This day in history: University introduces R.A. program

Rachel Leahy curated this story by Ann B. Ferrell, which The Appalachian published Sep. 8, 1977.

The Model Dorm Program, experimental in Cone and Gardner residence halls last year, has been partially implemented in all the residence halls this year. 

“The purpose of the models was to see if students could assume the responsibility for programming, managing and enforcing rules within the dorms,” according to Rick Geis, director of campus and residential programs. Geis said that the results of the evaluations of the models were excellent in all areas, especially in terms of programming. Cone and Gardner had 49 and 50 residence programs respectively while the majority of the other residence halls had 25 or less.

The Housing Council, which includes housing, dean of students, and complementary education, was “very pleased” with the model’s results. “The model program was quite a success but now we want a single uniform structure in all the dorms,” said Barbara Daye, associate dean of students. “We feel that we’ve rounded out the program,” said Geis. A new administrative structure has been set up in all residence halls which “has embraced the concepts of the model” according to Geis. “We are gearing all dorms toward being more student operated,” he said. With few exceptions, graduate assistants are directors in the residence halls while the older full time staff members have been converted to area residence coordinators. Residence Assistants are now responsible for operations, programs, and residence life. The job has been upgraded from 10 to 15 hours a week. 

The Housing Council is interested in establishing a “better rapport between the R.A. and the campus-wide staff and residents.” A leadership development course has been established and is a requirement for all the R.A.s this year.

“We are looking for directors, not mothers,” said Daye. “We want a positive approach to the rules and procedures of the dorm and hope to get away from the police image of the R.A.”

“We hope that the program will be a success and we really feel that it will,” said Geis.

“We recommended the new program to the Vice Chancellors and they made the ultimate decision to extend the program campus wide,” said Geis.