Yesterday, I successfully completed my first Residence Hall Closing as a Residence Director. I remember closing weekend as an RA and the craziness of filling out hundreds of RCRs, filing damages, reminding students that “yes they have to be out by 4PM”, etc! Closing as a professional staff member is a completely different ball game. So, today I’m going to share with you all the ten thoughts that you (or maybe only I) had during closing week in Housing and Residence Life!
(1) When are they going to leave?
I felt like for the month before closing I kept counting down the days until all the students in my building moved out! One consideration to remember when working with students is some students truly don’t want to leave… sometimes its because they don’t have a home to go home to. So, although it is exciting when the year ends and the students leave, keep in mind that every student has their own story and you could have created the best community and they don’t want to leave it.
(2) Is the system set for closing?
I’m big into visualizing a process, so I really enjoyed creating a layout and labeling stations for how closing would run in my building. I also really enjoyed mapping out tasks and creating printables for my RAs.
(3) How many highlighters are too many highlighters?
But, really though? I chose pink (for key returned) and yellow (for inspection completed).
(4) Is the donation pile set up?
Yes! If you don’t have a donation pile for closing, you need one ASAP! At my institution we have a food donation pile (non-perishables) and an ‘everything else’ donation pile, which is full of clothes, blankets, lamps, etc!
(5) What happens if it rains?
Ponchos, umbrellas, water all over the lobby… Set up a plan and prepare for grumpy parents and guardians! Also, if you set up closing outside you might want to consider a rain location! Remember that although you might not have time to dance in the rain, smiling in the rain and being positive is the best way to help yourself, your students, and your staff members.
(6) What do you do if they don’t leave?
On the day of closing, I definitely had this nightmare about having a ton of students staying past the deadline. No matter how many signs I hung around the building about closing, I still had those students who didn’t leave on time! When this happens it is important to remember accountability & customer service and how those two concepts work in your building.
(7) Do you have enough staff members?
At my institution, all the buildings close at the same time, so it is on your staff to successfully close your building. With graduation and other closing commitments popping up, it’s really important to evaluate how many staff members you need at the check out station and how many are checking rooms and completing other tasks as assigned in the time frame that you have set.
(8) Are the final rosters printed?
I feel like I printed 3x as many rosters that I needed “just in case” something happened to one of them! I’m not sure why, but having several printed rosters kept me calm and allowed me keep track of everyone who still needed to leave.
(9) How did the student manage to do this to their space?
Damages. Oh lovely damages. Over the years it has amazed me how students can literally destroy their rooms! When I was an RA, I can still vividly remember the grossest and most alarming res hall rooms. Creating a damage protocol and documenting with pictures and vivid descriptions can go miles with the appeal process. One thing that my institution uses is laminated ruler signs. On the sign, there is a spot for the building and room number (use an expo marker) and a ruler (with inches). Hold it up next to the damage and it gives great context for damage billing.
(10) What do I do now?
The prep for closing in my opinion can be more overwhelming than the actual closing day itself. Sometimes anxiety and anticipation of an event can be worse than the event and that definitely happened to me. Remember that it will all be okay and no matter how long the day or the weekend of closing is you will make it through ALL of it!
For the weeks that led up to closing, I continuously thought how I was so ready for summer and for the students to move out. And now that they are gone, I have already begun missing them! For all of my Housing and Residence Life folks who are either closing currently, prepping for closing, or who have finished closing you all are doing and continue to do an amazing job. We put an immense amount of pressure on closing going smoothly, but remember to take every issue as it comes and don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers for help!
Every institution does closing a little bit differently and if you have any suggestions on how you handle closing, I would absolutely love to hear them, so please comment below…