The ABCs of Residential Life

Whether you moved to campus for the first time this year or are coming back for your second, third, or fourth year, there’s no place like Hope College during the first weeks of school. One of the departments that feels this energy the most is the Residential Life department. Residential Life is the heart and soul behind what students call home throughout their time living on campus. Part of belonging at Hope College starts with where you live and what your community looks like. Each community is different, from residential halls to cottages and apartments. You might attend the first housemother of Voorhees’s birthday party or go out for pizza with your house, or just have a really good conversation in your common space. Whatever it is, community doesn’t just happen, it’s built from the ground up by the people who are passionate about creating spaces where people belong. For some, hearing terms like “RLC” or “NC” doesn’t mean anything more than the “p” in raspberry. So, here’s your guide to all of those Residential Life terms that you don’t understand. 

Most people are familiar with the term “RA” or Residential Assistant. These are the people who knock on your door at midnight and tell people to get out of your room or for you to quiet down after quiet hours, right? Yes, but what else does an RA do other than police a residential hall to follow the policy? Well, the RA position looks different depending on where you are placed. In residence halls, you might have a pancake event every Thursday night with the RAs and you might get to be a mentor of sorts to some of your residents. Voorhees Hall RA Trenten Feyen (‘25) explains, “​​I didn’t realize how much responsibility RAs have. Typically RAs are known for doing lockouts and going on rounds, but we also submit work orders, plan hall events, create bulletin boards, and mediate conflicts that arise in the hall.” 

In the cottages and apartments, this position looks a little different. The cottages and apartments by nature offer more freedom for residents and RAs alike, as they are considered closer to “off-campus housing.” As an RA you don’t have to plan events for your house/apartment because your community occurs organically. Something like Friday night takeout with your house, going to a campus event together, and having a movie night are all common things that houses and apartments will do together usually as friends. This is not to say that as a cottage and apartment RA you don’t have to do anything. RAs in the cottages and apartments have to keep their space clean by getting everyone on the same page about chore charts as well as having more administrative work. No matter where you are placed, an RA is someone who plays a large role in shaping their community, what it looks like, how people communicate, and how people resolve conflict. 

If the term “SARD” and “NC” mean nothing to you other than the fact that they are a gathering of letters, this is the place for you. “SARD” stands for Student Assistant Residential Director, a title that belongs to only a select number of people on campus. There are only three buildings that have a SARD: Kollen Hall, Cook Hall, and Dykstra Hall. A SARD assists the Residential Life Coordinator (RLC), the faculty member who lives in the hall, by helping to supervise the RAs on their team. The SARD position is for students who want to have a leadership role in Residential Life and it is a good opportunity to grow one’s leadership skills while still having the room to make mistakes and learn from them.  Similarly, the “NC” position, or Neighborhood Coordinators, are the student leaders of the cottage and apartment neighborhoods. Instead of helping to oversee an entire building, NCs oversee entire neighborhoods of RAs and residents. Marilyn Orellana (‘23), the NC of South Green neighborhood, explains the position, saying, “I believe that NCs are there to support and assist anything that the RAs need in order for them to accomplish their job successfully.” Student ResLife leaders do a lot more than meets the eye, and Orellana continues describing the behind-the-scenes work, saying, “something about being an NC that people don’t really know is the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work/ training that we receive in order to be prepared for the role. We have to learn how to supervise and it really tests your leadership skills because you are ‘in charge’ of a staff that relies and depends on you so that the neighborhood is well accommodated.” SARDs and NCs do a lot of the support work that goes into making your neighborhood or residence hall the community it is. 

What about the buildings that don’t have a SARD, you might be thinking? All other buildings on campus have an “RD” or Residential Director. These are the adult staff you might see around your hall who love to connect with students. They live in the same space as students and are the vision makers around what makes the residential halls so special. Similarly, the other people who aren’t called an RD but do similar jobs are your “RLCs” or Residential Life Coordinators. There are four RLCs on campus: Elexis Taylor in Kollen Hall, Holly Ritter in Cook Hall, Kenedy Kieffer in Dykstra Hall, and Sarah Sanchez in Scott Hall. These people are full-time staff who supervise multiple buildings, as the halls are divided into different teams of staff who work together to vision for those communities.

Hopefully, if you see any of these titles floating around campus conversation or in writing, now you can recognize them and understand what they mean. This has been your exclusive guide to Residential Life.

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