Creating Community in College

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Information about Creating Community in College

Published on March 20, 2008

Author: bradjward



A short presentation describing my efforts to build community within my wing while I was an RA at college. This was presented at the annual Illinois State Resident Assistant Association Conference, and was named the Top Presentation of the conference.

Got G.A.M.E.? – Building an All-Star Community Presented by Brad J. Ward ISRAA President UIS Resident Assistant (2nd year)

Who Am I? • Junior at University of Illinois-Springfield • 2nd year RA in Lincoln Residence Hall • A guy that just wants to have a good time. 2

Some Statistics from my wing • Anonymous Survey: 29 respondents – 12 sophomores, 17 freshmen – Co-Ed 3

Question 1 • As a result of living in Twosouth, I believe that my time at UIS has been [better, the same, worse] than colleagues living in other wings. Better – 28 96.6% Same – 1 3.4% Worse – 0 0.0% 4

Question 2 • I feel that the community atmosphere of Twosouth has helped me gain valuable friends and relationships. Yes – 27 93.1% No – 1 3.4% Somewhat – 1 3.4% 5

Question 3 • I am happy to say that I had the opportunity to live in Twosouth. Yes – 28 96.6% No - 0 0.0% Somewhat – 1 3.4% 6

Question 4 • I think that my RA knows quite a bit about me. Yes – 24 82.8% No – 2 6.9% Somewhat – 3 10.3% 7

Question 5 • When I look back to my first two years of college, I will have positive memories of my dorm life and the wing atmosphere. Yes – 27 93.1% No – 0 0.0% Somewhat – 2 6.9% 8

Question 6 • Compared to other residents of LRH, I would rate my wing experience: 0----------------------------------3-----------------5--------------------7----------------------------10 Horrible Lower, but good Same Better Great Sophomores: 9.25/10 Freshmen: 8.47/10 Total: 8.80/10 9

What does this all mean? • Prior history of Twosouth – “Healthy Lifestyles” • GOT GAME? I did. – Game plan – “Build” your All-Star Team. 10

My Dream Team 11

My Dream Team 12

Let’s get started!! UcommUnityU Only 20 points in Scrabble... BUT think of the benefits!! 13

What is community Building? • “The fostering and promoting of a healthy environment in which people may grow, mature, feel safe and secure, and learn to live with other people.” • According to the UIS RA Manual, developing a sense of community among residents is one of the most important tasks of Housing and the RA’s. 14

UcommUnityU • Why UcommUnityU ???? !U must start the community. !U must be in the community. !U must stand behind and support the community. 15

Characteristics of a Strong community? • What do you think? 16

Characteristics of a Strong community? • People know one another • Doors are frequently left open, everyone feels comfortable visiting other community members. • Regular activities are planned and WELL-attended. • Residents are very involved with planning court/floor activities. • The community is very involved in recreational sports. • Residents contribute to the greater community through floor-organized community programs 17

Characteristics of a Strong community? • Residents feel comfortable confronting one another on simple violations (i.e. NOISE!) • Residents respect other viewpoints even if they are different than their own. • Residents actively seek out a diversity of people regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, ability, or sexual orientation. • Community members take responsibility for their actions. 18

Ok.. This sounds great and all... But how the heck do you actually do it?? * Risk it all... Conquer the World!! Or your wing... 19 * Last nowhere near comical board game joke, I swear.

Laying the Foundation • Remember, U must initiate the community! – Start the year off right • BE PREPARED AND ORGANIZED • Nice Door Decs • Bulletin Board(s) ready to go 20

U Begin the community • Encourage residents who are settled to help others move in. • Use introduction exercises at first area meetings. • Identify the “shy” or “loner” people and invite them to meals or activities. • Visit residents in their rooms or apartments • Post photos of residents and events on bulletin boards. • Recognize individual achievements at area meetings or bulletin boards. • Attend campus events. • Publish a floor/court newsletter... Or website quot; 21

U must be in the Community • Be available • Be visible • Program, Program, Program 22

U in the Community • Be available: From the UIS RA Handbook – “RA’s should know residents well enough to cite particulars regarding their academic and personal interests. RA’s are expected to be able to do this within three weeks on the job.” 23

U in the community • Open Door Hours • 8 hours a week (Mon-Fri) • 2hr minimum segment, at least 2 different days • 1 segment b/w 9a-5pm, 1 b/w 5pm-12a. • May concur with duty evenings. • Should be consistently scheduled and posted. 24

U in the Community • Program, Program, Program • My Philosophy • No events = No fun • No fun = Residents sit in room and watch TV • If they Sit in room and watch TV = No community • No community = BOOOORING!!!!!!!!!!!!! 25

U in the community • Programs planned/organized * Pack the Field * Door Decs * He Said, She Said * War of the Wings* Snow Cone Nights * IM Sand Volleyball, Softball, Basketball, Soccer Teams * Credit Card Debt Bulletin Board * HRC Water Games * Capture the Flag * Homecoming Decorating Contest * Halloween Decorating Contest * HRC Farm Games * Rushville Trip * Monster Bash * Alcohol Awareness *Operation Christmas Child *Holiday Decorating Contest * Pie in Your RA’s Eye * HRC Ice Cream Social * Holiday Bulletin Board * Pack the Place 2005 *Super Smash Bros Melee * Table Top Tournament * Twosouth Mardi Gras Party * Madden 2005 Tournament * Super Bowl Sunday * HRC Anti-Valentines Bash * We Went to ... * Bad Info Bulletin Board * Mr. UIS Pageant * HRC Halftime Show * Blue Crew * 26

U Behind the Community 27

U behind The community • You must always support every member of your community in everything they do! – If someone wants a program, do your best to make it happen! 28

Boyer’s Community • Is your community.... – Purposeful? – Open? – Just? – Disciplined? – Caring? – Celebrative? 29

A Purposeful Community • [...] Students share in academic goals and work together to help strengthen teaching and learning on the campus. This aspect of community places the highest importance on academics and would support each student's pursuit of academic success. After having established purpose to a community, residents would then need to be able to express themselves openly and constructively. 30

An Open Community • [...] freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected [and] civility is powerfully affirmed. This type of living environment seeks to make students feel secure and protected in their right to express themselves. Just as it is important to have an open community, is it to have a community where each person's individuality and uniqueness is protected. 31

A Just Community • [...] living in an environment where the sacredness of each person is honored and where diversity is heavily pursued. 32

A Disciplined Community • [...] residents behave in a safe and mature manner. A disciplined community is one where individuals accept their responsibilities to the group and where clearly defined policies guide behavior for the common good. It is a common human need to feel like each of us is part of something bigger than ourselves. People want to feel liked and cared for by others. 33

A Caring Community • [...] a place where the well being of each member is sensitively supported and where helping others is encouraged. 34

A Celebrative Community • A celebrative community is one in which the history of the university [or wing!!!] is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are shared. It is important to note here that each one of these elements contain themes and ideas that are built out of basic human rights/needs. It is when all of them are combined does a person see just how much they encompass and how they help to build solid communities. 35

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