New hall councils give students input in dorm life

By Kaia Arthur

Residential Life administrators have begun forming student-run Hall Councils to facilitate communication between students and ResLife.According to Mieke Berg, Hall Director of Doty and Turck, ResLife wants to see the Hall Councils improve residential social communities, provide a structure for student self-governance, and give feedback to the administration about residential needs.

Jim Hoppe, Associate Dean of Students, said he advocated for introducing Hall Councils to give students a greater voice in residential affairs. He based the idea off of what he said were successful models at many other schools.

“We miss some links sometimes because students can’t regularly communicate their ideas to ResLife,” Hoppe said. “This would be a place for folks to go with their issues.”

Hall directors have held a few informational meetings about the new Hall Councils this semester. However, these meetings have not been highly organized, occurring at various times in each hall lounge.

In Doty and Turck Halls, no one attended the meeting advertised during the first week of the semester, and Resident Assistants who have discussed the initiative with residents have received little feedback, according to Berg.

“We’re changing our approach,” Berg said. “My staff is generating a list of concerns.” “We hope to create an open forum that would really lead to an established meeting time and residents who are continually involved.”

Meetings in other residential areas, particularly Kirk and 30 Mac-Bigelow-Wallace, have generated more interest.

“[Residents] have made a list of things to address,” said Peggy Olson, Associate Director of Residential Life. “People brought up public art, furniture, meal plans, and other things that they wanted to talk about.”

As interest in Hall Councils increases, administrators believe that the organization will become more structured and create officer positions.

“Next year we will hopefully be able to have elections for officers, but it depends on what students want,” Olson said. “The structure can become whatever is needed for students to provide the most impact.”

ResLife also anticipates a partnership between Hall Councils and the student-run Residence Hall Association (RHA), an organization that works to “build community at Macalester and to make life more fun for students,” according to Wesley Hart ’08, the RHA president.

“The Hall Councils could be a great place for residents to get together, come to some sort of consensus about what their dorm would like to happen, and then put their ideas into action. I want RHA to be able to help,” Hart said.

In the future, RHA hopes to have a member from each Hall Council present at their meetings to fully integrate the student residential organizations and ResLife.