By Jesse Taylor
SUNY Plattsburgh’s Campus Housing and Community Living staff is a department with 62 community advocates, four programming advocates and nine community directors. CDs are responsible for ensuring a safe environment in the dorm halls and overseeing community advocates. Typically, CDs are responsible for two buildings, but Zane Bazzano is a special case in that he is the director for three residence halls – Hood, deFredenburgh and Kent. On top of that, his supplemental job responsibility is as wellness coordinator.
Although Bazzano may currently be considered the outlier in terms of managing three residence halls, it is not as unusual as it may seem. James Sherman, the director of campus housing and community living, said the reason Bazzano is currently managing three residence halls is because the school is moving away from hiring graduate students and looking into hiring more professional staff.
Bazzano grew up in Peru, New York, just outside of Plattsburgh. Before becoming a CD, he went to college at SUNY Stony Brook. After graduating from Stony Brook he enrolled in SUNY Plattsburgh’s childhood education masters program, which is part of the reason he decided to become a CD in the first place. He was looking to avoid further student loans as a graduate student.
Bazzano began working as a CD in fall 2020 at the height of COVID-19. During that time, programming was extremely difficult, especially in terms of following the Centers for Disease Control’s social-distancing guidelines at the time, Bazzano said.
But now it seems that Bazzano and the rest of the staff are beginning to return to how things used to be before COVID. Bazzano said he is seeing people wanting to participate in these programs more and that the campus and community living staff are beginning to get back in their “stride.”
Bazzano said he oversees 20 CA’s, two assistant directors, a graduate wellness assistant and two peer educators. The only consistent thing about Bazzano’s workday is two to three one-on-one meetings with staff members. Other than that, “no one day is the same.” A lot of Bazzano’s days are full of planning for programs that he sets up as the wellness coordinator such as the programs offered in the recent wellness week.
One of the more unique programs that Bazzano facilitates as the wellness coordinator is his Painting with Avery program, in which students are invited to chat with Bazzano’s four-year-old daughter as she paints various things on her easel in the main lounge of Hood Hall. Bazzano said that since he started advertising the program, they have been getting five to ten people showing up each week, with “a few regulars.”
Bazzano said he is grateful for the opportunity to do this program with his daughter on campus.
“It is a unique dynamic and I am very grateful for it,” Bazzano said.
He said the surrounding community outside the college is not the most diverse population, with Clinton County demographics averaging 11% of the population identifying as a person of color, compared to the 29.1% of Plattsburgh undergraduates identifying as such. He appreciates that his daughter is being exposed to more diversity at such an early age.
This is Bazzano’s first year as the wellness coordinator, and he puts a lot of effort into providing as many programs for as many students as possible.
“The goal is to be involved in wellness programming as much as possible,” Bazzano said.
The days that he is able to be involved in programming “are the days that stand out.”
The passion that Bazzano has for his work does not go unnoticed. Sherman said, “It’s a passion of Zane’s, and he really likes to do this type of work and it shows.”