NACURH Winner
Month: September 2017

NACURH, INC.

Residential Community of the Month

School: Western Oregon University Region: PACURH
Nominee: Heritage Hall Nominator: Kelsey Murray

On-Campus Population: 1500 Chapter Size: 20

Please explain the outstanding contributions of the nominee during the month of nomination

Losing a member of the community is never easy. It takes strength, compassion, vulnerability, and community to navigate a loss. Western Oregon University has had a difficult start to the year, losing two students and a staff member before school began. The two students who passed away called Heritage Hall their home and the community came together to support each other during these tough times.

The moment that the news hit campus that a second resident had passed away, Resident Director Karen Schlieder, Dean of Students Tina Fuchs, and Associate Director Shelly Clark, worked together to ensure that support systems were in place. As students heard the news through various outlets, residence hall professional staff met with their individual RA staff to inform them of the news and how to proceed. The next few hours were spent getting a counselor to the floor to help residents begin to process their pain. Counselors, Heritage Hall RAs, and residence hall professional staff were called in around 9pm and remained active until 12am.

As the night wound down, professional residence life staff and the Student Health & Counseling Center were creating a larger support space for the following morning. Saturday morning, an email was sent out to inform campus of the tragedy, and directed students to the Werner University Center where counselors were waiting to help students understand their emotions and grief.

The RAs in Heritage Hall had an equally, if not more, challenging job during this difficult time. They had to balance caring for their residents, caring for themselves, and preparing to start classes on Monday. Each RA was available for their residents at every hour of the day. As students prepared for the start of fall quarter classes, just two days after the event, their RAs needed to be there for them academically and emotionally. During this very stressful and exhausting time, I never heard one RA complain once. Each RA kept a positive attitude and realized how important their job was on campus and in their community, especially during that difficult time.

The RAs in Heritage Hall spent so much time and energy to help the Heritage community. Although they were grieving for the loss of a community member, they put others first and supported them. As time went on, the RAs were able to process their own feelings by speaking with their Resident Director and counselors.

The memorial for the student was held on the first Friday of class and many students and staff attended. The staff supported the students in attendance and showed the family that their child was loved by the Western Oregon community. As a community, we are still supporting and watching out for those who were most effected by the student’s death while also honoring the student’s memory.

Each resident and staff member showed amazing strength during this stressful time. I could not be more proud of the professional staff, the RA staff, or the residents during this difficult time. It is tough for any community to overcome the grief that accompanies the loss of a friend and Heritage Hall showed that they are strong and that their bond cannot be broken. Heritage Hall’s ability to come together as a community and form an even stronger community is the reason they deserve to be September’s NACURH Community of the Month.

Word Count: 556


Date of entry into database: 2017-10-04 15:23:06

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