The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Dorms offer alternative to ‘commuter campus’

Living on campus provides students with unique opportunities to get involved in the U’s various activities.

The U has traditionally been a commuter university, meaning the bulk of its students live off campus.

Those off-campus students often miss out on some of the social aspects that the Office of Residential Living and the Residential Halls Association offer through the dorms.

ORL is the administrative branch of residential life and the RHA is a student group, which all dorm residents pay $21.60 in fees to fund and become members. Therefore, the RHA consists of approximately 2,000 members.

ORL provides a First Year Focus program for incoming students.

A minimum of 12 hours in any 24-hour period are designated as quiet hours, which are defined as the containment of noise so that it cannot be heard outside individual rooms.

In addition, students have the opportunity to attend classes with people who live on their floor, use study rooms for both individuals and groups and attend guest lectures or workshops.

All first-year students are eligible for the First Year Focus.

A similar program, called Undergraduate Tradition of Excellence, is also available for students who are not in their first year of study.

The ORL and U are finalizing a leadership program targeted to undergraduates and student leaders.

A service-learning program already exists, thanks to the Bennion Community Service Center, and its aim is to provide classes that will further community service and help students think and learn about their area of study through service.

Peer leaders receive special training in directing and participating in a wide variety of service projects. In addition to examining ways in which service can be integrated into the academic curriculum, students in this group form the core group that plans and implements service opportunities for the rest of Heritage Commons and the U community.

There is also a new director of residential living at the U.

For the past 33 years, Dan Adams has directed residential life at the U, guiding the residence halls to the nationally recognized School of the Year award.

After a lengthy tenure at the U, Adams decided to retire and the new director, Steve Nygaard, was recruited from St. Mary’s College in California.

Nygaard says that he and his administration will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of residential life and make adjustments accordingly.

The new director is aware that the issue of low occupancy has plagued the U for many years and he plans to address that problem.

Seeing how the U has traditionally been a commuter school and about 40 percent of U students are married, solving the occupancy issue has and likely will continue to be a struggle.

The Office of Residential Living recently raised rent to help cover for money lost on empty rooms and increases in the cost of living.

Despite this specific area of focus, Nygaard says his main overall goal will be to assure that students have a positive experience in an environment that supports learning.

“Our major goal is how to best serve the students in enhancing their education. We’ve had a lot of feedback and growth in the past couple years and I hope to further that,” he said.

Nygaard will receive a lot of help from different leaders, including the resident assistants and student leaders who will return to the dorms Aug. 9 and Aug. 13, respectively.

“They return very early to be trained in campus resources, how to build community on your floor, emergency procedures and how to get involved in campus activities,” said Barbara Remsburg, associate director of resident living.

“Our staff comes in pretty early and goes through some intensive training so students will feel positive about starting off the school year,” Remsburg continued

The residential area of the U consists of several housing areas that doubled as the Olympic Village during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Below is a breakdown of the residential areas and which demographics are housed within them.

Shoreline Ridge houses graduate students and students with families.

Benchmark Plaza houses juniors and seniors (students with more than 60 credit hours).

Sage Point primarily houses sophomores and juniors.

Chapel Glen primarily houses freshmen with some sophomores.

Gateway Heights is 100 percent freshmen.

Officers’ Circle contains a mix of all students.

The Office of Residential Living, in coordination with the Residential Halls Association, has already scheduled a number of welcome-back events with the aim of introducing students to one another and the U in a gradual process that covers the five-day period between check-in on Aug. 20 and the day before school begins, Aug. 24.

“Openings week is our biggest week to really welcome students and get them out of their rooms after they’ve moved in,” said Jaymes Myers, president of RHA.

“Openings is always fun and crazy,” Remsburg added. “Part of our first initiative in helping [students] to feel welcome and be part of the community are to do ice breakers and community builders so that initially students get to know roommates and folks on their floor.”

During the following couple of days, students get to know people in their building. This helps students get to know one another in a process that allows them to adjust to the smallest group possible, feel comfortable in that group and then build from there.

Check-in day for students staying in the dorms is Friday, Aug. 20, but they can register to check in a day in advance to beat the rush.

During that first day, students will be unpacking their belongings for the bulk of the time, but Remsburg says there will be some low-key events such as game night, ice cream socials and other “low-key, fun stuff so folks can take a break and then go back to unpacking.”

The Residential Halls Association will provide a “dive-in movie” for students the following day, Saturday, Aug. 21.

On Sunday, Aug. 22, the RHA will put on three events, including the Crimson Carnival, a barbecue and a hypnotist show.

Remsburg notes, “A lot of our events can be fun for any age. Some of the students housed at Shoreline Ridge have families and the carnival will include blowup toys that will be good for kids, too.”

Monday will see a wide array of sports and tournaments such as basketball and volleyball, thanks to coordination with the Outdoor Recreation Program located just across the street from the Office of Residential Living.

These games will be followed by improvisational comedy provided by the local group Quick Wits.

Tuesday, Aug. 24, will not see as many events due to the fact that classes begin the following day. Rather than putting on party-oriented events with games and food, the RHA will provide a nationally recognized speaker who will talk about the dangers of alcohol. A raffle will be held so those who attend may win some prizes.

These openings events are targeted specifically toward the residence halls, as they are funded by the dues paid by students who live in the dorms.

In addition to these kick-off events, the RHA puts on monthly activities. “What we’re focusing on this year is uniqueness, so residents can have experiences they wouldn’t have off-campus,” Myers said.

The Residence Halls Association also puts on weekly community meetings called General Assembly.

At these meetings, residents can come voice their opinions, concerns and problems to an organization that acts as an advocate for change in the larger community.

In addition to these services, Myers added, “We provide leadership opportunities so all incoming residents have the opportunity to become part of RHA through their acting floor president.”

One president is elected per floor and put on a hall council to represent the student voice.

In the end, there are three main segments of leadership in the residence halls.

The Resident Advisers are the student employees who operate under ORL.

The Hall Council sits under RHA and is comprised of representatives from Chapel Glen and Gateway Heights.

Finally is the RHA as a whole, the student organization that puts on large community-wide activities.

[email protected]

Dorms Opening Activity Schedule

Aug. 21 Saturday “Meet RHA” – Get an Otter Pop and meet your RHA Executive members. 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. Front of Heritage Center

“Dive-In Movie” – Come ready to watch a movie wet or dry in the HPER Pool.8:30 p.m.

Aug. 22 Sunday “Crimson Carnival”2 p.m.Benchmark Courtyard

“Crimson Carnival” – Fortune tellers, blowup games, snow cones, cotton candy and magicians. Bring your friends and family for a fun-filled event. Barbecue5 p.m. Benchmark Courtyard

Barbecue – Chartwells will be cooking up a barbecue for residents. Come hungry! Hypnotist7 p.m. Location: TBDHypnotist – Use your friends as entertainment and watch an amazing hypnotist put them to sleep.

Aug. 23 Monday “Outdoor Rec Tournament” 2 p.m. Outdoor Recreation Building”Outdoor Rec Tournament” – Gather your friends and play some 3-on-3 basketball, sand volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee.

“Quick Wits” 7 p.m.Benchmark Courtyard Watch an improv group on the lawn. “Whose Line Is it Anyway” has nothing on these performers.

Aug. 24 Tuesday Mark Sterner – DUI: A Powerful Lesson 7:30 p.m. Post Theatre “Mark Sterner relives the most terrible night of his life, helping students to better understand how a single bad decision can forever alter the course of an individual’s life.” Sponsored by: Athletics, Greek Life, Residential Living and the Alcohol and Drug Education Center

Aug. 26 Thursday 4th Annual Heritage Center-Utah Athletics Barbecue 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Heritage Center Courtyard (East side of building) Enjoy a barbecue provided by Chartwells and meet Coach Urban Meyer and a few football players, then challenge the women’s volleyball team in a little four-on-four. Music, prizes and much more!

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