Housing office staff copes with five vacancies

student+affairs

Student Affairs Office. Jacob Seitz / Beacon Staff

By Chelsea Gibbons

Multiple administrative vacancies in the Office of Community Standards and the Office of Housing and Residential Education over the last year have forced administrators to adjust the structure of the departments as they search for new hires.

Associate Dean of Campus Life Erik Muurisepp said the vacant positions in the Office of Community Standards and a vacant residence director position in the Paramount Building have compelled other administrators to fill the roles in an interim capacity until the college finds new hires. 

Former Associate Director of Residence Life Seth Grue left the Office of Housing and Residence Life over a year ago to become the Associate Director of Student Success. Melissa Woolsey, the former assistant director for community standards and student conduct, and Elizabeth Ching-Bush, former assistant dean of campus life, both left OHRE over the summer to pursue other job opportunities. 

Muurisepp and 2 Boylston Place Residence Director Desiree Bradford have stepped up to fill the absent roles in OHRE until the positions are filled. 

The Paramount RD position has been vacant since Sept. 19. Muurisepp said former RD Bralyn Beathea left the position to pursue a job in student success with the McNair program at Rhode Island College.

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Area Coordinator Isaac Newsome and his graduate assistant are sharing the responsibilities of the Paramount RD until the position is permanently filled.

Muurisepp said in an interview that, while the vacancies caused some shifts in responsibilities, they also gave the department the opportunity to restructure their positions to better fit the changes occurring at the institution.

The college renamed the associate director of residence life position as the associate director of residential education, who will serve under the director of residential education.

“We want to really build that team of folks on the ground to help increase our work of student engagement,” Muurisepp said. 

The changes in OHRE sparked a need to change the way the college organized the department, Muurisepp said. These changes include the new first-year residence hall, a three-year residency requirement—creating a record of 2,600 students on campus—and the addition of 172 Tremont St.  

The department is reviewing resumes for the two director positions and have already had candidates for the director of community standards position on campus. The candidates for the director of housing and residential education position will visit the campus this week.

“The goal is to have director positions filled by mid-fall,” Muurisepp said. “The associate director search will start after the directors get settled.”

Despite his increase in workload, Muurisepp said he views the situation as a positive change for the two departments.

“It makes me busier, but I don’t mind it I like being busy.” he said. “It actually helps me as we’ve expanded our residential population to really focus on things that need to adjust and change, so I like being involved in that.” 

Muurisepp said his regular duties as associate dean of campus life include working with the housing and residential education program and overseeing student conduct, student care and support, and student engagement and leadership.

 “I always look at my job as getting to look at the student experience pieces of the college,” he said. “Regarding care, response, crisis, and all of that.”

Due to his extra responsibilities, Muurisepp now has to oversee many more areas than he has in the past.

 “Now I manage and supervise all of the RDs, manage much more closely with all of the residence life staff, and handle conduct,” Muurisepp said. 

Bradford now serves as the interim community standards coordinator. Bradford is responsible for the tasks that Woolsey took care of as assistant dean of campus life, including general case management for community standards violations. 

“With any turnover, it’s harder,” Bradford said in an interview. “We all have to step in and fill those roles … which is natural in any work environment. I think the timing makes it harder, but it happens.”

Despite the empty positions, Muurisepp said that not many people in the community standards or OHRE departments have experienced changes in responsibility. 

“Some RDs may have some new tasks, like Desiree [Bradford],” Muurisepp said. “It hasn’t impacted the RAs too much. I’ve just stepped in and taken over as the RDs supervisor.”