Office of Residence Life

What is Residence Life, and what do Residence Life staff members do?

At Southwestern we believe that the residence halls are more than just a place to sleep. That’s why we like to use the term “residence hall” instead of “dormitory”. “Dormitory” comes from the verb “dormir” which means to sleep; clearly the halls are a place that people “reside”, meaning not only where they rest, but also renew themselves, recreate, relate, and put simple—live. And, in addition to living, they learn.

To quote from the Student Handbook section on Residence Life:

“Living in a residence hall is an integral part of the liberal arts experience. The residential university provides residence halls on the campus not just for a place to live and sleep, but as a means of supporting and supplementing the intellectual experience found in the classroom. Living in a residence hall involves day-to-day interaction with people of varying backgrounds and values, the opportunity to continue the discussions and debates of the day’s classes, a first-hand experience in community development, and the opportunity for developing strong and lasting friendships. Life in the residence halls offers a variety of educational, recreational, social, and cultural experiences to the residents.”

* Because college is a time of transformation and growth for a student, staff members must be willing and able to encourage and support the student in these times. Some of the “student development” tasks that a student staff member must facilitate include:

  • Developing a sense of belonging to and caring for a community and adjusting to group living
  • Analyzing and confirming values
  • Developing a mature style of relating to others
  • Developing a greater appreciation and understanding of new ideas, cultural or lifestyle differences
  • Developing a sense of respect for self, for other people and property, and a sense of fairness
  • Exploring interpersonal relationships and becoming comfortable with the complexity and ambiguity of changing interpersonal relationships
  • Learning appropriate self-management, health, and wellness skills

Who Are The Staff Members?

There are many people on campus who make up the Residence Life staff. The most critical of those are the Resident Assistants, otherwise known as RAs. They are the student staff members who live in the residence halls, and they have the most contact with the students that live on their halls. These students have expressed a sincere interest in supporting and interacting with their peers, and they have also undergone an intensive training program to assist them in learning the skills which are needed to do so. Each residence hall falls under the influence of an experienced staff member called a Head Resident Assistant, who assists the RAs in that building, as well as serving as an integral link between the RAs and the professional staff.

The professional residence life staff consists of the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Associate Dean for Student Life, Assistant Director of Residence Life, and the Administrative Assistant for the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.

These full-time professionals work closely together to provide support and direction for both the student staff as well as the student population in general.

How Can I Join The Residence Life Staff?

During the spring semester of each year, the Office of Residence Life makes applications available for students who are interested in applying for staff. After the applications are returned, the applicants are asked to give an interview. The process is that easy! Provided below are the Resident Assistant job description and a tentative selection schedule.