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Untitled Document

Residential Council Minutes :: April 21, 2009

Present: James Reed (Chair), Greg Anderson (Policy Chair), Mark Fuller (Program House Chair), Ben Lowell (Lottery Chair), Jillian Robbins (Secretary), Sophie Asher, Jerry Cedrone, EJ Chung, Rachel Kahn, Chaz Kelsh, Adam Lewin, Courtney Mannino, Sara Sunshine, Andrew Tan, Jane Zhang

Guests: Margaret Klawunn, Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services, Dean Richard Bova, Senior Associate Dean of Residential and Dining Services, Tom Forsberg, Associate Director of Housing and Residential Life, Natalie Basil, Associate Director of Residential Life, Richard Hilton, Assistant Director for Operations, Jenna Sousa, Housing Coordinator

Introduction by Dean Bova:

  • Here to say thank you on behalf of the ResLife staff - this year he has had a wonderful experience with the Council
  • James' leadership has been exemplary
  • A special thanks to Greg, Mark, and Ben for leading the committees

Margaret Klawunn, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services, came to speak with us about our thoughts of the changes that were made to the Faculty Advising Fellows program this year, the success of these changes, and additions to the program that will be implemented next year

  • Due to budget cuts, Brown has taken steps that will be put into effect next year
  • Within the division of Campus Life, an emphasis has been placed on preserving the student experience
  • President Simmons is very conscious that Brown students are only on campus for four years, and therefore wants to do everything she can to make the experience wonderful
  • First and foremost, the University must preserve the excellence of Brown University in terms of academics
  • However, President Simmons and the Deans within Campus Life are very aware that life inside and outside the classroom are equally important in forming the students' experiences here
  • While building new residential halls is further in the future than we had once thought, the division of Campus Life and the Office of Residential Life are working closely to renovate and improve as much as possible
    • Initiatives have been formed to buy new furniture and implement other surface changes within dorms
  • The division of campus Life will continue to advocate for improving students' experiences here as much as possible
  • The division of Campus Life has made Jim Miller, Dean of Admission, aware of the overcrowding that occurred last year
  • Dean Bova has been, and will continue to be, creative and resourceful in determining how improvements can be made to the residential experience without a lot of money
  • The Faculty Advising Fellows program, which began in the office of the Dean of the College, connected the residential experience with initiatives in advising
  • A lot of time this year has been spent evaluating the Faculty Advising Fellows program
    • where should we go in the future?
  • The division of Campus Life and the office of the Dean of the College have been trying to make more opportunities for students to interact with faculty outside of the classroom and for faculty to be more involved in Campus Life
    • what are some additional ways to do this?
  • The division of Campus Life looked at this year's attendance for Faculty Advising Fellows events
    • the programs being offered are not drawing in the numbers they would like
  • This year, 10 Faculty Advising Fellows were added to the program, and the division of Campus Life is looking to add more faculty members to the program next year
  • The program is meant to facilitate informal dialogue between faculty and students
    • although it was hoped that the houses would accomplish this, they did not
  • Next year, the division of Campus Life is looking to create an Advising Center in JWW
  • Every afternoon, several faculty members, who can answer questions about advising issues for any student who walks in, will sit in the center
    • a schedule will be posted of what faculty members would be there and when
  • There will be coffee, and students and faculty can sit down and chat
  • Also, faculty will be asked to sign up to have lunch or diner with students in the Ratty or the VDub
    • students could sign up in a group or as individuals
    • this year, it seemed as though invited dinners at the Faculty Advising Fellows' houses were more popular (and successful) than open study breaks
  • Some programming would continue in the Faculty Advising Fellows' houses, but it would be less frequent and would serve as a supplement to the new activities

Responses of ResCouncilors:

  • Holding Faculty Advising Fellows events in the dorms would probably bring higher attendance rates, as opposed to having students travel to the Faculty Advising Fellows' houses
  • Many students are intimidated to have informal conversations with professors
    • a lot of students want this as an ideal, but become intimidated when they actually have to do it
  • Having a set window of time where students can go to the Advising Center and begin a conversation which has a purpose (the reason the students came for advice) could lead to more informal conversation
    • the hook could initiate further conversation
  • The creation of an Advising Center also ensures that a faulty member of a department in which you are interested would be there to answer your questions
    • your assigned Faculty Advising Fellows may not work in the departments in which you are concentrating
  • A variety in the time that programming is offered should be established so that the highest possible number of students are able to attend some programming events
    • having all Faculty Advising Fellows events at the same time each week prevents some students from attending any of the programming
  • There should be a change in target populations of the events
    • freshmen could be invited by housing unit
    • students living in Young O could all be invited to an event about cooking
  • Faculty Advising Fellows should be more involved in the lives of freshmen from the beginning of the school year
    • Professor Suggs, the Faculty Advising Fellow for Keeney Quad, could be present on move-in day, introducing himself and making connections with the students
    • then, when students are invited to his house for programming, they would not feel as awkward attending
    • this could create a new culture of informal dialogue between Faculty Advising Fellows and students outside of the classroom at Brown
    • This would require faculty members to initially be more proactive
  • In the upperclassmen dorms, CAs could be more proactive in encouraging students to attend Faculty Advising Fellows events
  • The Meiklejohns should also help facilitate conversation between students and professors, especially at meals
  • A letter of invitation to programming from Dean Bova, where an RSVP would be required, could help attendance rates rise
  • Faculty Advising Fellows could send cards to students during the holidays to help create communities within our larger Brown community and to encourage conversation with students

What do students want in the future at Brown?

  • A friendly student center, where students can gather and hang out, where there is no expectation of being quiet
  • A place to meet for group projects, to play pool, eat, and relax
  • This will be especially necessary when Faunce closes for renovations
  • Next year's Policy committee should consider these desires of the students

End of Meeting

Submitted by Jillian Robbins, Residential Council Secretary 2008-2009