What will a famous, fictitious candy maker have to teach hundreds of visiting campus resident assistants when they throng the SUNY Cortland halls as usual in late February?
Inquiring collegians — who hail from more than 30 colleges and universities across the northeast — will learn how Willy Wonka can help them develop both as individuals and as student leaders.
Roughly 350 visitors at the 36th annual Residence Life Conference (RLC) will explore Wonka — this year’s conference theme — on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, in Corey Union and Van Hoesen Hall.
This year quite a few doubles of the fictitious, eccentric confectioner from the 1964 children’s novel by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, may wander the campus as competing colleges suit up for the annual Roll Call talent competition. Plus perhaps an Oompa Loompa or two.
Those who can’t wait until the conference to set eyes on the top-hatted and fancy suited storybook character can see a preview video located on the conference website at cortland.edu/RLC. More information on the conference, including an online registration form and the schedule of events, is located at the same site.
SUNY Cortland’s Residential Life and Housing directors and student assistants will host the event with their usual panache. Dormitory staff members have been coming to Cortland for more than three and a half decades to hone their student affairs skills at helping first-year students in particular learn to maximize their college experience when they aren’t in class.
Guests of the College’s Residence Life and Housing Office can sample the best practices in the field of residence life and housing from a selection of 44 separate workshops and presentations offered during five breakout sessions.
“Learning outside the classroom is an excellent benefit of living on campus,” explained Amber Ingalls, the RLC chair and a SUNY Cortland residence hall director at Fitzgerald Hall. “All programs offered by us aim to affect growth, development and understanding of others and the world around you.”
“Resident assistants have such an important role in helping students adjust and thrive at college,” said Shedia Christopher, the RLC administrator and a SUNY Cortland residence hall director in Bishop Hall. “Our conference provides a variety of opportunities for them to learn and hone their skills toward supporting student development.”
SUNY Cortland’s unique conference programming incorporates the College’s mission and priorities with the Council for the Advancements of Standards in Higher Education’s frameworks for assessing learning and development outcomes and the social-change theory models created by student development theorist Alexander Astin.
Saturday’s schedule will include advice on the following aspects of this student affairs specialty:
- how to help transfer students adjust to their new living environment halfway through their college career;
- reaping the benefits of serving on a resident assistant council;
- how a residential life staff member can best show love and affirmation to residents and others in their lives;
- brainstorming for fresh diversity programming ideas;
- pursuing a job in residential life not as a stepping stone but as a career-choice offering leadership opportunities and fostering future success; and,
- creating novel, engaging and effective bulletin boards.
The first evening of the conference, set in the Moffett Center gymnasium, will feature Roll Call, a competition comprised of three to five minute skits featuring acting, singing, dancing, step dance or video. The theatricals are intended to introduce the competitor’s school, show school pride and incorporate the conference theme. Skits will be judged based on originality, creativity, enthusiasm, energy and the use of the Willy Wonka conference theme. Judges will be recruited from among the registered conference attendees. The school that wins receives an official Roll Call Trophy.
The conference’s annual silent auction will be held during the event, with this year’s proceeds to benefit the Central New York Chapter of the Autism Society of America.