Student Life restructuring meets mixed reactions

By Brian Martucci

A two-year plan to restructure Student Affairs, developed by Associate Dean of Students Jim Hoppe, has been met with mixed reactions by students and staff. The plan eliminates the positions of Director of Residential Life, held by Sarah Griesse until she left on Feb. 28, Director of Campus Programs, held by Brian Wagner, and Associate Director of Leadership, held by Ramon Knox, both of whom will not be employed in their roles after spring 2007.
The goal of the reorganization is to consolidate Campus Programs and Residential Life, in an effort to improve efficiency and communication within Student Affairs, Hoppe said.

According to Wagner, the restructuring will create significant short-term problems for Campus Programs and Residential Life staff, Macalesterƒ?TMs students of color, and many student organizations that depend on Student Affairs staff members.

ƒ?oeCampus Programs and Residential Life, like most of the divisions within the administration, were always run to be ƒ?lean and mean,ƒ?TMƒ?? Wagner said. After the current staff cuts, however, ƒ?oethe worry is that there simply wonƒ?TMt be enough staff here to do the amount of work that needs to be done,ƒ?? he said.

Aside from the strain on individual staff members, concerns have also been raised about dwindling staff resources for students of color. Both Wagner and Knox have been cited as strong allies of cultural organizations on campus.

ƒ?oeThere are many ways to build and shape the student experience,ƒ?? Wagner said. ƒ?oeThe unfortunate reality is that, through the elimination of multicultural staff, many constructive student-staff relationships are going to be severed.ƒ??

The restructuring could also have an effect on the connection between student organizations. Wagner is responsible for advising and supporting over 80 student and cultural organizations.

ƒ?oeBrian Wagner is essential to student org. planning and a great resource,ƒ?? said Anna Goldberg ƒ?TM08, a representative of NARAL Pro-Choice at Macalester. ƒ?oeHe does a great job bringing speakers and events to campus.ƒ??

Although many students of color and student organizations affected by the restructuring foresee problems, the administration is confident that the plan will be helpful in the long run.

ƒ?oeWeƒ?TMre trying to provide a structure in which staff members from different departments can more easily work together,ƒ?? Dean of Students Laurie Hamre said. ƒ?oeThe goal is to have broader planning and shared responsibility [between departments].ƒ??

The merging of Campus Programs and Residential Life should free up resources and allow fewer staff members to implement more student services and programs. ƒ?oeCurrently, a good deal of energy is wasted on duplicated effortsƒ?? by both Campus Programs and Residential Life, Hamre said.

A perennial concern of students who live on campus is the perceived inconsistency and harsh punishments of Residential Life.

ƒ?oePeople perceive Residential Life as a negative force on campus,ƒ?? Said Guled ƒ?TM07, a Residential Advisor (RA) in Turck, said. ƒ?oeBut [students] donƒ?TMt appreciate the work that they do. Theyƒ?TMre in a hard position,ƒ?? he added, noting that Residential Life had a duty to protect the safety of on-campus students and uphold state and federal law normally reserved for the police.
ƒ?oeWhat would it be like if some random cops could come up to your room, search your roommatesƒ?TM side and find a rolled joint?ƒ?? he said.

Knox said that many accomplishments made within Student Affairs have gone overlooked. ƒ?oeWhat is often unfortunate is that you rarely hear about the victories or battles faced when trying to support students, staff, and faculty, all of which have valid needs and reasonable requests,ƒ?? Knox said. ƒ?oeHowever, when you try to meet them all, people just arenƒ?TMt satisfied from time to time.ƒ??
According to Knox, Residential Life, under Griesse, moved to implement gender-open housing, early room draw dates, additions to Turck and the fourth floor of Wallace, and improved storage capabilities in the dorms.

Whether or not student perceptions of Residential Life are accurate, Hamre stressed that the restructuring plan is in part designed to change negatives attitudes. A combined Residential Life and Campus Programs would lead to ƒ?oea more comprehensive Residential Life program.ƒ??

ƒ?oeAll programming opportunities for students who live on campus would be coordinated through one department,ƒ?? she said.

Ideally, students living in residential halls would eventually be able to step up and take more responsibility for the rules and regulations that govern their floors.

ƒ?oeThe aim is to make programming, hall councils, and conduct hearings more student-centered,ƒ?? Hamre said.