With Hospers Hall set to become a men’s dorm next fall, long-time resident director Brittany Caffey will find herself in a different yet oddly familiar role. Caffey will be the resident director of Bolks Apartments and Courtyard Village, the first position of its kind in recent years.
“The position is still being developed, but it will include typical RD responsibilities — resident assistant staff development, discipline, providing resources for students, being available, etc. — and will include a focused response to upperclassmen issues for all upperclassmen on campus,” Caffey said.
Age disparities and a spread-out student population will require a new approach to resident life. However, she said she remains determined to keep the students her main focus.
“There is one major way we approach residence life that will not change: I will still take a lot of student input and try to walk alongside students without a specific agenda, especially at first,” Caffey said.
“I could go into the position with a list of things I would like to see change in the apartments, but I think this will be ineffective and exhausting. Instead, I’d like to let the residents themselves help me decide what needs to change and go from there.”
The Hospers switch wasn’t the only factor that influenced the decision to create a full-time resident life staff for the apartments.
Marlon Haverdink, the director of resident life at Northwestern, cited the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement that gave the college feedback on campus life. Despite positive reports from upperclassmen, one area for improvement stood out.
“Unfortunately, there was one key benchmark where our seniors reported a decrease: Supportive Campus Environment,” Haverdink said.
“That surprised us, and through follow-up conversations with multiple upperclassmen living in the apartments, we learned that while they appreciated the various freedoms and independence that apartment living offered, many students used words like ‘dropped,’ ‘on their own’ and ‘disconnected’ to describe their experience in the apartments.”
Haverdink said he is optimistic that Caffey will improve the living experience for upperclassmen in the apartments.
“Our hope is that Brittany will again be able to provide that same dedicated support for our students living in the apartments,” Haverdink said.
Caffey said she welcomes the opportunity to focus on upperclassmen.
“I am currently a co-RD of the apartments with Corey Kundert, and our attention between the dorm RA staff and the apartment RA staff can be difficult to juggle,” Caffey said.
“I am excited to be able to focus on a single RA staff and to be able to be more present in the apartments,” Caffey said.
“I’m also excited to focus on some issues unique to upperclassmen here at Northwestern as they consider transitioning from college into the next stage of their lives,” Caffey said.
There are, however, certain things about Hospers Hall that Caffey finds difficult to leave behind.
“Although I am excited and very grateful for the opportunity to be a resident director in the apartments, it does come with an element of grief,” Caffey said.
“There is a lot I will miss about Hospers, but perhaps I will most miss the unstructured, spontaneous interactions I have with the women of Hospers now,” Caffey said.
“These organically occur because of our shared living space, and although I will see them around campus, it will most likely happen in more planned and orchestrated ways.”