Office of Residence Life updates student staff selection process

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Photo by Kayleigh Marshall

Kayleigh Marshall, General Assignment Reporter

Student staff acceptance letters and rejection letters were sent out recently leaving some students excited but more students disappointed. “It’s very hard to turn away all of the great applicants we have each year,” said Lisa Weston the assistant director of residence life. “We could hire 30 more students and still have great candidates to pull from.”  

This year the office of residence life made some changes to the student staff selection process with help from student Kathryn Draper. “For my women, gender, and sexuality studies capstone class we had to apply what we have learned in our classes and apply them to our community,” said Draper. “I have worked in residence life for my entire time here at La Crosse and wanted to be able to make the department better before I left. I helped give a student perspective on the committee to make changes in the application and review process to in order to create a more inclusive process.”  

La Crosse and residence life are moving towards creating more inclusive communities within the residence halls and a lot of the process is dependent on the student staff that are put in those buildings,” said Draper. “We needed to make sure that the process that we were using to evaluate students and choose student staff was evaluating that those students were prepared and educated to make those communities as inclusive as possible.” 

To make this happen, essay questions were added to the application in hopes of a more thoughtful response. “We generally want to know what a candidate has to share,” said Weston. “The typical interview question-quick response type of experience allows those who think on their feet to shine really well. But those who need more time to think through responses struggle in that type of interview. So, combining an interview and a written response allows for more people to succeed.”  

Additionally unlike past years not all applicants were selected for an interview. “All applications were reviewed and those who had good/great applications were interviewed,” said Weston. “We use a specific rubric to evaluate applications and they are given heavy consideration. Applications are reviewed in a ‘blind review’ so there is no name or identifying information included for the reviewer.” Interviews were also held in office spaces instead of larger rooms so that applicants could avoid distractions of other interviews.  

“I think the transition went well, although we made a lot of changes to the process,” said Draper. “I have heard really positive feedback and am hoping to see some positive changes in the student staff for next year.”  

One concern with the student staff selection process was students getting stuck in the system when they are rehired, and past student staff being rehired while other students are overlooked. “I think that is an issue that is hard to work through in one year,” said Draper. “I am hoping the changes we made to both the new and returning applications will help to make sure the best candidates are chosen for the position regardless if they were student staff previously.”  

“Current RA’s and DC’s just need to complete the application to reapply. They do not go through an interview process,” said Weston. “However, every student staff member is evaluated in December based on how well they are fulfilling the job responsibilities outlined in their position description…We never ‘automatically’ assume a student staff member can return. They need to have a satisfactory evaluation in December and that evaluation becomes part of their file.” Job offers for the next year is contingent upon a successful completion of the current year, motivating student staff to do their job well, even if they have already been rehired.  

“We do honor the work that returning student staff members are doing. If they are doing well, they get priority over a new person. The learning that happens while in the role cannot be outmatched by someone who would come in new,” said Weston.  

“We look to hire the best team for each hall. That means a variety of personalities, traits, identities, etc.,” said Weston. “There is no such thing as the perfect ‘cookie-cutter’ student staff. We want each staff team to be a reflection of the students living in that residence hall and that means lots of different people.”  

For more information about student staff selection and application process, please visit their page on the office of residence life website.  

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