Volunteer Position in Dorms is Designed for Discipleship

Cedarville’s Residence Life division added Community Life Coordinators (CLCs) to the university’s two unit-style dorms at the start of the 2015-2016 school year as a result of students and resident assistants (RAs) in those dorms not being able to connect well the previous year. The role of a CLC is to assist the RA and bring together the students in the units.

Printy Hall and Lawlor Hall, the two unit-style dorms at Cedarville, are home primarily to freshmen students. About 80 percent of Printy is freshmen ladies, and about one-third of Lawlor is freshmen men. The two unit dorms are distinct from other dorms on campus in that they not only have RAs, but they have CLCs as well.

Abbey Siebert, resident director of Printy Hall, said the Printy and Lawlor RAs experienced a disconnect between all of their residents in the last two years, mainly due to a shift in organization. Siebert said that until the fall of 2013, Printy and Lawlor’s respective 18 RAs were each responsible for 16 men or women. However, the number of RAs in each dorm was lowered prior to the 2013-2014 academic year to one RA per two units. This led to significant problems, Siebert said. Currently, there are nine RAs each for Printy and Lawlor, which places 32 men or women under each RA’s care.

Siebert proposed a solution to this disconnect between RAs and students. Hailing from Wheaton, Illinois, and graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University, Siebert said she had observed various kinds of leadership within residence halls, and so she proposed a solution for Cedarville.

“I had seen a position Cedarville was lacking that could help, a volunteer position to do less than the RAs but to help them, modeled at both Wheaton and Indiana Wesleyan,” Siebert said.

As a result of Siebert’s guidance, Cedarville’s Residence Life division implemented the CLC position, which is a volunteer leadership opportunity for students.

Printy and Lawlor RAs are paired with CLCs to help them with their responsibilities. Since each RA has two units to provide for, the RA lives in one unit and the CLC lives in the other unit. Together, the RA and CLC plan events, connect with students in the unit, exemplify community living and encourage students.

“I have eyes and ears in every unit now,” Siebert said. “I know what is going on with every unit, the supplies they need, the personal needs. The information is more accessible.”

Scott Stephens, a graduate of Cedarville and the current resident director of Lawlor, said the CLC position exemplifies discipleship.

“My heart and nature in this very institution is discipleship, and that is what the CLC position is all about,” he said. “Students are volunteering to disciple other students, and we are giving them the resources to equip them to do so.”

Stephens said the CLC role is beneficial to both RAs and the students in each unit. He said this position has helped to solve communication issues and encourage students.

“Being able to pour into my RAs and have the RAs pour into the CLCs and teach them, and then they both pour into the students is a blessing to see occur,” Stephens said.

But Stephens said the CLC position is not an RA-in-training.

“It is an opportunity to disciple and pour into other students’ lives,” he said. “I usually (choose) students who apply that I know are already doing the discipling in students’ (lives), and now they have a title for their actions.”

Natalie VanLith, a second year RA in Printy and senior applied communications major, said the CLC position has helped her in her role as RA.

“I have a partner in my work. I am not alone,” she said. “I have a helper to equip me, as well.”

VanLith said having a CLC with which to share the responsibility has made a difference this year.

“My CLC, Nicole Coates, helps me plan the events and can run them when I have something come up, instead of cancelling the event,” VanLith said.

Nicole Coates, a sophomore business management major and CLC, said this has been an incredible opportunity to increase her leadership skills. She also said that while her position is not explicitly defined, she enjoys it.

“Most of the CLCs expected to be frequently asked, ‘What’s a CLC? What do you do?’” Coates said. “It was really difficult because we did not have a full description or know how to explain it.”

Coates said that it has been difficult at times to lead well without specific guidelines or directions of her duties as a CLC, but she has learned that being available to the students in the unit is most important. Coates said that her job is primarily letting the girls know that someone cares about them.

VanLith said having a CLC has been a “Godsend.”

“The biggest thing I see Nicole (Coates) doing is showing support. Whether that is with me or the girls, she is being supportive and helpful,” VanLith said. “Don’t be afraid to ask if your RA needs something. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the little tasks we still have to do we forget we have someone who has volunteered to help us.”

Alicia Wright is a freshman journalism major and a reporter for Cedars. She has a passion for French, and she loves coffee, chatting with friends and family, and learning. You can find Alicia at any mall, as shopping is her go-to activity.

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