CDs work to enrich student life

by Khalil Ayvar | 9/27/01 5:00am

The Office of Residential Life has its forces supplemented this year by eight full-time professional Community Directors, who oversee and guide the student staff of Undergraduate Advisors, Graduate Advisors and Program Liaisons to benefit and enrich the residential life experiences of students at Dartmouth.

The CDs are part of ORL's growing professional staff, replacing the old student position of Area Coordinator.

A Community Director is a professional live-in staff member who is responsible for setting the educational and programmatic vision for the cluster. This includes general administration, offering support and direction to residents and meeting with residents to address behavioral concerns.

The CD guides the student staff in creating a community development program within their cluster, making learning opportunities available and providing leadership opportunities in residence halls.

CDs also contribute to central office function in Residential Education as well as serving a quarter-time assignment in another Student Affairs office.

When asked how Community Directors are different from Area Coordinators, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman said the biggest change is a higher level of expectations.

"Speaking with ACs, many told me they felt the constraints of time and ability," Redman said. Now that the positions are filled by hired professionals instead of students, Redman noted that the first priority is residential life, not academics.

Amanda Bingel, CD for the River dorms and Maxwell/Channing Cox agrees. "We do many of the same things on paper as an AC. However, we have more time to devote to [the job], and more attention. I think the AC position was a great opportunity for juniors and seniors who wanted the experience, but it was really too much to ask of someone -- to be an AC and a student at the same time."

Gold Coast and Butterfield/Russell Sage AC Mike Lord offers up another viewpoint -- a professional CD presents "a different perspective, from outside of Dartmouth." He concedes that some confusion remains over his role on campus, saying, "Students are still trying to figure out who we are. 'What can you do for me, what are you here for?'"

"We are all young professionals, and not that far removed from being in college ourselves," Massachusetts Row and Hitchcock CD Christi Showman said.

Surabhi Lal works with the Choates and North Hall. She described Dartmouth as a "fascinating place to work" and said that through the CD program, students benefit from access to a non-student advisor.

Coming to Dartmouth was a shock for some. Ripley-Woodward-Smith and Fayerweathers CD Keira Kant claims to "like it a lot here, though it takes time to transition." Speaking of her fellow CDs, she said, "[having] other colleagues my age has been helpful."

"It's very different. I've only been at large institutions, so I'm getting used to a small campus, where you see everybody everyday," Showman said.

A southern California native, she ruefully added, "I'm not so sure about the snow here in New Hampshire, though."

Other CDs include Nariah Broadus (Wheeler, Richardson and the Affinity and Special Interest Houses), Lisa Kerr (East Wheelock) and Dionne Simmons (Topliff, New Hampshire and the Lodge).

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