Student Engagement Committee Working To Improve Campus Climate

The Committee on Student Engagement, which began its work last fall, has identified four major themes in its ongoing quest to help students feel less isolated and more connected on campus. Led by Dean of Students Fred Alford, the committee is focusing on developing creative ways to use existing spaces; improving the atmosphere in the residential community; setting up more comfortable ways for faculty and students to interact outside of the classroom; and finding niches for students whose interests are not necessarily in sync with the dominant forms of social life on campus.

The engagement group, made up of administrators and students, has turned its attention recently to ways in which the College can utilize the residential community to address the task of getting students involved. “We’re still circling the beast, so to speak,” says Alford. “Working with this group has provided Dan Heischman and me, the two newcomers, with a much deeper insight into campus life. We have spent a good deal of time just talking and reaching some points of agreement.”

One initiative currently underway is an effort to make available some group housing options for which campus groups can apply. Working in conjunction with the Office of Residential Life, the committee is hoping to identify groups with the greatest potential to make contributions to the intellectual, social, and cultural life of the campus.

On a larger scale, members of the committee are hoping to work within the campus-wide residential life system to build support and motivation for greater student involvement in creating social events, intramurals, and community service initiatives. They are presently examining the possibility of having each residence group elect representatives who would then take responsibility for each area, develop ways to fund their programs, and create interesting and satisfying projects to encourage people to participate. “We would like to create opportunities and expectations for students to have a proprietary interest in the College,” Alford adds. “We would like students to have a sense that there is something special that each one does and that Trinity is a better place for their having done it.”

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