Carousel highlights potential student leaders
Residential life refines application process
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 18:02
Last weekend, groups of prospective student leaders gathered in residence halls across campus to participate in one of the final stages of the Residential Life and First-Year Mentor (FYM) application process—the Carousel. On Feb. 11-12, students applying to be either a Resident Assistant (RA), House President (HP), First-Year Mentor (FYM) or Resident Manager (RM), were placed at random in separate groups, corresponding to their prospective positions, to complete a series of group exercises. Each group consisted of approximately 10-12 applicants.
This year, candidates were asked to prioritize various tasks they might encounter if they were to assume leadership positions in the following academic year. Scenarios to consider included fixing an overflowing toilet in the bathroom, dealing with malfunctioning air conditioning, attending office hours before an economics test and consoling a crying student. Students were asked to complete the exercise, first as individuals and then in groups.
"[The purpose of Carousel is] to see how students work with each other and how willing they are to listen to each other," Hayley Lenahan '12, the current HP of Munger Hall, explained. "But there's really no one thing we're looking for...You don't need to be the most bubbly, extroverted person, because not everyone at Wellesley wants her RA to be bubbly and extroverted."
Students have already submitted an online application with two references and are currently in the process of participating in both group and individual interviews.
Carousel is a supplement to the interview process and allows students to demonstrate their leadership skills and ability to work in a team. In the group and individual interviews, applicants are evaluated by current student leaders and professional staff members. Academic Peer Tutors (APTs), APT Coordinators and students applying from abroad are not required to complete the Carousel.
Although student leaders are present for Carousel and interviews, ultimately the professional staff chooses the Residential Life teams. Student leaders do, however, provide extensive feedback to aid in the staff's final decisions.
"There is no single prototype of an FYM," Lori Tenser, Dean of First Year Students, said regarding the selection process. "We like to draw from the full range of student backgrounds and experiences to reflect the campus population. We hope to attract candidates who are good communicators, willing to lend an ear and able to maintain appropriate boundaries with the students in their group."
"I like to keep two things in mind," Erin Doherty, Area Coordinator of Stone-Davis, Dower and French House stated. "Would I want this person to be my RA, FYM, HP or APT? And would I want to work with this person? Many of the skills we need come [from] training and experience, but there are also inherent personality factors, such as being approachable, empathetic, mature, creative and enthusiastic about the work."
Anna Krauthamer '15, a candidate for the position of Resident Assistant, described her feelings going into the Carousel. "I have no idea what to expect. I'm a little bit nervous, because I don't know what it is, but I'm curious to see what it's like."
Although some may worry their performance under such conditions may not reflect their full capabilities,Lenahan assured them that the professional staff's decision does not rest solely on an applicant's performance in Carousel. "I've been on both sides of Carousel, and you do feel nervous because you know you're being watched," said Lenahan. "But we always take into account that people might be nervous." Lenahan added that, at this point, much of the decision-making process is about identifying the potential in the applicants. "Going in, students don't have to be the perfect RA," she said. "Especially if you are a first-year—you've only been here for a semester and we know that. We know that by the end of your semester, you're going to have such a better grasp of campus culture and all the resources that are available."
This year, student and staff members of Residential Life re-evaluated and renovated aspects of the student leadership selection process, from technological aspects such as the first-ever online application to posting more spam in residential halls and online forums with the slogan "iLead."
"The most significant change this year is that we went paperless," Tenser stated. "We have moved to an integrated on-line application process which allowed student candidates to submit their written applications electronically."
"We previously typed up a Word document and emailed it to the office, but now it's all on MyWellesley," Lenahan said. As an HP this year, Lenahan can serve as a reference for applicants. "From my perspective of filling out references," she said, "it's much easier because I click a button, type the information, send it, and it's done. We're trying to go more green by not having to print the applications or references."
This semester also marks the first occasion upon which student leaders on work-study will receive compensation for the time they have dedicated to their positions. The Student Leadership Stipend (SLS) Ballot Initiative, which passed last year, created an $11,000 grant to provide a small stipend to student leaders who are on Federal Work-Study or Wellesley Work. The grant was fully matched by President Bottomly, securing a total of $22,000, half of which has been set aside for future distribution.