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Rich DeCapua, assistant director of Residential Life, lounges in the newly-remodeled Clark Hall.
 
Posted 03.31.05

Assistant Director of Residential Life Helps Students Find Comfortable Place to Live, Study, Socialize

Q: Were you hired in as assistant director of Residential Life in 2002?

A: I was originally an area coordinator for Clark Hall and Foss Hill, and I was then promoted to assistant director at the end of my first year. This is my third year at Wesleyan, and Iím enjoying every minute of it!

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: Well, I was looking for a place where I knew I could be successful professionally, but would also be challenged. The nature of our student body and the quality of our student services staff has really made working here a wonderful experience. I especially liked the fact that the campus was starting to renovate existing residence halls and had plans for new ones. That is hard for anyone to not be a part of. Also, the issues that our campus faces collectively usually comprise subjects that would be taboo at other places. I feel here that students, staff, and faculty have the ability to really discuss valid issues on this campus in an honest and open way.

Q: How did you get into this type of work?

A: I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a B.A. in psychology and sociology and then received my masterís of education from Springfield College in student affairs administration. Iím currently working on my doctorate in educational leadership. The biggest reason why I became involved in Residential Life as a career was my experience as a resident advisor. In my early college days I was a communications major hoping to be on ESPN one day -- I wanted to broadcast Red Sox games -- but the whole world of student affairs lured me away. After I made my decision to change majors I never looked back.

Q: What factor can a living arrangement play in a studentís academic success?

A: Who students live with impacts everything. Where a student resides is the place where they get their sleep, where they probably study and create their social circles.

Q: How does Residential Life go about providing students with resources and direction needed to be academically successful at Wesleyan?

A: My office tries to make sure that when roommate problems occur that we are dealing with them quickly and effectively. We also have many resources for students such as their resident advisor, house manager or head resident; these are student peers employed by our office who are extensively trained to handle conflict resolution and roommate issues. Residential Life also has five Area Coordinators; professional staff who have advanced degrees in counseling or student services administration that supervise all the student staff in a particular area and will resolve all sorts of problems or issues in their area. My office knows that if a student resides in a good residential environment, we are creating a place where they can be academically successful.

Q: How do you determine their housing and roommates?

A: I meet with students on a fairly regular basis, usually relating to housing assignments or the room selection process. We house all first year students by the preferences they submit to our office in May via an on-line process. We give first-year students roommates based on similar housing preferences. All continuing students receive housing through the General Room Selection Process. This process is based on student seniority at Wesleyan through a ranking system, giving all seniors the first pick of housing, then juniors, etc. Students self-select their roommates.

Q: What are studentsí housing options?

A: Oh thatís a big question. Undergraduate students can live in a variety of housing options including traditional style residence halls, program houses, apartments, or senior house. Their options range so that they can live by themselves or up to six people, so there are a lot of configurations students can put themselves in to get a good place to live. Graduate students really have two choices. They can live in either a group house -- a one person single in a house with other grad students -- or a family house, which is obviously for those grad students who have a partner or children or both.

Q: Please explain what Program Housing is.

A: Program Housing is tremendously important asset to Residential Life at Wesleyan. It consists of 25 houses on campus that all have different missions; these can be spiritual, religious, cultural, or academic. Each year my office sponsors a very competitive application process as part of general room selection to apply to these houses. There are almost 300 students who live in this programmatic housing option and its one of the things that makes Wesleyan so unique.

Q: What is the role of a resident advisor?

A: RAs are student staff members who have a wide variety of duties; some of these include being on duty, planning programs for their residents, and creating an overall positive community in their residential area.  But the most important role an RA plays is that they are a doorway to campus services for their residents. Many offices on campus whose main objective is to help students in some important way like Behavioral Heath, their class dean, or health education hear about students issues from the RA staff. They are the ones who really dissolve the line between students and administrators and are vital to continued success of the Residential Life program.

Q: Take me through a typical day here.

A: Everyday is truly something different and itís always interesting. Even though the nature of my job includes a lot of computer work, students are always coming in asking questions about assignments or different housing options. Since weíre in the midst of room selection Iím meeting with many students daily.

Q: What are your personal hobbies or interests?

A: I am an avid runner and Iíve ran many races in the past couple of years. The highlight has been running the Boston Marathon in 2002. Also, being raised in Boston I am a sports nut and these past couple of years have been great. Thereís nothing better than beating the Yankees!  My wife and I try to get to as many Sox and Patriots games as I can. She is a registered nurse at New Britain General Hospital. 

Q: Do you have any children?

A: Weíre expecting our first child next month which is tremendously exciting.

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor