The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3 - 23

The Historical Progression of Residence Life Training Programs

helped me to hone my observational skills")
and to "speak the language of others to facilitate conversation" as a result of early staff
development. One participant shared that by
starting a position mid-year without a structured training schedule, she was forced to trust
and rely on her own judgment, a competency
that has served her well throughout her career.
"Since I attended graduate school at my undergrad institution, I was never considered a 'new'
staff member. Because of that experience and
coming in mid-year, I became more resilient
and learned to rely on myself to get information. I have never expected to be 'handed anything' in my years as a professional because
of that early lesson." Some of the lessons staff
carried with them came from group training
sessions, while others were learned through
one-on-one interactions and coaching with a
supervisor or mentor.
In spite of these lessons that participants
indicated still remained as a result of staff
training, a few staff reported that training sessions had little impact on their learning as
compared to their actual work experience in
housing. Being an early career professional
in residence life offered a twenty-four hour
per day learning lab that allowed participants
to expand their skills, make mistakes, and encounter situations that would force them to
learn new problem-solving and decision-making strategies.

The Evolution of Training Topics
and Delivery
A final area where there were major differences between more recent era professionals
and those from earlier historical eras was in
the variety of topics that staff covered during

training. Those participants from earlier eras
talked about training being centered around
programming models, staff supervision, security, and team building, whereas more recent
era participants mentioned training curriculums addressing topics of student care, Title
IX, FMLA, social justice, student conduct,
crisis management and emergency response.
Safety and security appeared to be a consistent topic for training throughout the years,
but the conversation related to it now was very
different from twenty-five years ago. Almost all
of the participants from the earlier eras shared
stories of how safety was ensured via at-length
training about keys, building access, and key
control. They talked about having actual keys in
boxes that were easily accessible to all staff and
the importance this topic got in training. One
participant shared, "Much of our training was
related to keys and key control so much it overshadowed other topics." Another shared, "Due
to an off campus murder the year before, there
was much discussion about keys, and the role
of the 24 hour desk." A third participant shared,
"One of my strongest memories was the importance of key control, the pressure not to drop the
key box, and the importance of a master key and
what might happen should you lose it." More
recent era participants did not mention keys at
all but did identify emergency management as a
primary topic in their training. "Crisis response
was emphasized, and suicide prevention training was coordinated with the counseling center,"
said one participant. Another described the level
of conduct training that was "more intense than
on other campuses" so that "staff could be consistent in handling cases and in sanctioning."
Perhaps this speaks to the ability of residence
life staff to be proactive in anticipation of safety

V O L U M E 4 5 , NO. 3 * 2 0 1 9

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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
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 3 - Cover4
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