Since Spring of 2021, it feels as if whoever is in charge of ResLife has been in constant flux, and with five weeks into the Fall Semester, this does not appear to be subject to change. According to Reed’s job listing website, jobs.reed.edu, there are two positions in Resident Life that are up for hire: Area Coordinator and Director of Residence Life. As recently as September 15, there were also listings for Assistant Director of Residence Life, a position that has now been filled through the promotion of Area Coordinator Jen Hickmann, and Operations Coordinator, whose status remains unknown.
The department’s website also only lists one professional staff: former Operations Coordinator Kirstie Opel, who resigned from her role in September, and only four Area Coordinators, a number which is subject to change. On September 12, Carlos Cortés, who has served as an Area Coordinator for the Grove, Apartments, and Garden House, sent out an email informing students that he has “decided to leave Reed” and will be stepping down from his role on October 31st. Cortés stated that the responsibilities he leaves behind will transfer to Megan Simón, formerly from the Office of Student Engagement (OSE), who has started work as an Area Coordinator.
Crucially, Reed is still without a Director of Residence Life. At the beginning of last semester, ResLife had two Co-Directors: Clea Taylor and Julia Nicholson. Nicholson went on medical leave in the middle of spring semester, and does not appear to have returned to her post at this time; Taylor, on the other hand, was put on indefinite leave after the school denied her requests for remote work accommodations, and has been informed that the college is “no longer able to hold that position open for [her].” As stated in a recent Quest article, Taylor requested remote work following a distressing series of actions involving a student in the Fall of 2021 that led to her diagnosis of PTSD and adjustment disorder with anxiety that precluded her from working on campus.
Following Taylor’s absence, her duties were passed along to Nicholson (up until her own medical leave), and to former Operations Coordinator Kirstie Opel. Nicholson and Opel were tasked with leading the day-to-day operations of Residence Life, reviewing and distributing all published communication of policies and procedures, developing and executing educational training programs, training and overseeing the fifty Housing Advisors, overseeing the housing assignment process, serving as a liaison between Residence Life and other departments on Reed’s campus, and providing assistance with Title IX justice efforts, in addition to many other tasks that pertain to the Director of Residence Life role. On top of this, Opel was presumably simultaneously fulfilling the tasks associated with her role as Operations Coordinator as well.
Even after she resigned, Opel’s name remains the only one listed under the Professional Staff section of Residence Life’s webpage. This is subject to change as of October 31, when current Area Coordinator Jen Hickman will be promoted to Assistant Director of ResLife. However, the position for Director of Residence Life remains posted for hire on jobs.reed.edu, Reed’s hiring page.
While Reed awaits someone to fulfill the role, the responsibilities are being split between a team of people who hold other roles on Reed’s campus. When one of our editors reached out to Residence Life to ask who was fulfilling the roles of the Professional Staff, they were met with a response by Meghan Wieters, who is a Data and Systems Analyst in the Student Life Office. Wieters told our editor that she is “filling in for many of the systems area for Housing Operations for ResLife issues such Room Changes, Housing Accommodations, upcoming Spring housing assignments, and setting the schedule for the allocation of housing the rest of the year for the lottery and incoming students next year.” As a Data and Systems Analyst, Wieters is also tasked with “analyzing quantitative and qualitative data for Student Life activities to inform better decision-making to support student success and documenting and highlighting how processes and systems within Student Life function and may be improved in the future.” Wieters also stated that Reed is “in the process of hiring for several positions” and that she “will be assisting in the training for some of those people.” Wieters shared that as of right now, ResLife is being run by the Area Coordinators who are assisting with the communication side of housing. Several unnamed people who address a wide variety of issues answer the email@example.com inbox, along with Wieters herself.
The final words of Wieter’s email read, “We all at ResLife and Student Life work with students together for student success.” In the meantime, Reed continues to search for additional hires who will strive to better student success within ResLife.