Residence Life: Providing Community and Culture

Entering into a residence hall as a freshman or transfer student, there are major changes. A new environment, new people, a new address and our closest friends and family are no longer right around the corner.

However, with the help of Resident Assistants and Multicultural Advisors – we are able to get the next best thing.

Celani Hall RA Kaite Young-Kendall knows that every Central Michigan University student is unique, and makes it her mission to help them feel safe and secure.

“I try to recognize individual efforts, like the majors students are pursuing and focus on things they care about,” Young-Kendall said. “I try to put things on their fridge and door to make it feel like their space and their home – I want to ensure safety and connectivity.”

Living in a residence hall isn’t just about lodging. The interaction with other students prepares you for living on your own and provides the perfect opportunity to become more independent. While from afar it may seem to be all about rules and guidelines, living on campus can provide positive experiences that living off campus cannot.

What is one of the best experiences, you ask? According to Young-Kendall, it’s the social and friendly atmosphere.

“I really enjoy seeing people walk the hallways and knowing them all by name,” Young-Kendall said. “It’s a special support system that is provided here.”

Demetrios Sanders, also an RA in Celani Hall, hopes to have a positive impact on residents he encounters on a daily basis.

“(The purpose of my position) is relating with the residents, so I’m approachable as a peer and not an authoritative figure,” Sanders said. “I like to show them that I am as real of a student as they are.”

While some students come to CMU never feeling an ounce of homesickness, the transition isn’t as easy for others – but for Sanders, this is an easy fix.

“I try to create as comfortable of an environment as possible,” Sanders said. “I want residents to feel as connected as possible and not wish they were some place else.”

For Celani Hall Multicultural Advisor Taylor Gehrcke, the common perception of his role barely scratches the surface of what he truly contributes to students.

“The biggest thing for me is raising awareness because diversity is more than race, color and ethnicity – it’s a lot of different things and it’s a lot about identity,” Gehrcke said. “My biggest goal is to bring awareness to different issues that face our community.”

Gehrcke said he believes there are some advantages to living in the residence halls that living off campus can’t provide.

“Residence halls provide a fantastic experience for students to feel connected and have that community feeling,” Gehrcke said. “Students that I have talked to that live off campus miss two things: The residential restaurants and having their friends right next door.”