10 Questions with Charlotte Bassam-Bowles

It’s hard to love something quite like Charlotte loves Loomis. In only her second year as RLC of the predominantly first-year residence hall, she has fully immersed herself into residential life at Colorado College. “Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a TV world. There’s no fourth wall,” she laughed, a tie-dye “Team Loomis” sign hanging over her desk. Two years is enough to fill a job like this with residents presenting her with live animals, leaving infinite shower caddies in the hallways, and surprising  her with something strange around every corner. With Charlotte, her Residential Advisors, and Beckie the Loomis Desk Coordinator, there is never a dull moment. 

Photo by Mikaela Burns

The Catalyst: Why Loomis?

Charlotte Bassam-Bowles: I love Loomis. When I interviewed, I asked for a large, traditional building with community bathrooms and long hallways, and that’s exactly what I got. I love first-years, they’re my favorite. They come in and they don’t know how to work out the world. When they live here, we can help them through it. Community bathrooms are my favorite, and this is the only residential hall where you can live on a floor section, which is pretty important.

TC: What is the strangest thing someone has ended up in your office for?

CB: I’ve been asked to look after fish, which is always strange. I’m trying to think of the times when I’ve been like ‘this would never happen anywhere else.’ Such weird things happen at this school. Here’s a good one: Someone dropped a squirrel off at the front desk and we had to figure out what to do with it…a literal live squirrel in a box. Not as bad as [Ohio University] where I used to work, after a couple of international students brought a skunk in a box and needed it home. Bless them. I guess people always want to bring in the animals.

TC: What’s the worst thing to be taken out of the Loomis hallway as a fire hazard? 

CB: Snowboards, bikes, skis, half-eaten food…sometimes I look down the hallways and I’m just like jeez, if we were to have a smoke alarm right now, I don’t know what we’re going to do. As RAs, we have this mandatory fire training here, which I think is super cool, and you go down a smoke-filled hallway and you battle over a body and a bike and you can’t even see the hand in front of your face. Doing that terrified me, and that’s why I became so strict about it. I don’t want anyone tripping over that in the fire! I also often walk into rooms and find hilarious things in there when I’m doing room checks, but it’s such a nice building full of such nice humans and everyone is kind. Even if they like do stuff, it’s not intentional and they’re going to put it back.

One hilarious moment though…My apartment’s there [on the bottom floor] and my bedroom window is over some pebbles and I once sat up in bed and there was a Loomis resident on the other side using a tap, and was like “hey, just washing my fishing stuff!” And I was like, ‘what is happening,’ ‘What if I was naked? What is going on here?’ If I don’t shut my blinds, people will walk by and be like “oh, Charlotte’s watching Family Guy,” or whatever it is.

TC: It seems as though every year, there are returning Loomis RAs. What do you think has created such a strong work environment that people do not want to leave?

CB: When I inherited Loomis­—which it definitely felt like—from Zak, he said “only Loomis people understand Loomis. It’s magic.” I was like, ‘this man is so weird,’ but he’s right. The rooms here are smaller and there’s a lot more community involvement and funneling out into the hallways, which creates maybe more space for RAs to be known, so they’re not just being seen as confronting and stuff. And there are also a lot of RAs that work this desk, so it’s a very open space. I genuinely think people love Loomis. There’s something about it that you feel here. People want to stay and create that again.

TC: Since getting your dog Koda, have there been any significant changes to your life or job in Loomis?

CB: Koda saved my life 100 percent. He is a gem. He is loved by Loomis, which is nice. He has helped my work/life balance. Now I go out to walk Koda and we go out around the block and it’s really good and calm. I also recruit him to work fourth week programs, like we all need a dog to stroke. We do a lot of late night work on desk and stuff like that, so when people are coming home they will recognize him—and who doesn’t want to see a dog? Koda still thinks he’s a puppy; He’s dippy. He still thinks he’s a puppy. He’s always rolling around on the floor. It’s great. I think having animals around for me is a really nice thing. It’s great.

TC: When you were in college, could you have predicted yourself working closely with college students, or did the path that led you here start later?

CB: Definitely later. I did politics and international relations as an undergrad, and I 100 percent wanted to start working campaign work, NGOs, non-profits. And then, lo and behold, I graduated from a very good school in the UK and still could not get a job. So, I took an internship at Disney World and worked there for 15 months, because nothing like this exists at home: there are no RLCs or RAs. It’s just like you’re an adult; you either sink or swim, which is terrifying. Working at Disney made me realize that this job existed. I researched and randomly ended up at Ohio [University] doing [my] Masters and this was my first job out of grad school. Just completely not at all what I wanted to do originally, but it doesn’t matter, because I love it.

TC: From an RLC’s perspective, what is your favorite and least favorite event that happens on CC’s campus? 

CB: I love midnight breakfasts. They’re really fun to work. The big events are always fun because you have a big team doing it and everyone can ask each other for help. Llama was super fun to work last year, and I feel cool saying that because I was told [Loomis] was going to be a big place for parties and things, and it just didn’t feel like that at all, and it felt really safe and fun. So I loved working Llama, and I really love Halloween, especially this year’s “Stranger Things” event. I’m trying to think of what I don’t like working, if anything. There’s really nothing, as long as I’m not bored. It’s fun because CC students are fun.

TC: This fall, for the first time, along with nametags on students’ doors, were tags to write personal pronouns. What prompted this change and why is it so important for students, especially first-years, for move-in day?

CB: It was an expectation for me from my RAs. It was not top down from me. I think it’s really important to create an inclusive community from day one. So even if you don’t have one gender queer student or a student that identifies in different ways, having that up shows other people that we expect tolerance and we expect difference and we expect respect. And of course if you are a student that identifies outside a gender binary, even if you can’t physically do that and put the sticker up because you’re nervous or your parents or whatever, if you make people think they belong to a community then they’re going to create that community in a respectful way from the ground up. Because I don’t think I’m in charge, and I don’t think that RAs are in charge. Students get to create that community and I think that’s a cool prompt on move-in day.

TC: How do you see the new East Campus Housing affecting the campus community, especially with it being the furthest away from Loomis residents?

CB: I think it’s really going to be cool, and I hope that it will become a second hub like Worner is. I don’t know how it’ll turn out in terms of who is going to be over there, but I’m hoping it creates a larger campus-feel. In my opinion, the bigger the campus-feel, the less people feel like they’re living in this fishbowl. I don’t know how much that is going to impact Loomis itself, but I think community wise, I think it’s going to add to it and not take away from anything.

TC: If today you got kicked out of your apartment, which Loomis room would you move into? 

CB: Oh, wow. 128. They live opposite from me and they’re just champions. They’re literally hilarious. I’m never not laughing when I’m near them. There’s always something fun happening. I’d move in there. If they get a shout-out in this, their dreams will be made.

Samantha Silverman

Samantha Silverman

Editor-in-Chief at The Catalyst
Samantha Silverman

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