Union College Office of Residential Life is a featured program with Reslife.Net.
Residents consistently cite small classes and individualized attention as key reasons why they chose to attend Union College. In an effort to continue meeting the expectations of our students, while also continuing to challenge them to grow intellectually, Union has made drastic alterations to the conventional residential programming model, and now offers a residential curriculum that emphasizes 1-on-1 mentoring relationships between RAs and their residents.
Modeled after conventional RA and RD 1-on-1 meetings, and the BASICS screening approach (which consists of brief conversations that help students explore and examine their own behaviors and set goals), Union RAs utilize the practice of Brief Motivational Interventions to continuously assist their residents set goals, navigate difficult situations, and explore their developing identities. A common reporting form and a detailed counseling skills training also provide RAs with the basic resources needed to help refer residents in need to the correct services on campus, while the emphasized presence of the RAs in their communities has resulted in more student investment in their residential communities.
While it is too early to determine the impact that BMIs have had on retention, there have been several very positive and noteworthy trends. This has included (over the last three years) a 15% increase in resident satisfaction with student staff, as well as a 17% increase in residents’ overall satisfaction with their residence hall, a 27% increase in students that self-reported attending residential programming, and a 59% decrease in physical vandalism damages in first year communities.
Over the last two years, The BMI model of programming has been showcased at several major conferences including NASPA’s annual national conference and CSPA New York, and variations of the model have been adopted by colleges and universities nationwide.
Submitted by Jared Zeidman, Residence Director, Davidson and Webster Hall at Union College