Residence Life and Housing’s Wellbeing Programming Model

Blog written by Franklin Chilaka and Danielle Johnson

 In the residence halls here at BSU, Resident Assistants use a programming model to put on programs that will help our residents. Topics range with a wide variety to meet a number of students’ needs and prepare them for things happening in the world. When the department first learned of Tom Rath’s and Jim Hartner’s book “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements”, we realized that this could be a very beneficial thing for us and for our students. After attending the Student Affairs professional development day centered around the five elements, we decided to update our RA programming model to be based around wellbeing.

The wellbeing programming model focuses on Tom Rath’s and Jim Hartner’s five essential areas of well-being and how they depict that these elements are needed to ensure that an individual is living a life that increases their overall satisfaction. The first area is career/purpose wellbeing, which focuses on developing skills and preparing students to seek opportunities that will aid them in attaining their goals. This area is critical for our students to understand as they can start to master behaviors and skills that aid them in finding a career they love in hopes of having more time to enjoy life.

Next is physical wellbeing, which focuses on creating healthy habits and practices that support the student’s wellness holistically. We believe this area is important for our students because if they are balanced and making healthy decisions in their lives, they will be able to engage completely with their surroundings in and outside the classroom.

The third area is community wellbeing, which focuses on giving students a chance to get involved with the community around them. We want our residents to take pride in their communities and make the most of their collegiate experience, and programs in this area emphasize that and gives them the opportunity.

Next is social wellbeing, which focuses on creating students’ own identity and appreciating the differences in others. This leads them to create strong relationships with others around them. The programming that occurs in this area would be anything that promotes building relationships with others, but is more than just an ice cream social with one’s floor. It is important for our residents to develop relationships with individuals that will aid them in them in their development into productive citizens.

Finally, the fifth area is financial wellbeing which focuses on educating students about managing their own finances and giving them information in order to help them succeed with their own goals. We try to emphasize to our residents that thinking about how to manage their money now will help them create financial security in the future. Even more simply, we want them to make informed financial decisions.

Bulletin boards serve as an additional component to the wellbeing model that is meant to serve as a means to educate our residents about matters going on campus, around the world, or to simply teach them about their peers or environment. The first category is current events, which can describe anything from what’s happening in the residence halls, to what’s happening locally or globally. This area is meant to educate our residents so that they may be more informed. The next category is educational, which focuses on teaching something to our residents that they may not already know. This can be drawn from a personal interest or something that the resident assistant thinks students would like more information about. The third category is interactive, which is meant to spark interaction or conversation amongst one’s residential community whether it prompts residents for a response or to complete a task. The final category is social change, which prompts resident assistants to present information that will spark dialogue around areas of social justice, environmentalism, civic engagement, and ecologism.

The five elements of wellbeing incorporate so much of what we were trying to accomplish with our students. Through our wellbeing model, we want them to be happy and well-rounded after they graduate, and the wellbeing model focuses on doing just that: creating a balanced life. The new programming model has empowered our resident assistants to develop efforts that are geared toward our students getting the most out of life and influencing those around them. This model is also a tool that helps students discover essential qualities and characteristics that are associated with success. It is important to note that it is not an expectation that the resident assistants are experts in each area. This model was designed so that they can reach out to offices that may know more about some of topics that fall into these areas. We are pleased with the progress we have made and believe we are better serving our students by focusing on the five areas of wellbeing in this model.

 

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Commitment to Sustainablility by the office of Residence Live and Housing

By Michelle DeMille

The commitment to sustainability is a guiding principle of the office of Residence Life & Housing. Sustainability is more than just the commitment to building environmentally friendly buildings, encouraging recycling, and reducing energy usage in our halls; to us sustainability is learned and practiced behavior with a focus on one’s impact on the world.

The Residence Life & Housing Sustainability Committee is designed to teach these principles and behaviors to the students living in our community. The committee is comprised of full time staff, paraprofessional staff, and resident students. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss how we can educate the residents that that there is more to sustainability than recycling.

We have created many programs/initiatives to capture the interest of our residents and raise awareness of our efforts. In the past we have held upcycling events where we created crafts, room decorations, bags, and planters out of materials that had outlived their intended use. Items such as old t-shirts, magazines, plastic bottles, broken furniture, and empty food containers that all could have found their way into a dumpster (or preferably a recycling bin) were turned into new and purposeful items that the residents could display in their rooms. These upcycled which would hopefully serve as a reminder to students that things don’t need to be discarded if they can be used for something else.

We held a virtual ‘Sustainability Awareness Week’ on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RLH-Sustainability-Committee-1541039016138562/) and shared interesting content each day of the week. We gave tips on how to live sustainably in your residence hall by doing things like turning lights off, unplugging devices that aren’t in use, keeping windows closed in the winter months, and many more. We also held contests on the page including trivia and a scavenger hunt to find sustainable resources on our campus to win a reusable coffee mug. We raised the number of likes on our page and the daily interactions with the site also increased through this effort.

The committee’s main focus each spring is to help the residence halls participate in Recyclemania, which is an international competition on energy reduction and recycling on college campuses. Each year, in addition to the international competition, the Sustainability Committee partners with Facilities Management and Planning to reward the individual hall the recycles the most during the 8-week competition. Scott Hall, who has dominated the competition for the last few years and earned a study break at the beginning of finals with complimentary snacks and reusable tumblers to keep.

The Sustainability Committee partnered with students in the Sustainability Residential Learning Community in Woodward hall to host a campus clean-up day that showed them the impact of their efforts in their own environment and furthered a sense of campus pride.   It also raised awareness for all the community members that passed by and witnessed the work these students were doing.

The committee introduced a few new ideas this last year, including an internal phone sharing program for Resident Assistants (RAs). The phone sharing program allowed departing RA to donate their landline phone (which are required as part of their job) to an incoming RA who may not have one. This was to keep working phones from finding their way into a trash barrel as well as provide a needed supply to an RA who may be in need.

Another new program was a donation drive at the end of the spring semester. Each year we observed so many useful and working items end up in the dumpsters because the residents simply did not want them any longer. We advertised via email to the residents in our halls that we’d be collecting things like microwaves, mirrors, bed risers, small fans etc. to be given back to other resident students at the beginning of the fall semester. We gathered so many useful items that would have otherwise been discarded and we will host a no-cost yard sale event at the beginning of the semester to offer those goods back to our residents!

The committee is always working to highlight the sustainability focused work of other areas on campus. We’ve highlight Sodexo’s efforts, The Facilities Management and Planning Department, BSU Recycling, and are always on the lookout for new partnerships and opportunities to spread the message of sustainability. BSU has a lot of great sustainability features but there is always more to be done and we hope that the work of our committee has impacted our residents to help contribute to a greener and more sustainable environment.

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Smashing Stereotypes- Understanding and Appreciating Fraternity & Sorority Life at BSU

Maribeth Flakes, Associate Director, Office of Student Involvement & Leadership

Fraternity and sorority life has been my major area of focus now for 14 years. Meeting new people and explaining student affairs to the general public is hard enough but further explaining that I work advising fraternities and sororities, well, sometimes I can’t finish my sentence before some stereotype comes rolling off their tongue. Listen, I get it, the stuff that makes the news is not our best showing, its often harmful, offensive, and downright embarrassing and I will be the first to call that out, but the truth is, if it was always like that, and If every student who is affiliated made those kinds of choices, none of us would stick around to work with them. For me, there is something really special and awesome about working with fraternities and sororities. I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work with communities who want to be leaders on their campus, who want to be known as scholars, who leave lasting contributions before they leave campus, and students who genuinely have found a passion for an organization that has values that naturally align with theirs or sometimes provide a pathway for learning what values are important to them and help them to be the person they wish and hope to be.

Let’s talk about BSU students and what we know, many of our students are first generation, most work a part time job, sometimes many jobs. Prospective candidates ask me how I would describe our students and I always say, appreciative. Our BSU students are grateful for the opportunity to be here and for the time many of us spend helping to make their experience great. I’m preaching to choir on this one, I know. You all see it in your role on campus every day. So I want to tell you a little secret… our fraternity and sorority members are… BSU students! I have found that sometimes it can be forgotten and the members of Greek letter organizations can be clumped together as a collective of students who are trouble makers or less serious about their education. The truth is, and naturally I am biased, but we have something really special here at BSU. Our members work really hard to prove to the campus and beyond that they are proud of their organization, their members, and our University. We know that nearly all, over 90% of our members, pay their own dues with no help from family. This experience is important to them, the same first generation students who work part time jobs to support their education are also saving their money to pay dues to an organization that is important to them. Fraternities and sororities, when done right and advised well, provide amazing opportunities for skill development that can prepare members for future employment. Chapter Presidents of our campus sororities oversee an organization with sometimes 75+ members, Treasurers of our chapters are truly chief financial officers to non profit organizations who collect dues and assign late fees to members who do not fulfill their membership responsibilities. Our chapter officers have tough conversations with members who are struggling academically to sometimes make the difficult choice to step back from involvement so they can take advantage of the resources on campus to help them succeed at their top priority, their academics. I’ll be honest, the close relationships created in fraternity and sorority life help me, as an administrator, know about students who may be struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse so I can reach out and see how I may direct those members to resources. I feel honored to have been able to help students at a time when they truly needed it throughout my career in higher education.

Here is how you can help be an advocate for our fraternity and sorority community, support their choice to be in a fraternity/sorority and seek to understand the ‘why’ for them. What you think of our fraternity and sorority members matters to them, they want this University to be proud of them. When you are engaging in conversations with members ask them why they joined, ask them to tell you about the values of their organization and how it positively contributes to BSU. I know many of them would welcome the opportunity to share with you why this experience is important to them.

Personally, I am hopeful the next time you speak with colleagues in the field or amongst our University you speak of “the Greeks” in a really positive and supportive way, they (and me) are always looking for allies to support their efforts to live their values every day and to challenge and support them along their collegiate journey.

BSU Fraternity & Sorority Fun Facts

  • In the spring of 2016- 152 sorority women made Dean’s List and 22 of them earned a 4.0, 64 of our men’s fraternity members made Dean’s List and 5 of them earned a 4.0
  • 5 out of 6 of the top fundraising teams for Relay for Life 2016 were fraternities and sororities!
    • Delta Phi Epsilon sorority- $10,841.
    • Gamma Phi Beta sorority- $8,698.
    • Sigma Pi fraternity- $7,761.
    • Phi Sigma Sigma sorority- $6,565.
    • Alpha Sigma Tau sorority- $4,285.
  • All Fraternity/Sorority Average GPA for spring 2016 was 3.19
  • There are over 460 students affiliated in fraternities and sororities at BSU
  • There are 10 recognized Greek letter organizations, 4 National Panhellenic Conference sororities, 5 North American Interfraternity Conference fraternities, and 1 local co-ed fraternity that only exist here at BSU
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Why Did I Only Get Five People At My Program? : A How to On Hosting Performers at BSU

By Casey Mulcare

Coordinator for Student Programming, Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

I’ve been there. You think you did everything right, and you open the doors to your highly anticipated program and…crickets. A room set up for 150, with barely the front row taken. It’s a buzz kill to you, your organization, and your performer or speaker. Sometimes, it was circumstances out of your control (I’ve lost crowds to rain, snow, and sporting events on TV) and you have to chalk it up as a loss. Other times, however, it was a lack of proper planning and prepping, which can be avoided.

I’ve compiled a list that has helped me to greater success with a performer on campus. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to start the process early (at least six weeks out from your desired date) and to seek the advice of others. I’ve learned quickly that what I thought was cool or interesting or timely may not be what my audience wants to see anymore, so I always run ideas by my peers and students to be sure I’m on the right page. Here’s some other helpful hints:

  • Shop around – The one thing about showbiz is, there’s always someone new trying to make a name for themselves. Once you decide what kind of performer you want and what your budget range is, reach out to multiple agencies to see who they would recommend. Need agencies or don’t know where to start? Ask folks who have attended conferences like the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) conference, where they focus on college performer business.
  • Involve others – Get some input from your students or committee members on who they’d like to see from your short list of options. Getting others invested in the decision will only help to build hype for the show. Be sure your performer is keeping up with current trends and is relevant to your target audience.
  • Read your contract/rider – It may seem like the easiest part of hosting a successful event with an act, but you wouldn’t believe how many hiccups can occur that could have been avoided with another glance at the needs of the act. Most good acts will send you their list of needs, or “rider”, when they send you the contract. Be sure to read it and go over their needs ahead of time. The day of the event does not count as ahead of time.
  • Get their contact info – Another simple task, but a crucial one. As we know with our new students, BSU has a lot of their own acronyms and lingo that may not make sense to a performer coming here for the first time or once a year. Get their cell phone or personal email, and give yours to the booking agent (who may be the act). Having a backup contact person is also a good idea.
  • Prep that venue – Be sure to work with your CESO contact ahead of time to book and prepare the venue that is right for the performance and expected attendance. An intimate speaker panel may get lost in the Grand Ballroom. A comedian used to performing in dark comedy clubs won’t hit their jokes as well with bright lighting and an audience seated too far away. Have questions on what setting works best? Talk to the booking agent, they’re usually happy to help you. You’d also be amazed what a small decorations budget can do to transform your venue for the audience.
  • Fill the seats – You’ve been advertising, right? Research has shown that you need to see a marketing message 3 to 5 times minimum for it to really sink in. Make use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the word out, but don’t rely on it. Print advertising, student and staff announcements, table tents, personal emails to possible interested parties, and tabling in the ECC or RCC are all great ways to get the word out. Don’t be afraid to do something a little out of the box to spread your message (radio stations do a great job at this!). Reaching out to classes that may see this as a great co-curricular experience (a.k.a. extra credit) will also help your numbers.
  • They’re people too – A lot of these performers spend a majority of their year on the road. Having water or a snack ready for them (check that rider) or recommendations for hotels or meals can really make a difference to the performer. Doing that little extra for them will pay out dividends when they take the stage!
  • Follow up – If needed, follow up with the act or agent and give them feedback. I have a number of agencies I can turn to at a moment’s notice in an emergency because I have taken the time to build relationships with them as a business partner.

On multiple campuses and in a variety of settings, these steps have shown success with acts that are just starting out to veterans in their field. Simply being a good host and doing your homework ahead of time can truly make or break your next event.

 

 

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Happy New-Fall-Semester from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions!

boyden_autumn

September is a crazy month for all of the staff here at Bridgewater State University…

Students arriving & returning…Staff greeting…
Students lost…
Staff showing them their way…
Students asking questions…
Staff answering questions…

In the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, it’s very similar – but it’s also a time for us to begin a new recruitment and application season. Well, actually, it started months ago!

As of today, we have already:

  • Booked over 200 college fairs and visits that will occur between September through December;
  • Met and communicated with more than 3,000 prospective students who are interested in one of the 2017 academic terms;
  • Received over 100 applications for one of the 2017 terms, including those who have requested deferrals;
  • Received test scores from over 700 prospective students who have not yet applied to the university;
  • Hosted over 3,700 prospective students to campus for tours throughout the spring and summer months.

This year we are starting off on a very high note: We are working with Paul Jean and his staff (partnering with “the kor Group”, a graphic design team out of Boston), redesigning our marketing materials, both print and electronic. You can look forward to seeing some really neat stuff in the weeks to come!

In addition, we are moving into our 2nd application season using the Microsoft CRM – Recruit (formerly known as Recruiter).  We have rearranged the application so that it takes an applicant less than 30 minutes to complete and submit online while asking the pertinent information that we need to know, loading directly to BANNER.  If you are working with any prospective students and they are interested in applying, please direct them to our “Apply” page on the website: http://www.bridgew.edu/admissions/undergraduate/apply.  Students will be asked to create an account (if they haven’t already done so) and then they will be taken directly to the application.

Application priority deadlines are as follows:

First-Time Freshman:
Spring 2017: November 1
Fall 2017: Early Action Option – November 15; Regular Decision – February 15

Transfer (Including Mass Transfer applicants):
Spring 2017: November 1
Summer 2017: Depends on the session of choice
Fall 2017: August 1

International Applicants:
Spring 2017: Only available to those who are transferring from another institution within the United States.  You must submit all required documents as soon as possible.
Fall 2017: February 15

After reading this update, I’m sure you are asking yourself:

What can I do to assist in the recruitment efforts of new students for FY17? 

The answer is simple: SMILE.

 

As we continue to welcome students and their families to campus for daily tours, Friday Information Sessions, Saturday tours and Fall Preview Days, we ask that you:

  • Smile & “Welcome” them to campus.
  • Welcome them into your department and office space.
  • Ask them if they need assistance.
  • Ask them if they have any questions.
  • Return their calls if they call you in advance of their visit to schedule a meeting with someone in your department.
  • Send me (Jennifer.Amiccuci@bridgew.edu) an email that we can send to prospective students about your area. Currently, we have messages going out from Student Involvement, Financial Assistance, Career Placement, Academic Deans and a small handful of academic programs.

Our tour schedule for the fall semester is as follows (just so you know when to look out for these visitors!):

Tours will resume on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Weekday, Daily Tours depart from the Welcome Center on:
Monday – Thursday: 11am
Monday – Friday: 3pm

 

Friday Information Sessions occur on the following dates and begin at 10am in the Moakley Center:
September 23 & 30
October 7, 14, 21, 28
November 4 & 11
December 2 & 9

 

Saturday tours depart from the Welcome Center at 10am on the following dates:
October 1 & 15
November 19
December 3 &10

 

Fall Preview Days will occur on the following Saturdays (Location/Time TBA):
October 22 (Focus: College of Humanities & Social Sciences)
October 29 (Focus: College of Education & Allied Studies)
November 5 (Focus: Bartlett College of Mathematics & Science/Ricciardi College of Business)

 

Thank you in advance for your support and participation in what we are expecting to be a very busy recruitment season! Your efforts are always appreciated and we hope to continue these types of initiatives as we move into future seasons.

 

~The Office of Undergraduate Admission

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Strengths Spotlight: Responsibility

by Shannon Boulanger – New Student and Family Programs

39c1222When I started my position here at BSU one of the first things I was asked to do was to take the Strengths Quest assessment to find out where I fit in our office “Team Talent Map.” It was not surprising to me that Responsibility was one of my top 5. I feel that this is something that I not only apply professionally but personally as well.

Taking responsibility to me means taking ownership of something or someone. Professionally I am responsible for tasks given to me by the 3 pro-staff members I work with, which at times gets to really add up, personally I am responsible for my family, children, home, and all things that go along with those responsibilities. I know how to make things happen and what steps have to be taken to complete a task. I believe I really applied this talent when we became an office. Collectively all four of my co-workers, including myself came from different backgrounds and different offices.   We had to learn quickly how to work together due to the fact we became an office right as the Orientation season was kicking off. I was then responsible not only for the closing out of our old office but also learning about a whole new program. I had to think on my feet and learn as much as I could about a program that I really knew nothing about in a very short period of time. I continued to apply the things I learned and started to gain a broader understanding and knowledge that was the base of what I currently use today. As a person who sometimes finds themselves alone in the office due to programs and meetings, I feel it is my responsibility to know the answers to any questions that might be asked of me, I try my best to avoid the dreaded “I don’t know,” and strive to be as helpful and resourceful as I can to the person on the other end of the phone. In a blog post by Travis Bennett titled “Being Responsible: Makes Your Life Better” he states that “A responsible person is one who can be trusted to act without needing strict supervision, because they are accountable for their own behavior” this describes me perfectly, I take pride in always knowing what’s going on and knowing how to do my part.

As with every strength, there is usually a negative associated with it. As the responsible person in a situation I try to make sure everything is done to the best of my ability and strive for perfection, which can sometimes add unnecessary stress. Strengths Quest points out that with this particular strength a person may have a “near obsession for doing things right.” In the office and at home, people know that I am organized to the extreme, I notice when pens go missing or if a magnet was put on the wrong side of the refrigerator.   I can’t relax until tasks have been completed or everything is in its place. Something that I tend to struggle with is finding balance in what I’m responsible for. I fully admit to taking on too much, or thinking I can do more than I actually can. In these situations I find it hard to ask for help or admit when I can’t complete everything. This is a constant struggle for me and something I do strive to find a balance with.

In the end being responsible to me is a very noble trait, I enjoy that whether it be at home or at work, or in any other given situation, people know that they can rely on me to get things done and to take full responsibility for these tasks no matter how big or small they might be.

 

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Strengths Spotlight: Restorative

By Jennifer Amiccuci – Director of Undergraduate Admissions Operations

Top 5

    1. HARMONY
    2. ACTIVATOR
    3. CONSISTENCY
    4. RESTORATIVE
    5. COMMUNICATION

Restorative 1

Problem Solver.  Observer.  Need for efficiency.  Educating others.

These are just a few descriptors of someone who has a “Restorative” talent.  The need to make things better and a person who has the ability to always see ways to make improvements…Potentially because they have a need to make things easier for others.

I was hired last year to step in and oversee the operations of the Undergraduate Admissions Office.  A colleague was retiring and while he was taking with him a tremendous amount of knowledge, skills and abilities, I was coming in with a different view, ideas and initiatives!  Luckily, I was able to spend my first month under his wing – he was gracious enough to show me the ropes and I soaked up as much information regarding processes and procedures as possible.  I was set on the idea that I would never make any changes from the get-go because HOW could I change something when I didn’t know the who, what, where, when, why and how?  The best part about my first year at BSU was to be able to observe.

The difficult part about this theme is that sometimes individuals can be seen as over-critical and wanting to fix things that are not broken.  Having these ideals in mind (even before learning that “Restorative” was a theme contained within me) I tried my best to be weary of this and even keep many of my mental notes to myself.  Of course, coming from another university where things are done much differently – I had to be careful to not present any ideas as being “better” than what was done at BSU.  Admittedly, I think it sneaks out every once in a while though!  Blame it on the Activator side of me!  But the Harmony in me allows me to try my best to be conscientious of how I make presentations and remain respectful of different ways of doing things – there is always more than one way to do something and have positive effects.Restorative 2

Overall, as most in our division knows, our office spent approximately 4 months implementing a CRM solution called Microsoft CRM Recruit (a.k.a. Recruiter).  It was an incredible experience for me to step onto BSU’s campus approximately one month into the implementation, keeping in mind that I had implemented this solution at the other school, and learn how to combine my experience with what I needed to learn as a new employee. Having the opportunity to repeat this “exercise” at a completely different place and then think outside the box to implement it for post-enrollment activities was such a great challenge and I can only hope that it has benefited those with whom I’m working alongside.

I am completely amazed at how StrengthQuest assigned these 5 talents to me because they describe my progression through my first year perfectly!

Just remember this when working with someone of the “Restorative” talent: they always have the best intentions of others in mind – specifically regarding efficiency.  They are excited individuals, especially when they have ideas free-flowing in their heads and they know that it will only make things better for others.  Being a strong problem-solver, you can never go wrong with having one of these as part of your team!

Restorative 3

 

 

 

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