With pandemic in rear view, Res Life focuses on improvements to student experience

Kristin Brewer, assistant director of recruitment and communication, said she believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed universities everywhere to think differently.

As the number of students living on campus rose back to pre-pandemic levels at the beginning of the current academic year, the University updated the air conditioning policy and placed a larger focus on residential community health.   

Kristin Brewer, assistant director of recruitment and communication, said she does not know if BW will ever return to operating in the same way it was before Covid-19, but she said that is not a terrible thing. She said she believes that the pandemic has pushed universities everywhere to think differently.  

“It is very difficult to live in isolation,” Brewer said.  

Now that the peak of Covid has passed, Brewer said that her office can now place a focus on student experience, satisfaction and campus success rather than reacting to the challenges of a pandemic. 

BW is now seeing its rate of students choosing to live on campus rising to 54 percent, close to the rates from 2019-2020 before the Covid-19 crisis.   

Jess Basnett, a first-year business major, said that the looming threat of Covid-19 would have influenced whether she stayed on campus had she attended last year, but now has chosen to commute due to cost, not Covid concerns.    

Junior criminal justice major, Andres Ramirez lived in Klein during his freshman and sophomore years at the height of Covid-19. This year he decided to live off campus, though he said the move had nothing to do with Covid-19.  

“BW and a lot of other colleges did a very good job at handling the situation that they were given,” Ramirez said.   

Brewer, in an interview with The Exponent conducted last semester said she was excited to regain a lively dynamic with those living on campus.   

According to the student handbook, BW amended its air conditioning policy this year to allow students in halls with no air conditioning to bring one approved portable A.C. unit per room.   

Brewer said that BW is happy to share this change with students, especially those that struggle with the heat of summer.   

Brewer said there is a shift in Residence Life office’s community development model to focus on wellness importance of whole wellness, building relationships, and belonging in reaction to the lingering feelings of isolation post-quarantine.   

“In focusing on wellness, we also have continued to emphasize one-on-one interactions and connecting to things on campus,” Brewer said.     

Resident assistants undergo training twice a year to understand the community development model. This year, a new initiative called “Buzz Ins” was introduced, which requires RAs to meet with each of their residents twice a semester to ask about their well-being and connections on campus. The RAs are additionally trained to connect the student to the support needed through campus resources, especially the counseling center.    

As evidenced by the recent renovations to North Hall, BW is continuing to look for ways to change and evolve.  

“We are always open to students coming in and providing information or feedback about their experience,” Brewer said.