With resident students comes the need for an office of Residence Life.And just as the residential village is something new to St. John’s, sois the office of Residence Life. “Our job is to enhance the students’educational experiences and to offer non-classroom educationalinitiatives,” said Henry Humphreys, dean of Residence Life. “We aretrying to build a well-formed and established program. Last year, Fr.John Maher laid the initial foundations of that program, and did a goodjob of it,” Humphreys added.
Residence Life is in a state of development. “I hope that we continueto expand, and that we do a better job addressing the needs ofstudents,” said Humphreys “We do an adequate job of this already, butthere is room for improvement. We need to do a better job at listeningto the students needs and addressing them,” said Humphreys. “We areworking on the reorganizing the department through having moremasters-level administrators, and are instituting a positionexclusively for Student Development, expanding RHA and encouraging morecollaboration with Student Government, as well as working on acomprehensive Residence Life Handbook in order to better acquaint theresidents with Residence Life.”
Recent occurrences in the dorms have kept Residence Life busy. Theoffice recognizes problems in the dorms, and is attempting to fix them. “We do not impose new policies on students mid-semester, but we aremore strictly enforcing our policies. The fire doors, for instance, nowhave a guard in front of them as an attempt to step up security.”
Residence life is also “very concerned about the building thefts [overthe break], and is working with public safety on renewing the securitysystems within the residence buildings,” said Humphreys. “The immediatechanges are dealing with keycard access into the buildings and theindividual rooms, as well as in changing some camera positionsthroughout the dorms, and in the long term we are looking at changingthe way the rooms are checked by the RAs.”
Residence Life is also taking drug and alcohol enforcement moreseriously. Last week there was an incident involving drugs in one ofthe Residence Hall suites. “We take these incidents very seriously,”said Humphreys, “There was cocaine, marijuana and alcohol in the suite. Residence Life has zero tolerance for these sorts of offenses.”
Resident students can expect drug and alcohol enforcement to increase asthe semester continues and into next year. Not only is Residence Lifeputting more effort into enforcement, but the Rev. Donald J. Harrington,C.M., has hired Raymond Kelly to head up a special security task force. Kelly is a former New York City Police Commissioner and has heldseveral positions in government agencies, including head of UnitedStates Customs.
Dean Humphreys is putting a lot of effort into preserving thisuniversity’s reputation; he has a personal connection with St. John’sUniversity. “I grew up in the shadow of St. John’s; my father was analumnus. I had always wanted to go to St.John’s, but there wasn’t oncampus housing then, and so I didn’t. Living away from home duringcollege was important to me. I went to Green Mountain College inVermont, and then to graduate school at Columbia. I worked at fourschools prior to this. The challenge of creating a housing programappealed to me; it was a great opportunity.”