By Alyssa Muench
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Living on campus in the residence halls can be a great experience, especially during freshman year. Because experiences are new, they can also be exciting, and in their first year living in the residence halls, many students meet the people who will become their life-long friends. The First Year Residential Experience Program (FYRE) that Bemidji State University offers makes this possible. FYRE Resident Assistants (RAs) help freshmen transition into their new lifestyles as smoothly as possible. Some students move off campus after their first year, while others move into the upperclassmen residence halls and become a part of the new Residential Experience Program (REP).
REP was created to help make residents college experiences more successful and has been first introduced this 2013-2014 school year. BSU Residence Hall Directors, Ayleen Leonhardt and Nathan Meints believe there must be a connection from the campus resources to the residence halls. The REP program is designed to help bring these resources and activities straight to the upperclassman dorms, which include Birch, Linden and some floors in Tamarack. The hope is that residents in these dorms stay on track to graduate while also become involved in the communities in the upperclassman dorms.
The Resident Assistants within the upperclassman dorms are responsible for planning events and activities to help residents graduate with the skills that they need to be successful. Many of the events involve guest speakers from across campus, such as Career Services. This way, residents can attend, receive information and ask questions. “We want our residents to be successful, so we bring the services to them,” said Nathan Meints, Residence Hall Director for Pine and Tamarack Halls.
While REP was introduced to the upperclassman dorms in the fall of 2013, the approach for implementing the program has changed this semester. “We don’t want residents to just live here, we want them to feel a sense of belonging,” said Ayleen Leonhardt, Residence Hall Director for Birch, Linden, and Cedar Halls.
There are approximately 500 upperclassmen students living in the residence halls who can benefit from REP. “I think this program is a great idea, it helps me and I get the chance to meet new people,” said Cody Booker, a Sophomore at BSU. Booker greatly enjoyed being part of the FYRE Program last year, he said that this year he’d, “Do anything to get out of my room. I don’t know anybody [in the dorms], not like I did last year.”
Residential Life Staff is hopeful that the Residential Experience Program will keep students living on campus long after their freshman year, but it is more than that for the developers of the program. Students are in college because they have goals and expectations. “We want to help students by working as a team to prepare them for their goals,” said Meints.
REP is a program for the students to take advantage of while they can. It exists to help students prepare for potential jobs, gain life skills, and make relationships across campus. “We want residents to feel a connection to BSU, and to make connections on campus,” said Leonhardt.