Monthly Archives: August 2012


Community is a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together, and to delight in each other, and make other’s conditions their own’.

I absolutely love this quote by Scott Peck on community. What a great way to look at residence!

Community is a group of i…


Seven Steps to Conflict Resolution


It’s not if, it’s when. Conflict happens to all of us. The key is what to do with the conflict once it happens. The right steps could mean the difference between a learning experience and a scarring experience.

As I prepare the Resident Advisor Training for September, I found my favourite conflict resolution guide, and I thought I would share. This comes from Nesseibeh (2003) and was passed on to me by my colleague at work. This can work as a part of a one on one guide to conflict resolution, or can be used as a tool in mediated discussion.

So here are the seven steps to resolving a conflict:

1) Define the problem in terms of needs – Ask what I/you/we need; what needs are not being met.

2) Agree on a working definition of the problem – Ask how others see the problem, agree on what the actual problem is in terms of needs

3) Brainstorm possibile solutions – list as many ideas as possible, no matter how crazy they may seem. (This can actually cause those in conflict to relax and enjoy the ridiculousness of each others ideas)

4) Evaluate solutions – Discuss why they may or may not work; how will they meet needs

5) Choose possible solution – Collectively agree on a solution to try

6) Impliment solution – Plan how you are going to impliment the selected solution; do it!

7) Evaluate implimentation – Get together and discuss how/if it is working, what could be done differently etc.

For my RA training I hope to get the leaders into groups and have them role play this mediated discussion. Two people could be in conflict about a noise complaint and the mediator practices going through these steps. When the steps are verbalized they become more natural and understandable. The more it’s practiced, the easier it will be for the leaders to use these steps in an actual conflict.

This has been proven helpful in the standard noise violations, dirty dishes, dirty rooms and more. It also has helped more complicated issues involving needs in a relationship.

Everyone has been created differently, and when you get a bunch of different people together there can be tension. But let’s save the fist fights, facebook slander, and name calling for another day, and work on practicing steps towards healthy communication instead!

Did you find this helpful? Do you know any different ideas? Share your comments below!

Helicopter Parents


When I first started getting into Student Services I was warned about them: Helicopter Parents.

And they are out there; calling Deans to make sure Johnny is wearing a sweater on cold days, insisting on sitting in on meetings with the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Residence Coordinators even into their child’s fourth year. Before I arrived, my staff recalled having to practically pull a parent out of a dorm room hours after the move in process was over. They just couldn’t leave.

Professors receive a good portion of the hovering as well: angry calls to professors about why Sarah got a dismal “B” on her assignment are frequent. Or parents are trying to fight why tests or exams can’t be made easier, moved, or changed to suit their child.

Hugh Kretschmer, TIME journalist, certainly creates a vivid picture of this phenomenon in his article “The Growing Backlash to Overparenting.”,9171,1940697-1,00.html

But there are other studies that have shown that students are crying out for parental advice, who need more supervision than they are given, and there are links to parent interaction and deep, positive learning outcomes of students. The National Survey or Student Engagement in 2007 noted that involved parents are often linked to student success.

So how should Student Services professionals respond? Should we push some of our fussiest parents (and I can admit to encountering more than my fair share) or do we bring them in and create partnerships with parents who potentially share our own concerns?

I believe Student Services is striking the balance between potentially two exhausting extremes.

Orientation programs designed just for parents help ease them in an often scary, and frightening transition of send their children away from home. We provide information and services that allow them to realize that their children are in good hands.

On the other hand, our confidentiality protocols restrict ability to give academic or personal information about students to parents. This actually encourages the parents and children to connect. If parents want to know what is going on with their children, they have to speak to their child, rather than going over the student’s head and contacting the school president, Dean, or professor.

And thanks to social media, students have reported to contacting their parents up to 11 to 14 times a day when they are in first year university. To some this is a troubling statistic that shows just another way that students are being taught to never develop true independence. The hope is that it strengthens the child/parent relationship, without putting strain on the Student Services’ phone lines and email inboxes.

What do you think of the “helicopter parent” phenomenon?Image