RAs work to create sense of community among KSU’s first residential students
When officials at Kennesaw State University committed themselves to the idea of on−campus housing‚ they realized it would take more than bricks and mortar to build the living and learning community to which they aspired. Thus‚ while construction crews worked feverishly to get the facilities completed on time‚ 26 resident assistants hired by the university were putting in long hours of their own‚ learning how to create a sense of belonging among the more than 1‚000 students now living at Kennesaw State.
(Aug 26, 2002) — When officials at Kennesaw State University committed themselves to the idea of on−campus
housing‚ they realized it would take more than bricks and mortar to build the living
and learning community to which they aspired. Thus‚ while construction crews worked
feverishly to get the facilities completed on time‚ 26 resident assistants hired by
the university were putting in long hours of their own‚ learning how to create a sense
of belonging among the more than 1‚000 students now living at Kennesaw State.
These resident assistants‚ all full−time students at KSU‚ underwent months of intensive training in preparation for the Aug. 17 opening of University Place and KSU Place. As on−site representatives of KSU’s new Residence Life Office‚ they will serve as the ultimate resource for students as they learn the lay of the land in their new surroundings.
Junior John Legg and sophomore Jessica Owen are ready for the challenge. Both were heavily involved in student activities before the first brick was laid at University Place‚ and they jumped at the opportunity to be among the first resident assistants in the history of the institution.
"It’s going to be a chance to meet people and to get people involved‚" said Owen‚ a sophomore from Dalton. "I’ve always been really involved‚ and I really wanted to get a lot of people involved on campus. I think this is a good way to do it."
Legg shares her enthusiasm‚ looking forward to the opportunity he will have to live at KSU and participate in campus life without commuting to and from Stone Mountain each day.
"I really enjoy the student organizations on campus‚" he said. "So when the opportunity came to actually live here and be involved on the campus as a resident assistant‚ I jumped at it."
After distinguishing themselves during the selection process‚ the resident assistants chosen by the Student Life Center began learning everything they could about subjects such as team−building‚ conflict management and campus resources. The pace picked up considerably in mid−August‚ with the RAs arriving on campus a week ahead of other residential students in order to complete their training. In the early hours of move−in day‚ the resident assistants hit the ground running‚ donning bright yellow t−shirts‚ manning their positions and beginning the process of making their new neighbors feel right at home.
"It’s been exciting to watch this place go up‚ having residents e−mail me and ask me questions‚" Owen said. "And then for this day to get here – I didn’t have any trouble getting up this morning‚ because I was ready to go."
The majority of the RAs‚ Legg and Owen among them‚ live at University Place‚ which houses 700 of the 1‚058 beds available on campus. Five have been assigned to KSU Place‚ the renovated apartment complex on the north side of campus. The RAs share the responsibility for seeing to the needs of the community at large‚ although they do have smaller‚ more defined groups to which they have been assigned.
"Some of us have 30 residents; some of us have 60‚" Legg said. "Finding something for each one of them that’s going to make them feel at home is going to be a huge challenge‚ but I think we’re all looking forward to it."
Each RA is required to plan seven activities over the course of the semester‚ based on the ‘Wellness Wheel’ model. This programming will help the residence life program fulfill its goal of providing students with a safe‚ healthy and attractive living environment which supports the educational mission of the university.
"We have a lot of responsibilities with programming and getting residents involved‚ but I think our main one is to be a resource‚" Owen said. "When our residents need us‚ we’re there‚ for anything."
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.