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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

CLRE student workers to focus on community engagement, tackle conflicts

Officials said the positions are part of a continued “evolution” of student residential services at GW.
Lexi Critchett
Students lounge in the Mitchell Hall lobby.

Campus Living and Residential Education officials added two paid student positions this year, focusing on conflict resolution and community building in residence halls.

Officials hired students for two new CLRE positions this fall — a community engagement adviser, or CEAd, who lives in first-year residence halls and a community engagement assistant, or CEA, who lives in upper-class residence halls — both of which develop programs and hold space for conflict resolution for residents. Kevin Stensberg, the assistant vice provost of student support and residential engagement, said the positions were part of a continued “evolution” of student residential services at GW.

The new roles will adopt some of the past responsibilities of community coordinators — full-time adult employees who are points of contact for each of the residence halls — like handling conflict between residents through weekly office hours. The roles will also include tasks of former programming assistants, a position that CLRE offered to students last year and discontinued to expand students’ responsibilities to support community coordinators, like planning monthly events for residents.

“We annually review our intentions, assess our impact, benchmark with our peers doing similar work and engage in the global dialogue with our peers,” Stensberg said in an email.

Stensberg said CEAs are hourly paid student employees who support full-time community coordinators — staffers who live in residence halls and provide support to students in that residence hall — through programming, facilitating roommate agreements and mediating conversations between roommates.

He said CEAs receive training prior to the fall semester with guidance on how to resolve roommate conflicts and when to divert to the community coordinator. Student employees will receive continued training and support throughout the semester, Stensberg said.

“CEAs provide valuable peer-mentor insights for first-year students,” Stensberg said in an email.

CEAds and CEAs work a minimum of 10 hours and a maximum of 15 per week and earn $17 an hour, according to the website. CEAds receive a $3,000 housing credit for the year.

The positions come after students in the resident adviser program said they struggled to support residents with the “complexity” of the responsibilities of the role. Officials canceled the program in February 2021 and transitioned all responsibilities to community coordinators thereafter.

Colton Nappier, a sophomore and CEA for 2109 F Street, was a programming assistant for CLRE last semester and said he was responsible for hosting two events, like movie nights and grab-and-go treats, per week, but now he is only expected to host one event per month and at least eight hours of office hours per week. He said CEAs came back to campus a week early in the fall for three eight-hour days of training where he learned where to direct students for particular problems including facilities, on-call administrators or the Title IX Office.

“I guess they felt like we weren’t really doing much in the roles, which is true,” Nappier said.

Joanna Perez, a junior and a CEA for The Dakota, said after working with CLRE last semester as a programming assistant, she thinks the new roles this year are more “structured.” She said she has a clearer understanding of her responsibilities with the pre-fall training and regular staff meetings, which they didn’t have last semester.

“I didn’t understand what was happening,” Perez said. “I would have to constantly be asking one of the CCs to keep on explaining it more for me, like I didn’t even know who was the second programming assistant.”

Abby Cain, a junior and a CEA for Munson Hall, said her roles include handling conflict between roommates and ensuring residents fill out the roommate agreement form, a “highly recommended” set of guidelines that roommates must agree upon, according to the Division for Student Affairs website.

“It’s just a way for us to be available in case someone needs anything, if there’s a pressing issue that they say, ‘Hey, can I get your opinion on something?’ or, ‘What do you think I should do in this situation?’” Cain said. “We would find a quiet private space where we can talk.”

Cain said during training, she roleplayed potential scenarios of conflicts between roommates, like if a resident was upset by their roommate inviting their partner to their room during midterms, or roommates have differing sleep schedules.

“As CEAs, we are creating the opportunity for people to have those resources available to get to meet people more,” Cain said.

Students said CEAs might be able to provide residents with better advice than a community coordinator since they are actively experiencing or have experienced the same problems as residents, like roommate conflicts or facilities issues. However, they said they would be more likely to go to a community coordinator for a serious issue, like submitting a CARE report, because they think the community coordinator would be better equipped to find a solution.

Residents said they previously weren’t aware of the CEAs’ student-led office hours.

“They can just relate to us more and they’ve had more recent experiences, and I feel like you could connect to them more easily,” said Renata Macias, a first year majoring in interior architecture.

Gillian Shields, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said she would not feel comfortable going to a student for major conflicts because she is worried about the possibility of the information finding its way back to her peers.

“I would rather go to an adult with really specific stuff because I’d be scared it would trace back to the social circles that I know if I talk to someone close to my age,” Shields said. “But I wouldn’t mind venting to someone my age about my roommate and get advice on how to solve problems like that.”

Eshan Reed, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said it would be beneficial to be able to go to students about conflicts that arise from activities that students could get in trouble for, like drinking.

“A lot of altercations happen when you’re doing things that maybe, you know, aren’t allowed in a college sense like pregames, dorm parties, going out,” Reed said. “And sometimes talking to an adult about that might be a little daunting.”

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About the Contributor
Fiona Bork, Assistant News Editor
Fiona Bork is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication from San Diego, California. She is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 assistant news editor for the Student Life beat.
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