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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Residence Life discusses changes in training

Khalil Thames ’21 outside Villiger Residence Hall. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Summer training to include more diversity and inclusion

Inclusion and diversity was the focus of discussion during winter training for all Resident Assistants (RA) as the Office of Residence Life grapples with how to create a more inclusive community in the residence halls.

The topic during winter training was in response to the results of the 2018 Campus Climate Study, which analyzed inclusion and diversity on campus and a highly publicized racial bias incident on campus last semester. The incident involved a white student who left a racial slur on the residence hall door of two black students.

“On the heels of two data points, the climate study and the situation that happened at the end of last semester, we sat down and asked, ‘How do we utilize, as we always have, the winter training with our RAs?’” said Jessica Moran-Buckridge, director of Residence Life.

Liz Ali, assistant director for Residential Education, said the purpose of the discussion was to give RAs a chance to reflect on necessary changes and next steps.

“That’s a conversation I wanted to have with the RAs because, in the fall, I think there was a lot of anger and frustration and rightful- ly so, but we weren’t emotionally as a campus at the place where we could say what we want- ed the next steps to be,” Ali said.

Khalil Thames ’21, an RA in Villiger Residence Hall, said it was necessary for Residence Life to have this discussion.

“It’s their obligation to have a talk like this,” Thames said. “They didn’t have a choice. If they didn’t talk about it or want to improve it, then they aren’t committing to what they promised.”

Thames said the RAs in his breakout group at the training focused on the need for

he university to have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to racial bias incidents.

“Racism is everywhere,” Thames said. “We can strive our best to put in changes that expand our thoughts on diversity. But when it comes down to it, you’re going to have people who are ignorant. When it comes down to a bias-related incident, it can’t be tolerated.”

Adam Mullin ’20, an RA in Villiger, said what he learned from the training is the need for “accountability and connection” among all levels of Resident Life staff. He also said the staff needs to figure out how to have more meaningful conversations about race.

“What resources can we give to RAs so we can better be prepared to have those challenging conversations and go into a certain depth that doesn’t just say, ‘Oh we are going to pass the responsibility off to high-level staff members who then think there is a great risk to saying, ‘Hey, we are going to empower a student peer to be prepared and to feel confident in stepping up to the plate to help you talk through these difficult subjects, to have conversations of substance and, if nothing else, grow and learn to understand different viewpoints,” Mullin said.

Of 11 other RAs contacted by The Hawk, six declined to comment on the discussion at the training and five did not respond.

Ali said the entire Residence Life professional staff addressed the discussion items at a Jan. 30 meeting.

“As a professional staff, our role is to ascertain what from those can be our short-term goals and long-term goals,” Ali said. “Those are talking points for sum- mer training that can then continue into our ongoing education.”

Thames said he appreciates that Residence Life made inclusion and diversity the focus of its training.

“It meant a lot that they had this,” Thames said. “It was definitely needed and interesting to talk about. Going into summer training for next year, they are going to make some chang- es to summer training as well to incorporate some of those things.”

Cara Smith ’21 contributed to this article. 

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