Housing and Residence Life current changes and goals


Graphic by Cody Ferguson

Some of the changes coming to Housing and Residence Life.

Cody Ferguson, [email protected], News Writer

Higher education is a liquid medium, constantly adapting to the changing flow of students within its community. UNC Asheville is no different and big changes are coming for Housing and Residence Life.

Associate Director of Residence Life Dylan Lawing said previously, Housing and Residence Life were two separate offices. There would be some crossover, but for the majority of the time they were considered separate entities. Under the guidance of the new Vice Chancellor, Meghan Harte Weyant, the two offices decided to combine into one.

“As we joined Housing and Residence Life we combined our mission, vision and values. With that we have a centralized goal and mindset across the many offices under our umbrella,” Area Director for The Woods and Founders Grace Bergt said. “We like to refer to that as our collective ‘why’.”

Lawing said Housing and Residence Life kept open communication at all times, and often felt like one office. This transition, along with the changes to the current model resident assistants followed, felt like the proper step forward to bettering the community at UNC Asheville.

“Housing and Residence Life follows a community-building model. Students are living on campus for the majority of the year and in most cases, the office strives to make the campus feel like home. They want everyone on staff to have a personal connection with the residents they oversee,” Lawing said

These personal connections come with finding common interests among students and capitalizing on those interests with events hosted at UNCA.

“We want our office to be able to add students to every event on campus, whether it is taking residents to a sporting event or just to the game room during Highsmith After Dark. We want to bring students to the university-sponsored events and just get students together with other students who share similar interests,” Lawing said.

With the adjustments in Housing and Residence Life comes changes for all the positions under that umbrella, specifically the resident assistant position at UNC Asheville.

 “We hope students feel that Housing and Residence life is all together supporting them to give the best experience on campus,” Bergt said.

The resident assistant position is constantly reevaluated, and there is always something being changed within Housing and Residence Life. Students are different every year and Lawing said they have a goal to always meet students where they are. If they can’t, there’s no point. 

“There’s never an actual end goal with higher education. We do one thing and then refer back to the students we have and see if we need to go back and change it,” Lawing said.

The new position and compensation brings new challenges to the application, like the inclusion of a mandatory resume. Bergt said to not worry about the resume too much, as there are a plentiful number of resources on campus available to students. It’s okay if it’s the first time students have thought about making a resume for themselves.

“I’m excited to see the applications start to roll in. There’s a lot of big changes happening and this position is presenting new opportunities and compensation for everyone who is recruited. I hope there is a very diverse applicant pool, and hiring season is always exciting,” Bergt said.

“We’re not going to hinder anyone based on the experiences they have on their resume. Frankly, there aren’t many 18-or-19-year-old students who have translatable experiences,” Lawing said. 

On the 2023-2024 resident assistant application, there are a lot of questions revolving around current employment, involvement in clubs and general knowledge, but there are questions targeted to get students thinking more about their personal motivations for being an RA. Some of these questions involve thinking through a situation with residents or how they can personally build community within their residence hall.

“We are trying to see if the applicants are already having these thoughts about how to be an RA and what they can get out of their experience,” Lawing said.

All of these changes are in the hopes that the RA experience is going to become more transformational than in the past. Housing and Residence Life wants to see student leaders grow and develop, to look back and feel prepared about the rest of their lives after UNC Asheville. 

“I was an RA for three years and I can adamantly say I had former resident assistants as groomsmen in my wedding, and more peers out in the crowd,” Lawing said. “If there are students struggling to find their place on campus, this is a perfect spot for them.”

Bergt said the mindset of the department is to stay student-centered in their efforts. Everything they do is meant to be positively impacting the students in our community and the things that don’t work will have a second look and assessment.

“I would say any big changes you see in our department, there’s always going to be some form of assessment, feedback and evaluation before and after the change,” Bergt said. “All of these changes are going to be informed by the needs of our students, and we’re always trying to do better and improve things.”

There were multiple months of writing going into the current and future changes in Housing and Residence Life, and all of those decisions were informed by one or several current resident assistants. 

“We’re always asking ‘what can we do better’ and often it can take a little bit to get there, but all we ask is that the students on our staff trust us. All we want is to make a positive impact on the students on campus, to make everyone feel welcome and like they are at home,” Lawing said.