by Becky St. Clair
“Every year we survey the residence hall women about their experience in the dorm throughout the year,” explains Jennifer Burrill, dean of women in Lamson Hall. “The results help shape what we do the following year. We’re always trying to improve on the year before.”
Two key factors in recent surveys have been residents interested in more of a feeling of friendship and community between them, and the cleanliness (or perceived lack thereof) in the community bathrooms.
“We came up with the idea for Lamson ‘Lympics in an attempt to hold the women accountable for their own living space and health, and to get them to focus on them long enough to make them a habit,” says Burrill.
The ‘Lympics had four categories: Care for This Place (keeping community areas, specifically the bathrooms, clean), Care for Myself (earning punches in their exercise cards), Care for My Community (nominating others for a Second Mile Card when doing something good for others), and Serve the World (participating in their hall’s community service project for the semester).
“The participation in our first ever ‘Lympics was pretty decent,” says Burrill. “When you start something new it’s always a toss-up whether or not it will catch on, but the women were interested and we were happy with the participation level.”
This is not the only self-improvement program Lamson Hall deans have instituted; every fall semester they run Catch a Wise Woman, where residents are encouraged to study out in the open. When caught studying in a public space, they are awarded a ticket, which is redeemable for items of varying value at the conclusion of the six-week period over which the program is run.
“It’s a very popular program,” says Burrill. “The women are purposeful about studying where others can see them and they love being able to redeem the tickets for hats, scarves, décor for their dorm rooms, etc.”
The winners of the Lamson ‘Lympics were announced over the loudspeaker during open house. First place went to 2NE, second place to 3NW and third place to 2SW. An additional award was added when the deans realized one individual had exercised every day of the event. That young woman was given a one-hour massage.
“We have ideas for the future to combine some of our several wellness initiatives,” says Burrill, “but our main goal is to encourage the students to focus on holistic healthy living.”