Interested in helping students make connections with each other and the university? How about exposing your residents to a wide variety of different ideas and activities that perhaps they have never been involved with before? Interested in making your floor or the hall a fun place to live and learn?
As an RA I would guess that your answer to all these questions would be yes. You can accomplish these goals through programming for your residents.
Programs in the halls are developed to facilitate opportunities for socialization, expand the worldview of other and promote understanding and sensitivity, and to support leaning beyond academics.
Want to make your programs fun and beneficial? Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to programming success:
Don’t think that you know what your residents want…ask them:
A good solid need assessment at the start of the year will help you determine what your floor is interested in. Interest may drive attendance, so complete your need assessment early!
Assess floor resident’s schedules, and consider other university events:
You may be able to find out when your residents are available at the same time you accomplish your need assessment. When you are selecting a programming date, consider other building or campus-wide activities and events. Work hard to not create “activity conflicts”.
Involve your residents in the planning process:
It is unfortunate but true…a few key people on your floor might have more luck getting others excited about floor activities than you. Work to get these students involved on a program planning team, and work as a group to plan activities for the floor. When other are involved, they are more inclined to help, and more inclined to be enthusiastic.
Make building residents a focal point of some of your events:
If you’re hosting a coffeehouse utilize residents in the building as your talent. They are a natural attendance draw.
Think about the atmosphere of your programming location…make it nice and they will be more likely to come:
Residents may not want to travel far from their home (i.e.: the residence hall). They want a comfortable place to sit, and they want the environment to be of interest. Think about these things as you are selecting your programming location.
Make sure that your publicity is interesting:
You need to make your programming publicity “stand out of the crowd”. While making it interesting keep it as simple as possible. Publicize your event early, and make your publicity as creative as possible.
If you’re having a speaker…make sure they are good:
There is nothing worse than an unprepared or boring speaker.
Remember the fun of spontaneity:
Every now and then a great idea is going to pop up and you may just need to run with it…some of the best programs occur on the spur of the moment.
Don’t be afraid to try different things:
The more creative the better.
Remember that things don’t always go right and that in many instances people never realize it unless you tell them.
You need to plan for the event, and consider how you will manage a significant problem if something major goes wrong. With that said however, you should always realize that in many instances with a large event, those in attendance rarely notice the small things that don’t go perfectly, unless you tell them.
Programming in the residence halls makes the residence halls something more than a shelter and you more than someone who just looks after the floor.
Through your activities in this area you will help your residents become acquainted, have fun, share skills, broaden cultural perspectives, and have a diversion from studying. The programming that you do on your floor as an R.A. will be instrumental in creating community interest and enhancing community living.
Best of success with your programming efforts!