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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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After months, three new RLCs hired

After a three-month process, three candidates have been selected to fill the Resident Life Coordinator (RLC) positions left vacant in CLanGRala (Clark, Langan, Gates and Rawson), CaNaDa (Cowles, Norris and Dibble) and JaMaLand (James, Main and Cleveland). Arrion Dennis, Becca Don and Darren Gallant were selected based upon personal merits and experiences that faculty, staff and students believed would best compliment Grinnell.

“All of our candidates are really smart, really engaged, really want to be a part of the Grinnell campus community and totally believe in self-governance,” said Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life & Orientation Andrea Conner.
Conner had the final say as to who was hired, along with Vice President for Student Affairs Houston Dougharty and Dean of Students Travis Green.

“I really felt like they could commit to the self-governing community and understand how their role is different here at Grinnell as opposed to other entry level residence life positions at other schools with more structured positions,” Conner said.

A number of other factors also determined who best filled the job, including the applicants’ academic backgrounds and how their personal experiences would contribute to the Grinnell campus. All three candidates sport notable educations that reflect their interest in education and social justice.

“[Dennis] comes from the College of William and Mary, and even though it’s a public institution, it feels, looks and is selective like a private residential campus,” Green said. “She is an African-American woman who brings a lot of experience with orientation, admissions work and multicultural work.”

Like Dennis, Don’s education signifies her compatibility with Grinnell’s values and ideals. As an undergraduate from Kenyon College with a master’s degree from the University of Iowa, Dennis has experience with health and wellness, a subject frequently discussed on Grinnell’s campus.

“She has done a lot of work with harm reduction and health and wellness so I think that when the campus continues the conversation of how to help students learn to have fun and party safely as opposed to intensely and hard … she might have some expertise that might be helpful,” Green said. “She’s also a free spirit who by her own admission has a quirky sense of humor. I think she’ll connect with Grinnellians on a very intellectual as well as a social level.”

Don also spent three years between her undergraduate and master’s studies working for a suburban affiliate of the Chicago Sun-Times, another experience Don can bring to the campus.
The third RLC, Gallant, diversifies the group even further, as his educational background stems from Brandeis University and New York University.

“He has a lot of orientation experience with the LGBT population, [and has] done a lot with gender-neutral housing,” Green said.
Current RLC Rachel Wike explains that for Gallant and others to already be experienced with gender-neutral housing, self-governance and social justice can only aid in transitioning into their new position.

“There is going to be even more diversity among us, no matter what your definition of diversity is, so I think that’s really exciting,” said Wike, who met with each incoming RLC personally. “I’m really excited to see how they’re all going to come together, because each of them has experience in areas that are really important to Grinnell whether it’s social justice, social responsibility or any other mission that we like to stand for.”

When the candidates arrived at the school in April, students, staff and faculty were given an opportunity to speak with and evaluate them based upon a worksheet highlighting responsibilities as RLCs. Kristen Armbruster ’12, who talked personally with Dennis and Gallant, was impressed by the new hires.

“Arrion was actually my favorite of all the candidates,” Armbruster said. “She was extremely happy about the position, she was easy to talk to … I think she’ll fit well in our environment.”

Although all three RLCs, regardless of their past experiences and history, will have to adjust to Grinnell’s campus, Green believes all three candidates will bring their various experiences in order to benefit the continuation of a socially just campus.

“None of them have had traditional resident life experiences but all of them have had social justice history and experience and so that’s what attracted them to Grinnell,” Green said. “When I think of all of their individual and collective experiences with working towards making society better, and serving the common good, I think all of them will translate nicely, and balance what [returning RLCs] Rachel [Wike], Dan [Hirsch], and Michael [Hunt] will already bring to the table.”

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