “I also look at it on the other side. For example, this year in Missouri [Hall] we have less student advisors than we did the previous year, and the Missouri Hall staff has become really, really close this year.”

Graham said with the smaller number of ResLife staff, she was able to do a lot of internal activities and get to know SAs from across buildings. 

Graham said working with staff from other buildings was a different feel for the year. She said each hall and staff is so different, so having experiences with other halls adds to the job.

“I won’t be here next year, but I think it’s going to be even stronger next year where all the student advisors are going to be able to know each other more and work together more,” Graham said. “So I think there’s going to be a little more [unity] across all the buildings.”

Murry said when it comes to closures, he feels like it is easy to worry about how different everything is going to be.

It is important to realize the University is different and changing too, Murry said, even since he was a freshman.

“[There was a time] buildings like these had 18 student advisors at one point,” Murry said. “So times are shifting, and that’s why I feel like there is some of that emotional side of it, but you have to do what makes sense for the University. It makes sense right now.”