Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IHC's Casino Night

The St. Olaf InterHall Council held the 2nd Annual "Casino Night" on Friday, January 22, 2010. InterHall Council (IHC) is a representative group of the campus's hall councils. Each Hall Council President is on IHC and meets weekly to discuss hall council and residence hall issues as well as plan campus-wide events.

Over 550 Oles attended the free Casino Night event. Students "gambled" with chips they received at the door - the more chips they won, the more raffle tickets they could get. Prizes were raffled off during the evening... great items like iPod shuffles, Snuggies, residence hall room accessories and even a 26" Vizio HD television!

Faculty, staff and some students served as dealers. Here's Kevin Rusk from Admissions intensely dealing a hand of blackjack:
Ben Wilson, a Resident Assistant in Mellby and a former Hall Council President,
The event started at 7:30 p.m. and by 8:00 p.m. the ballrooms were getting full...
In addition to poker and blackjack, students could choose to play "less risky" games like Bingo and Super Smash Brothers...
Students exchange chips for raffle tickets...
The event was a HUGE success. IHC and the hall councils did a great job planning and organizing this event. Two years in a row with a great turn-out... next year should be even better!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some words of wisdom...

Are you an RA or JC who is considering coming back to staff next year? Returning as a Senior Resident Assistant or a Student Hall Coordinator can be a fun and rewarding experience. Your AC has passed out (or will give you) a sheet titled "Should I apply to be an SRA or SHC?" that includes some questions that may help you think through your options.

SRAs and SHCs do the same work that an RA or JC does, but they have some added responsibilities in the hall and with the staff. You may be working with an SRA or SHC now - if so, take a few minutes to ask them about their experience to see if it's something you'd like to pursue. Applications are available on the Residence Life website now and are due by noon on Wednesday, February 24, 2010.


The St. Olaf Residence Life Blog recently sat down with two current Student Hall Coordinators - Andrew Fjerstad (from Hoyme) and Grace Wilkinson (from Rand) to find out their thoughts on their decision to return to staff this year.
Blog: Why did you apply to be a returning staff member?
AF: I was a last-minute applicant. I realized Res Life was a really big part of my life and I really appreciated being able to work in an environment with friends... It added a little more structure and it added a little more fun [to my life].
GW: [Being on staff] was something I really enjoyed.... not only living in a community but being able to build that community. I knew I probably wouldn't live near my friends but I knew I'd still have the opportunity to spend time with them and be [an SHC].

Blog: What have been the challenges of being a returning staff member?
GW: The biggest challenge in the beginning (during Week One especially) is that you need to change your mind-set that it's NOT going to be last year.
AF: As one of only two returners on staff in Hoyme (along with Ajay - who was a JC for spring semester 2009), I got so many questions [from new JCs] at the start of the year. A lot of those questions were things that you just sort of figure out by doing it, so especially during training I was a resource for new staff and letting them know everything will work out and it will be great!
GW: Rand is half returners and half new staff, which has been great. We pair up when we do new things and having that experience and knowledge of what works and what doesn't work helps.

Blog: What are the biggest differences between being an RA/JC and being an SRA/SHC?
AF: Added responsibility. Also, you have to make sure there's more of a staff dynamic that's being fostered. It's easy to compartmentalize and be better friends with some staff members and not with others, but as the SHC or SRA you are the facilitator, so you have to step into that role of "let's include everyone." It's a lot more fun that way because you get to set the tone.

Blog: What advice do you have for those thinking about applying to be an SRA or SHC?
AF: Even if you just have the slightest inkling that you might want to apply, go through with it. I wasn't sure that I wanted to at first, but I'm so glad I did. It's opened up so many doors for me. Things work out - you need to know you will still have your friends. You have to make the effort to see them, but they are still there.
GW: It's important to think it through. Think about what role Res Life plays in your life. Why do you enjoy it? What do you find challenging? What will be harder about it next year?
AF: Another thing to do is talk to your AC about it. They can help you figure out your interests. Talk to Charlie, talk to Pamela, just talk about the position with other people. I think that's why some people [don't apply] is that they don't know what is expected of them [as a returner], so just getting those expectations understood now is good. Go to the informational session.
Blog: How do you balance your time as a returning staff member?
AF: My biggest weakness is time management. At the beginning it was difficult to get adjusted, but it's actually helped me align myself.
GW: I needed to remind myself of the RA duties that come along with the SHC duties. I needed to remember to plan those into my week.

Blog: What opportunities have you had as an SRA/SHC that you've really enjoyed?
AF: I really like making the duty schedule. It's like a puzzle and I really like puzzles!
GW: I like being part of hall council and getting the RAs involved with hall council and the hall council involved with what the RAs are doing.
AF: I really appreciate hall council. It's fun to see "the other side" of the dorm. You get to know a lot of people that you otherwise wouldn't get to know.

Blog: What was the transition like to a new supervisor?
GW: I was a little apprehensive to change because I was very used to one style. But I was really really excited to see how another AC does things and at the same time bring in the way I've done things before. [Switching supervisors] really helped me change my mindset that this year wasn't going to be exactly the same as last year.
AF: It's interesting to see different managing styles and you can learn so much from any of the ACs about yourself and how to deal with things - it's been great.

Blog: Any other words of wisdom?
AF: Do it! Apply. It's so rewarding. The reward outweighs the risk.
GW: [Being a returner] been a fantastic experience. The added responsibility, the apartment [for SHCs]. I'm really glad I'm here enjoying my last [semester] at St. Olaf with this experience.


Andrew and Grace thought talking to SRAs and SHCs about the job was very helpful in their decision-making process when they first considered applying. They encourage you to talk with some current returners to find out the pros and cons of doing this job a second time. Below is a list of current SRAs and SHCs. Send them a note, stop them in Buntrock, call 'em up - if you are contemplating the application, take a few minutes to discuss it with someone who is doing the job now and find out what advice they have. I look forward to seeing your application by February 24th!

Current SHCs:
John Schantzen (Larson)
Holly Samuelson (Hill Kitt)
Andrew Fjerstad (Hoyme)
Grace Wilkinson (Rand)
Emily McNee (Thorson)
Kate Helmich (Mohn)

Current SRAs:
Jonathan Woolums (Hill Kitt)
Michael Lenz (Larson)
Pa Houa Xiong (Mellby)
Kyle Glanton (Mohn)
Emma Johanson (Mohn)
Erin Bonawitz (Rand)
Bryce Kennedy (Rand)
Jared Fisher (Thorson)
Elizabeth Mitchell (Thorson)
Aline Skogstoe (Ytterboe)
Ben Brown (Ytterboe)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Student Staff Conference!

The Residence Life professional staff members (the five ACs, Pamela and Charlie) are members of a group called the Associated Twin Cities College Housing Administrators (or "ATCCHA").

Each year, ATCCHA sponsors a day-long conference for student staff members from all over the metro area. This conference brings together students from several campuses to share ideas, talk about the challenges and rewards of being a staff member, and to have some fun. This is really a great event and it's an opportunity to develop some leadership skills that will help you be an even better RA or JC. (This year it's titled an "RA Conference," but it's for ALL student staff members!)

This year's conference is on Saturday, February 6, 2010. This is at the very end of interim break, just before second semester starts. We'll pay your registration fee and will organize transportation.

If you are thinking of applying to be an SHC or SRA for 2010-11, I highly encourage you to attend if you are able! A couple of our returning staff this year attended last February and had a great time!

Please send me an email to let me know if you are interested (email The registration is due very soon, so I'll be in touch again with a reminder and to get a final list of those interested in attending. Let me know if you have any questions, or talk to your AC about it. Please let me know if you want to attend by contacting me by Wednesday, January 13 (that's in two days...)