The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) will be restructured for the next academic year, with new positions both in ResLife’s central office and in dorms throughout campus. According to ResLife Director Yolanda King, the office will have an an associate director of housing operations, an associate director of residential education, three assistant directors, an off-campus housing specialist and six graduate residence directors.
The three assistant directors will be tasked with engaging the student body and organizing events based around wellness, community projects, education and social activities, according to Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon. ResLife staff will focus on more specialized responsibilities instead of being “all hands on deck,” McMahon explained.
The six graduate directors will be split between mixed housing on the Medford/Somerville campus as well as on the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts campus, McMahon said. The SMFA has a total of 60 beds available on the Fenway campus.
The system of Area Resident Directors (ARDs), which were full-time staff responsible for overseeing an area of the on-campus housing system, will no longer exist, according to McMahon. The ARD system was initially created in 2015 to replace a previous system of part-time directors, according to an Oct. 1, 2015 Daily article.
Additionally, Assistant Director of ResLife Jerome Holland and Assistant Director for Community and Judicial Affairs Carrie Ales are planning to leave Tufts at the end of this month, McMahon said. Holland is leaving to work at Menlo College, and Ales will work at a veterinary hospital, according to McMahon.
Other changes include a restructuring of the student Resident Assistant (RA) positions. RAs will be separated into First Year Advisors (FYAs) and Community Development Advisors (CDAs). FYAs will live in first-year housing and will act as resources for those students, according to McMahon.
The CDAs will live in mixed residence halls and have the option of bringing in other students to form a suite in the hall they are assigned to, according to McMahon. CDAs will focus on educational programming specific to returning students. The number of RAs as compared to the projected number of CDAs and FYAs will increase by about 20, putting the new total at approximately 90 CDAs and FYAs for next year, according to Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Chris Rossi.
Another change between the past RA positions and these new ones is the difference in compensation. According to McMahon, the FYAs will receive free room, a partial meal plan and a stipend, while the CDAs will only receive a partial meal plan and a stipend.
These changes to ResLife are a response to suggestions by the student body as well as a large culmination of the issues raised in the Residential Strategies Working Group, according to McMahon. The working groups have allowed some Tufts students to act as representatives of the larger student body, voicing students’ concerns and proposing solutions to the administration.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty different first-year experience in a really positive way,” McMahon said.
McMahon also noted that there will be a new off-campus housing specialist, a position created to assist students not living in dorms. This specialist will act as a resource to help off-campus students with their concerns and questions, particularly about leases, landlord issues and local regulations. Additionally, the specialist will be in charge of bringing upperclassmen back to campus, in an effort to break the off-campus and on-campus bubbles, she explained.
“A large part of the restructure is giving students what they want,” Rossi said.