Campus Success: Expanding Engagement in Res Halls at the University of South Alabama

· by Ben Michalak

Managing in-hall rentals is a common struggle for Residence Life professionals. In many cases, storing inventory behind an RA desk is the go-to option. However, this solution risks limiting residents’ inventory access to staffed desk hours, or requiring residents to track down an RA on duty if they want to check out any of the available inventory outside those hours. 

The University of South Alabama (USA) grappled with the question of how best to manage rental inventory for years. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating student engagement opportunities in the residence hall was a priority. Their inventory, billiards and ping pong sets, was stuck behind a service desk from 8am-5pm—the typical hours students are in classes, attending organization meetings, or participating in other college activities.

“It’s hard to look at Residence Life from a lens of 8am-5pm,” Jeremy Sheffield, Ed.D., Director of Housing, remarks. “You learn just as much outside the classroom as you do inside.” 

When Dr. Sheffield learned about RecRe’s automated rental solution at a conference, it seemed like a perfect fit to help solve both USA’s inventory management and student engagement issues. Starting in two residence halls, USA stocked a few cubbies, but allowed their hall governments to decide the contents of the rest. This student-centric approach empowered students to decide what was most important to their success and engagement in the residence hall. 

The commitment to student involvement hasn’t stopped. At the beginning of every academic year, USA places a set of A-frame signs outside each locker with a custom QR code that allows students to suggest future inventory. 

“To us administrators, RecRe is the ideal student engagement tool,” adds Dr. Sheffield. “To students, it offers a chance for them to reflect on what they need to be successful in life. It’s not just a matter of excelling academically, but having access to and saving money on the tools to make [students] more successful in their time on campus.” 

University of South Alabama offers an insight into how Residence Life professionals can offer students a range of engagement opportunities with RecRe. If you want to learn more about their RecRe experience, download their full campus success story.