This week we're featuring the office of Dan McDowell, Residence Director at Stonehill College. Here's what Dan had to say about his office:
"I recently moved to my new office in June and slowly but surely I’ve been adding my own personal nerdy touch to it. It started with bringing a growing collection of Funko POPs from a variety of fandoms like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and (my largest collection) The Avengers, including my recent additions of Miles Morales and the new Thor. Since they are the first thing students usually see when they walk into my office they are quick to ask questions about them or my interests. It’s been especially helpful during conduct hearings- particularly with students I haven’t sat with before. In one meeting I was able to spend a good 5 to 10 minutes discussing the upcoming Deadpool film with a student which I think humanized me and allowed the student to feel more comfortable and open throughout the remainder of the hearing.
They have also been a great tool connecting to RAs. It isn’t unusual for RAs from other areas to stop by and say hello when visiting friends or coworkers in the area. On one occasion an RA and I were able to chat about the comics we were both reading which led to a variety of other conversations involving shared interests and a stronger relationship. Finally, the latest additions to my office are my Star Wars Lego sets and decor. I had bought them over the summer just before moving and had intended to keep them in my apartment, but quickly discovered after moving I just didn’t have anywhere where they would be a good fit and so they came to my office. They have been a great conversation piece and allowed for me to share a bit more of my interest in science fiction with my residents and RAs as well.
Showing off my geekier interests in my office has been an incredible way to connect with students. Even something as small as my Game of Thrones-themed “Where’s the RD?” sign (not pictured) has residents stopping by to discuss their excitement over a shared interest and is able to jumpstart a conversation about any communities they’ve found on campus- whether friends or a club- that tie into these interests. It provides incredible leverage in breaking the ice with residents and helping them find new ways to get involved.
Now that I’ve started showing off my geeky side, I don’t think I’ll ever go back!"
What I really like about Dan's office (besides the Star Wars Legos and Marvel Funko POP! toys) is the simple, positive effect some small tweaks in his office had to change his interactions with students. I've had a similar experience, even with some staff members who pass by my office. I feel like there is no downside to bringing some of our authentic selves into our work spaces, it always gives the benefit of genuine connections to those around us.
Many thanks to Dan for sharing his story and space with us!
Stay tuned for more awesome offices in the coming weeks.