Faculty Disconnect

Disclaimer: These are my feelings based off a situation with ONE particular professor at ONE particular school. This probably does not apply to ALL professors. Kindly take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

I recently attended a university function that paired faculty with staff in different groups. As I chatted with this professor, it quickly became apparent that she had NO clue what I did as a professional working in ResLife. I don’t want to make her sound completely ignorant. We all know that my parents (still) have no idea what I do and half the time I’m not even too sure. So when she was unsure of if I assigned students to their rooms or where I lived, I explained those things to her.

Later, as students arrived at our function, I made a joke that I was happy to be talking to students for positive reasons rather than because they are in trouble. The professor said, “Oh. You do that?” Later, when we were talking about the locations of some of residence halls on campus, she was surprised that I knew where they all were and then concluded that I did because I lived on campus. I actually know where they are because IT’S MY JOB.

While this professor may have been a little more clueless than most, the truth is most faculty members I speak with don’t have a good grasp on “dorm life” (sidenote – great YouTube series by the same name). Things have changed a lot – even in the past ten years! I once heard a professor comment that he was surprised to learn about social events in the dorms outside of floor meetings with pizza.

What can professors do about this? Contact your ResLife department! Many departments want some sort of faculty involvement within the residence halls. Find out which of your students are RAs. Maybe you can do a small activity with the RA on his or her floor. When it gets close to finals, host a study session in a lounge instead of a classroom across campus. Find out what activities are already happening that you can be apart of.

What are some best practices you’ve seen for professors getting involved in the residence halls on your campus? Share in the comments!

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One thought on “Faculty Disconnect

  1. Cindie says:

    In my experience, it goes beyond not understanding ResLife to many other departments. At the very least, if they have an image in their head from 20 years ago (when they first started working), it may not develop as Student Affairs evolves. Faculty members that are particularly vocal about changes they want to see on campus often don’t take into account the work that staff does because they see them as supplementary, or as just their to support the teaching, rather than the more holistic view of giving students experiences outside the classroom too. If they see you as unnecessary or less critical, there’s no need to take the time to find out what you actually do. Sad but true!

    Although to be fair, I have no idea the full scope of a professor’s duties. I have some idea, but it’s not as thorough as my grasp of, say, Student Activities.

    (Of course, my caveat is the same as yours: it’s some, not all.)

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