Some resident advisors feel passive programming is sub-par, or not a “real” aspect of programming. They feel that if you don’t actually plan something for your residents to attend or do, you haven’t done your job. Passive programming is often seen as the lazy RA way out. Big deal you put up door tags, or a bulletin board – whoopee. I beg to differ.
Passive programming is an integral part of building your hall community. What is it…What’s the phrase? It’s the little things! Residents appreciate that you took the time to make them a door tag or put up an informative bulletin board. And I know for a fact they appreciate care packages (especially the ones with food in them)! But it doesn’t stop there. Honestly, the passive programming possibilities are endless. Thoughts for the day on everyone’s door, passing out silly putty as stress relief, spirited signs in your hall and clothing drives spring to mind. These things show that you care as a resident advisor, and often contribute to the overall look of your hall. And when your hall looks like someone cares, people tend to treat it that way.
In my opinion, the biggest benefit of passive programming is the one on one interaction time with your residents. For example, during check in, I made brown bags with a juice box and bag of chips in each. The cost was minimal and I decorated the bags with stickers. While my residents moved in, I stopped by, introduced myself, and gave them a snack. Some residents even wrote thank you notes! And before classes started, I knew everyone’s name. And you may not think of door tags or bulletin boards as interactive, at least that’s what I used to think. But it never fails; I run into more residents and speak with more people while putting up their door tags or hanging signs in the hall.
This type of programming can even reach off your campus, into the community. This semester I sponsored a soap and towel drive for a local homeless shelter. I simply sat boxes around campus and asked people to donate any items. This program involved faculty, staff and students with tremendous results! It was a simple idea, but it really generated awareness on campus (and a ton of soap and towels)!
When addressing passive programming, just remember – the little things do mean a lot to people. Your residents realize this and your community is the richer for it! And remember – the possibilities are endless!
Submitted by Jana Hartline, Resident Advisor (Team Leader), Texas A&M at Galveston