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Jessica Bentley Wears Many Hats at SMSU

Published Monday, August 05, 2019
Jessica Bentley
Jessica Bentley

Jessica Bentley, Assistant Director of Residence Life, helps make sure that things run smoothly during the summer months, and that new and returning students are welcomed to campus the right way.

 “At times the summer can be busier than the school year. It takes a lot of people to get things done. It is a true team effort between all involved. From June 1- Aug. 1 is crunch time as fall athletes, pep band members and Resident Assistants move in early. Therefore, we need to have their rooms ready before the others,” Bentley said.

In the summer months, there are a variety of things that need to be done between camps, guests staying on campus, and students living on campus: painting, switching out furniture, laying new carpet or tile, and cleaning are the major projects.

Garry Mercer, Building Services Supervisor, is in charge of student workers that help clean the facilities throughout the summer. Other professional staff help with some of the larger projects that need to be done while there are few students on campus. The Residential Life staff helps by doing smaller projects in the residence halls and getting students settled into their rooms for summer camps by handing out keys and setting up the rooms.

“I coordinate the assignment of rooms because some of the camps overlap, and I want to make sure the room placements are thought out to ensure that everything flows smooth as camps come and go,” she said.      

During the school year, Bentley takes responsibility of the 20 resident assistants, four senior resident assistants, Residence Life office manager, and the six Living & Learning program assistants — liaisons between the Living & Learning theme/academic department, and the corresponding residence hall.

Each resident assistant is assigned to a community that best fits them. They are required to do 10 different programs throughout the year that fit under a variety of topics such as Diversity, Faith and Spirituality, Current Issues and Events, Fine Arts, Health and Wellness, and Academic and Career Development. These resident assistants are a resource for residents and provide safe living conditions for the students.

“Each resident assistant takes turns doing nightly rounds, assisting in calls, and being on duty where they answer phone calls and respond to emails. They also have over a week of training that is required before every school year,” she explained.

From Aug. 12-21 the resident assistants partake in a required training that covers topics such as diversity, crisis management, fire evacuation routes, and stress management. They also learn about additional resources at SMSU, and what is available within the Marshall community.  A number of speakers talk to the RA’s on a wide range of topics they may encounter during the academic year.

Because Bentley has been with SMSU since 2002, she has noticed that there are advantages to first-year-students being required to live on campus for a year.

“Living on campus can help students feel connected to campus, which leads to success in the classroom. It helps students build relationships that can last a lifetime. There are no monthly payments to worry about, there are always activities and programs for student to attend, you are walking distance to class every day, and there is always a community around you for support,” Bentley said.  

The residence halls also offer a variety of amenities for students like wireless internet, free laundry, air conditioning in select residence halls, and a full kitchen in the Foundation Apartments.

There are a variety of options that students can choose from: traditional halls, Sweetland Hall, and the Foundation Apartments.

“The traditional halls offer a community to build lasting relationships. These halls are the home to the Living & Learning Communities that place students with similar interests together. There are also professors that live in some of the communities, which makes the experience even more unique to our campus,” she said.

Bentley came to SMSU in 2002 after serving as the Residence Area Coordinator at Upper Iowa University. She was also Director of Intramurals and Assistant Director of Student Activities.

“I saw the opening for a Coordinator of Residence Life in Marshall and just applied. At the time, I did not know anything about Marshall or what it had to offer. There is just something about Marshall that has made me stay so long. It is probably because I love my job so much. I enjoy the variety, friendly individuals I meet every day, working with students and my great coworkers and staff,” she said.







Tag: Residence Life tag