By Elizabeth Folk
As midterms pass and we return from Thanksgiving break, let’s take a minute to call to mind what has been going on in the Freshman Residence Halls at the University of Delaware. When thinking of last fall’s very limited on-campus population, and last spring not being much better, it can be difficult to remember what a real, full, and excited population of freshman residents look like. Although difficult to manage through the ever-changing covid regulations, the Residence Life staff, combined with the help of residents in leadership roles such as NET captains (Neighborhood Empowering Team) have managed to put together some lively events to get this year started and connect our community.
The weekly events brought together by the Resident Assistant’s staff have been successful in their goal of bringing residents together to break the ice and enjoy themselves. With a couple thousand freshmen coming in, you see so many people from so many different backgrounds trying to find their place in the community. There tend to be strong feelings of isolation that stem from leaving home and being around so many new people. As a Resident Assistant, I had a resident say to me “It’s so weird to live with someone and see them all the time, yet still feel alone so often.” Involvement in the Residence Hall Community is so important in especially freshmen halls, to help reduce those feelings of isolation and enhance what UD values as the Residence Hall experience.
The events put on by Residence Staff (usually Resident Assistants with the help of a Residence Hall Coordinator) are typically simple and low budget, such as movie nights, tie-dye, bingo, etc. These are things that don’t cost a fortune but can spark interest in residents to come to check it out. Quite often, instilling a sense of competition is what makes residents want to attend these events. For example, Harrington Hall had a kickball tournament that brought together freshmen from five different buildings, connecting, and building teamwork and community for the price of next to nothing. Russell Hall had a lively bingo night where coupons for free UDairy were given out to winners, which brought in quite a few residents and turned a Wednesday night into an opportunity to get some free ice cream and connect with the community in the meantime. With proper advertising and encouragement from RA’s, these events can pull in quite a few people.
The events organized by Residents who are student leaders are usually big hits in the floor communities. Each floor has 1-2 NET captains who put on 2-3 events a month that are only for their floor. It can be refreshing for residents to know that an event being put on is by someone in their specific community. With just a little guidance from their Resident Assistant, NET captains have been able to put on multiple successful events this semester. These can be more of a welcoming atmosphere to students who are more introverted, and possibly a bit nervous about so many new people. Another benefit of these smaller events is that they can be more personalized. For instance, pumpkin painting was popular amongst these events since the event was just for one floor, not five buildings of people.
Overall, the Residence Life staff has worked extra hard this year to put on as many events as possible while still staying as safe as they possibly can. This semester will hopefully reignite the Residence Halls after a long year and a half of empty rooms, lounges, and dining halls. The Freshman and Sophomores of UD deserve to be given the Residence Life experience after being isolated for so long. This year, Blue Hens are connecting more than ever in our Residence Halls.