How to Create a Community Within the Residence Halls
In recent years, colleges and universities have been putting more emphasis on separating themselves from the outdated “dorm” image. A dorm is a building that students merely live in, whereas the residence hall of today is intended to be its own small community – a mini-ecosystem, almost, in which students can find comfort and support. So how do you create residence halls that maximally achieve this goal? Here are four suggestions to help.
Start with the Basics
The first thing campus housing staff needs to do in order to create a cohesive environment is ensure that roommates are well-matched. If roommates don’t get along, they’re far less likely to want to spend time in their residence halls, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Tools like Residence with smart roommate-matching tools, along with built-in social networking features to allow roommates to meet and match themselves, are one solution to consider. Healthy relationships between roommates are the foundation you’ll need to build a thriving community in the residence halls overall.
Host Fun Residence Hall Events
Make sure you’re actively hosting events to get students excited about mingling with the rest of their residence hall. There are a million options you could try for this – movie nights with pizza, ice cream socials, friendly competitions, fashion shows, or even just watching a Sunday night game together or a popular weekly show as a group. Many of these activities require a fairly low budget, and they’re sure to attract curious students who are looking to relax and meet friends.
Create an Appealing Hangout Spot
Every residence hall should have a welcoming recreational area that attracts students and makes them want to come spend time together. Add a pool or ping-pong table, comfy couches, a TV, and consider hooking up video game consoles. There are no set rules, but the more appealing the rec room, the more likely students are to gravitate to it.
Schedule Time to Catch Up
Think about scheduling a monthly meeting for the entire hall where students can receive any important updates, voice any concerns they might have and make suggestions. Create an agenda for each meeting to keep the conversation on track. This could be an optimal time to brainstorm with students about ways to improve their residence hall community even further and activities they’d like to participate in going forward.