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ResLife restructures College House roles

May 5, 2017

The Office of Residential Life (ResLife) revamped College House officer positions for the 2017-2018 academic year in response to feedback from students, who said that work was distributed unequally among the five officer positions.

The new House leadership structure eliminates the old positions (president, vice president, treasurer, communications director and programming director) and replaces them with two house chairs and two programming chairs. Houses held internal elections for these positions this week.

“The names sound very different than what currently exists, but it actually is not very different at all,” said Assistant Director of ResLife Mariana Centeno.

Centeno explained that the roles of the president and vice president will now be shared by the House chairs, while the programming chairs will be largely responsible for the functions facilitated by the programming director, communications director and treasurer.

“What we’ve done is we’ve consolidated the president and vice president roles into house chair, and we’ve consolidated the communications director … programming director [and] treasurer, into two people in the programming chair.”

The house chairs will be responsible for managing the overall functionality of the House. Their duties will include facilitating House elections, maintaining relationships with campus partners and responding to the College’s requests. The programming chairs will be responsible for the engagement of the House members and overseeing the House budget.

Marina Henke ’19, who currently serves as the vice president of Reed House, was not upset to see her role eliminated.

“My only three requirements [as] the VP were that I would run the buddy system, that I would run the house advisor system and that I would run meetings when our president wasn’t there. And those are really not three huge roles,” she said.

Ian Culnane ’20, who will be living in Baxter House next year, was likewise excited by the new structure.

“I hope it’ll make the College Houses more collaborative environments,” he said. “When you have two people essentially co-organizing everything, that not only distributes the work between those two people, but it also makes the House more accountable.”

Culnane is excited to be in Baxter, as he is looking forward to making the space more welcoming and inviting.

While the new House officer positions attract student candidates, some students expressed interest in holding positions in a House that require less commitment. ResLife also added five less time-consuming roles: house reporter, techie, DJ and graphic designer/photographer.

In addition to refining the House officer structure, ResLife modified the election process. In the past, students were required to submit candidacy statements and present at a House meeting, after which voting took place. This year, ResLife implemented a question and answer process, where members of the house had the opportunity to informally question those running for officer positions.

Henke was pleased with the new process.

“Sunday night we had our new Reed elections, and I loved the new system. This time, we had this really cool, kind of, dynamic Q & A session where the new participants got to really talk about their ideas and I felt like we really got a personality out of them from that,” she said.

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