Over the past four to five years, I have spent an incredible amount of time in a Residence Hall. A Residence Hall has arguably been my home away from home for almost half a decade and now is literally my home. When I first became a Residence Director, I thought it was going to be strange to live and work in the same building. And even now, I think some of my residents believe I sleep in my office. But, regardless of where I lay my head down at night, this Residence Hall is my home. It is also a space where my residents can call home too. So over the summer when I was designing my building theme, I wanted to choose something that would create a positive and kind environment for my residents to experience.
I tossed around what kind of theme I wanted and thought about all of the different options I could do. After all, this building theme would set the tone for my staff and for my building. And then I remembered an affirmations box that I saw a few years back. I was working for a program called Duke TIP at Texas A&M University and we had an affirmation system where we delivered mail to our fellow staff members. After some tweaking and envisioning how having a building dedicated to positive affirmations would look like, I settled on the idea of You’ve Got MAIL: More Affirmations In Life. And before I knew it, You’ve Got MAIL was underway. I developed an affirmations box for my lobby, which has now become one of the most touching aspects of my job. It is incredible what students will write about their peers when they are given the opportunity to and when they live in an environment that is committed to inclusive positivity. After I retrieve and proofread the affirmations, I put them up on the digital signage in our building and then make a collage of the affirmations and print copies of them for the RAs to post on their individual floors. I want my residents to be proud of the community that they live in and I want these affirmations to make them feel like they all bring great things to our hall.
I’ve set an expectation that my RAs also incorporate the theme in their own unique way on their floors and or in their programs. Not only are they all committed to “radiating good vibes,” but they also want their residents to “radiate good vibes” too! One of my RAs has been doing a programming series called “Letters for Talk,” which consists of residents gathering together to talk about positive aspects of their life and to leave inspirational messages to other residents throughout the building. When he first set up the program, he didn’t know how successful it was going to be. For starters, the program was on a Saturday night around 9:00PM. And despite the timing of the program and the fact that no free food was involved, the residents responded incredibly well to it! They responded so well that they want to do it more regularly and residents from other buildings have been asking about the little green notes/trees they have seen around the building. It’s moments like these- when the never ending to do lists and late nights in the office really don’t bother me because my residents are happy and treat their neighbors kindly.
I have officially been an RD for about three and a half months. My building has officially been opened for two weeks. And I have officially finished one graduate school class. So, as an RD who is an emerging SA Professional, I’ve accomplished a lot of milestones recently. I feel like the biggest accomplishment I’ve made is creating a positive environment where my residents can express themselves and be compassionate towards others.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.