After leaving his role as Residential Life Coordinator of Mathias, Arthur, and Jackson, for three years, Matt Edwards has most recently taken up the position of RLC for the new East Campus development as well as the fraternities, Synergy House, senior cottages, Jackson, and all off-campus students. This week, Edwards explores the new changes to housing and comments on his experience as a veteran RLC.
The Catalyst: If you had to live in any houses/apartments you oversee on East Campus, where would you live?
Matt Edwards: I would stay where I currently am, if you haven’t seen it. It’s the old gear house. I would not want to leave that; it’s pretty sweet. It’s renovated. It’s awesome. Yeah, I don’t think I’d want to move.
TC: As the college has cited a growth of an on-campus residential community as reason for keeping more non-seniors on campus, do you feel as though the new housing development has made positive changes in that regard?
ME: Yeah, I think so. A majority of students living here are juniors, and that’s the same with Western Ridge, so I think the biggest complaints I’ve heard in the past was “oh, I don’t get to live in the apartments and I have to live in the small houses,” which I think are all pretty sweet, also. I think our housing is pretty good on-campus, but I think it’s been an overwhelmingly positive housing experience for most people.
TC: There are rumors that the Inn is being torn down to make room for the new hockey arena. how will the college make up for those lost rooms while still keeping a majority of students on-campus?
ME: I have no idea. I’m not super involved in that. I’m sure there are people who are sure, but you’re talking to someone too low. What I know is that the amount of beds that the Inn has is pretty comparable to what [East Campus] has. I mean, I don’t know what will happen.
TC: In January, a campus-wide non-smoking policy will be enacted, including tobacco, weed, and vaporizers. What role did you have in making this decision and how do you think it will affect residential life?
ME: I’m not sure. I actually went to a school that was smoke-free. It transitioned while I was a student. In all honesty, I didn’t see a ton of change, not because people were smoking all the time, but how I experienced it, there were designated smoking areas on the campus. People who were smokers found those, and that didn’t change their lifestyle a whole lot. So I’m not really sure how it will change, besides the fact that people won’t have their morning cigarette or afternoon cigarette on their way to class like they might now. I’m not entirely sure how it will roll out in January on campus, but I’m curious.
TC: What has been the biggest challenge for you in terms of overseeing the new East Campus development in its first year?
ME: I think so far the biggest challenges would be the little things still happening. So we’re almost at the end of Block 1, so we’re finishing up the paint and stuff. There’s still some small construction things, like touching up finishing, and I think hopefully, by the start of Block 2, we’ll have most people gone and it’ll just be like students living again. I think that’s been the biggest challenge. We’re almost entirely done, but there’s still some of those blue tape things that just weren’t quite finished. We had some weather in August that halted some of the construction, so I think just like not being able to finish on time. Most of what we’re doing now is cosmetic things. Around the beginning of July was when people could have started living inside.
TC: What is the biggest concern/piece of criticism you’ve received over the new apartments?
ME: The first thing that comes to mind that someone said was that it’s tough to all cook at the same time. So the apartments, with eight people, have a ton of fridge space, but if everyone needs the stove top, you kind of have to figure out when people can use it if you’re not going to make a communal meal. If everyone’s cooking for one person you have to figure out “when’s that oven free?” That’s been the biggest one so far and it hasn’t been that big of an issue.
TC: Is there a difference in the biggest safety concerns you have/had between being the rlc in Mathias and now East Campus in terms of overseeing a different demographic of students?
ME: I can’t really think of a safety concern that is any different. I know now, I work with off-campus students, so there’s a little more about being cognizant that you’re not on campus, like locking your doors or neighbor relations. In terms of the new apartments, I haven’t come across anything that’s that concerning.
The biggest thing is that we’ve had people try climbing the decks, which you definitely cannot do. Like all of our buildings, they are not meant to be climbed. The biggest thing would be don’t climb the decks… that’s a huge no.
TC: Describe your relationship with your RAs on East Campus.
ME: I think the RAs of the apartments have a lot more autonomy for the biggest reason of they don’t have to come see me every day. I think that’s the biggest difference between here and one of the large halls, like my office wasn’t in the hall. They walked past it just by walking in the building, and now I don’t have to see the RAs every day, which is totally fine. What’s nice is three of the five have worked for me, so I think we have a really strong team over here. We brought over a few people who hadn’t worked previously, and that’s been going really well. We’re keeping the community safe and building relationships, which is kind of what I think is a big part of the RA position.
TC: obviously these are super nice spaces, and sometimes called “too nice.” What is the element of the development of which you’ve most frequently thought, “do we really need that”?
ME: If I had to say, “do we really need it” —but I think it’s cool we have it—but “do we really need it,” is the hammock garden. For one, I think it’s really cool and I only say that because we have so many trees where we can string hammocks up on campus, but I think it’s a cool part of the community. Whenever I drive on Uintah and I see it, I’m like “that’s pretty sweet.” It looks cool, I’m a fan of it, but that would really be the only “do we need that.”
TC: What does ResLife look like in five years with or without you still a part of it?
ME: I think something that – even in the four years I’ve been here – I consistently see is housing improving. Our facilities are quite nice. Our maintenance works quite hard to make sure these spaces are well maintained and well kept. Our associate director, Justin Weiss, does an incredible job of meeting the needs of students and really listening to feedback. So, I think as long as we have a strong team in place, the housing experience at CC is still going to be a pretty positive one. I don’t know if that means there will be new spaces like this one. I know these housing projects take quite a long time, but I think we’re only improving and I think the housing experience for students will only continue to get better.