Welcome back, res life staff! After all your hard work, residents are finally moved in and classes have begun. You could think that means it’s time to sit back and take a well-deserved break, but you know that in the life of a William & Mary student that’s simply not the case. Instead, it’s time to start building relationships within your hall and to foster your residents’ intellectual and personal growth outside the classroom. Luckily for you, Residence Life has developed a model to help you do just that.
In the past, we have operated by the Residents’ Needs model, whereby programming (as well as everything else you do as an Res Life staff member) is based on assessing the needs of both individual residents and the community as a whole and then working to meet those needs. Though we still use this model, past RAs have complained that it’s more than a little bit vague, and so the Res Life powers that be have added another model: the first 4 weeks.
Week 1: Social Event with Community. This is a getting to know each other-type event. As always, food based events like going to dinner, baking, or going on a CW cider run are good, but you might also consider adding an interactive component like an icebreaker or other game. Maybe even go all out and have a game night!
Week 2: Active Event with Community. It may be hard to distinguish this from a social event, but the true difference is that here the focus lies more in doing something than simply getting to know one another. You could choose to take “active” literally by attending a group fitness class, signing up for an IM sports team, or just playing a casual game of frisbee in the Sunken gardens; or you could engage in other active events like a scavenger hunt, attending an AMP event together, or going on a ghost tour.
Week 3: Passive Event with Community. This should be an event for which residents don’t necessarily need to be in the same place at the same time. You might have a bulletin board decorating contest, a game of pay it forward (where residents do something nice for one another or leave one another compliments or words of wisdom), or just leave some pizza in the lounge.
Week 4: An Event with Another Community. This can be a great break for you because you can co-program with one of your friends. You also have more residents available to come to your program, so use this as a chance to do something big. You could do something competitive, like a volleyball game, bake-off, or talent show, or do something that will last all year or semester such as creating a upperclassman-freshmen buddy system.
What’s best about this system is that it really doesn’t need to be limited to the first four weeks. Use it as a model for the rest of the semester so that you don’t get stuck in a rut of TV nights or making cookies. Before you know it, you’ll be a programming wiz!