Campus Life to streamline for 'more thoughtful, intentional' programming

By Amy Ledig

The Department of Campus Life is in the early stages of generating a plan that would provide overarching guidelines for events and encouraged conversations and also result in more cohesive offerings. While Campus Life staff says that there won’t be a noticeable difference in offered events, Residential Assistants will have increased direction as Campus Life tries to target programming at students during various stages of their four years at the college.Director of Campus Life Keith Edwards said that the department wants “to provide more thoughtful, intentional and purposeful educational opportunities for students beyond the classroom.”

Campus Life will implement the plan with the incoming class of 2012, beginning with its orientation in the fall. The plan was drafted over J-term and will now be considered by a review board of three to four faculty and staff members, while Campus Life continues to tweak the plan. Edwards said he hopes to have the details settled by April, in order to begin preparing for orientation.

Residental Life and Campus Programs staffs, which together make up Campus Life, are working to generate the plan. Based off of the college’s core values, the department wants to ensure that “students will understand their individual responsibility to work towards just and equitable local, national and global societies,” according to the College Life Education Plan.

In order to accomplish this, this educational priority will be broken down into seven “learning outcomes.”

According the plan, each student will understand “the multiple dimensions of individual and social group identities,” “the powerful roles and responsibilities of an individual in a community,” “how to build and sustain relationships,” “how to communicate across difference,” “how privilege and oppression exist and function in societies,” “the responsibility of citizens to work towards more just and equitable societies” and “how to be an actively engaged citizen of local, national and global societies.”

Each learning outcome is going to be targeted at students in different stages of their time at Macalester. The relationship and identity outcomes will be targeted at first-years and sophomores, and the social justice outcomes will be targeted at upperclassmen.

Edwards conceded that it might be more difficult to reach upperclassmen once they have moved off campus, especially those who will be upperclassmen when the plan is implemented next year. To involve more of these students, Campus Life plans to target events that juniors and seniors are likely to attend, including senior week, as well as reaching out to student leaders on campus.

He does not anticipate having the same issues with students who spend all four years with the programming.

“Once we do this with the first-years, they’ll be expecting it [in the years to come],” Edwards said.

Res Life will see the most substantial change.

“The biggest thing is that we’re going to have a plan and programming set in place and a framework to work within,” Res Life Operations Manager Kathy McEathron said.

The biggest job for Res Life, said Bigelow Hall Director Michael Klitzke, is to “make sure programming [for the objectives] gets carried over into the residence halls.”

There were no details available about specific programming, but Edwards said that RAs would receive increased guidance about events to do with their floors that would support Campus Life’s objectives.

Campus Programs does not expect to see as many changes as Res Life.

Allison Greenlee, assistant director of Campus Programming, said that the plan is most “relevant to orientation, how we can engage the first-year class and the messages we send them.” She said that since Program Board includes students ranging from sophomores to seniors, the sequencing of the objectives does not apply as much as it does for Res Life.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of obvious changes to the entirety of campus or to students,” Greenlee said. “If we do it right, most students won’t notice a change.

“Hopefully, we’ll just be a little bit more thoughtful about what we offer and when we offer it,” Edwards said.