Next Housing and Residence Life co-chairs announced

Third-year Engineering student Nikhith Kalkunte and third-year Curry School student Moises Mendoza will occupy the positions in 2018-19 academic year


Third-year Engineering student Nikhith Kalkunte (left) and third-year Education student Moises Mendoza (right) will serve as the Resident Staff Co-Charis for the 2018-19 academic year. 

Courtesy Nikhith Kalkunte and Moises Mendoza

University Housing and Residence Life announced Tuesday the selection of its two incoming Resident Staff Co-Chairs for the 2018-19 academic year — third-year Engineering student Nikhith Kalkunte and third-year Curry student Moises Mendoza.

The co-chairs are positions occupied by University students to manage and lead the 240-person resident staff, including Senior Residents and Resident Advisors, towards a unified vision of residential life on Grounds. The co-chairs aim to build strong student housing communities.

Both Kalkunte and Mendoza will be among six students working closely with Housing and Residence Life. The other four students will occupy vice chair positions which aid the co-chairs in their work and will be responsible for developing training and organizing community-building events for students. 

Kalkunte said he wants to increase the transparency between the co-chairs and Resident Advisors. 

“We want to make sure RAs and the student body know of what we of the residential staff are working on and what is to come,” Kalkunte said. 

Additionally, he hopes to help make changes within the programming for residential advisors. 

“Personally, I identified a common issue that occurs in the multicore programming that all Resident Advisors are tasked in creating,” Kalkunte said. “We identified the solution to be a more comprehensive support system. I'd like to see more development for Resident Advisors as they are endeavoring to spread multiculturalism within their halls and support them in that aspect.”

Mendoza said in an email to The Cavalier Daily that he hoped to further support Resident Advisors and foster inclusive residential communities as a co-chair. 

“Our current group of leaders have created incredible initiatives and a structure that has allowed us to positively shape our staffer's overall experience,” Mendoza said. “I want to work with Nikhith and our new leadership team to build upon this progress and put in place more programs and initiatives that will allow us to support our Resident Advisors to the best of our ability while at the same time flourishing those inclusive communities that we strive in creating for all of our residents across grounds.” 

Mendoza said that one of his main goals as a co-chair is to represent the voice of Resident Advisors and provide them with sufficient resources to carry out their duties.  

“I want to do my absolute best in leading the entire Resident Staff program,” Mendoza said, “and one of my main goals truly is to make sure that our RA's voices are being heard and that our leadership team is doing the best we can in making sure that our RAs have all the resources and tools needed to do be the best Resident Advisors that they can be.”

Mendoza said that he first joined the Resident Staff program to create a sense of home for residents. 

“The feeling of not having a place to call home became something I simply didn’t want any other person to experience,” Mendoza said. “Someone’s home is not only a place of shelter, it’s the place they can always count on to bring them comfort and happiness, it’s the place they can go to in order to retreat from anything and feel safe.”

To apply for the co-chair positions, applicants need at least two years of experience as a Resident Advisor or one year as a Resident Advisor and another as a Senior Resident. 

Kalkunte is a Resident Advisor at Page-Emmet dormitory and was previously a Resident Advisor for the Courtney, Dunglison and Fitzhugh dormitories. Mendoza is now the Senior Resident in Gooch dormitory after being a Resident Advisor in Woody-Cauthen. 

Co-chairs are required to go through a three-step application process, starting with written essays and ending with two interviews. The first interview is conducted by current co-chairs, vice chairs and Senior Residents, while the second is led by professional HRL staff. 

“It totaled to around more than 20 people in the room, and so it was an interesting lecture hall set up where the interviewee was in the place of the professors and the interviewers were arranged around the room like students,” Kalkunte said. “The last one was a professional interview with professional staff.”

Applicants are expected to have a vision for the student housing program — one that fulfills the mission of HRL. The outgoing co-chairs, fourth-year College students Tyler Ambrose and Joshua Jaspers, described their accomplishments. 

“I think one thing we put a focus on was on the training and development component to make sure our Resident Advisors are trained throughout the year,” Jaspers said. “We tailored the content and the way we delivered it to the staffers to make sure it’s effective in their day to day jobs. For example, we made sure during Orientation Week and senior staff training we were giving people practical experiences around multiculturalism and mental health and how to build communities. “

New co-chairs are selected each January to become accustomed to the responsibilities of their positions and prepare for training sessions, such as resident staffers’ Orientation Week, to be held early in the Fall semester. 

Ambrose said the time commitment and effort involved with the positions require that co-chairs have certain characteristics. 

“We look for candidates who can articulate they can improve a residential experience and support resident advisors in their mission to this,” Ambrose said. “We look for people who can be collaborative. It takes strong communication between the co-chairs to make sure there is no communication asymmetry, to ensure both of them are on the same page, and be in step with one another towards a direction they would like to see the program go.”

Correction: The article previously misstated that Moises Mendoza did not respond to comment by press time. Mendoza emailed his responses by press time. The article now includes his statements.

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