New residence life program focuses on adding value to UD student experience

6:16 p.m., May 12, 2008--The new Office of Residence Life program for 2008-09, approved by an overwhelming majority by the Faculty Senate on Monday, presents a range of voluntary activities designed to add value to the student experience.

Approval came following a lengthy Faculty Senate discussion that started during an earlier meeting last week. “I am pleased that this process of the Faculty Senate provided an appropriate expression of faculty governance with considerable student input,” said Alan Fox, president of the Faculty Senate.

To view the complete report on the residence life program, visit [].

The Faculty Senate endorsement follows months of work by the Faculty Senate Committee on Student Life, with input from students, faculty and staff, to devise a program that will encourage students to become engaged and active citizens on campus.

The program focuses on student safety, personal development, educational and cultural opportunities at UD and in the surrounding community, and environmental sustainability. With environmental sustainability an important part of the University's strategic plan, students will be encouraged to partner with others at the University to conserve resources by turning off lights when not in use, take shorter showers, recycle and reuse among other ideas.

The program also will include traditional residence hall activities, such as floor dinners, holiday parties, leadership opportunities and information on health and wellness.

The program is similar to those at other major universities, such as the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, Penn State University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Students will not face penalties, perceived or real, for failing to engage in residential activities and programs. Staff and students will be aware that no activity in the residence halls is mandatory.

The 2007-08 residence life program was ended Nov. 1 by UD President Patrick Harker because of concerns about its practices and that its actual purpose was not being fulfilled. Harker called for a full and broad-based review of the program by the faculty.

Following the Nov. 1 action, Michael Gilbert, vice president for Student Life, worked with the Faculty Senate Committee on Student Life to review the issues, evaluate what could be learned and to recommend programs to be offered that support the intellectual, social and ethical development of UD students.

The review effort included input from students throughout the process, and Gilbert worked closely with Matthew J. Robinson, associate professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences and chairperson of the Faculty Senate Committee on Student Life.

“I am very impressed by the thorough work by faculty, students and staff on this review, and by the thoughtful consideration of the Faculty Senate,” Harker said. “We believe a residence life program that includes faculty and administrative oversight, and one that is fully understood by students to be optional, is vital to an engaged campus.”

“This is an important program because it adds value to the undergraduate experience. This program promises that our residence halls will be safe, fun, exciting and engaging places to live,” Gilbert said.

Harker expressed confidence that Gilbert will provide full oversight and made it clear that no future programs or changes will be implemented without the guidance of the Faculty Senate.

Casey Patriarco, president of the Student Government Association who served as a student representative on the Residential Education Advisory Committee and interim member of the Faculty Senate Student Life Committee, said, “I have had the opportunity to engage in several conversations regarding the development of the new residence life education plan. I believe the conversations have moved in the right direction. I was pleased to know that the document makes explicit mention of the voluntary nature of the programs and clearly states an intention to utilize the expertise and educational skills of faculty members in leading several of the conversations.”

Patriarco added, “In the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the education plan in the fall, the Student Government Association and the Residential Student Association hosted a student forum that was facilitated by Dr. Matt Robinson, chairman of the Faculty Senate Student Life Committee. The forum garnered a wide range of student feedback, which was referenced throughout conversations.”

The program plan will be transparent and copies of it will be readily available whenever requested. The program will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by faculty and administrators.