In this edition of Campus Connections, our focus is on: res life.
Over the last century, the student affairs field has emerged at colleges around the world as a support structure, beyond academics, to help students feel safe, supported, and nurtured outside the classroom. What started as a field that was ancillary to academics has become a vibrant part of college life as people, particularly in the United States, increasingly look at colleges less as trade schools that will feed into particular careers, and more as opportunities to grow as whole people—yes, earning degrees, but also learning how to live as independent adults and coexist with others.
Residential life is one of the crown jewels in the student affairs crown, not only providing housing to students, but providing programming and resources for students who live in campus housing. Given that so many colleges and universities mandate that students live on campus for at least their first years, you could argue that residence life has become an auxiliary piece of the core curriculum in higher education.
So what does all of this have to do with a cappella?
As someone who had his first full-time job working in residence life, I know firsthand that residence hall staffs are always on the lookout for programming opportunities that will build community and otherwise enrich the residential experience. So, if a cappella groups connect with residence life. It can set up an excellent opportunity to perform for a captive audience (after all, they won’t even need to go outside to attend your show) and many residence halls have programming budgets through which they might even be able to pay you. As an alternative or additional option, the residence hall staff might be interested in making the event an educational opportunity, too, thus you might get some invaluable, informal experience as a clinician talking about the craft of a cappella, or delivering a lesson on how to beatbox.
On top of reaching an eager audience in the residence hall setting, connecting with residence life can be an excellent way of bolstering awareness about your group. Lots of college students—particularly first years—are beholden to their residence halls to make them aware of opportunities to socialize and engage with their communities. Thus, performing in a residence hall opens the doorway for you to grab the attention of people who might become your fans for the next four years, or better yet to recruit singers who may not have otherwise sought out opportunities in a cappella.
Collaborating with your school’s residence life program opens opportunities to connect with your school community, potentially get a paying gig, and boost your brand awareness on campus. It’s a wholly under-utilized resource, available at a majority of contemporary college campuses.