Connecting and Engaging Students Through University Housing

With many programs and activities on campus now becoming virtual, it is increasingly challenging for students and staff to meet each other and to get connected on campus. As CSU students, faculty and staff adjust to the new normal as it relates to life on campus, University Housing is continually creating opportunities for students to engage and connect within their communities.

 “While living in University Housing, we want to provide our residents opportunities to engage with the learning they will be doing across campus. Our main priority is that while living with us, our residents will develop the ability to create and sustain inclusive communities through mindful and responsible engagement. By ‘inclusive communities’ we mean developing a capacity to value and affirm all members of our community, including their various identities, skills, ideas, talents and contributions,” says Tyler Alvarado, University Housing coordinator for residential curriculum.

In order to meet this priority, University Housing hopes that the students are able meet a set of goals by year’s end, which include contributing to the development of inclusive communities, developing lasting relationships, recognizing the value each person brings to the community, developing skills to support their classroom experience, and fostering confidence and resilience.

Living on campus is an integral part of the college experience, and it is an environment where a lot of personal development and growth are nurtured. According to University Housing Associate Director of Residential Learning  Dr. Brian Moffitt,  “Our work takes into consideration the whole student, what they bring with them to CSU, and building an experience that socializes them into an environment committed to their success and getting them to commencement. Graduation is our goal, and that starts the moment students check into their residential community.”

In these times of nearly all things virtual, the challenge is balancing engagement with health guidelines. “Connecting through Zoom or Microsoft Teams, students can utilize various programs to connect, organize study groups, or even reach out to students on other floors, adds Moffitt. “Student success happens at the intersection of helping students build and maintain positive relationships and students developing a sense of belonging.”

Creativity is the key to discovering new ways to interact. The casual personal interactions we are accustomed to don’t always apply these days, and it may take more intentional efforts to cross paths with one another.

University Housing has been actively involved in implementing many student staff-initiated activities and programs, curating engagement opportunities that are critical to the overall student experience. Many of these are based on the particular needs and interests of each individual community, such as collectively setting community standards, electing community members to hall councils, and meeting 1-to-1 with students to provide resources and support. Additionally, hall staff have created a weekly ‘Ram Hacks’ series which focuses on topics such as getting involved on campus, suggestions for where to eat on and off campus, and learning about CSU traditions. To make the transition of living with each other as smooth as possible, residents are also encouraged to complete roommate agreements to discuss living guidelines for the year with their roommate(s). Student staff then follow-up with conversations about communication skills and how to navigate through various conflicts that may arise.