The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: NACURH 2014

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Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season (if you started singing that song you get my reference), but I love this time of year as well!  It all started in 1987 when I attended my first NACURH conference at Central Michigan University.   It was a blast!  At that time, believe it or not, I was a junior in college and active in my hall government.  I was recruited by the MACURH Director to serve as the regional secretary.  This was long before computers – we addressed paper newsletters by hand and phone calls were the norm vs. texting or e-mail.

I remember running down a hill at NACURH’89 with all of my regional besties lined up to do our roll call dance to Grease Lightning.  I also remember hours of van rides and airport delays anticipating the fun that we were going to have at the conferences.   Fast forward to 2014 and I’m working at OCM preparing for NACURH 2014.  I still anticipate the fun travels that will ensue and now being a NACURH veteran, I look forward to seeing many people that I have met during my time with OCM.

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Now before you think I’m ancient, I share my NACURH history with many friends who have chosen to serve students as a profession, so I’m not the only one with memories of past NACURHs. And, I want to you to know that the adage of “the more things change the more they stay the same” holds true.  There are some cool traditions in NACURH that still exist (some with a twist).  There is still the fun (and drama) that comes with traveling with your schoolmates, co-workers, and friends.  There are the happy travelers who revel in the fact that they are getting to go on a trip. Then, there is the “are we there yet?” traveler who wonders what the heck they signed up for when saying yes to a 14 hour bus ride followed by 3 days of non-stop cheering and extrovert overload.  NACURH continues to provide the excitement of meeting new people, presenting a program, wearing matching outfits 3 days in a row, cheering until you lose your voice, bidding and winning awards, opening ceremonies, roll call, board meetings and the closing banquet.   There have been some tweaks to all of these things – the cheers are more inclusive, the outfits are probably a little cooler, the presentations are much more high tech, and attendees have most likely already met via social media prior to the conference starting.  What hasn’t changed? That feeling you get arriving at the conference knowing that something great is going to happen! 30 years later, I still have that feeling.

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NACURH 2014 is going to be a great experience for everyone involved.  Forming friendships during regional travels and expanding that circle to the national level is one of the highlights.  There’s nothing better than that surge of school pride you have when seeing your logo or mascot on a screen. Not to mention that moment where you hear your school name being announced along with one of your friends who won an award. These unique and special moments continue to be the wonderful moments that NACURH brings year after year.   NACURH provides a time for celebration to honor a successful year while also creating a venue for new leadership opportunities. Students and advisers from across the country get the opportunity to collaborate ways they can continue meeting the needs of the next group of students coming to campus in the short following months.  To me, this is about as close to the holidays as you can get!

Summer Before College Series 30: Things To Leave At Home-Part 2

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Good afternoon, blogging world!

After an overwhelming amount of feedback on the twenty-seventh episode of my “Summer Before College Series”, I have decided to create a second part to the blog. The first part primarily focused on items that I brought to school my freshman year that were unnecessary and took up space. This second episode will focus exclusively on the items that are banned in most university dorms.

I have separated these banned items into two categories: surprising items and obvious items. The surprising items are ones that, as they sound, are surprisingly banned in most dorms. The obvious items, on the other hand, are the items that you would expect to be banned.

The obvious items include:

  1. Pets. Although you may love these furry friends, most are not allowed in dorm rooms. There is really no space for them play or run around. Also, loud animals would disturb other students living in the dorm. Some schools, however, do allow fish. Just double check with your RA or Resident Handbook to ensure that you can take your fishy friend with you.
  2. Firecrackers/Sparklers. For the obvious reason that you may set your dorm on fire, firecrackers and sparklers are prohibited from your room.
  3. Weapons/Ammunition. Again, for obvious reasons weapons and/or ammunition of any kind are not allowed in your dorm room.

The surprising items include:

  1. Items With Open Flames. Now, although firecrackers and sparklers are obvious open flame items, several of your everyday must-haves fall into this category. The two main offenders are candles and George Foreman grills. Both of these, if left unattended, have the ability to burn down your dorm. Can’t shake your candle obsession? Opt for scented accessories/decorations instead. They leave your room looking pretty while maintaining a wonderful smell. Febreeze and Glade have great selections of these!
  2. Large Appliances. I touched on these items in part one of this blog (episode 27). Many schools do not allow non-school-issued appliances in the dorm rooms. This can include toasters, refrigerators, coffee-makers, microwaves, etc.

I hope that these two lists give you a better idea of what to leave at home this fall. Just make sure to check your university’s prohibited list to ensure that none of your items are on it. After all, you never know what could be considered prohibited!

Student Spotlight: Sara Silva, Class of 2015 Marketing Major and PR Coordinator for Bentley’s RHA at Bentley University

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For this week’s Student Spotlight, OCM interviews Sara Silva, a Class of 2015 Marketing Major. Sara doubles as a Public Relations Coordinator for the Bentley RHA at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Read her interview and learn all about the exciting events and opportunities that go on with Bentley’s RHA- Including “Breakfast at Hogwarts”!

Get to know Sara:

To start, welcome! We’re happy to have you participating in our blog and for giving us a little insight into the Residence Hall Association at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts! Tell us all about Bentley’s RHA and what it strives for in terms of residence hall living.

Sara: The Residence Hall Association (RHA) at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts strives to create a unified and exciting community by strengthening the bonds between all residents in every residence hall. Here at Bentley University, there are 11 residence halls, 3 “houses”, and one satellite complex called North Campus.

That sounds like a lot of residents to manage! How is your RHA broken down to support equal attention to all 11 residence halls, 3 houses and the North Campus satellite complex? What is the process of implementing rules/regulations as well as hearing complaints and concerns from on-campus residents?

Sara: Aside from the Executive Board, which governs many of the large scale RHA events and projects, each residence boasts a representative council responsible for putting on individual events. Additionally, we create a forum of discussion for all the residents to address concerns through their individual building’s Hall Council. RHA recommends, reviews, formulates and develops rules/regulations and policies relating to the residence halls to University administration.

It sounds like it requires a lot of organization and communication skills to be able to listen, absorb and implement concerns, changes and regulations introduced in the forum of discussion. Listening to complaints and concerns of students is an important and crucial aspect to creating a unified and comfortable living environment for both students and RHA members. You must have quite a large group in your RHA! Give us a break down of a few of the association’s members and what they do.┬á

Sara: President: Connor Deneen, Class of 2014 | Accounting Major

Vice President of Internal Affairs: Glen Shaw, Class of 2014 | Accounting Major

Vice President of External Affairs: Nate Pietrantonio, Class of 2015 | Finance Major

Treasurer: Kevin Landers, Class of 2014 | Finance Major

Policy Coordinator: Sam Warren, Class of 2014 | Accounting Major

Large Scale Events Coordinator: Rachael Dempsey, Class of 2014 | Information Design & Corporate Communication Major

Public Relations Coordinator: Sara Silva, Class of 2015 | Marketing Major

Sustainability Coordinator: Justine Andrews, Class of 2015 | Undecided Business Major

Webmaster: Autumn Mekkelsen, Class of 2015 | Corporate Finance & Accounting Major

Co-advisors: Bobbi-Lynn Anderson and Brent Ploughe

It’s always interesting to see how many different positions are available for students who wish to join their University’s RHA. It seems there’s a position within RHA for almost every major! Communications majors, business majors, etc, all have an excellent opportunity to expand their professional portfolios while getting to network with other RHA staff and students. Not to mention the crucial communication, organization and even mediation skills you learn while being involved which promote both educational and professional growth! Sara, what made you decide to join your University’s RHA?

Sara: I made the final decision to join RHA because I admired their presence on Campus. It was not until my Sophomore Year during Fall Semester that my lovely roommate and our passionate Sustainability Coordinator, Justine, really encouraged me to become more involved with the organization. What I really found to be the best part about RHA so far is the supportive and creative environment each member plays a part in creating. I look forward to planning more events and bringing new ideas to our gorgeous and close knit campus here at Bentley University! Go Falcons!

It’s always beneficial when a close friend or mentor can open your eyes to such a fulfilling opportunity, such as your Sustainability Coordinator, Justine, did for you! You seem to have really benefited from joining Bentley’s RHA and have taken an active role in making the campus environment both fun and supportive for others! What tips and tricks would you give to new and returning students looking to get involved with student organizations on campus?

Sara: Tips & Tricks on the Bentley Campus? Simple and sweet: get involved! That advice is really universal to what I believe makes a college experience worthwhile. This is really the first time you are going to be able to make decisions for yourself about things that excite YOU and make YOU happy.

Straight and to the point! Definitely crucial advice that you can apply to almost any activity or organization. Finding what makes you happy will make the experience that much more worthwhile and sentimental to you! Before we go, can you tell us a little bit about the events and activities that you’ve helped plan during your time with Bentley’s RHA?

Sara: Our biggest event of each Semester at Bentley University is called Breakfast By Moonlight. Bentley RHA along with a co-sponsoring student organization puts on an elaborately themed pre-finals breakfast the night before Reading Day. For a small donation to a selected charity, all students are welcome to attend this special event that couldn’t be possible without the hours of help contributed to the cause by many devoted individuals part of RHA, student organizations, and University Administration.

This past semester, Bentley RHA hosted it’s 43rd Breakfast By Moonlight, “Breakfast at Hogwarts”, a Harry Potter enthusiasts dream-themed meal complete with scrambled eggs, pancakes, and plenty of tater tots. Along with Bentley’s Literary Society, RHA was proud to announce that both the records for attendance and philanthropic collections were broken! More than $2,000 was raised in support of More Than Words, “a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.”

“Breakfast at Hogwarts”? That sounds like every Harry Potter enthusiast’s dream! Harry Potter + breakfast and tater tots is the ultimate combination! It’s always amazing when you get to plan something fun and interactive, but even better when the benefits go for an amazing cause, such as the non-profit social enterprise that you mentioned above. And, congrats on breaking both records for attendance and philanthropic collections! Feel free to invite us to the next Breakfast at Hogwarts!

From everyone at OCM, we wanted to personally thank both Sara and the members of Bentley’s RHA for participating in our student spotlights! Taking great strides in both professional and educational growth, Sara and her RHA members work hard to make a difference in both their lives and the lives of other students on campus! From events like Breakfast at Hogwarts to listening to the questions and concerns of students on campus looking for change, these RHA members dedicate much of their time and energy to making campus fun, safe and sustainable for everyone! Go Falcons!

3 Awesome Roomie Gifts

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There’s no question that college students are always strapped for cash when it comes to buying gifts and personal expenses. This is sometimes hard around the holiday season when you want to show everyone you care about how special they are with that perfect gift. Unfortunately, being a full time student permits you from working more than a part time job and that leaves just enough money to take care of yourself.

If you’re one of the lucky students who really hit it off with their roomie, you may be worrying about what awesome gift you can give them for their birthday. You both don’t have enough money to buy each other cool gifts, but you still want to do something for them to show how much you appreciate them! If you’re thinking about ideas of what to get your roomie for their birthday on campus, here’s three ideas!

It’s The Thought That Counts– Your roomie knows just how hard it is to remain stocked on cash while being a full time student. They don’t expect you to buy them something lavish and expensive. In fact, they may not even be expecting you to do anything at all! Even if you don’t have any money, you can still make your roomie feel special by making them things or heading to the local dollar store for helium balloons. Put the balloons around your dorm while they’re at class and make a sign out of construction paper that says ‘Happy Birthday!’ and tape it right where they can see it when they get home. Maybe buy a few bags of candy and sprinkle them in a bag with a photo collage you made of your awesome memories together! This would be a really nice and inexpensive way to show your roomie that you thought about them for their birthday. You can order a bunch of prints from your local Walgreens, CVS, Harris Teeter, etc and get them all printed for under $5! And, the collage will be a cool addition in your dorm for both of you to enjoy! If you want to get really snazzy, cut out letters from magazines and form them into your favorite inside jokes together and randomly place them around the photo collage. That way, every time your roomie looks at your collage, they’ll think about all the funny jokes you all have come up with!

The Essentials– Sometimes we like to go a little crazy with gifts. We buy a bunch of silly things that are fun to think about and play with, but quickly lose interest. These things are fun to make a situation a little more entertaining, but they aren’t really used for anything more than that. As a college student, I’m sure you know just how much it stinks to be away from home without certain things you’re used to having or really need. It gets expensive racking up enough money to buy all of the essentials for your dorm room; food, clothes, gas, cleaning supplies, bathroom essentials. Buying something silly like a stress ball shaped like Snooki is funny, but really useless, and a big waste of your money. Instead, take notice of the things that your roomie really has been saying they need or have run out of. See what their favorite foods or drinks are and stock your mini fridge before they get a chance to. If you still want to buy them a unique gift, get something they can use and will enjoy at the same time, like a really awesome USB flash drive shaped like Darth Vader or food! You can buy USB hubs in practically any shape you can think of and for relatively cheap. Think about ordering them off of Amazon or heading to stores like Microcenter for ideas!

Do Something Nice or Plan an Outing- Sometimes, the best gifts come in forms that aren’t concrete. Nice gestures are a really great way to show that you still cared to do something for your roomie even if you maybe didn’t have the money to buy them something. Cleaning the entire dorm room sparkly-clean while they’re out would be a pleasant surprise for them to walk into when they get home. You could wake up before they have class and microwave something delicious and amazing for a birthday breakfast treat! Try taking a glazed donut, sprinkling a few colored sprinkles on it and putting a candle in it! Lighting the candle might be a fire hazard (which is a dorm room no-no) so just placing the candle in there will still get your point across and they’ll be thrilled at such a cute wake up call! You may even be able to find an electronic candle at the dollar store that you can turn on and off with a little switch. Either way, your roomie will be impressed! Another nice gesture you could do for your roomie is secretly gather all of your roomie’s friends and important people and have them all in your dorm room and ready to go out. Your roomie will be so surprised when they get home from class and see that everyone got together to celebrate their birthday!

Whatever you decide to do, don’t feel like you have to break the bank to give your roomie an awesome birthday. Just goofing around your room will be fun for both of you, and that requires no money! If you have a little extra cash to spend, try to order a pizza and have it sitting on their bed when they get home from class. Many universities and neighboring pizza shops have college deals, so you should be able to snag a ‘pie’ at a relatively good price!

Fall Weather Calls for Fall Clothes!

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It’s official… Summer has with out a doubt reached its end. No longer are the days of hot weather and trips to the pool. Your flip flops go into hibernation and your Uggs and rain boots make their debut. Now that there is no need for you to have immediate access to your summer clothes, what do you do with them? Having adequate storage to lay those tanks and skirts to rest for the Fall and Winter seasons is essential in small space living.

Since Fall clothes are relatively more bulky, they tend to take up more space in your closet and drawers. To make room for those extra hoodies and sweatpants, it’s imperative to store away your summer clothes in empty space around your room such as under your bed. Storing places such as under your bed or in a trunk maximizes the usable space in your room and helps you stay organized. So, if you’re feeling the chill of Fall and are ready to pack away those bikinis and bring out the peacoats, here’s a few ways you can organize and store!

1) Under The Bed-
This method of storage is brilliant AND trendy at the same time! You can buy different sized under the bed storage units to best suit your needs. They are available in different colors as well as fabrics. This pink under the bed storage unit is a cute way to add a pop of color from under your bed while still serving a purpose!

2) It’s a Seat, Table, and a Storage Cube?

These storage cubes are a perfect way to add that extra inch of personalization to your room while still storing away those extra items. Available in multiple colors, these cubes can hold your unused textbooks, summer clothes, music collection and more. Stack them up or lay them flat for a design that fits you! Easy care fabric washes with soap and water and lasts through college. Set of two (2).

3) Bed Risers

Now these may just look like the perfect sand castle mold, but really they’re so much cooler than that. These bed risers go under the corners of your bed to lift it off the ground. Not only does this raise your bed higher in the air for extra room to stock up on throw pillows and comforters, but it also creates 3x the storage space under your bed! Available in black and white, these risers are an essential.

4) Hanging Closet Organizer

Have some extra towels that are clean and ready to use, but no where to put them? What about those extra pairs of jeans you brought but wont store neatly in your dresser? These hanging closet organizers are a great way to maximize your closet space! Available in many colors such as black, brown, blue, pink and purple, these hanging organizers can match practically any room decor for seamless personalization. Need more or less space? Browse the various sizes and check out the hanging shoe rack too!

5) The College Staple: The Trunk

No college dorm room is complete without a sturdy trunk to store all things college related. Have parent weekend coming up? Store all your important items in your trunk and protect them from any eyes or hands you don’t want touching your cherished belongings. The trunk is a great way to store the essentials AND it serves as an extra side table, step stool, chair or shelf! Available in multiple colors. Rugged construction from waterproof, dent proof, scratch-proof exterior 1000d Cordura sheathing that’s laminated over 3/8″ Baltic Birch hardwood plywood. All the durability of a steel steamer trunk but about 20% less weight.

6) Extra Closet Rod (Your roomie will be thrilled you brought this!)

Hang it in your closet or purchase a free standing shelf to hang all your stylish threads. This smart solutions closet doubler serves as an extra rack to allow you and your roomie to fit everything nice and neat in that small dorm room closet. This is a college must have!

Interested in other items that can maximize your dorm room storage space? Check em’ out here!

What Does Your Residence Hall Decor Say About You?

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Going off to college is the first exciting experience of your youth that allows you to live on your own and express your creativity. At home, your parents usually take care of the decorating and get to choose which laundry detergent you use. Heck, most the time, your parents are even still washing your clothes for you. You haven’t yet been introduced to Ramen Noodles, but don’t worry you soon will. You will become the Chef Ramsey of residence hall cooking, using only Ramen noodles, Cheetos and water.

You have so many ideas of how you want to decorate your new space and have picked out the perfect shower shoes to match your bathroom tote. You’ve got it all figured out from the type of shampoo you want to buy down to the very last fluffy knit of your throw carpet. As you shop around for residence hall linens and apparel, you notice that there’s so many colors and patterns that you love! Maybe decorating your room was a bit harder than you thought.

If you’re having trouble deciding how you want your residence hall to look, here are a few questions you can ask yourself before going shopping.

1)What colors do I want my room to have?- Maybe you love hot pink and black mixed with animal print. Maybe you’re more of a subtle decorator and want pale greens or deep blues. Perhaps you want to cover your side of the wall in posters of your favorite bands and brands. Whatever the case may be, make sure you pick a color scheme. This way, it’ll be much easier for you to find pieces and accessories that match those colors.

2) What do I want my room to say about me?- Am I trying to pull off a sophisticated look with blacks and greys? Do I want to be super feminine with purples, pinks and lace? Do I want to cover my walls in beautiful wall art of the New York Skyline? Maybe I want to show off the interior designer aspect of my personality and create an outside look, inside. Finding out what message about yourself you want to send out will help you start the shopping process.

3) What’s comfortable?- Is your residence hall always particularly chilly or breezy? Maybe you need to invest in linen with a heavier thread count to dive under after your hard day of classes. Do you prefer to sleep with thinner sheets and lots of throw pillows? Maybe buy a thinner bed spread and cover your bed in throw pillows with different messages and images. Find what makes you relaxed, and go with that.

4) Accessorize, accessorize!- Surrounding yourself with things that remind you of home or that make you happy is a great way to ease any anxiety you have about being on your own. Load up on wall decals, picture frames, and fluffy rugs and throw blankets. Give your bed that extra sense of comfort with an egg crate mattress topper to put under your sheets. This is your first place of your own, go wild!

After you’ve picked your items and you’re ready to move in, remember that you’re going to be sharing your new space with another person (unless you have a single residence hall room to yourself). Be courteous of their decorating desires as well, and don’t take up the whole room before they get there. Putting posters on your side of the wall is fine, hanging your wall art and moving your items over to their side of the room is pushing it.

You have every right to be excited and ready to decorate your new residence hall, but keep in mind that your new roommate may not have the same opinions or likes that you do. So before you start hanging hot pink drapes over your windows wait it out until your roomie gets there and decorate together. Who knows, maybe the mix of both of your items together will make for an interesting and unique living space. Decorating together could be a fantastic first bonding experience that can set your relationship off on the right start.