A new Housing and Residential Life program debuted last week aims to connect resident hall student group leaders through monthly meetings with peers and staff.
While currently only available at 17th Avenue Residence Hall and Keeler Apartments, the HRL How To Series is focused around improving groups and increasing membership. Each meeting is focused around a different theme, like graphic design and social media.
Student-led HRL groups are formed by students in residential halls and apartments each semester. Students interested in creating groups can apply online and after submitting an application and meet with a staff member to discuss funding, location and promotion for their group. The funding for the groups is pulled from student housing fees.
Alex Abraha, an assistant residence director for HRL, created the program as a way to engage group leaders and assist them in promoting and building their groups.
Kristie Feist, assistant director for academic initiatives and student engagement in HRL, said this is the first opportunity for student group leaders to meet with peers and staff on a regular basis to share information and advice.
After a group is established, members are required to meet with resident hall staff to resolve any confusion a group may have, Feist said. However, groups are not required to meet with staff after their first meeting.
The new program provides student group leaders the option to continue to work with staff who can provide insight and assistance after the initial meeting.
Ellie Stimmel, a freshman who leads a Law and Order SVU viewing group for her floor in the 17th Avenue Residence Hall, said that while the initial meeting with the staff member was helpful, she was still confused on aspects like funding and advertising for her group.
Stimmel said she started the group to connect her floor and create more of a community in the dorms.
“I think it was a really good opportunity to lead, even if it is in a small way, and take initiative on getting people together,” she said.
Abraha said the groups model used in the program is a way for students to develop their skills with support from staff.
“This is hopefully something they can put on their resume as well, like ‘I created and organized a group and I’ve gone through these monthly events that’ll help me build these types of skills,’" Abraha said. "I want them to look at this like this is something for the future that I can take with me."
Depending on the response to the How To series, Feist said he would like to see it expanded to other buildings in the future.
Last year there was a record high of 386 HRL groups last year throughout the 13 University-owned residence halls, Feist said.
“This continues to be a place where I think we can really grow and develop our model, and how we support those individuals who want to learn more about leadership styles and what it means,” Feist said.