How do resident assistants (RAs), Area Coordinators and the Office of Residence Life as a whole help students at Elizabethtown College? For this academic year, the Office of Residence Life has launched a new learning curriculum called Live Etown.
“We’re really pumped about [Live Etown],” Area Coordinator for Schlosser Residence Hall, Myer Residence Hall and Royer Residence Hall Cody Miller said. “It’s our first voyage into this learning goal and larger curriculum.”
This curriculum consists of four learning blocks, two for each semester. The first block was Live Well, which ran from the beginning of the semester until Oct. 22. The second and current one is Live Connected, which started Oct. 22 and will continue through Finals Week.
During the upcoming spring semester, the learning blocks will be Live with Purpose and Live Beyond.
“The overarching theme of Live Connected is building relationships with others, along with understanding your worldview and their worldview, and how that all ties in together,” Assistant Director for Residence Life and Student Activities Kristen Vieldhouse said.
Each learning block has three learning outcomes. For Live Connected, the first outcome is that Etown students will cultivate meaningful connections with other students. Senior Ober Residence Hall RA Jason Weitzman hopes a program in Ober will accomplish this outcome and help roommates connect with each other.
The program is called “So You Think You Know Your Roommate?” and will be set up like a game show. Roommates will fill out a questionnaire with answers to simple questions like where they are from. The roommates with the most correct answers will win 10-dollar gift cards to the Etown College Store.
The second outcome is that students will consider their personal identities and worldviews as they both shape and are shaped by their community. Vera Hackman Apartments South RA and senior Holly Savini saw Into the Streets Saturday, Oct. 28 and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service this upcoming spring semester as examples of this outcome.
The third and final outcome is that students will build healthy communities by welcoming and engaging with diverse perspectives, ideas and ways of life.
In the Independent Living Units (ILUs), which consist of the Apartments and the Schreiber Quadrangle, students gather to have coffee and talk about current events every other week. Savini considered this an example of a program that supports this outcome.
“It’s building a healthy community, a healthy person altogether and a healthy worldview,” Savini summarized the idea of Live Connected.
“This whole Live Connected idea is really about building community,” Weitzman said. “We’re trying to get people within the building, within the campus as a whole and within Elizabethtown as a whole to really work with one another.”
During the current learning block of Live Connected, RAs will base their programs, bulletin boards and conversations with residents on these three learning outcomes. RAs will plan one learning program every month.
In the ILUs, the RAs do more door-to-door programming because there is no common area for the Apartments and Quads.
However, during Finals Week, there will be an event Friday, Nov. 17 with Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (KPETS) to give students living in the ILUs a chance to relieve stress and meet new people.
The other half of that event will be a friend bingo, in which students will check off meeting new people with specific experiences like someone who studied abroad or who is an accounting major.
The other residence halls have more of these types of programs that include the whole community.
“I was in Founders for two years, so that was really big. Every program, you were meeting new people that you had maybe never seen before,” Savini recalled.
A building-wide event will take place in Myer. Like last year, residents will decorate and paint a chip or puzzle piece to represent themselves. Later, the pieces will be put together to represent how each individual belongs to and contributes to the whole.
Miller emphasized that these programs are experiential and a learning experience.
“We’re all learning how to build relationships better,” Miller said. “We all have something to learn and something to share about diverse perspectives and how we can advocate for our own, while hearing someone else out and realizing how it’s mutually beneficial.”
“This isn’t just information that we’re presenting to [students] and saying, ‘Study this and know it,’” Area Coordinator for the Quads, Apartments and Brinser Residence Hall Dominick DiLoreto added. “It’s an interactive process.”