RA conference comes to UNI

UNI will host RA’s from 36 schools across the midwest this weekend.

LAUREN MCGUILL

This weekend, UNI will be hosting the 31st annual RA Conference on campus. Three hundred RA’s and Residence Life staff will be attending from 36 schools across the midwest.

UNI’s Residence Life has had an incredibly busy week preparing for the weekend event and is ecstatic for the return of the conference, as it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. The chair for the conference this year is Lawther Hall’s RLC (Resident Life Coordinator) Jordan Rockwell, who was an RA when he attended UNI as a student. This year’s conference will be a new experience for many RA’s across the midwest, and UNI’s Residence Life staff has many exciting events to offer them. 

Rockwell gave a brief summary of the events planned for this weekend. “The RA conference is a regional conference intended for the development of student staff within the role of a Resident Assistant. The conference has had an immense impact on thousands of RAs across our region, and they in turn have impacted us here on our campus. Sessions include programmatic ideas and more holistic development topics.” 

Events that will be taking place during the conference include a WRC Night that will have physical games, board games and crafts, a keynote speaker/kickoff, program and development presentations and a final social night in the Union with various exciting activities, such as inflatables, dancing, crafts and more. 

Many UNI RAs will be presenting at the conference. “There are a wide variety of programs being offered,” Rockwell said. “There are idea-sharing program presentations associated with crafting, relaxation, destress and wellness topics.  There are also more development-orientated presentations related to mental health, marketing yourself after college, diversity and inclusion.”

First year RA Hannah Krejci, a sophomore speech pathology major, is looking forward to her first RA conference. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and getting more ideas on programming,” she said. 

On top of planning the conference itself, Res Life had to make sure they followed certain health standards due to COVID-19 and also be aware of health standards from visiting schools. Even though the conference is back this year, COVID-19 precautions are still a concern.

“(COVID-19) has impacted some aspects of the conference such as how we go about providing food, catering to individuals, how we may house individuals on-campus and how we may prepare spaces throughout the conference experience. We have looked to follow along with guidance that has been passed down from our institution,” Rockwell said. Visiting RAs and staff have the choice to stay on-campus where options are spread across campus or hotels in the surrounding area.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing all the visiting RAs and UNI RAs getting the opportunity to connect/share their experiences and have an exciting, memorable weekend.  I’ve seen life-long friends and lasting memories be made from this conference and I’m looking forward to that tradition and experience being brought back to our students,” Rockwell said.