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The Scarlet & Black

Residence Life Coordinators work through quick turnover rate

Younker and Smith Halls Residence Life Coordinator Adam Gilbert with his dog Ziggy, working in Younker. Photo by Liz Paik.

By Umang Kamra

Grinnell College recently experienced the departure of an employee, as Joshua Murphy, the Residence Life Coordinator (RLC) for Clangrala, stepped down from his duties. The position of an RLC is accompanied by an unusually high job turnover rate.

“The average lifespan of an RLC in any given institution is usually about two to three years because at most places, it is the entry level position,” said Leah Reuber, the Assistant Director of Residence Life and the RLC for East Campus. Reuber is the longest-serving of all the current RLCs at the College.

Reuber also pointed out that the rurality of Grinnell might be one of the most important factors that affect the tenure of the RLCs. She suggested that because Grinnell College is a well-known name in the liberal arts circuit, many tend to underestimate their tolerance of living in a place that has just a Walmart and Hy-Vee and where the nearest cities are an hour away in either direction.

Adam Gilbert, the RLC for Smounker and a First Year Experience Instructor, further explained the impact of the RLC’s entry-level position on its high turnover rate at the College.

“Someone that works as an RLC might stay in Residence Life and move up to an assistant director position or transition to another job in student affairs … In the world of higher education there are many entry-level positions and very few mid-level management and director level management jobs. Since this is the case many people in RLC positions will work as an RLC at a few different colleges before they find a higher up position in their desired area of Student Affairs,” Gilbert wrote in an email to The S&B.

The job of an RLC can be challenging, strenuous and highly demanding. Reuber mentioned that due to a great deal of responsibility and a high expectation of involvement in matters pertaining to student well-being, it can be difficult for the RLCs to take out time for themselves or to back off when they need to. She and Gilbert both consider the job to often be physically and emotionally taxing.

“In every position where you live where you work, it is like living in a fishbowl. Everyone sees what you do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is also the challenge of job title. Most people do not know what an RLC is, and a lot of people get confused between what an RLC and an RA is. Even people that have been to college aren’t always aware of what an RLC does. At small colleges every position is required to do multiple jobs,” Gilbert wrote.

In addition to the RLC and First Year Experience Instructor positions, Gilbert also works with the Housing Coordinator, serves on several committees including the Harm Reduction Committee and co-manages the Alcohol Event Server team.

Reuber will be taking over the supervisory responsibilities for Clangrala following Murphy’s leave. She will manage the staff in that residence cluster along with Lindsy Morgan, the RLC for Loosehead, who is taking over two of the staff personnel and house coordinators.

Younker and Smith Halls Residence Life Coordinator Adam Gilbert with his dog Ziggy, working in Younker.
Photo by Liz Paik.
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    Chloe WrayFeb 1, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    I am curious, how many years has Leah Reuber been the RLC for the East Campus?