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In the Aftermath of Resident Assistant Decision Day

Banner that says "You got what it takes"

Just remember that no matter what category you are in, you can achieve such great things in the future!

The time has come and gone: Resident Assistant Decision Day is over. For some it was a very joyous event, but for others it may not have been what they expected. As someone who has been through this exact same process, I have a message for you whether you got the RA job or not.

For those who got RA positions…

Congratulations! You are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! Being a Resident Assistant is one of the most rewarding jobs on campus in my opinion because you are in a role to impact future residents’ college careers. You have to realize that you are now a campus leader and your residents will be looking to you for help, information and friendship next year and you are fully capable of all of this.


  • Get cracking on ideas! Start thinking of events, door decs, and bulletin boards that you can do next year!
  • Get in contact with your new staff, especially the returning RAs, for helpful advice.
  • Have fun & welcome aboard the res life ship

For those who got alternate positions…

Do NOT let this get you down! There is no such thing as being “JUST” an alternate, you have a very good chance of getting a position in the next year. You have to keep your chin up and be proud that you made it that far, you put yourself out there and made it up there. You’re at the final steps to becoming an RA just keep telling yourself that!


  • Start thinking of ideas in case you get a position next year!
  • Talk to your Hall Director and ask what you can do to get more involved while waiting for a position.
  • BE INVOLVED in the Resident Assistant 1 class and show that you are willing to work just as hard as students with positions.

For those who did not receive a position…

You can’t give up! The RA process is a very competitive process and you tried your best! As a freshmen I did not receive an RA position.  Instead of getting discouraged, I met with my Hall Director and asked what I could do to improve, got more involved my sophomore year of college and now I am an RA. The key is not to give up, you are capable of this position and as long as you try your best and go at it again, anything is possible!


  • Meet with your Hall Director and see what you could do to better your chances next year, be open to any suggestions.
  • Get more involved on campus next year, take a good look at getting involved in Hall Council.
  • BE POSITIVE! You are still able to try again and improve on your results now that you know what to do!

–Emily McCaleb

Creating Res Hall Romance

strings of lights around a window

While you can’t use candles in the dorms, rope lights make a pretty good substitute.


While there are plenty of good date night opportunities around the city of Winona, your res hall can actually be perfect for a romantic rendezvous this Valentine’s Day. Hey now, don’t look so skeptical! It’s true, and here’s how I know.

The first Valentine’s Day my boyfriend and I shared came just two months after we started dating. Not ready for an all-out celebration, we opted for a simple evening in my res hall room. He came over around 8pm and we curled up together to watch the sweet romance between Llyod Dobler and Diane Court unfold in the classic romantic comedy Say Anything. Honestly, it was just as fun as any of the more elaborate Valentine’s Day’s we’ve had because we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.

If you’re also thinking about going the route of a low-key movie night, here are a few tips for creating romance in the res halls:

1. Clean Your Room
It seems obvious, but a clean room is always more inviting than a messy space. Vacuum the floor, take out the trash, spray some air freshener— particularly if you want to make a good impression on a date who has never seen your room before. Even if your date has already seen your messy side, they’ll be sure to notice the extra effort you made to pick up your socks and make your bed.

2. Respectfully Relocate Your Roommate
A big part of romance is being open and emotionally available, but sharing your thoughts and feelings can be awkward if your roommate is sitting just a few feet away. So, make arrangements with your roommate to have the room to yourself for a few hours. Do this ahead of time so as not to make your roommate feel exiled from their own room. You want to wake up on 2/15 with two successful relationships, not a romantic partner at the cost of a roommate.

3. Nix the Overhead Lighting
Because nothing sets the mood better than the harsh glare of overhead lighting, amirite? WRONG. What you want is a softer glow from a few table lamps or maybe some rope lights strung up around the room for an amorous atmosphere. Hey, a cozy dimness might be cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

4. Pick the Right Movie
There are probably literally a million romantic movies out there so choosing the right one is important. Don’t test your date’s patience by choosing a movie that gets you feeling lovey-dovey but has them counting down until the credits roll. Also, I’d advise against The Titanic and The Notebook because, while they’re classic love stories, they’re also tearjerkers. And, let’s be honest, no one cries as prettily in real life as people do in the movies.

Of course, these things are not necessary to falling in love—that’s just what happens when two people connect on a deeper level—but they can help make the evening special. This year, my boyfriend and I are planning a Valentine’s night-in very similar to that one our freshman year. And it’s going to be just as sweet this time around too.

–Elizabeth Meinders

Hall Events Are (Not Quite) Easy as 1,2,3...

an aerial view of the earth

This is an upcoming event I’ve helped plan in Sheehan Hall!

If you know anything about Winona State’s Residence Housing Association, you’ll know that they put on many events in the res halls throughout the school year. In fact, there’s two events each semester in addition to the End of the Year Party in each residence hall. To you, the average student, these events are just fun and games, but as Sheehan Hall Council Secretary,  I’ve gotten an insider’s view of putting on a RHA event. And let me tell you, I had no idea of the commitment, effort and team bonding skills that it involves.

1. Planning

When we first start planning an event, we begin with picking the category–either Social, Education, Inclusion & Diversity or Service– of our event. We then toss around ideas for a few meetings of what exactly we plan to do for our event, and brainstorm a catchy title to get people interested. Some ideas we have end up working better than others, so it is really crucial for us to use good communication skills during this process. We don’t want to waste time and we want to work towards creating a successful event.

2. Approval

We then run these ideas by the Sheehan Hall Director and Assistant Director and decide on a date and time for our event. We also need to figure out what we will need to buy–snacks, craft supplies, decorations–with our hall budget using a Purchase Order (PO) form. For example, at our first Social event called “Which Witch is Which?” we played the Halloween movie Hocus Pocus and offered candy, seasonal hot chocolate and apple cider beverages and snack food for all who came. A second Education event “Meditation & Me in the IWC” included a guided meditation session as well as goodie bags and healthy food to unwind from the stress of finals.

3. Promotion

Once we’ve got a plan and the approval, we start promoting our event. We create big PR posters to hang in the common areas of Sheehan as well as smaller flyers for mailboxes. Sometimes we get pretty creative with it too, like when we created pipe-cleaner spiders with the info for our Halloween Social. Of course, we also announce the event to our residents at Hall Council meetings.

As you can see, a lot of time and energy goes into event planning!

We are currently working on our 3rd event of the year, an Inclusion/Diversity event called “The World Awaits, Full of Taste!” where residents will get to eat appetizers and desserts from different countries and listen to a variety of cultural music. There will also be a trivia game about foreign countries where they can win prizes. We really are looking forward to it and are hoping for a good turn-out. So now that you know all the hard work we put into these events, the next time you see posters in your hall, please stop by and enjoy it!

–Liz Doyle

My RA Application: Phase 2

Warrior Leadership Retreat logo

On Saturday, January 27, I attended the Warriors Leadership Retreat, which was an all-day excursion here at Winona State full of workshops and a keynote address. While this retreat was also offered to students who wanted to improve their leadership skills, I was required to go because I have passed the first phase of the RA hiring process and granted an interview for the RA position!

The day started off right bright and early for RA applicants at 8:30am to register for the interview as well as the group process. From what I’ve heard, the interview will be a standard job interview with a Hall Director, but in the group process an assortment of applicants will have to work through different scenarios that you may face as a Resident Assistant. I am extremely nervous for the interviews because I care a lot about this opportunity and want to give back to students next year in the same way that my RA has for me. She influenced me to try new things such as RHA as well as different campus jobs and I am really thankful that she was my RA for a semester because I learned so much from her! She motivated me to get involved and pursue every opportunity that I was given. I would love to have that same impact on other people next year.

Everyone met in East Hall and the day consisted of many workshops, brunch in the Jack Kane Dining Center and a Keynote address given by CAMPUSPEAK, an organization of speaking and facilitation teams who visit college campuses to give presentations, small group work sessions, staff training, as well as individual and group consultations. The two facilitators from CAMPUSPEAK who spoke at this event were from the South, and expressed great joy upon seeing the “exotic” activity of ice fishing as they drove into Winona.

The workshops were really interesting. My favorite was a trust exercise in which one person was blindfolded and the other led them through a maze in one of the rooms over in Kryzsko Commons. Other workshops included problem-solving, team-building and team-bonding. I really enjoyed all of these workshops because they helped me think through and solve problems in new ways. I was forced to get outside of my comfort zone because I tend to be kind of shy in new situations and these really pushed me to be more outgoing. I also had the opportunity to meet some amazing new people with similar interests. This was a great way to prepare for the RA interviews too because I spent the day trying new things and gaining more experience being a leader on campus.

Lastly, the keynote address was another interesting aspect of this retreat and a great way to end the day. Empowering quotes were posted around the room and we were to go and find one that we identified with the most in our leadership style. I related most to a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I liked this one because I’ve had some fear that has held me back in the past from opportunities, and this quote describes the rewards and success that one will achieve when their fears are faced. This is another aspect that draws me to being a Resident Assistant because I think helping people settle into college life will be extremely worthwhile and fulfilling.

We also examined the current behavior towards the values we held, and then focused on how to get to ideal behavior towards these values. Some examples were seeking suggestions from others, micromanaging, listening and advising, praising others, and building confidence in others. During the 3 hour presentation I took pages and pages of notes to use for future references and also followed along in the workbook provided. Overall, I had a wonderful experience and am looking forward to the next phase of the RA hiring process.

–Liz Doyle

How to Make Friends & Find Your Fit in Your Res Life Community

Winona State students pose together

Soon enough you will feel right at home in your new community.

Spring Semester is upon us; it’s a time to get back into the routine of school, go to club meetings and reunite with your friends. Although this is the main focus for many, it isn’t for some students as they are approaching this semester with anxiety and doubt. I am talking here about transfer students and students who have moved into a new residence hall. These students are coming into this semester in a transition period of their lives and have to deal with a new semester, school and community.

One of the hardest things to do when you are new to a community is finding out where you fit in. When a community already has an established dynamic  you may feel like your presence is a disruption in a balanced social ecosystem. Though many people will be welcoming, sometimes being accepted into a group is no easy task.

But that’s where I come in. As an RA, it is part of my job to create community in my residence hall and try to include everyone in what is happening on the floor. I’ve seen the awkward second semester adjustment first hand, so this is my advice to those of you going through this transition period.

1. Show Up to Floor and Hall Events
There are always events and get-togethers going on in every residence hall on campus pretty much every week. GO TO THESE EVENTS. You might not know anyone, but this is your chance to change that. Introduce yourself, be talkative and just relax. Don’t try to impress anyone, just be yourself and have fun–that’s the first step!

2. Find One Person Who Can Help You Acclimate
A great way to find your place in a large community is starting small. Get close to your new roommate, a floor mate or even your RA. Allow yourself to get close to this person to start out your friendship and eventually let them help you find your place in the floor community.

3. Give It Time
Of course you want to be friendly towards everyone, but don’t expect to be best friends with everyone in the community right away. Every community has unique dynamics and characters, you just need to take time and figure out how you fit into the puzzle.

4. Don’t Give Up

Getting to know new friends is hard, and it’s even harder to get to know people in an already established community. Although it might be super awkward at first, you’ll will become more comfortable over time if you keep working at it. You will find your place in the community as long as you stay persistent and engaged!​

–Emily McCaleb

12 Reasons You'll Miss the Dorms

​It’s that time of the year…you’re sick of sharing a small space, and you can’t wait to eat real food for a month. You might be itching to leave your res hall right now, but trust me, you’re gonna miss that place someday.

1. Because having a tiny room isn’t always easy…but on the bright side, cleaning the entire area takes all of four minutes.

Mrs. Doubtfire dances while vaccuuming

2. Because the cafeteria is just a hop, skip and a jump away.
a man skipping

3. Because lofts and bunk beds are cool. Period.

two men dance excitedly

4. Because there’s always a roommate nearby.

a man jumps into another man's arms

5. Because community bathrooms give you many…interesting experiences. Enough said.

woman makes a disgusted face

6. Because fire drills are actually extremely fun. Especially when you have to run outside in your towel. Or footie pajamas. In the dark. In the snow.

Anna from Frozen in the snow

Ok, that’s not really a reason you’ll miss the dorms!

7. Because your room becomes a cave of refuge after a bombed test.

a polar bear slides on the ice

8. Because you have cable so you can split your time between watching TV from your futon and watching Netflix in your bed.

two teens sitting on a couch

9. Because not having a real kitchen means having a stellar excuse for not learning how to cook. And keeping Hostess snacks and Fruit Roll-Ups under your bed.

woman quickly eats popcorn

10. Because living in the res halls is like having a gym membership. Yes, walking up the stairs does count as cardio. And climbing up to your bed does count as weight lifting.

a woman looks faint

11. Because you make the best of friends in the dorms.

two boys give a secret friendship handshake

12. Because no matter what, you’ll thank your tiny room for all the memories.

an actor says thank you at an awards show

–Leah Dobihal

Didn't Ya Hear? It's Quiet Hours!


You hear that?  It’s the sound of…nothing.

Now is the perfect time to get down to business and completely focus on those upcoming finals because starting at 11pm on Friday, Dec. 5, all residence halls will be starting mandatory 24-hour quiet hours.  They will continue into the rest of finals week and end on Thursday, Dec. 11at 5pm.

Please remember to respect your neighbors and minimize all unnecessary noise and music. I know the new Taylor Swift CD is hard not to blast, but it’s time to use those headphones!

That being said, there are courtesy hours every day from 4-8pm.  During this period you can:

  • Vacuum and clean your room
  • Take down your loft (if you are moving out)
  • Move out anything “noisy” that cannot be done during quiet hours

Please remember that there will be NO WARNINGS given out for quiet hour violations – and yes, that means you can be written up for being too loud!

So, here’s a big cheer (but not too loud!) for finals week and being respectful in the residence halls during this time. Happy studying, Warriors!

–Melissa VanGrinsven

The Fresh-ness Fades

College students pose together in their res hall

Here are a few of my current residents–my how they all grown over these last few months!

The college freshmen in Sheehan Hall are no longer so fresh. Let me explain that statement–I mean, their first semester is coming to an end and it has gone by way too fast. As a first year RA, it feels like just yesterday I was prepping my floor for my incoming residents. I was so nervous, but also excited to meet my residents. I just wanted to see what this year had in store. And now that the semester is almost over, I can look fondly back on the experiences my residents have had.

Being a freshmen RA this semester has reminded me so much of my own freshman year. In fact, it’s as if I just arrived. I will never forget my first time living with a roommate, my first community bathroom experience and my first college class. These moments flashed before me so quickly and it is so hard to believe it is already my third year here.

Those first few weeks are always a bit awkward and scary for incoming freshmen. Most of my girls were experiencing those same feelings of fear and anxiety that I and all other freshman in history struggled with too. After those feelings wore off a little, they begin going anywhere and everywhere with their roommates to start their friendship, learning about each other and learning about their interests through classes, clubs and events.

But now, here we are almost at the end of their first semester and I cannot believe how much they’ve grown. The once shy, lost, and scared girls are now much more confident in their surroundings.  They have established their friends, study habits and extra curricular activities. They have made WSU their home.

With the semester ending, my girls have grown into the women that I knew–even back in the first weeks of classes– that they could be. And that is all that this RA can ask for.​

–Emily McCaleb

We're Not in Kansas Anymore: My Weekend at MACURH

I first learned about the Midwestern Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls conference at the Residence Housing Association training session this fall. It is an affiliate of NACURH, which is the largest student-run organization. This year, the MACURH conference was held at Kansas State University in Lawrence, Kansas, and because this was my first conference I didn’t know really what to expect. I applied to attend because it sounded like an amazing opportunity and I was really enjoying being on Hall Council (you need to be involved in residence housing to attend any of these conferences). Though I was accepted as an alternate delegate, meaning that I would be allowed to go only if another university didn’t fill all their spots, I made to Kansas anyway!

When the day of the conference came along on Oct. 31,  we all woke up at 6:30am to pile into a van for the 9 hour ride down to Kansas. I was initially dreading this because it was such a long drive, but it ended up being one of the best parts of the trip! We passed the time by chatting, playing games and just having a really enjoyable time.

WSU students posing in front of the Kansas University mascot, the jayhawk.

The WSU delegation paused for a photo with the Kansas University mascot, the Jayhawk.

Once we arrived at Kansas University, I surprised at how beautiful the campus was. We took lots of pictures by the Jayhawk statue outside and then went inside to the Opening Ceremonies. Each university had decorated these really beautiful clothespins that fit in with the theme of “Piecing Together the Bigger Picture” and traded them with other schools as a way to connect with other students and see what other universities from the Midwest were attending. We then watched each university’s Roll Call video –our video is now on YouTube–which was hilarious because everyone was so creative and funny.

All of the MACURH advisors spoke and presented, and the room had such a positive and excited vibe. After the opening ceremonies were over, there were a variety of socials that night including a professional drag show sponsored by the LGBTQ community at KU. We all decided to go to the drag show which was so much fun and everybody raved about it throughout the rest of the trip.

WSU students talk to a drag queen

Roxie French, one of the drag queens that performed at the drag show.

The next day we woke up early and headed back to KU to attend program sessions about res hall events that other students put on at their campuses. I attended some really interesting ones on Spring Break safety, how to plan events using Pinterest, how to de-stress your life and, my absolute favorite, a Harry Potter event. I presented with two other WSU students about a diversity event called Cookie Mixer where people would decorate cookies with various frosting and toppings each representing something different about themselves. For example, blue sprinkles means an only child while M&Ms mean they’ve traveled to Europe. I was really nervous to help present, but we were picked as a Top 10 program. Because we made the Top 10, we presented again, and actually won an award at the banquet later that night. It was an amazing experience! Our other delegate who presented also got a Top 10 award.

award for their diversity Cookie Mixer program.

We won a Top 10 Programs Award!

At the awards ceremony and banquet, we all got dressed in our formal attire, and got ready for a fun night and a delicious dinner. As we ate, speakers talked and one of the most interesting speeches was from a KU alumna who had won Survivor: Guatemala. We sat through all of the awards and Of The Month (OTM) winners and went up to receive the awards that we had been given.

WSU actually took home 9 OTMs, which are short, informal recognitions written by and for any individual, group or organization that is part of the WSU community. There are over 400 universities who submit OTMs across the globe, and our Winona State University is currently ranked #7 as far as OTM submissions and winners. It was incredible, and you could tell that everyone was so proud of them and the work that everybody was doing for university residence housing.

The night ended with Swap Shop, where universities brought t-shirts, bags, Frisbees and water bottles and everyone swapped with their gear and took home something from another school. Since it was Halloween weekend, there was also a dance and a costume contest, but after the long day of presentations and ceremonies I was far too tired to go.

All in all, I’m so incredibly proud to say that I represented Winona State at MACURH and that I got to have such an amazing experience. I learned so much about how to be a leader and how to work with other people to create something truly great. It was such a short weekend, but so eventful and beneficial. I feel like I came back closer to so many new people, and also filled with so much knowledge about residence housing. It was a fantastic weekend– definitely my favorite experience of college so far– and I hope to go again in the future.

–Liz Doyle

Halloween in Sheehan Hall

If you had walked through campus from 6-8pm last week Friday, you would have seen a myriad of children in costumes. There were little girls dressed as Anna and Elsa and little boys dressed as ninja turtles or superheroes–but they were all on their way to the residence halls to go trick-or-treating.  To make the event even more special, residents from all 13 floors of Sheehan hall decided to decorate for Halloween with everything from light covers to spiders on the wall to fake blood. The kids were definitely in for a treat!

Once the doors opened the kids flooded in greeted by goody bags and a map to find their way to the treats scattered throughout the building. The night was very successful, all the rooms were completely out of candy by the end of the night!

Halloween in the residence halls is a great way to relive childhood memories and help create new ones for the Winona community. If you plan on living in a res hall next year, I definitely suggest getting involved in it!​

–Emily McCaleb