RLAs and RHDs: the face of next year’s Residence Life

Joe Pfender

Residence life advisors are a ubiquitous part of the Lawrence campus. Especially at the beginning of each school year, they organize their halls and contribute greatly to the Welcome Week experience that each of us remembers from our freshman year. Throughout the year, they organize activities for their hall or floor, keep the nightlife under control, and generally promote the community of each residence hall.
The Residence Life staff, which includes all the RLAs, head RLAs, RHDs and other administrative staff members, is put together each year from the top down. Amy Uecke is the head staff member who makes final hiring decisions for RHDs. The RHD job description includes both heading the Residence Life staff of one of the seven residence halls as well as a collateral assignment which varies from hall to hall. The Kohler RHD collateral assignment, for example, is Res. Life coordinator – the biggest part of which is the RLA hiring process each spring.
Most of the RHDs this year are returning next year, so there were only two open positions – in Sage and in Plantz. They were filled very recently by Sz-Min Chen, a graduate of Georgetown College in Washington D.C., and Rob Ryan, who will be graduating from Lawrence this year. As of Tuesday, final decisions about placement and collateral assignments for the two of them had not been decided.
Head RLAs have been decided for over a month at this point, far before the full staffs had been put together. Teege Mettille, the Kohler Hall RHD for this year and next, said that the head RLA selection went very well: everyone that was placed got a community in which they could bring their individual strengths to bear. As always, there were far more applicants than spots available, which is indicative of a very strong Res. Life program overall, and bodes well for the future of this form of community development.
The same can be said of the general RLA applicant pool as well. According to Mettille, there was such a wide range of people who applied that it would be impossible to assign strengths and weaknesses to the pool as a whole. The Head RLAs and RHDs from each building had varying degrees of conference with regards to who would make good fits for the hall, for the RHD and for the head RLA.
As to the decision-making process itself, all that Mettille would say for sure was that all the RHDs sit down and decide on a staff for the whole campus, and with all of them together there is overlap in their acquaintances which allows for good decision-making. He said that he is aware of the slightly mysterious nature of the selection process, and wants to keep it that way.