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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Communal bathrooms are worth it

Four returning freshman resident assistants share why they chose another year of freshman living.
Emily Costa
RyleeAnn Andre, Katie Storlie and Andrew Hansen laugh in Getsch shack Sep 8. The two Getsch Resident Assistants along with the Lissner Resident Assistant laugh at a conversation on Storlie’s phone. “Being able to have shack, where all those residents are checking in and stopping by and just having those really miniscule or even heavy conversations, ended up being meaningful for them and for us,” Hansen said.

RyleeAnn Andre laughed with Andrew Hansen and Katie Storlie in Getsch Hall’s shack. The two other resident assistants came to visit during her night on duty and listened intently as Storlie shared a story. This is Andre’s second year in a row living on Getsch first floor and her third year living on Freshman Hill. 

Andre is one of four returning RAs in Getsch alone, and eight returning freshman RAs this year at Bethel University.

“I loved last year. I had such a great time,” Andre said. “Not to say that there weren’t challenges, because there definitely were, but I realized I loved it enough that I for sure wanted to do it again.”

Not only do these RAs miss out on sharing a suite with friends, they willingly share a bathroom with up to 20 other students. Some choose to have their room door open or a location posted on their door for residents, but to them, it’s all worth it.

Abe Hilgenberg, Tyler Gustafson and Jacob Parent compare the Resident Assistant baby pictures in Nelson shack Sep 15. Parent hosted a “Guess the RA as a baby” shack, while freshmen stopped on their way through the lobby. “Shack was kind of lacking last year,” Parent said. “This year, it’s been great.” (Emily Costa)

Andre became more confident in leading as an RA, which became evident during RA training for this year when she tackled “Behind Closed Doors,” where RAs practice handling problems in an example scenario. She also became more confident in the shack events she planned, which are the activities the RAs host for their night on duty to engage with residents. Andre hosted a variety of shack events last year, with free cookies, Just Dance or even a study space before big exams. Her best attended shack event was the “Minute to Win It” game co-hosted with Lucas Johnson, the RA of the boys’ floor parallel to Andre’s. Andre is looking forward to another year with Johnson as a co-RA, as they both decided to return to Getsch for another year. 

Other freshman RAs noted how much more interaction there is between residents and their RAs in freshman housing compared to upperclassman housing. These interactions include highly-attended shacks where they are catering to new students through food, movies and competitions. Shack activities are chosen by RAs, oftentimes reflecting their personalities or interests. Second-year Nelson RA Jacob Parent started “mini game Monday” last year, where students would compete for a prize in “Minute to Win It” games.

“I wanted to be a freshman RA,” Parent said. “I was thinking maybe [upperclassman] to switch it up a little bit, but then I knew it was gonna be a lot of fun again.”

As the year goes on, it’s like you’re living with your friends once everyone breaks out of their shell and becomes more comfortable.

— Jacob Parent, Nelson RA

While freshman shacks draw more people, RAs must consider the cons when they choose to return to freshman housing, including the time commitment, infamous freshman flus and communal bathrooms. For some it isn’t as fun, but it was easy for Parent to go into another year of sharing a bathroom with freshman boys.

“Communal bathrooms have never bothered me,” Parent said. “If anything it’s just another time to talk … As the year goes on, it’s like you’re living with your friends once everyone breaks out of their shell and becomes more comfortable.”

Many sophomores are glad for the second-year bathroom upgrade, but for some freshmen and RAs communal bathrooms allow a space to talk while brushing teeth or catch up while yelling over a bathroom partition.

“You actually [make] friends with your residents, real friends, real friendships,” returning Edgren RA Alexa Murphy said. “Not just because you’re sharing a bathroom or because you’re holding events, but they actually really do become your friends.”

While Murphy’s upperclassman friends are living together and spending more time away from Freshman Hill, Murphy is working on creating relationships that last into another year.

“Those now-sophomores that I had last year are some of my closest friends who I hang out with,” Murphy said.

It wasn’t just the girls on her floor, but girls throughout Edgren who attended her events. These relationships wouldn’t be possible with residents in closed-off suites and low attendance on shack.

“I loved being able to walk alongside people as they did life last year,” Hansen said. “Specifically, just being able to see how freshmen formed their identities last year and how they had a positive impact made in their lives. And I feel like it was really incredible being able to see how the Lord forms them.”

The team dynamic we had was incredible. So being able to move alongside a team where everyone was pushing each other to love Jesus and love people better was really helpful in deciding to be an RA again.

— Andrew Hansen, Getsch RA

Hansen decided around the same time as Andre that he wanted to be in Getsch another year. Hansen created friendships with his residents but also with the other RAs. He became better friends with the RAs by passing them in the hallway, going to each other’s shacks and getting to know each other during weekly team meetings. 

“The team dynamic we had was incredible. So being able to move alongside a team where everyone was pushing each other to love Jesus and love people better was really helpful in deciding to be an RA again,” Hansen said. 

It was easy to grow close to other RAs with a resident director offering guidance, a staff retreat to Trout Lake Camps fall semester and late night shack. Andre, Parent, Murphy and Hansen all had other RAs to thank for another year since they helped cover shifts when needed, encouraged each other when dealing with policy violations and became friends during team meetings.

“I really respect my RD and was looking forward to working alongside her again. Getsch is super fun and it’s fun to shape the community there,” Andre said.

Already this year, the Getsch RA team went to Long Lake beach on Labor Day to connect. With the four existing friendships, Andre and Hansen knew the new RAs would create many meaningful connections as well.

Edgren Resident Assistant Alexa Murphy writes the event for the night on Edgren second floor Sep 6. Murphy was preparing for her night on duty including an event of GeoGuessr. “I think something that really drew me to the role is that when I have intentionality in planning shacks and planning events the people that would be coming are willing to get invested in and get plugged into a community,” Murphy said. (Emily Costa)

“We really gelled as a team,” Getsch RD Anna Adamson said. “They all aligned with the vision that we had for our hall … Our vision is to honor Christ with the way that we lead.”

For another year, these freshman RAs will organize floor events, comfort residents through Thanksgiving breakups and pack their cars for late night Taco Bell runs – all while enforcing the “no hall sports” policy. 

“I stuck with it and knew I would be with a great team of already well-established leaders,” Murphy said. “We also get to create really good friendships with one another, which is so unique in a leadership role in general.”

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About the Contributor
Annelise Raisanen, Staff Reporter
Annelise Raisanen, 20, is a Communication Arts and Literature Education 5-12 major. She enjoys her long walks to campus from North Village to the E&J department, hammocking every chance she gets (even overnight) and painting her favorite book covers to hang throughout her apartment.  [email protected] | 612-406-7758

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    Katie BonawitzSep 22, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    Great story, Annelise! It helps me get a sense of the great moments freshmen experience…enough so that some even repeat!