Administrators experience the 'challenge' of RIT residence life
Little sleep, lousy mattresses and a 5:20 a.m. fire alarm helped mark the first Real RIT: Dorm Challenge.
The Student Government-sponsored event challenged the RIT administration to a two-night, three-day immersion experience in the campus residence halls. Administrators roomed with students, parked in designated student parking lots and ate their meals at Gracie's, the dining facility in Grace Watson Hall.
Twenty administrators emerged from the challenge with a new understanding of the RIT student experience - both the good and the bad.
"Students seem to think that moving into the dorms was some brave act of charity on the part of administrators," says Rebecca Johnson, who participated in the challenge along with her husband, RIT President Bill Destler. "Administrators, on the other hand, seem to be grateful for having been invited to this experience and have left the dorm on a 'high' - albeit a tired one."
During an open forum at the end of the challenge, participants shared positive sentiments similar to Johnson's. However, the experience did not pass without some difficulties. A lack of sleep was a common theme.
"Sleeping in a dorm room is like being in Vegas," says Chief Information Officer Jeanne Casares. "You don't know what time it is or if it's light or dark out. Everyone is up all the time, moving about and hanging around. The lights are bright and the noise is continuous.
I think I got about 27 minutes of sleep. Tiring, but fun!"
Those were exactly the types of experiences that Student Government wanted administrators to have.
"The next time administration has to make a decision that affects students, I'm sure they'll think of the time they spent in the residence halls," says Student Government Vice President Matt Danna, one of the Dorm Challenge organizers.
Student Government's plan already appears to be working. During the open forum, Destler received the loudest cheer of the evening when he proclaimed his desire to convert lounge spaces back into true lounges (many lounges have been converted into student rooms). Vice President for Student Affairs Mary-Beth Cooper received a similar ovation when she stressed the need to provide more comfortable mattresses.