Residence life engagement increases amid lessening restrictions


Bear de Boo

This year’s Taco Bell formal included notable guests like President Michael Le Roy

Calvin students are reaching out to their communities and each other through Residence Life events after a year of restrictions due to the pandemic.

The rise in student participation, in the eyes of residence life director Jay Wise, stems from a longing for a sense of community following almost a year and a half of event restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we’re seeing that students are wanting to have traditions and events brought back because they’re showing an interest in them,” said Wise. “That’s encouraging. That’s telling you that people are wanting to get together in groups and wanting to have community.”

According to Wise, upperclass students, such as sophomores and juniors, who desire different event experiences than past years as well as freshmen looking to branch out at Calvin, contribute to a rise in student interest in both dorm hosted events and events hosted by residence life itself. 

Despite the fact that a number of residence life events were hosted last year in accordance with the university’s COVID-19 regulations by being held outdoors or indoors with limited capacity, there remained a gap in community building that this year’s events have addressed. 

“Most of the events we try to set up as floors and RHET is really to try and spend as much quality time again after the loneliness and dreariness of last year,” Bear De Boo, vice president of Bolt-Heyns-Timmer’s RHET team, told Chimes. “Last year felt very lonely at times. That’s why the simple measures we have are great, because it allows us to create community.” 

What began as a small floor event in 2020 soon transformed into a community builder that fostered engagement through formal attire and Baja Blasts. This year’s Taco Bell formal, hosted by BHT, gathered 120 attendees including university Pastor Mary Hulst and President Michael Leroy. Following an isolating senior year of high school, freshman Ryan Dick took advantage of this year’s Taco Bell formal to develop a sense of community and continues to do so with other events at Calvin. 

“It was so hard to not have a community and people around you 24/7. At Calvin, there are constant events and everyone is so friendly and you can make so many friends,” Dick told Chimes.

I don’t think I’ve ever poured into my friends this much before. Investing in community has become part of my daily routine.

— Ryan Dick

Chaos Night, hosted by Residence Life, also saw an increase in participation, with 70% of dorm residents in attendance by the end of the event. Out of the six dorms, Schultze-Eldersveld had the highest dorm attendance, with 84 percent of residents participating in the event. SE’s Chaos Night attendance increased by 8% as compared to previous Chaos Nights, with 78 percent of residents attending in 2019. This year’s fall dorm retreat attendance also piqued the interest of residence life staff; while this year’s numbers were not the highest ever, residence life has been “encouraged” by this year’s participation when compared to past years.

Wise is hopeful that this increase in event participation sets a precedent for community engagement, as event engagement is critical to thriving at Calvin. “Events and activities are a part of the college experience, and I want students to take advantage of all the opportunities Calvin has..we have lots of great opportunities on campus that are free or low cost. Try and get involved.”