Dorms look to connect with students

A new housing initiative aims to help students reach their goals.

Kyle Stowe

Although Zackary Leslie  said he’s found a support network in Territorial Hall, he said others might not have.

“The dorms are a big place,” the supply chain and operations freshman said. “It can be hard to get in touch with every student and support them.”

To learn more about students, University of
Minnesota Housing and Residential Life launched a new program, Foundation for Success, in all residence halls this fall.

The program seeks to better understand students’ collegiate, career and life goals so HRL can better support them, said HRL Program Director Grant Anderson.

“Instead of telling
someone who they should be, we’re saying it’s the
student’s job to decide what they want and who they want to be,” he said. “We’d like to position ourselves as somebody who can help them get there.”

To start, HRL is first surveying residents by asking about their social and academic goals at the University and after college.

After the survey, the program requires students meet with their community advisor once each semester to discuss their progress and how HRL can help.

Anderson said there hasn’t traditionally been a program for HRL to check in on residents’ progress and well-being.

“We want to put students in a position to thrive while they’re at school and beyond,” he said. “We wanted to do something that can help them get to where they want to be.”

The program launched in Territorial, Pioneer and Frontier halls last year and spread to all halls this semester.

Frontier Hall CA Julia Carlson said the program’s intentions are good, but it’s not always easy to get them across to students.

“I think it’s really nice for students to know that somebody cares about you and is concerned about your well-being,” she said. “But sometimes it can be a little cheesy.”

Along with the CA meetings, Foundation for Success has also changed roommate contracts. Now students will create a “roommate success plan” to better support each other throughout the year, Anderson said.

Territorial Hall resident Marika Kelly said she hadn’t heard of the Foundation program, but required CA meetings and success plans seemed “annoying.” Kelly said meeting with a CA might help her feel more connected, but it might not be the best way to reach her goals.

“I don’t really know my CA,” she said. “I don’t know what I could talk to her about.”

Leslie, a freshman, said he hasn’t had his first CA meeting, but he’s
looking forward to building a
relationship with his CA.

“I think my CA can be good in helping me get to where I want to be this year,” he said.

HRL is using social
media and other advertising outlets to promote the Foundation program, but Territorial Hall resident Jordan Sheehan said the messages aren’t relatable or interesting for some students.

“Students like things that are funny and relate to them,” she said. “That’s the best way to capture our attention.”

Sanford Hall resident Jordan Voas said Foundation for Success could be expanded in more tangible ways to be more successful.

“I like that they’re trying to help us be successful,” he said. “And there are so many ways they can help us do that.”