Students who arrived at residence halls at the University of Missouri–St. Louis last week were met by an auspicious group: other UMSL students. Awaiting new and returning students were residential advisers, sorority and fraternity members and other volunteers.
“During my time here, we’ve always welcomed volunteers for Move-In Day,” said Jackie McCauley, hall director for Oak Hall. “The groups call or e-mail Khalilah Doss, and she tells them where to turn up.”
Doss is the assistant director of residential life at UMSL.
In addition to about 20 residential advisers, students and their families were greeted by 17 desk assistants, eight office assistants, members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, the Panhellenic Council, Associated Black Collegians and the UMSL Tritons cheerleaders.
And their services were much needed. First-day total enrollment at UMSL will surpass last year’s record of 16,548. Enrollment is up nearly 3 percent.
The College of Education registered a 12.4 percent increase in students, the highest percentage increase among the colleges. College of Nursing numbers are up 5.3 percent over 2009, and graduate enrollment is up 4 percent to 2,903 students.
“Once again this year we see students and their families taking advantage of UMSL’s tremendous educational value in record numbers,” Chancellor Tom George said. “We have worked very hard to remain financially accessible as more and more Missourians understand the role advanced skill sets and higher education play in a challenging, changing economy. This is good news for St. Louis.”
On Move-In Day, however, the good news for new students is the residential advisers assigned to certain wings or floors of a campus residence. They help students in a number of ways, from moving in to giving directions to steering students to the right campus service.
“It’s a pretty dynamic job,” said McCauley, a second-year graduate student in community counseling. “They’re part of an on-call rotation to be available for the students, and they develop evening programs for them, to make the residence more like a home.”
In fact, the advisers undergo an intensive two-week training session prior to the arrival of students. The training prepares them to help other students. Included are seminars on fire safety, sexual harassment and mental health.
“During the training, our RAs touch on all campus services,” said Jonathan Lidgus, director of the Office of Residential Life and Housing at UMSL. “They are thoroughly prepared.”
The two-week session also included a trip to Six Flags St. Louis and a two-day outing to Cedar Creek Conference Center in New Haven, Mo., for team building.
“The training brings about group camaraderie while at the same time teaching about how to deal with certain situations,” McCauley said . “It teaches us to be creative and has that educational aspect to it, but at the same time it’s a lot of fun.”