Hall directors and RAs supervise students throughout the year
Allie Wisker is back for her second year as hall director of Towers East at Southeast Missouri State University. Wisker graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and two master's degrees in history and information science from the State University of New York in Albany, N.Y. She supervises roughly 380 students and 11 resident assistants in Towers East. Wisker said preparations for the new school year are in full force and dull moments are hard to come by when organizing the living situations for hundreds of students.
Q: What kinds of responsibilities are included in being a hall director?
A: We're definitely kind of jacks-of-all-trades. We supervise the kind of day-to-day stuff that goes on in our buildings. That includes any of the facility things going on. I'm direct supervisor of the eleven RAs who work in the building, so everything that goes on, on their floors. [I] manage programs that they're hosting, [and] serve as a judicial enforcer. So, if residents get caught, you know, breaking policies, we're the ones who go and respond to that with the RAs.
One of the best parts of the job is working with the students, both the RA staff obviously, but also the residents who live in the building. I get to meet them and direct them, help them with problems, joke around with them, so kind of serve as a resource for all of them.
Q: What are some problems that happen at the beginning of the school year that you encounter?
A: We definitely get people who are homesick. Being in Towers East, a big transition for a lot of people is community-style bathrooms. We have a number of residents who only shared a bathroom with their family, and now they're coming and sharing a bathroom with anywhere from 25 to 35 other people.
We do get some roommate conflicts. A lot of times it's with people who are best friends from home coming and realizing that 'We're great friends, but we just can't live together.' We do deal with a lot of people just making kind of a big transition from living at home under their parents' roof to living on a campus where they have a lot of freedom.
Q: On the opposite side of things, what are some of the awesome things that happen at the beginning of the year that you notice?
A: Just the friendships that people make and the connections that they make with each other. You really do become very close when you live with people. One of the best things about working with college students is seeing how they grow up and develop and change throughout time and seeing where somebody is in August when they come and start living here to where they are in May when they leave is just awesome, I think.
Q: What's the difference between keeping all the students that live here in line and then making sure the RAs are doing their job?
A: With the students, it's not so much supervision of them, it's just making sure that they're safe, and, if there are things going on, that we're able to approach it. With the staff it's definitely different because they are doing a job and it's a very difficult job. I think the RAs, hands down across campus, are some of the hardest-working, most dedicated people and students that go to school here.
Q: As far as programs go, what are some things that you do to kind of help with the homesickness and other beginning problems?
A: RAs will do programs on their floors and in their buildings. And those programs that the RAs do are planned by them, implemented by them, facilitated by them. Programs that the department does are programs that are planned by hall directors, people in our central office, they tend to be cross-campus programs. We do social programs, just trying to build good relationships on the floor and in the building. Alternatives to going out and drinking is a big thing of what we do.
Q: What do you look forward to for this coming school year?
A: I love meeting the new people who live here. It's very interesting just to meet all of them. There was a great group of residents that lived in this building last year, so I'm excited to get to know the new ones that are going to live here and work with them and see what they can do. Each class has its own personality.