By: Marc Sloan & Andy Bowers
The University of Tennessee is changing rapidly as we continue on our Journey to the Top 25 public research institutions. Students can look around Rocky Top and see new construction every day, new programs and initiatives to take part in, and new residence halls to call home. Although this journey may take time to complete, students can already take advantage of the resources being offered to them, like brand new buildings to live in! The first new residence hall in nearly forty years, Fred D. Brown Jr. Hall set the standard for on-campus living. The new Orange and White halls will offer a similar residence experience and foster strong communities based on tradition. This sense of community is cultivated by the staff of these two buildings: a mere sixteen resident assistants and a dedicated Hall Director and Assistant Hall Director.
Flexibility is fundamental, according to Orange and White Hall Director Camille Darby. She and her staff were presented with an opportunity to demonstrate their flexibility when, due to an extended construction timeline, Orange Hall experienced a delay in opening that temporarily placed its eager residents in Humes Hall. Handling this unforeseen development required planning, careful scheduling, and an incredibly motivated staff. When she and Assistant Hall Director Chris Ndiritu hired sixteen RAs in the spring, they were expecting to run one full time front desk in Orange Hall. Plans changed, however, and at this time eight RAs are operating one front desk in Humes Hall, and another eight are operating a second front desk in White Hall. This doubled the hours that RAs were expected to work! They are more than happy to do it, according to Ms. Darby, who said that her RAs are “extremely positive, mature, and dynamic.” This dynamic team has operated two buildings, each with a staff of eight, making them the smallest staffs of any building on campus! Their dedication, creativity, and experience has ensured a positive experience for Orange and White Hall residents so far, and will continue to do so.
Closing a building and opening another one during the middle of a semester is no easy task, but with Camille and Chris at the helm, it is sure to be smooth sailing. Their combined experience, along with the skills of their RA staff, makes for a versatile and competent team that has already proven to be successful. Although they operate as one team, it is challenging for staff to be separated from each other by distance. This hasn’t stopped them from remaining confident and positive! Every RA continues to program authentically for their residents to make a difference in their lives. When Orange Hall opens, collaborative programming between the buildings is the goal. This is only one of the many goals the staff has set for themselves as they run two buildings as one, a milestone in UT’s history. They have accepted the challenge, and are excited to get the process underway! Support from RAs, combined with programs offered by the Orange and White Residents Association, will create a traditions-based, collaborative community between the buildings that will be unlike any other residence hall experience on campus.
Residence life at the University of Tennessee is unique, and is made special by the people who go out of their way to connect students with the resources they need. The staff of Orange and White Hall has already proven they are willing to go above and beyond their job descriptions, all for the students they are serving. Led by a team of skilled and genuine professionals, the staff of Orange and White has taken challenge after challenge in stride, and created an environment unlike any other on campus. As a soon-to-be resident of Orange Hall, Marc would personally like to say thank you to those who have worked tirelessly to provide a positive community experience for him and his fellow residents. Thank you, staff of Orange and White Halls!
I am a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, pursuing a Social Work degree. I am passionate about theatre, as well as helping people get connected with the resources that they need, especially first year students on UT’s campus. I have served as an artistic director at Encore Theatre Company, and as an Ignite Serves Team Leader through UT’s Center for Leadership and Service. I strive to bring together my desire to help people and my ability to think creatively in an effort to positively impact my community on a daily basis.
I am currently a senior studying Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee. I currently work with the University Housing department in which I build and reach out to our student body via social media. I am also active as a student assistant in the athletics department, vice-president of the communications Studies Club and working at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. My goals revolve around building a network with the professionals I work with as well as providing myself an opportunity to always learn about my institution.