University of the Pacific, Housing & Greek Life is a featured program.
In 2014-2015 Housing and Greek Life at University of the Pacific moved their housing to a cohort housing model. The move was made to best support students in their transition to, through, and beyond Pacific. It was also a way to begin the process of getting programmatic and staffing systems in alignment with the long-range plans for renovating residential facilities. Four distinct areas were developed to house students together: First Year Experience, Second-Year Experience, Upper-Division/Graduate/Professional Housing, and Greek Housing. First and second year students reside in traditional style residence halls, upper-division and graduate/professional students reside in apartment style facilities, and Greek students reside in six University-owned Greek facilities. Staff selection and training procedures were adapted to support this move in an effort to identify the right type of individuals to serve the four unique populations.
A key component of the residential experience is to get students connected to their greater community. Connection and engagement have long been known to support the overall student. Beginning with their first year on-campus, students interact with staff and attend programs that help guide them through this connection and engagement process. The ripple effect of engagement can be seen through the illustration below. Starting at the micro level with making connections with a roommate, residents are then guided to build greater connections across the campus community.
First-Year Experience: Overview
Submitted by Heather Pearson, Area Coordinator for Residential Life
Starting in 2014-2015, first-year residential students at Pacific were intentionally placed together in 4 different traditional-style communities. Overall, this created physical and programmatic space for these communities to identify with a larger vision for a First Year Experience residential program. Starting the year with the campus’ signature Weekend of Welcome event, Residential Life staff in our FYE areas actively encouraged student participation for both residents and our commuting student population. This week also saw the start of our extensive First Six Weeks community building expectations that placed a heavy emphasis on 1:1 relationship building between the RA and their residents. The First Six Weeks initiative provided intentional structure and expectations for RAs on transitional topics and needs specifically related to First-Year students and our academic calendar. Having frequent, continual, and consistent conversations with residents was the main tenet, which allowed RAs to focus on building meaningful relationships with residents.
Beyond activities built into the First Six Weeks, RAs used the strong connections they built at the start of the year to facilitate multiple community activities and programs. A key aspect to the programming expectations for our FYE areas was to complete programs focused on Identity Development in the fall semester. Anecdotally, we saw positive feedback and high interest from staff in facilitating these programs for residents due to an emphasis on identity development in staff training and in ongoing development from their supervisors. A final component to the programmatic expectations for the year was our First-Year Fridays, which included large programs such as a special after-hours event in the campus’ Baun Fitness Center that was also a culminating celebration of a semester-long wellness initiative coordinated in collaboration with our Pacific Recreation department. We continued these monthly events as a means to build community and relationships throughout all of our FYE areas.
Second-year, Upper-Division and Graduate Experience Programs: Overview
Submitted by Ana Romero, Area Coordinator for Residential Life
The Second Year, Professional, and Upper Division Experience began its inaugural year with an interest in focusing on community development in the Fall semester and academic and career development in the Spring semester. Knowing that second year students live in traditional style buildings while professional and upperclass students live in apartment communities, the staff sought to enhance the on campus experience through collaboration with campus partners. During the Fall semester, the staff hosted a Lawn Games event in collaboration with the Campus Recreation Center, Bon Appetit Dining Services, Resident Assistants, and the Residence Hall Association which brought residents across campus for crafts, outdoor activities and food. Additionally, the area hosted a Destress event and encouraged students to participate in one of the available activities.
During the Spring semester, residents had an opportunity to participate in academic and career related workshops. Students are increasingly concerned about their academic and career success, and our staff found it critical to address these areas. In collaboration with Student Academic Support Services, the Writing Center, and the International Programs and Services Office, students were offered workshops focused on academic opportunities and improving their academic skills. Additionally, a financial literacy workshop and resume review session with the Career Resource Center were provided for students and both were received well by the residents.
The cornerstone of the on-campus experience for Pacific students is the connections they make with their Resident Assistant. The 2014-2015 RA team was responsible for helping us transition and implement our new cohort housing model as well as the new program model. It was not a daunting task and they have helped set a great foundation for the direction that Housing and Greek Life is going. An RA testimonial about his experience follows.
Submitted by Shane-Justin Nu’uhiwa – Resident Assistant Jessie Ballantyne Hall
My experience with University of the Pacific’s Housing and Greek life has been very enjoyable and I am very proud to call my residents “fresidents” because they are not only my residents – I like to consider them friends. I enjoy taking my residents out for “RA-Resident Family Dinners,” movie night at the local theater, and going out for late night desserts. What I have learned as a First Year Experience RA is that the August to November months was an opportune time to develop personal bonds with the residents. Building and community programs, such as “JJ Nerf Battle!!,” helped me to achieve that goal while creating friendships among each other. In addition, hosting one-on-one with residents I did not fully know by October helped me to learn their names, interests, and ways for me to help the resident achieve their goals.
In particular, I was able to help a resident with his goal of working for ASuop (student government). The resident knew I worked for the front desk for ASuop and expressed interest in working for the organization. While there were no job opportunities at the moment, I encouraged him to volunteer so he can develop professional relationships with the staff and get connected to campus resources. He took advantage of this opportunity and eventually found a home with ASuop. Since working for the organization I have noticed him becoming more comfortable with campus life. Currently he is pledging for Greek Life and spends a lot of his off time with the ASuop family.
Submitted by Torry Brouillard-Bruce, Executive Director for Housing and Greek Life