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The Bruno Brief: ResLife seeks to revitalize program by replacing RPLs with Community Coordinators

Beginning next semester, Residential Peer Leaders will become a thing of the past. Community Coordinators will be a new student-staff position with nearly double the pay of an RPL. How will the new Community Coordinator role be different, and how do current RPLs feel about this shift? We spoke to Senior Staff Writer Emily Faulhaber ’24 about her reporting on this topic.

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Ellery Campbell

Welcome to Season 3 of The Bruno Brief. I'm your host, Ellery Campbell.

This week, the Office of Residential Life announced that they would be replacing the role of Residential Peer Leaders — or RPLs — with a new student position called Community Coordinators. The Community Coordinators — or CCs — will take on many of the same responsibilities of RPLs with a pay raise that nearly doubles the previous RPL stipend. But, the CC role would also have significantly more day-to-day responsibilities than RPLs. ResLife says that CCs will work on community building and identity-specific advising, turning residential halls into places students can truly call home. They also said in the CC job description that applicants should not commit to other jobs or clubs without consulting their supervisor.

We talked to Senior Staff Writer Emily Faulhaber about the new role and how current RPLs are responding to the changes.

Ellery Campbell

Emily, welcome to The Bruno Brief. Can you introduce yourself to our listeners?

Emily Faulhaber

Hi, yeah. Thanks so much for having me. My name is Emily Faulhaber, and I'm a senior staff writer for the U. News section on the Staff and Student Labor beat.

Ellery Campbell

What is happening to the RPL position in the coming semester?

Emily Faulhaber

So the RPL position is getting replaced by a new residential student position called Community Coordinator or CC. This role is going to work on building community within residential halls and connecting students through increased programming.

Ellery Campbell

How do current RPLs feel about this change?

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Emily Faulhaber

Based upon the RPLs that I spoke to, there were kind of some mixed reviews on how they feel about their current position. And one of the RPL they spoke to, Delaney Dill ’24, was feeling enthusiastic about these changes that ResLife was making and felt that it was kind of a breath of fresh air, she said, being breathed into the ResLife department.

Delaney Dill

I think that just the idea of having a new position — and there's some new leadership, too, in ResLife — I think that the goals that they lay out are really intentional. And I think that they have tried to craft a role that will meet the needs of the students at Brown.

Emily Faulhaber

And that this new role will be successful in building community.

Delaney Dill

It's clear in making a new position that they're willing to transform and listen to students to try and create a different residential life experience and hopefully one that is more positive than maybe it has been in past years.

Emily Faulhaber

However, another RPL I spoke to, Sofia Funk ’24, just felt that ResLife was kind of disorganized in general and wasn't sure how much of an impact this new role will have.

Ellery Campbell

Do you think this change in the role is meant to address that problem?

Emily Faulhaber

I think that was kind of part of the reevaluation they did throughout the fall to address these concerns that students have. And I think they're trying to implement this new role of Community Coordinator, and by calling it a Community Coordinator really placed emphasis on building community and turning residential halls into a place students want to go.

Ellery Campbell

How is the Community Coordinator role different from being an RPL?

Emily Faulhaber

So the Community Coordinator role is going to, like I said, kind of be focusing on building community. And there'll also be more of a focus on conflict resolution and responsibilities will also include resident introductions and moving in and moving out assistance. And so the role also includes mandatory meetings and program planning and execution.

Ellery Campbell

What is the pay difference for a CC versus an RPL?

Emily Faulhaber

The pay difference is going to be increasing to an annual stipend of $10,500 from $4,868 for CAs, which are community assistants, and from $5,196 for RPCs, or residential peer counselors. So it's a pretty significant difference. And ResLife feels that this increased stipend will incentivize more students to apply for the role and make it more accessible, and it also matches up better to similar roles in other peer institutions.

Delaney Dill

So I think that the raise is great because I think it will allow more students who maybe weren't able to access this position before just due to, maybe they were making more money working somewhere else, kind of allow more students to have a role on campus, especially if they're wanting to. And then for, of course, people to apply, but also for people in this position to really put time and effort into their role and be compensated for it.

Ellery Campbell

That was Delaney Dill. Do you think there will be increased student interest in being a CC because of this pay increase?

Emily Faulhaber

Yeah, so I definitely think there will be increased student interest and, based upon an interview I had with some people that work at ResLife, they are confident that this increased pay will incentivize students to apply for the role, and that the stipend is kind of more in line with what the responsibilities of a CC entail.

Ellery Campbell

And that information was from Brenda Ice, senior associate dean and senior director of Residential Life. What prompted this change in pay and responsibilities?

Emily Faulhaber

So during the fall of 2021, ResLife and campus life engagement staff undertook a collaborative effort to kind of better understand what responsibilities were necessary and appropriate for student staff to perform. And so out of this collaboration effort, they decided on the creation of the CC role to replace CAs and RPCs. And they're also going to be making changes to more identity-focused roles like WPCs — women peer counselors — and MPCs — minority peer counselors.

​​Ellery Campbell

What is the new identity peer counselor role?

Emily Faulhaber

So there are going to be a few changes to the identity-focused peer counselor roles. So currently there are WPCs and MPCs. So the WPC role is actually having a title change to WGS, which is Women, Gender and Sexuality Peer Counselor. And the MPC role is going to be overseen by the Brown Center for Students of Color rather than ResLife. So these new roles and enhanced roles will now have more of a focus on really affirming students' identities. The University is also going to be introducing a new peer counselor role in the Undocumented, First-Generation and Low-Income Center, and so that will be a U-FLi PC that reports specifically to the U-FLi Student Center. And the new WGS role will report to the Sarah Doyle Center and the LGBTQ Center, along with the MPC role, or minority peer counselor, is going to be overseen by the Brown Center for Students of Color.

Ellery Campbell

Emily, thank you for being here.

Emily Faulhaber

Thank you so much for having me.

Ellery Campbell

This has been the Season 3 premiere of The Bruno Brief. Our show is produced by Livi Burdette, Jacob Smollen, Cory Gelb-Bicknell, Katy Pickens, Da-Young Kim, and me, Ellery Campbell. If you like what you hear, subscribe to The Bruno Brief wherever you get your podcasts and leave a review. Thank you for listening. We'll see you next week.

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