I recently surfaced from the Student Affairs gauntlet known as ResLife Training and Residence Hall Opening. It’s the time of year when I say goodbye to absolutely everything else in my life except for work. I worked 7 days a week for three weeks, typically logging 12-14 hour days. This level of work is actually an improvement over past years, when I was less efficient, less experienced, and spent more time in the office.
To non-Reslifers, this may be a surprise. To any sane person who wishes to have a life outside of work, this may seem odd. It won’t seem odd to my fellow live-in residence hall staff.
It should be odd, though. At what point in the history of ResLife did we decide that this marathon model of staff training and hall opening was okay? This is certainly not unique to one institution. It’s very common that a couple of weeks of very intensive student staff training (which is exhausting for everyone involved) is immediately followed by freshman move in day and upperclass move in days. This is just how the end of August is when you work in ResLife. August is where balance and wellness go to die.
I believe that we need to critically question the efficacy of this model of staff training. We are, after all, educators. We promote the holistic development of mind and body in college students. We talk about wellness, balance, and ideal learning environments. And we train RAs as if we are running student affairs boot camp. It just doesn’t add up.
How do we examine our practices within the context of the values and priorities that we aim to espouse throughout the year? How do we challenge our own selves as professional staff to stand firm in work-life balance and pursuit of wellness? How do we advocate for balance and wellness?
This is a call to all of my colleagues who think we can do better than we are doing. It’s a call to those who think that they are doing it better. We owe it to ourselves and our students to think about this. So tell me your thoughts: How do we shift the paradigm of ResLife training?