Residental Life faces Area Coordinator staff changes mid-semester

In the middle of the fall semester, change is brewing within the Gustavus Residential Life office. Two area coordinators (ACs) Mandy Rae Fairbrother and Nicky Domenichini resigned from Gustavus this year. Fairbrother resigned prior to the start of the school year, while Domenichini announced his resignation last month. Gustavus typically employs two to three ACs at a time.
The changes have not affected much in the Residential Life office. According to Director of Residential Life Anthony Bettendorf, work was reallocated among the office staff to ensure that every building was covered during the transition period.
Domenichini’s replacement, Kurt Schiep, will be starting on Monday, Nov. 9, and will be covering the same buildings that his predecessor did (Norelius, Arbor View, College View and Chapel View).
Currently, Abbey Lane serves as the AC for the other campus housing units (North, Gibbs, Sorenson, Prairie View and the Carlson International Center).
While changes for Residential Life staff may be smooth, things are not as easy for Collegiate Fellows (CFs), especially in the time of COVID.
“I think it’s very difficult to try and become acquainted with a new AC when everything is online and we are trying to comply with COVID policy. This last year Melissa Sugarman resigned and took a new position, and we got a new [Assistant Director] of Res Life and his name is Chris (Mueller) but I’ve never met him personally. It’s hard to create those personal relationships now,” College View CF Brenda De Rosas Lazaro said.
While both ACs left on good terms, it was still difficult for students who had developed a relationship with Fairbrother and Domenichini.
“[Fairbrother] was my AC last year (for Sohre) and [Domenichini] was my AC this year for College View (or ‘the Views’). I was super close to [Fairbrother] since I had her as my AC for a whole year, so it was kind of devastating to hear that she was leaving but obviously I understand that she wanted to grow in her career,” De Rosas Lazaro said.
ACs at Gustavus are full-time staff members who live on campus and play many roles.
“The Area Coordinators supervise the Collegiate Fellows, oversee our Residential Curriculum (programming and activities tied to the College’s core values), meet with students who violate any residence hall policies, advise hall councils, attend events the CFs are doing, help with opening and closing of buildings, training for our CF staff, serve in our on-call duty rotation and some other administrative responsibilities,” Bettendorf said.
As a four-year residential college, it’s critical to have measures in place to ensure students living on the Hill are doing well and getting the most out of their college education.
“The staff is committed to fostering a community in which students respect and affirm the dignity of all persons and develop the responsibility and values that will allow them to assume roles of leadership and service in society,” the mission of Residential Life reads.
Despite Fairbrother leaving Gustavus, students who were close to her have been able to maintain a relationship.
“We still keep in contact with her, either emailing back and forth or setting up phone calls, which is nice,” De Rosas Lazaro said.
This kind of support can be extremely helpful for CFs who are struggling to do their jobs effectively while complying with COVID regulations.
“It’s very difficult to be a CF during COVID time, and in general being in an apartment. Now you don’t get to see people as often and get acquainted with them to build those relationships. Social events are more difficult because you have to plan for COVID as well. It doesn’t allow for that community aspect necessarily. It’s actually so sad,” De Rosas Lazaro said.
Despite these challenges, Residential Life Staff, CFs and the new ACs will keep moving forward to provide the highest quality services they can to students living on campus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *