Residence Life selects student leaders for next academic year

Reed, Somers to replace Locks, Foltermann

Housing and Residence Life, which has offices in Kent-Dabney Dorms, above, selected third-year College students Gaia Read and Katie Somers as the 2014-2015 Co-Chairs, the student leaders of the program.

Housing and Residence Life chose two new candidates, Gaia Read and Katie Somers, on Wednesday night for the position of Co-Chairs for next school year. The Co-Chair position is the highest position in Housing and Residence Life available to University students. Fourth year College student Taylor Locks and fourth year Engineering student Andrew Foltermann currently hold the position.

Housing and Residence Life selected fourth-year College student Gaia Read and third-year College student Katie Somers on Wednesday night to serve as co-chairs for the upcoming school year. Co-chair is the highest position in Housing and Residence Life available to University students.

“I decided to apply because I really liked being a supervisor in the SR [senior resident] position, and I felt like I’d have a much bigger impact,” Read said. “I felt there were a lot of possible improvements I could address. I’m looking forward to my chance to bring up a lot of new ideas and to work with the actual U.Va.-employed staff members, and to coming up with new and fresh ideas … [and] working with the SRs.”

Fourth-year College student Taylor Locks and fourth-year Engineering student Andrew Foltermann currently hold the position.

Having only two co-chairs was new as of last year, said fourth-year College student Charlie Tyson, a former senior resident.

“There was a period when there were three chairs,” Tyson said. “One would deal with New Dorms in the Alderman area, one with Old Dorms in the McCormick area and one [with] transfer and upperclassmen housing. The two-chair model came back last year.”

Presently, Locks oversees first-year areas and Foltermann oversees upper-class areas. Within the Housing and Residence staff, co-chairs work closely with both student residence life and administrative staff to co-supervise senior residents, Locks said.

“The chairs provide student leadership to the entire Resident Staff Program,” Locks said in an email. “In this capacity, they work closely with the Deans, Area Coordinators, Program Coordinators, the Executive Committee and other University contacts and offices.”

Tyson said the co-chair’s role is to set a vision for the broader Residence Life Program.

“The senior resident’s focus is local, whereas the chair is less responsible for what happens in each housing location specifically, and more with what happens overall,” Tyson said.

Second-year Batten graduate student Lena Shi, a former senior resident, said co-chairs have to balance the desires of student leaders with the needs of University administrators.

“Co-chairs offer guidance to SRs and RAs [resident advisors] to make sure their decisions are relevant and helpful to their residential communities,” Shi said in an email. “At the same time, co-chairs help ensure that the RAs’ and SRs’ decisions align with the demands [of] the University and Residence Life Office.”

In addition to providing student leadership, co-chairs are also responsible for program leadership and development, Locks said.

“In this capacity, we advise and chair different department committees, including the Appraisal Board,” Locks said. “We also attend several meetings to provide a student voice and perspective on a wide variety of issues.”

The Appraisal Board is a mixed body of students involved with Housing and Residence Life and administrators who handle cases where resident advisor’s are not meeting job expectations.

While Locks said co-chairs spend much of their time in and preparing for meetings, they also prepare training materials and work on other projects for Housing and Residence Life.

“Typically, I will attend several meetings with students and professional staff on any given day of the week,” Locks said. “These can include working with the committees I advise, meeting with a small group of SRs for an area meeting [or] individual staffers who … have concerns or just want to drop by.”

Shi said the nature of the position depends heavily on the person who holds it.

“The position largely varies with co-chair’s personality,” Shi said, speaking about the co-chairs with whom she worked during her two years as an SR. “One was great with community building, another lightened the mood on meetings and another was more hands-off. Each new wave of RAs, SRs and co-chairs will determine how the position will be relevant for the RAs.”

Published February 6, 2014 in FP test, News

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