“I hope most students get the idea that we’re here to help build communities. Especially first-year students and transfer students, they don’t have a community yet. The idea is to help build those communities so they feel like they belong someplace and help them feel as if they belong here at SUNY Plattsburgh,” Assistant Director of Campus Housing and Community Living Jim Sherman said.
The resident assistant position has been permanently changed to community advocate. This change is geared to bring more inclusion to students who live on campus and to make everyone feel welcomed according to members of campus housing and community living.
The responsibilities of the CAs and Community Directors remain the same as before.
“[The change] is more intentional to build community,” CD of Hood Hall Brittany Washington said. “The community circles that we’ve implemented is a way for CAs to get students’ information but in an empowering and educational way.. “That is the difference from the RA to CA position; it’s putting more ownership on students, being more education and community based.”
According to the CAs and CDs on campus, they are known to be an authoritative figure and students can feel intimidated by them. It can create a wall between the two, even though they are all students.
Washington said the members or Reslife want to establish a sense of community in the residense halls. Student may be turned off to it because they view CAs as rule enforcers.
Not only has the notion of community been conveyed to residents who live on-campus, it has been emphasized among the CAs and CDs of the residence halls so they can work together in making their residents feel connected.
“I feel like it’s a fresh start because as an RA we were seen as an authoritative figure that points fingers and moves the chess pieces but as a CA, our role is to now fit in and make everyone feel inclusive,”This change has recently been put into action, it can take time to have its residents see the effects Reslife wishes its students to have.
Senior Computer Science major and CA of MacDonough Hall Ryan Pinnock said the change won’t be really effective with upperclassmen because of stigma. After seeing an RA as a authoratative figure for so long, upperclassmen find it hard to see them as anything more.
“What we’re trying to do now is to just get through to those, like juniors and seniors that haven’t left us yet or are about to leave to make them feel as if we’re are one, because we truly are one and it’s not like ‘you do what I say or else’,” Pinnock said. “It’s me and you talking, reasoning, trying to come to a mutual understanding that will benefit not only us both but the entire community.”
As emphasized by the CAs and CDs, their overall message is to convey one of inclusion and to let students know that they belong here and that there is a community here for everyone.