The BEAST comes to LU

Brianna Stapleton

Last weekend, the BEAST reigned at Lawrence University. BEAST – which stands for Being Effective Assisting Students Today – is an annual resident assistant conference.
Saturday and Sunday, 127 RAs and residence life advisors from schools all over Wisconsin and Minnesota visited Lawrence to share ideas. The agenda included over 25 training programs and speakers including dean of students Nancy Truesdell, Plantz residence hall director Rob Ryan, Colman RLA Erik Garbacik, and Kohler RHD Teege Mettille.
Kim Stabile, an RLA in Trever, enjoyed seeing the contrast among schools. After hearing about the residence life policies at other schools, she felt glad to be at Lawrence.
“It seemed to me that the administration at those schools is much more strict and concerned with liability and bureaucracy than making sure the students are responsible and safe,” said Stabile. “Their RAs are more like an auxiliary police force than a community building staff.”
Stabile said her favorite idea from the conference was “Sex Jeopardy,” presented by two RAs from UW-Superior. “I think it would be helpful to have more educational programs that are also some fun at the same time,” she said.
RHDs got in on the action as well. Karen Patyk, the RHD from Ormsby, said, “It was interesting to learn about the differences between Lawrence and the schools in the UW system, particularly in the way they handle policy violations, but in the areas of programming and community development as well.”
Kayla Johnson, an RLA in Trever, was on the food committee. She helped organize all of the meals for the weekend and prepared a slide show with pictures of everyone enjoying themselves while participating in the conference.
Johnson said her favorite part of the weekend was learning about hall activities from other schools. “One thing I would like to try is a dog show,” Johnson said. “A person from another school asked the Humane Society to bring in a couple animals and talk about volunteering. It would be a fun hall program.”
Colman’s head RLA, Patrick Ehlers, helped organize the agenda for BEAST. Before the weekend, he found it hard to predict which agenda item would be the best.
“I’ve seen so many interesting ideas pass in front of me that I can’t rightly remember which programs sounded particularly interesting,” Ehlers said. “I’m more excited to get to meet and talk to RAs from other schools and get a more universal perspective on the job.”
This conference was well-timed, coming the weekend after many students received RLA recommendations in their mailboxes. Mettille recommended that students apply for the job. “The skills and abilities you develop throughout the year will help you tremendously in the rest of your life,” he said.
And, of course, you’ll get to attend a residence life conference like BEAST. RLA applications are available in Raymond House.