Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 4th 2016 Contents SUNDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER, 2016 – UWI TODAY 11
“I came to Trinity Hall in 2000. I discovered my passion for it in
2006,” says Allyson Logie-Eustace, hall supervisor.
Like many outside, and some inside, she did not at first grasp
the significance of life on hall.
“I was doing my job, lots of paperwork, keeping my head
down,” she describes.
That changed one day while walking through the hall and
encountering a final year student:
“I said to her, ‘how are you? Sorry to see you go. I hope you
had a nice year’. And she turned around and said to me ‘it was the
worst year of my life’. My jaw dropped. Her story changed my life
and sparked my passion to learn more about student personnel
The thing about communities, although they can be
enormously enriching, sometimes they have a dark side.
Sometimes communities can be exclusionary. Sometimes they can
feel exclusionary even if they are not, if the person on the outside
doesn’t have the emotional tools necessary to integrate.
The university is more mindful of this than ever before.
“We see ourselves providing for a full range of the
developmental needs of students, the developmental needs that
come out of living on your own and learning how to cope on
your own,” says Student Accommodation Manager Kevin Snaggs.
Like Logie-Eustace, when he took the post of residence
manager at Arthur Lewis Hall (he opened the hall in 2010), Snaggs
underestimated the task.
“My background is in hotel management so when I came
here it was with very much that mindset. I found afterwards it
was very different,” he says. “In a hotel our goal was to keep the
place clean, keep it well-maintained and keep the guests happy,
very simple. Managing a hall is much more than that. We have
a responsibility for the development of the students, their out of
This ethos has very much shaped the modern management
of the St. Augustine Campus’s halls of residence of which Allyson
Logie-Eustace is a pioneer.
She says of Trinity Hall, “What we try to encourage here is
more than just tolerance. We have to appreciate diversity. We have
to appreciate each and every person for what they have to offer.
People say the campus is friendly and welcoming. What makes it
welcoming? We are the ones that must make it so”.
As supervisor on Trinity Hall she has created a host of events
and activities for the benefit of the residents. Many of the campus’s
experts in areas such as medical health, mental health, security and
self-defense and many others make visits to the hall to interact with
and educate the young women (how to cope with the transition
into adult life. She also surveyed the residences themselves to better
understand their needs, and how to create positive activities that
may enhance their campus and hall life experience.
“You don’t know what challenges a student has before they
come to campus,” she says. “Perhaps they have experienced sexual
abuse, abuse in the home. We have to mindful”.
The hall supervisor operates with the motto “do no harm”.
Arthur Lewis Hall has some of the same types of initiatives
BY JOEL HENRY
“In the first week they will have a meeting – either a pizza lime
or a Sunday cook,” Snaggs explains the process at Arthur Lewis
Hall. They get people together. Then they may have a more formal
block meeting where they talk about the rules of the hall. They
will also go door to door, introducing themselves and checking
in on people”.
That knock on the door can be crucial for reaching the less
outgoing residents. On Trinity Hall that kind of community ethic
is often carried out by the block representatives themselves.
“On my first week, that was the thing that pulled me in,” says
Makini. “Somebody came and knocked on the door and said come
outside, we are going to have fun. There was a girl there, I thought
she was so rude and uptight when I first met her and on that day
they said some joke and I was laughing at her. She said ‘why are
you laughing at me?’ And I said well if you did something stupid
I must laugh. From that we become friends. She is one of my best
friends today. Everybody on our block became friends from that
one little cook out”.
Now I go around and knock on the door and get the girls to
come out of their room. Even if you are an introvert you will come
out. We cook, we eat pizza, we play music, we play games, we talk
about home. We just have fun”.
But hall life is about more than fun. Students are there to
experience life but they are also there to complete courses of
study and do well in those courses. Just as they play together, hall
communities work together. During “matta season” (the last three
weeks before exams) the lively halls go silent as exam preparations
become the priority. Even lax residents are motivated to study
because of the positive reinforcement of their hall mates.
Hall life is an asset for academics. Their libraries contain the
notes and past papers of previous residents. Their communities
contain the collective knowledge of hundreds of bright young
minds who direct contact or social media can share knowledge,
information and advice.
“We have a lot of high achievers on hall,” Makini says, “and
not just in academics. We have great athletes. We have dietitians. I
am anemic and through my friendships on hall I get proper advice
on healthy eating”.
Entering her final year at university and her first year as hall
chair, Makini has grown from the person she was before leaving
home. More than anything else, she has become more open to
people and possibilities: “To be honest, when I was in St. Vincent
I thought my life was getting a job, getting a loan to study, going
to study, come back and work. But now I realise there are so many
opportunities beyond what my mind had told me. That’s why I
stayed here this vacation. I could have gone home and been with
my daughter but I decided to make the sacrifice and go to Guild
She says, “It built me as an individual to realise it is not me
alone in the world. A lot of people form friendships on campus but
being on hall you form friendships like sisters. You get sick, these
are the people who tend to you. You have a bad exam, these are
the people you cry to. Most people think they are alone and they
have nobody to turn to. Hall taught me otherwise”.
from the very simple such as giving residents knowledge from
cooking and washing their clothes, to support for accessing campus
resources like counseling and financial aid, to developmental
Mr. Snaggs says, “We also try to identify students who may
be at risk. I’m talking about risk of depression because they are
away from home. They may be struggling because they don’t have
enough money. They may be struggling academically. We learn how
to identify the signs. They start to isolate themselves or getting sick
often or lashing out at people”.
Hall staff and the resident assistants, graduate-level hall
residences appointed by the university may approach students
they believe to be at risk and offer support.
“Because we have such a close relationship with our residents,
we have an opportunity to identify these things before they become
a bigger problem,” he says.
One of the problems hall residents have traditionally faced
that the university has made major strides in dealing with is
hazing. Hazing, called “grubbing” or “ragging” on the campus,
is the act of putting individuals through ritualistic ordeals as a
price for membership in the group. It happens in certain exclusive
occupations such as the protective services, secret societies and
university fraternities. Hazing can include sleep deprivation, verbal
and physical abuse and forced exercise. For many years hazing was
a part of hall culture.
“They (the student power structure on hall) believed that in
order to belong you had to be initiated,” says Logie-Eustace. “They
tried to twist it by saying it is like what happens at fraternities and
sororities but it is not. It is bullying”.
Among her files the hall supervisor has written statements
by past residents describing not only the abuse but its emotional
effects – anxiety, isolation and even poor academic performance.
The young woman she first encountered in 2006 that called her
year on hall the worst of her life, was a victim of hazing.
“That girl changed my life,” Logie-Eustace said. “I told myself
Through her pioneering work and the efforts of others in the
university community hazing has been (significantly reduced),
unfortunately, in other Halls is may have been forced underground,
due to the zero tolerance policy by Administration.
“Over the years hazing has become something the university
has identified as a problem and we have done a lot to improve the
situation,” says Snaggs. “When we opened Arthur Lewis we had a
complete overhaul of how we operated these things”.
One of the key changes was the introduction of resident
assistants (RAs). It is important to remember that hazing is
directed by the social leaders within the hall, sometimes including
the hall committees. The RAs live on hall and are separate from
the student power structure, as they are part of administration,
assisting students on hall who have been marginialised by the
“Hazing is used as a way to get people to become part of the
hall culture,” Snaggs says. “So we have changed the hall culture to
find better ways to make people part of the community”.
PROVIDING LIFE SKILLS AND SUPPORT
THE INSIDE VIEW ON HALL LIFE
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