Imagine living right upstairs, or right next door to your own office. While others are used to a long commute to get home after a long day’s work, Complex Coordinator Sean Stallings lives a few steps away from his office at Townhouses West.
Stallings, like six other residence directors who work on the campus, lives on campus and does his job from home, which for him is right downstairs.
According to John Stafford, director of residence life and residential community development, and supervisor of residence directors, there are six live-in residence directors.
“Four go by the title ‘residence director’ and the others by ‘complex coordinator,'” Stafford said.
Stallings lives in Townhouses East along with his spouse, and is in charge of the residents and policies that exist there. “We need to live on campus because some of our job expectations require us to be quickly and easily accessible,” Stallings said. “Some of our responsibilities include responding to overnight crises from residential students and facilities emergencies.”
According to Stallings, each residence director is given a particular building that he or she is basically in charge of and lives in that area.
Another live-in on campus, Gretchen Reyes, supervisor and assistant director to Stafford, lives in Townhouses West along with her husband and son. Stallings said it is nice to have Reyes on the campus with her son because students like the fact that someone a lot younger than them lives in the same building.
“Students find it nice when they realize there is a small child in the neighborhood,” Stallings said. “They don’t get that a lot.”
Not only does Stallings make sure that students are supervised, he makes sure to involve himself on a professional and sometimes personal level with the residents.
“My job also includes conducting judicial meetings with students who are in violation of a policy,” he said. “I’m responsible for developing programming models for students.
It includes monitoring budgets and advising hall government. I am also available anytime a student just needs to talk, that is why we have to live here, there’s just so much that we do.”
Part of having the residence directors live on campus and spend this much time with the students is because, as Stafford said, “research shows us that having professionals live on campus means you have more experience and more qualifications to handle significant issues that may come up.”
Stafford agrees that the constant exposure of residence directors as part of the College neighborhood will better the community because residence directors are actually living on campus and so it is their community as well.
According to Stallings, the best part of his job is getting to communicate with the residents in a more efficient way. “I do enjoy it,” Stallings said. “It allows me to better communicate because I feel I have a better pulse on the campus community.”
Stallings said living in his apartment on campus is great because not only does he have the time to spend with residents outside of class, which gives him a better understanding of the students and their needs, but he gets to live in an apartment with all facilities included.
“We do make an honest salary and our apartment is factored into our total compensation,” Stallings said. “When you think of all the amenities, which is everything we are given, you think, okay, I am living in Central Jersey in a two-bedroom apartment with electricity, I have cable TV, access to the Internet, laundry facilities – one can conceivably save about roughly $1,200 a month.”
Aside from the educational and economical advantages, Stallings said he said he likes living on campus because it reminds him of his own college years.
“Absolutely, people mistake me for a student because of our position,” Stallings said. “Not many students know about it; not many professionals know about it. Many think we are CA’s (community advisors) because that is who they have most contact with.”
Since many students are unaware that there is actually someone behind the scenes in almost all of the residence buildings on campus, Stallings agrees that it is difficult to explain to students what his job actually entails.
Another difficult part of his job, Stallings said, is the fact that his work is never-ending. “When we go home, we’re still working,” Stallings said. “It’s very important that someone in this position has the ability to establish boundaries, otherwise their personal lives can be consumed by work.”
Stafford said that although many students are unaware of their existence, having the residence directors live on campus is certainly not a new thing. Although in the past, graduate students were in charge of the residence halls. “A couple of decades ago, or shorter than that, the halls were run by graduate students,” Stafford said. “It wasn’t uncommon.”
Stallings and the rest of the residence directors continue to work “behind the scenes,” to make the college community a more enjoyable and worthwhile place for all students. In the meantime, Stallings said living on campus keeps him young. “It reminds me that there is much to learn as well as much to teach.”