Residence Life Restructuring

 Jonathan Ingraham talks with Garrett Sisson about changes in Residence Life. Photo by Abby Whisler

Jonathan Ingraham talks with Garrett Sisson about changes in Residence Life. Photo by Abby Whisler

Next year, Residence Life will be drastically restructuring its staff positions to provide better campus-wide care. The three current Assistant Resident Director positions will be eliminated, and three new Residence Life positions will be added—two Community Coordinators, as well as an Area Coordinator for Transitional Housing. The new positions were created by Jonathan Ingraham, Assistant Dean of Students and head of Residence Life, with input from current Residence Life staff and Dean of Students, Brad Voyles.

Though the new Community Coordinators will have very different responsibilities from the current ARDs, Ingraham hopes that they will not take away support from the RDs. Instead, they should be able to provide for students’ relational needs in a more structured way. According to their official job description, Community Coordinators will “focus on advocating for the organization, supervision, and direction of the residence hall learning communities.” Some of the CC’s responsibilities will be serving as an advisor for at least one student club or organization, counseling students on academic probation, and implementing a new system of organizing emergency rides for students, similar to an RD-on-duty number. Ingraham hopes that CCs can reach out to students who slip through the cracks of current RD and ARD discipleship relations, which is common during the first year at college. Rather than serving one building, the Community Coordinators would be concerned with shaping the larger “ethos” of campus, which is the feeling of connectedness and identity that a person associates with a given place or community.

Community Coordinators will be in charge of designing campus-wide discussions, including forums and educational conversations that would bring various populations of Covenant together, such as this semester’s Panel Discussion on Sexual Identity. These would be events for students who may all be interested in having a similar conversation, but would not meet otherwise. As “point persons,” the Community Coordinators would meet regularly to collect feedback from all of Covenant’s major departments, and then design the logistics of creating each event.

Additionally, Community Coordinators will oversee next year’s restructured Discipleship Coordinator program. In the past, Discipleship Coordinators have been hired by the Chapel Office, and have met weekly with their ARD’s. Next year, however, Discipleship Coordinators will be hired by the Community Coordinators, who will meet regularly with them to provide training opportunities overseen by Chaplain Lowe and the Chapel Office. Ingraham proposes that this will create a more consistent DC position across campus.

The restructuring was first prompted by the upcoming renovations in Carter Hall, which will displace around 40 students next year to the guest cottages and other college-owned properties on Scenic Hwy. Rather than expand the current live-in staff positions, Ingraham sees the transitional period as “a perfect time” to reimagine how Student Development cares for the community as a whole. According to Ingraham, Student Development wanted to “use staff in the best way possible to meet the most needs of the most students.”

Next year, students living in transitional housing will live with their Area Coordinator, who will be responsible for checking students in and out and maintaining a strong community. Because the Area Coordinator will not be caring for as many students as a regular RD, they will work together with the Community Coordinator on some of their responsibilities as well.

Because of the renovations, the Community Coordinators will live in Founders and Maclellan next year, though the eventual plan is to move them to Founders and Carter, as those are the residence halls with the most students.

Ingraham says that the redistribution of labor is not just about emotional care, but about stewardship—including stewarding the campus’s conversations and relationships. He compares the focus of each position to lines in a net going in different directions.

“Instead of all the lines going the same way, a net works a lot better when the lines cross,” says Ingraham.

Covenant is partnering with Geneva College to offer the new Community Coordinator positions to graduate students interested in fields such as counseling, ministry, or serving in higher education. The position job descriptions are in the final stages of approval, after which they will be posted online.