By Holly Jay
Residence Life is at the heart of the college community and Union has a very active and energetic Residence Life staff this year. Progressive Snacking, the first big event of the year hosted by Residence Life, was an opportunity for building relationships around campus.
All resident advisers opened their dorm rooms for the event, and each prepared a snack or goodie to share. People flooded in and out, greeting their friends, meeting the RAs and trying some good food.
Stephanie Smith, the resident student adviser in the Heritage complex, made about 400 mini-muffins last year to prepare for that event, when she was the RA in the Sullivan building, available for use by freshmen who live on campus.
Smith said she planned something more simple this year.
“From the RA’s perspective, Progressive Snacking is kind of a whirlwind. You make a bunch of food and then swarms of people come through your room and eat it all. But it is so fun!” Smiths said. “It’s great to see new faces and chat with old friends; it’s a good way to get people into each others’ rooms, it helps build community.”
Jamie Mitchell, another returning RA who works this year in the Paschall building, planned to make fudge for the event.
“I had such a blast with Progressive Snacking last year that I started planning for this year farther ahead of time,” Mitchell said. “Making food and sharing it with others is such a simple yet meaningful way to connect with people.”
Mitchell said she enjoyed being able to welcome so many people to her room for a chance to share food and share life during her favorite event of the semester.
Ryan Linkous, RA in the Grey building, said the event required RAs to be creative when attempting to find something that people would like and that they could make for such a large number of people.
Linkous said the event is important because it creates visibility of the RAs, making it easier for students who live in their complex to identify them.
While returning RAs knew what to expect, the event was a meaningful experience for first year RAs as well.
Mekenna Dement, RA in the Wright building, was excited to participate for the first time this year.
“Residence Life has enabled me to meet new people and develop deep friendships; that is something that is truly priceless!” Dement said. “Being a part of this Union community in such a special way has been uplifting and encouraging.”
While Residence Life adds new RAs each year, this year staff also added three new resident directors. In Heritage complex, Tim Call joined as assistant resident director, joining the current RD, Elle Simmons. In the female quads staff, RD Ashley Jackson is joined by new assistant resident director Kayla McKinney.
The male quads staff has welcomed a new RD, Ben Bredow, and a new ARD, Cody Curtis.
“Things have gotten off to a great start, and we are really excited about having four full-time, new staff members who are jumping in and getting to know students” said Ken Litscher, director of Residence Life.
Mitchell said the new staff members have displayed energy and excitement about new event ideas for the year as well as a desire to invest in the lives of students. Their intentionality in building relationships has been evident from the start, she said.
Smith also has enjoyed being a part of the team this year and is happy to work alongside the new combination of RDs, whom she said have breathed life into the programming.
“This Res Life team is absolutely incredible! Get to know the staff; you won’t regret it!” Smith said.
Dement also praised the staff she feels so blessed to be a part of.
“I have never been around so many people willing to serve with Christ-like hearts,” Dement said. “We are truly passionate about the residence life here at Union, and it is evident that the community here at Union has been made a priority.
Smith echoed the sentiment.
“The other RAs on staff are some of the most quality people I know and have become my closest friends,” she said.
The Great Outdoors and Deep Fried Olympics events will take place Tuesday on campus. The Great Outdoors event at Watters Quad will include a hatchet throw, possibly archery, and rock or log throwing. Some events may be reminiscent of Scottish highland games.
Deep Fried Olympics, which takes place at the Heritage complex, also hosts competitions. Freshmen are encouraged to dress up in backwoods or redneck getups and play games such as cricket spitting and tug of war. The event is complete with a variety of deep-fried foods, including everything from corn dogs to Oreos.