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RLCs reshuffled

Next year, there will be further significant changes in the structure and composition of the Residence Life Staff.

Effective July 1, Loosehead RLC and Assistant Director of Residence Life Kim Hinds-Brush will assume the newly created position of Associate Director of Residence Life and Orientation and CND RLC Katie Lau will be promoted to Assistant Director of Residence Life while remaining an OrientationCoordinator and RLC. In addition at least five new Residence Life Coordinators (RLCs) will come to campus.

Since many of the RLCs have left midyear or will not be returning next year, Vice President of Student Affairs Houston Dougharty and Dean of Students Travis Greene are in the process of interviewing and searching for candidates for the positions to fill every cluster besides CND and possibly Jamaland.

“We’re trying to cast as wide a net as possible. We’ve typically gone to two national conferences, NASFA [National Association of Student Personnel Administrators] and ACPA [American College Personnel Association],” Greene said. “But what we’ve done this year is we’ve also gone to Oshkosh, Wisconsin … it’s a huge regional housing placement exchange for people who are interested in residence life.”

According to Greene, the search has been conducted with an eye toward specifically finding candidates who will meld well with Grinnell’s community and culture. “We’re really trying to make sure that we find people who understand Grinnell, understand what it’s like to be at a small, private, highly selective liberal arts college and, more importantly than that, who want to be at a place like Grinnell where self-governance is such a big part of things,” Greene said.

In light of the midyear departures of Smounker RLC Jim McCarthy and Clangrala RLC Rachel Meseke, Greene has also taken into account the candidates’ level of commitment to Grinnell. “I’m confident that we’ll be able to get a very strong group of RLCs who not only get Grinnell but will be here because of it. And that’s not a slight or slam against Rachel or Jim or anyone else who’s left. They’ve all had valid reasons for doing that,” Greene said. “But I think we can be more intentional about finding that fit earlier on so we don’t have issues later.”

McCarthy left in December for family reasons. Meseke left in February for an administrative position at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Along with filling the openings caused by the midyear departures, Greene will fill positions for RLCs who are not returning next year.

Northeast Campus RLC Chris Bylone will be leaving after this year based on a mutual decision reached with Greene and Dougharty. “It was an ongoing conversation [with Greene and Dougharty] about, ‘Is this the right fit for me? Is Grinnell the right fit for you?’ And we came to an agreement that Grinnell’s not the right fit for me and I’m not the right fit for Grinnell,” Bylone said. “And it’s time for me to move on.”

In response to Bylone’s departure, Greene emphasized the connection between an RLC’s fit with Grinnell and trust from the student body.
“I think when you think about ‘fit’ in general, it does involve a sense of trust and it does have to be earned and it does have to be nurtured,” Greene said. “So what I would say is Chris has done some good things for this campus but he’s also the first to admit that it’s been a struggling year for him.”

Bylone also expressed his inability to continue at Grinnell because of his strained relationship with the student body. “In September, it’s a very well-known fact that I busted two parties that happened in Rose Lounge that did not have an alcohol contract [and] that put me rubbing against the student body,” Bylone said.

“Moving Grinnell forward, making Grinnell grow, is not something I can do because I’m not trusted.”

Southeast RLC Jennifer Bienieck will not return next year because she has stayed the three-year maximum allowed for RLCs. “I will not be returning. I did inquire about returning for a fourth year,” Bieneck wrote in an e-mail to the S&B. “My three years is up: I do not have the option to return.”

Jamaland RLC Brenda Hunt, who has been on medical leave this semester, has not confirmed whether or not she will be staying next year. In an interview with the S&B, she declined to comment.

Greene did not make a definitive statement. ”No decision will be shared or made until she’s back from leave,” he said.

Although many RLCs will not be returning next year, Hinds-Brush’s new position and Lau’s promotion will ensure that institutional memory will not be lost.

“Having people like Katie and Kim be in the department is going to be so essential because they have a proven track record of being successful working with students, having the trust of the students built in,” Greene said.

According to Greene, Hinds-Brush’s new position will build on her current role as RLC and Assistant Director of Residence Life. “So the position itself, we’re working all that out, the logistics,” Greene said. “But she’ll be doing a lot with advising of student groups. So she’ll continue to advise Lyle’s, Bob’s, SGA. She’ll be doing a lot of the administrative piece of residence life.”

Along with restructuring Residence Life positions and hiring new RLCs, the search for a new Associate Dean has been in progress. On Tuesday, candidate Troy Seppelt presented in front of campus and met with students at a dinner. Next week, students will have the opportunity to meet candidates Tasha Yules and Andrea Conner.

“I’m real excited about the candidates that we’ve brought on,” Greene said. “Troy [Seppelt] seemed to be well received by many. And I think that as the students and the rest of the community get to meet Tasha [Yules] and Andrea [Conner], they’re going to be really impressed as well.”

—Additional reporting by David Logan & J. Francis Buse

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