Residence hall directors who accept the task of managing an entire hall and raising children around the influence of college students take the phrase “it takes a village” to another level.
Emmons Hall RHD Nathan Tomson said raising a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter in the residence hall with his partner has been a positive experience with few drawbacks.
“Sometimes one of the drawbacks is they don’t necessarily have stranger anxiety like other kids would have because they’re around so many adults all the time,” Tomson said. “It’s been a very positive experience … They’re very respectful of the students and their space, and the students in return are very respectful of the kids.”
Larzelere Hall RHD Andrea Purrenhage said her children have a lot of student contact. Purrenhage’s 5-year-old son, Mason, even participated in the annual Mock Rock Central Michigan University holds every year.
However, Purrenhage said she sometimes has to remind students to remain aware of what they say around children.
“You come across a few students who are cursing or who say things, and they don’t realize they’re actually doing it,” Purrenhage said. “And I’ve gone over and talked to them and said, ‘Hey, I know that you’re not probably meaning to do this, but can you be conscious?’ and they say, ‘Oh, sorry, I didn’t even realize it.’”
Purrenhage said, some nights, the noisy rooms will give them trouble sleeping, but she said the pros outweigh the cons.
“Everyone here is very caring, and the kids are all well-known in the building,” Purrenhage said. “It’s just really a fantastic situation. I couldn’t ask for better residents to keep my kids around, either. They’re all wonderful.”
Tomson said he’s seen some of the influences the students have had on his children, but he isn’t worried.
“Connor will say ‘what’s up’ or ‘what’s going on,’ which is not something I would typically think a 5-year old would say. So, I don’t worry about things like language, because honestly, they just don’t hear it, or, at some point, they’re going to hear things anyway, regardless where they are or what environment they’re in,” Tomson said.
Similarly, Barnes Hall RHD Luanne Goffnett isn’t concerned with college students negatively influencing her children, although she said her children have seen negative behavior in the hall.
“They can see the consequences and appearances (of negative behavior), which leaves an impression, and will hopefully encourage them not to engage in that behavior. That has been the result for our oldest, who is now in her first year of college,” Goffnett said.
As with the other RHDs, Goffnett said the residence halls provide a positive atmosphere to raise a family.
“The students are a great influence on my children. They provide both positive and negative examples that facilitate discussion,” Goffnett said. “For example, my children may observe a student who is active in community service, working to make a difference and want to be like them. My children have been inspired by the students.”