RAs focus on Going Green at NEOHO Conference

Kristyn Lebovitz

Community-building programs, ideas shared at regional gathering

About 617 residence assistants came together Saturday at Kent State for the 2009 North East Ohio Housing Officers Conference to “recycle” ideas.

Sixteen universities and colleges from Northeast Ohio participated in the program. The conference allowed RAs to share their programs, community builders and other valuable information with each other.

Being away from home can be hard for some students, said a spokesman at the event. RAs try to make their residents’ college experience the best it can be. By sharing programs and community builders, RAs learn new and fun ways to get their residents involved.

This year, NEOHO emphasized the importance of “going green.” All decorations at the conference were made from recyclable materials, such as a 3-D pop can sculpture spelling NEOHO.

“Going Green is an initiative we take great pride in at Kent State University,” Betsy Joseph, director of residence services, stated in a letter welcoming students to the conference.

Throughout the day, RAs from different schools held sessions explaining activities they have put together for their residents. The goal was to share ideas and skills for RAs to take back to their own schools.

Katie Rahl, junior education major and an RA at Kent State, demonstrated a creative way for students to get to know each other. Rahl said she used the idea of speed dating, but instead turned it into speed friending.

“It’s a great way to get to know each other,” Rahl said.

Nicole Burkhart, senior finance major and RA at the University of Akron, had another way of helping her residents get to know each other: a murder mystery community builder.

The object of the game was to determine the killer. Burkhart said she made the game last for more than a month. Every Saturday she would get together with her residents and they would try to figure out who the killer was on their floor.

“The game got them talking and got them to know each other better,” Burkhart said.

Sessions covered a variety of topics, such as learning how to relax, roommate conflicts, drinking issues and how to help the environment.

“We wanted to share what we have learned with you and also provide an opportunity for all institutions to share their successes with one another,” Joseph said.

Contact room and board reporter Kristyn Lebovitz at [email protected].