Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:A Break In the Chain: A Look at Communication Between Resident Advisors the Resident Life Employees Above Them.
Author(s):Levine, Rachel
Subject(s):Residential Life
Resident Advisors
Residence Halls
Abstract:Through past experiences and observations of resident advisors (RAs), resident directors (RDs), and the administrative staff of the Residential Life Department, I have noticed a break in the communication between RAs and Housing Administration. The organization of Residential Life is very similar to that of many large departments: employees are hierarchically organized and policy is set in a hierarchical fashion as well. Policies that affect residents are made by administrators (starting with a director) and implemented by the resident advisors. This is where communication appears to be absent. While information is quick to travel from the “top-down,” there is very little opportunity for the resident advisors to give feedback as to how the reality of the situation is playing out on the hall floors. This break in communication appears to be a stressor and source of frustration for many RAs who are working with the residents on a daily basis and see nothing of the administration.
Issue Date:2007-12-15
Course / Semester:ANTH 411: Methods for Sociocultural Anthropology, Prof. Nancy Abelmann. This course introduced students to a variety of ethnographic methods. Students tried their hand at some of these methods through a focused project. I had students think about their semester-long work as "pilot research"; although they did write up a short paper on their findings (their "discuss" section of the database), the culminating assignment was a research proposal in which they envision building on their preliminary findings in a longer/larger project. In the beginning of the semester, students did some warm-up exercises not directly related to their projects (an observation, an analysis of a university document, and an interview) -- some students elected to remove these from their databases while others left them in because of their connection to the final project. Students' "question" and "plan" sections of the database include multiple entries as I encouraged them to continue to refine these over the course of the semester in dialogue with their own emerging findings. I also asked students to search both the U of I Student Life and Cultures Archives and well as this EUI IDEALS collection to find archives relevant to their pilot/proposed research. All students were asked to "reflect" on the research experience and to make "recommendations" to the University on the basis of their research findings. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-01-25

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Student Communities and Culture
    The university offers an extraordinary opportunity to study and document student communities, life, and culture. This collection includes research on the activities, clubs, and durable social networks that comprise sometimes the greater portion of the university experience for students.
  • Working at the University
    This collection documents the experiences of those who are employed by the university.
  • University Units and Institutional Transformation
    Projects in this collection explore institutional growth and change as seen in the histories and practices of university units and programs.

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