The Office of Residential Life will be getting a new director by next semester, and students are seeking improvements in housing policies with the changeover.
Suzanne Howell was made Binghamton University’s associate dean of students and director of ResLife and housing in 2016, but according to BU Dean of Students April Thompson, the responsibilities of the positions have made it clear that a separate director is necessary for ResLife.
The director of ResLife manages the residence halls on campus and the staff within them. Responsibilities include overseeing the room assignment process, developing the housing budget each year and outlining renovation plans for BU’s residence halls. Howell will leave her role as director this semester and will work with the new director to ensure a smooth transition.
She will continue her duties within the Office of the Dean of Students, which aims to provide services to support students through situations impacting their personal lives and academics. Additionally, the office leads the Student Conflict and Dispute Management Program, which mediates student conflicts between roommates or peers, or within organizations or teams.
Thompson spoke highly of Howell’s career in the ResLife Office.
“[Howell] has done incredible work over the past 30 years in residential life at Binghamton,” Thompson wrote in an email. “As an example of her talented leadership, [Howell] organizes and leads the move-in day process so that parents have help unloading all of those cars. This is a tremendous task involving coordination of multiple offices and agencies both on and off campus.”
The search committee for the new director is comprised of representatives from Case Management, Physical Facilities and multiple layers of staff in ResLife. According to Thompson, student input is valued in the selection process, and resident assistants will be invited to the interviews to help narrow down the candidates.
“We need to get student input before summer,” Thompson wrote. “There are no specific changes at this point; we are looking for a director to work with our community to bring new ideas.”
Kristal Clark, a sophomore double-majoring in mathematics and economics, said she hopes the new director will make improvements to housing registration for students admitted for the spring semester.
“I would like to see them change their policy about spring-admitted students living with current students on campus,” Clark said. “I was accepted and intended on staying at [BU] with current students, and when I went to make my housing for the next year, I was unable to dorm with them.”
Gina Como, a sophomore double-majoring in actuarial science and economics, agreed that the housing sign-up process needs to be revised.
“I think it’s too hard to change living communities if you are originally in one of the less popular ones,” Como said. “And also I think that we do housing too early because, as a freshman, November isn’t really a lot of time to meet people and decide you want to live with them.”