Residence Hall Guide for Parents

What is it like living in the residence halls?

Each student’s experience is different. Most students find that living in the residence halls is the foundation for their connection to the Macalester community. It is usually where they make their first and closest friends. Many students make their way from their halls to Café Mac with groups of students from their floors. The residence halls become the place where they sleep, study, relax, laugh, cry, goof off, and sometimes even fall in love. Each resident faces different challenges from deciding how clean they want to keep their room to how they manage new sleep schedules to sharing a bathroom with 20 other people, but each of these challenges is a wonderful learning opportunity as well.

What do students learn living in the residence halls?

As you well know by now Macalester students will be getting a first rate education through their interactions with faculty in the classroom. We also are seeking to foster a first rate learning experience in their lives beyond the classroom. The unique experience of residence hall living is full of opportunities to learn about self and others, how to communicate across difference, how to build and sustain relationships, and understand ones roles and responsibilities in a community. The staff in the halls will help facilitate these learning opportunities through intentional conversations, roommate agreements, community agreements and regular community meetings, and both formal and informal events in the halls and across campus. Our goal is to build authentic communities where differences are valued and explored, meaningful connections are made, conflict is not avoided but engaged in a healthy manner, and personal and community reflection is valued.

What is the role of the RA?

Each floor community has a resident assistant or RA. The RA is a student who lives on the floor and is a mentor, resource, educator, crisis manager, social justice advocate, and community builder. Each RA is carefully selected through an intense process including applications, letters of recommendation, individual interviews, and assessment of their leadership potential through group process scenarios. RAs arrive on campus early and engage in two weeks of training on a wide range of issues including building community, crisis management, diversity and social justice, policy enforcement, mental health issues, communication, and how to be an expert on campus resources. RAs will get to know each resident individually and help get them connected to others on the floor and in the broader Macalester community. Residents often see RAs helping them through challenges with their roommates, planning community programs, inviting groups of students to dinner in Café Mac, or hanging out on the floor studying for their own classes.

What is the role of the RHD?

Each area has a Residence Hall Director or RHD. The RHD supervises a staff of RAs and provides overall management for the residence hall facilities, community development, educational initiatives, policy enforcement, and crisis management. The RHDs are full-time professional staff with master’s degrees in student affairs and higher education who live in the residence halls. Residents will often see the RHD in their office meeting with students, leading educational initiatives, walking the floors chatting with residents, supervising the RAs, and engaged as professionals all around campus.

What if a resident doesn’t like their room or their roommate and wants to move?

Challenges between roommates is a very normal part of this experience. Just about every resident will face some challenges as they work to decide how clean they want to keep their room, sleep schedules, noise levels, sharing food, and much more. Rather than hope to avoid these challenges, we value them as opportunities for students to begin to learn about compromise, communication, healthy conflict resolution, and developing meaningful trusting relationship. We also recognize that many students will need some assistance in developing these important skills. RAs will encourage residents to complete roommate agreements early on and revisit them regularly or as issues arise throughout the year. RAs will also be available to help coach students about how to engage in these conversations and can even serve as a facilitator if the students involved think it will be helpful. Most roommate issues are able to be resolved by simply encouraging the residents to communicate openly and honestly with each other. However, in some instances further assistance is needed and the RHD can be helpful in assisting students as they learn to navigate particularly difficult relationships. We do have a room change freeze for the first two weeks of the school year where we do not allow any room changes as we confirm who has arrived and who hasn’t and what spaces only appear available and what space really are available. We also often learn of students with documented disabilities and are working to find spaces that meet their accommodation needs during this time. After the two week room freeze students can check with their RHD about possible room changes and what is available.

What are the important dates I should keep in mind?

  • Fall Break – Thursday, October 20-Sunday, October 23, 2016.  Halls and Café Mac stay open. Cafe Mac may have shorted meal periods.
  • Thanksgiving Break – Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27, 2016. Halls and Café Mac stay open, Cafe Mac will have shortened meal periods.
  • End of Fall Semester - Dining closes after dinner on Friday, December 16. Halls close on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at noon; students must leave campus within 24-hours after their last final and at the latest by noon on December 17, 2016. 
  • Winter Break – Saturday December 17, 2016 to Thursday, January 19, 2017 when classes begin. 
  • January Break Housing - Halls open on Monday, January 2, 2017 for students approved to be on campus during Winter break. January Break housing is open to students who qualify and submit an application to Residential Life. 
  • Spring Semester Hall Opening – Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 9 AM.
  • Spring Break – Saturday, March 11-Sunday, March 19, 2017. Halls stay open but Café Mac food service is closed; The Grille is open shortened hours, Monday through Friday.
  • End of Spring Semester Closing - Halls close for non-grads on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at Noon. Non-grads approved to help with senior week activities and graduation may remain on campus during Senior Week. Halls Close for all Graduates and helpers on Sunday, May 14, 2017 by noon.

What are the guidelines for storage?

  • Students have the option to store items during the academic school year in their hall’s storage room.  Hall offices post storage access times, usually 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm each day. 
  • Items that can be stored: Rubbermaid type containers, suitcases, boxes (sealed shut), and stackable shelf units that are closed and sealed.
  • Items that cannot be stored: furniture, shelving units, laundry baskets, garbage/trash cans, carpet, lamps, fans, other large bulky items, or items in plastic or paper bags

Summer storage guidelines

  • Only students that live over 400 miles from Macalester with a Fall semester room assignment may store to their fall assignment building.   Study abroad storage is available for students that are away for fall semester but agree to live on campus when they return for spring semester. 
  • Students are limited to four manageable boxes/containers that fit onto the storage room shelves. Approximate size no larger than 20"x20"x20"
  • Storage space is limited. The dates and times storage will be open to receive items will be posted at each hall office. We recommend storing early since storage rooms do fill quickly and are on a first come, first served basis.
  • Students must claim all items stored over the summer by the first day of Fall classes. Students will not have access to stored items over the summer until opening day for upper-class students, Sunday, August 28, 2016
  • This is a service Residential Life provides at no charge to the student

Other tidbits to know

  • Laundry rooms with card swipe washers and dryers are available in all residence halls. Students add  Aux Points  to their Mac ID card to use the machines. 
  • Beds - Mattresses are twin extra long, 36" x 80." Some of the beds on campus may be lofted or bunked and guard rails and ladders are available. Students should check at their hall office for information and materials needed to change the bed setup. 
  • Residents may keep a small refrigerator in their room. The maximum size is 3.6 cubic feet. Microwaves are not permitted. We no longer provide a refrigerator rental service.