As AU welcomed students back on campus, small changes have become apparent. There is a fixed pot-hole there, new lights installed here, but another change has occurred, one that has not been advertised or noticed. An old title got an upgrade during the summer. The title of RD is now known as AC or HC. But what exactly is an AC and why change the title?
Area Coordinator (AC) and Hall Coordinator (HC) have replaced the role of Resident Director (RD) in all on-campus housing. With this title shift, the responsibilities of the ACs and HCs have expanded as well. Sarah Sager, director of residence life and student conduct, related that many universities have made this change and credited it to the decline in college enrollment in addition to creating a position more appealing to potential applicants.
According to the National Center for Education Studies the United State’s college enrollment rate had steadily increased through the decades between 1980s to early 2000s. 2010 brought a high of 21 million students enrolled until a slow decline in the number of students enrolling began the following year in 2011. In 2020, the COVID pandemic caused a dramatic drop of 1 million students choosing to not enroll in universities across the U.S.
With enrollment decreasing, budgets also decreased across universities, forcing the decisions of various job positions to be cut. However, as Sager observed, “When those positions are cut, those jobs don’t just disappear; they get absorbed.”
Sager states the original position of RD encompassed three main focuses: resident assistant (RA) support, building management, and community shaper. The AC role still encompasses these three characteristics with the additional responsibilities of overseeing an area, crisis management, housing and a staff. The HC role is similar except the HC has only one dorm to oversee, rather than an area.
An area is simply pairing of dorms through the similarities of the dorms, rather than location. For example, both Fair and Myers, which are co-ed apartment-style dorms, are grouped as an area. The HC role only has a slight difference in responsibilities of an AC. Mainly, an HC is not in charge of an area (two dorms), but a single dorm.
This ‘absorption’ is not just a campus-wide phenomenon, it’s happening nationwide. Those seeking a job as a ‘Resident Director,’ are going to find slim pickings, while searching for ‘Residence Life Coordinator,’ ‘Area Coordinator,’ or ‘Residence Hall Coordinator,’ into a job searcher such as Indeed will find dozens of full-time jobs.
“I knew that the role had changed when I applied,” Rachel Potts, HC of Myers said. “I very intentionally applied for the Hall Coordinator position instead of the Area Coordinator position.”
These ACs and HCs have embraced campus life and accepted these new roles in stride. Potts has been enthusiastic about her new position, allowing her the ability to be a part of campus life while also having the time to participate in a master’s program for music therapy.
“I really enjoy the extra free time I have while still getting the opportunity to connect with students on campus,” said Potts.
Together, the ACs and HCs have already impacted campus life at AU. Hall Olympics, a residence life staple event, was revamped this year with the res-life staff and students participating in various games during the two-day competition. The prize is a golden toilet seat to hang in the dorm lobby and bragging rights for the year.
Although the title of RD has changed, the heart of the role is still there and here to stay. This year AU welcomes new and familiar faces to the Residence Life staff. Aiden Reichard (Dunn), Alaina Fridley (Morrison) and Tara Charles (Fair) are the new AC staff. For the HC staff, T. J. Price is in Smith, Rachel Potts in Myers and Kaitlin Hawkins in Martin.