The functions of the Office of University Housing and Residential Life’s Peer Mentor program cover the same responsibilities as responsible adults.
Moving from familiar and comfortable homes to cramped dorm rooms with complete strangers can be a big transition for incoming Temple students, but employing peer mentors to ease students’ growing pains is not the answer.
The Office of University Housing and Residential Life’s new Peer Mentor program is designed to make it easier for students to build relationships with others on their floors and wings. Peer mentors must also be in tune to any concerns or problems residents may have. But for students living on Main Campus, most issues can already be solved with an already-existing tool: a Resident assistant.
“I had a problem with a roommate, but we resolved it among ourselves and the RA,” Luke Kockert, a freshman actuarial science major, said.
Kockert, who lives in 1300 residence hall, added that he never entertained the idea of seeking a third party, such as a peer mentor, to solve his roommate problems.
Other than whose turn it is to clean the bathroom, I have had minimal roommate disputes as a freshman living in 1300. Students work out their dorm room battles independently, even if it means transferring rooms.
“Although I’m sure a peer mentor could be useful, I would much rather go to my friends who know who I am and know background information about my situations and issues,” said Jenna Keeney, a freshman nursing major who also lives in 1300.
Similarly, if I had a serious problem I couldn’t possibly work out on my own, I would seek advice from someone familiar with my personality and relationships. Burdening a stranger with my problems would feel uncomfortable, and I would not be able to truly open up to that person, regardless of any training or experience he or she might have in peer mentoring.
As adults, it should be our responsibility to be able to overcome squabbles and foster new relationships.
“My biggest struggle in the dorms has been meeting people,” Sara Sweeney, a freshman education major, said. “Since I live in White Hall, all the rooms are suite-style, and a lot of the time, people keep their doors shut.
“On the other hand, people [who live] in Johnson and Hardwick [residence halls] have their doors wide open and are friends with everyone on the floor.”
One of the peer mentors’ responsibilities is to create a social community within residence halls, something Sweeney said is lacking in her residence hall. But considering all of the other activities and programs Temple offers, having a peer mentor to bring students together isn’t necessary. There are dozens of on-campus events, clubs and opportunities in which students can get involved. I met several people on my dance team, In Motion, and even a few good friends from classes.
The Peer Mentor program was created with good intentions, and sometimes freshmen do need a third party to diffuse serious arguments, but we learned the elementary school principles of compromise and forgiveness a long time ago. Kind and caring mediators who hold our hands and fix our problems won’t be readily available when students are thrown into the real world.
Cary Carr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.