When students consider who is in charge of Residence Life, it’s likely that the first person they consider is their Resident Assistant, or maybe even their Resident Director. This is probably because they frequently see and interact with their Resident Assistant, especially given that they live within the same residence hall. Yet, there’s a position that oversees the roles of both Resident Assistants and directors: the Area Coordinator.
The Board of Area Coordinators for Residence Management consists of five Area Coordinators, each charged with a specific region of residency on campus. These regions are West Campus (headed by Danielle Stine), East Campus (Shalyssa Smith), Main Campus (Amber Williams), South Campus (Terrence Draper) and Villanova Commons (Molly Boylan). Similar to Resident Assistants, each Area Coordinator lives on campus alongside students within residence halls. In order to learn more about faculty life on campus and the role of area coordinators, The Villanovan spoke with Danielle Stine, an area coordinator in Welsh Hall.
The Villanovan: Could you tell us a bit about your role as Area Coordinator?
Danielle Stine: I supervise two graduate resident directors and 24 Resident Assistants. So, my two grads split my staff in half, and each of them supervises 12 RAs. What I do is work with the staff to set up their programming initiatives for all of West Campus and supervise any reports that come in. These might be incident reports, personal concerns about students or any roommate concerns. So, how that works is an RA will write a report, I go in, I read through it, I make any edits that need to be made and then I forward it to the Dean of Students. However, personal or roommate concerns usually stay with me.
TV: Do you work with the other area coordinators, or do you all work individually?
DS: Kind of both. We each solely supervise our individual areas, but we meet constantly throughout the week and the semester to make sure that we’re all on the same page with how situations are being handled and how we approach different weekends coming up. For example, with Labor Day weekend, there usually are more RAs on duty than a regular weekend, so we coordinate in that kind of way to make sure that things are consistent among all the staff.
TV: All Area Coordinators live on campus. Can you tell us more about that?
DS: So part of our role, and probably one of the most important parts, is that we serve on the on-call rotation. Every single night, there is a professional staff member on call. You’ve probably noticed that there are RAs on duty and then in addition to the RAs, there are the graduate Resident Directors who serve on the rotation as well. We are above the graduates, so, that’s the main reason we’re on campus, but it’s kind of twofold. One reason is that we’re immersed in the student experience and we can really get an idea of what it’s like living on campus. But also so that if we do have to respond to an after-hours incident, we’re in close proximity to get to it quickly.
TV: So, you would say, as area coordinator, it’s beneficial to live on campus and get a better idea of student life?
DS: I think it’s necessary. I don’t think I wouldn’t be as effective in being able to relate to students if I wasn’t experiencing the same thing that they experience.
TV: You live with your family on campus. What’s that like?
DS: It’s good. It’s definitely a challenge having a family on campus, but I think most of the challenges are just getting used to that concept. We’ve made it work really well. We’ve been at Villanova for two years, and before that I worked at La Salle University in a very similar role for two and a half years...We’ve had our dog since she was five months old, and she is extremely sociable and loves people; I think that’s because of being raised in this environment. My son is only nine months old, but I’ve seen the benefits of having children surrounded by college students. I’m really excited for him to grow up having that social acclamation. So far, it’s been really, really great.
TV: Do you have a favorite part about living on campus?
DS: I’ll give you two. One is more logistical, and that would be that it’s really nice we don’t have to mow or shovel snow out of the driveway. That’s a huge benefit to living on a campus, but the real benefit is that you’re never alone; there’s always people around, and there’s always something to do. This is true even with the pandemic, and I lived here through the entire shutdown and quarantine period. Even though we were still social-distancing and staying mostly in our own apartments, there were still other professional staff members that lived here. We were able to get together from afar and spend time together. I really love that aspect of it.
TV: Is there a particular negative about living on campus?
DS: The first thing that comes to mind is parking, because the staff members don’t have assigned parking, so I feel that struggle just as much as the other residents.
TV: Do the Area Coordinators have any particular goals this year, in relation to the virus or otherwise?
DS: The overall goal is that we want everyone to stay, and we want you all to be healthy. As you know, that means we’re reminding students to wear masks, and we’re holding them accountable if they’re not wearing masks or wearing them properly. I think that can often be a double-edged sword, because holding someone accountable can cause a difficult relationship. Ultimately, we’re not doing it just to say this is a rule and you have to do it. We’re doing it because we want you all to stay for the whole semester and to come back in the spring, and we want you all to be healthy. We’re also really working hard with our RAs to plan programming. Unfortunately, the majority of it is going to be virtual, because it has to be, but we want students to enjoy being here, and we want to do things that students want to do. Residents can go to their RAs and say, “I want to do this,” and the RAs can make it happen. If they say they want a viewing party, some kind of game to be run or some kind of event to happen, we can try to make it happen. You just have to ask us.
Stine made it clear that she wants students to be able to contact not only their Resident Assistants, but their Area Coordinators as well. Often, students don’t know about Area Coordinators and don’t take advantage of the ability to reach out to them. Utilizing relationships with Area Coordinators can provide a gateway to better life on campus for everyone. If you have an issue with an aspect of Residence Life, the odds are that Area Coordinators deal with it too.