The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3 - 22

Phyllis McCluskey-Titus * Tony W. Cawthon * Zach Helms

provided." In contrast to other participants, a
number of more recently trained staff recalled
that "forced fun" activities were challenging in
terms of time and energy. There was an unwritten expectation that staff be available for
training all day and then to play together in the
evenings. Tasks needed to open the buildings
(door decorations, RA training preparation)
were expected to be completed as a group after
hours in someone's apartment or hall lounge.
This served for introverts especially as an additional source of frustration with the lack of
needed personal time available over a number
of weeks or months.
Staff retreats were remembered and valued
as time to spend on some content like sharing expectations and understanding each other's work
responsibilities, but more importantly was a time
for team-building and getting to know each other
while playing board games and cooking meals.
Retreats made learning fun, gave participants
time to socialize, and allowed them to fully get
to know one another. They were designed for
both work and play. Retreats allowed for sharing
expectations, understanding one another's roles,
and getting to know one another. One participant
shared, "Traveling in a van, staff bonded while
there [at the retreat site] and riding in the van."
Another participant stated, "Being off campus
[she felt] the group bonded and established a
team and a community."
Staff of all historical eras reflected on the
feelings that remained from their early training experiences and the bonding, community
building, and sincere welcome they received
while becoming a part of a new staff team.
For a number of the study participants this
"feeling" or "experience" with others is what
they recalled more about their training than the
22

individual content sessions they sat through or
experienced.

What Lessons Learned During Training
Still Apply?
Study participants shared lessons from residence life training that remain and have stuck
with them to this day. Some staff reported
learning how to balance work with their life by
"making the experience your own ... and realizing that you cannot do everything. You need to
pick and choose battles and initiatives you can
work on." Others reported that they learned the
value of flexibility in dealing with people and
with different kinds of situations they encountered through the years. "You cannot choose
who you work with, but you can learn to be flexible and look at the situation through multiple
lenses and speak the language of others." Training also allowed staff to learn to see the bigger
picture beyond their building and how they fit
into a specific campus environment. "Learning
the culture of the department ... and the culture
and context of the institution." There were
not notable differences between staff from the
various historical eras and the lessons that they
continued to practice in their careers.
Several earlier era participants, however,
reported that skill development like supervision "tips and tricks" presented in training
allowed them to be successful on the job even
now. Supervision was a topic that seems to
have been neglected in recent years in favor of
more pressing content. One participant stated,
"I did not feel prepared to supervise full-time
desk staff who had been at the institution a
long time and were older than I was." Related
to skills, another participant expressed being
able to better read non-verbal cues ("training

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3 - Intro
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3 - Cover1
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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3 - Cover3
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