UConn is focusing on revamping Residential Life and moving towards a more curricular model that emphasizes student learning for the coming semester. To this end, Residential Assistants will have to complete a new Residential Learning Model (RLM) as part of their summer training. This model will focus on teaching students how to grow intellectually and become contributing members of the UConn community, mirroring a national trend in regards to Residential Life. Proponents believe that the new model will better allow RAs to gauge whether students are learning from their programs. Previously, programs put forward by RAs have not had set educational goals.
One of the biggest changes is that the programs will be very structured. RAs will be provided with detailed plans tailored to the objective of each activity. RAs have expressed concern in the past about a lack of clarity regarding the goals of their events, so a more rigid outline should help alleviate this. However, UConn should be careful about overcompensating for this problem. Making the program too rigid might constrain RAs and prevent them from using their own creativity to create unique programs intended to aid students. The administration emphasized that the model will evolve over time, and the key to success will be finding the right balance between RAs not understanding the intended result and RAs simply doing what the model tells them without any active engagement.
Some RAs have expressed concerns that this new model will just result in extra training requirements and little else. However, no one should outright dismiss this new initiative, as it has the potential to have a positive impact on students and RAs themselves. Set educational goals will likely allow students to benefit in more concrete ways than they might otherwise from programs. The new guidelines will also help RAs foster personal connections with students, something that will benefit both parties. Additionally, once RAs become familiar with the new RLMs their job should be much easier.
RA interaction with students is an important part of any university. Any changes aimed at improving the quality of these interactions are beneficial. While this new initiative may seem unnecessary, RAs should be willing to put forward their best effort and attempt to make this work. It has the potential to be a positive development for both RAs and students at UConn.