|Colette Shaw, a First-Year Enrichment instructor, rides the bus from Perkins to Gleason Circle on the morning of Jan. 20. Shaw was one of 20 administrators who participated in The Real RIT Challenge.
Colette Shaw and Kelly Redder’s experience at the Perkins Green Apartments began with a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Redder, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations, lowered the thermostat, and after 10 minutes of struggle, she and Shaw were able to open the windows and let the cold air filter through the room.
Redder and Shaw, a First Year Enrichment teacher, chose to participate in Student Government (SG)’s Real RIT Challenge, which landed them in an apartment together with student Rose Campbell, a second year double major in Management Information Systems and Criminal Justice.
Two years ago, 21 administrators moved into the dorms for two nights as part of the SG Dorm Challenge. The experience involved late-night fire alarms, administrators’ own college nostalgia and the term “sexiled.”
This year, 20 administrators moved into Perkins Green Apartments, Global Village (GV) or the RIT Inn and Conference Center for two nights. SG intended for The Real RIT Challenge, as it was branded, to expose administrators to the rigors of transportation and apartment living.
Wednesday, Jan. 19
Redder and Shaw arrived at their assigned Perkins apartment around 7 p.m. and settled in immediately. Besides the temperature control, both had nothing but good first impressions of their housing.
Redder and Shaw’s new roommate came home late after an exam and liked that she had roommates waiting for her. “It’s kind of nice to see the lights on when I get home,” Campbell said.
The three stayed up for an hour in the living room talking about cakes, candy and apartment living before heading to bed.
Thursday, Jan. 20
In the morning, Shaw arrived several minutes early for the bus. She talked to students as she boarded her first shuttle. Upon her arrival at Gleason Circle, Shaw said, “It was so easy! I feel like a chump for not using it when I used to work [in Grace Watson Hall] and when I would go to lovin’cup.”
After work, Shaw was challenged to find her way to the Inn. Instead of waiting around campus for an hour, she decided to take an earlier shuttle. As she walked by the Tiger Statue, Shaw saw the shuttle she needed pull into Gleason Circle. She had to run to catch the bus.
Eventually, SG members and three other participants joined Shaw at the Inn for dinner. She ate toasted ravioli and a salad while the group discussed several student issues, including how isolated the Inn felt and how limited the food choices were.
“Students at the Inn are required to have a meal plan. On campus, there are more dining options that the Inn kids don’t have, yet they are held to the same standard on meal plans,” Shaw said.
After dinner, Shaw had to make a decision. She could either stay at the Inn and participate in a Rock Band competition or take the shuttle back to campus to meet up with her roommates for a game night at GV. Shaw chose the latter.
A group of Shaw’s roommates and friends met up in GV building C. They were joined by more students and Cha Ron Sattler, associate director of the Center for Residence Life, who was assigned to GV for the challenge.
The game of choice was “Would You Rather?” Players must choose between two scenarios. When Redder was asked if she would rather be invisible or fly, she chose invisibility.
The administrators mostly listened to the students make their choices and watched them interact. Sattler then posed a question that took over the rest of the evening’s conversation: Where were you on the high school food chain?
Redder said she floated between all groups. Sattler said she was known as a musician and played the French horn. Shaw admitted that she hadn’t changed. “I was a nerd,” Shaw said, “the same as I am now.”
The students reminisced about high school while the administrators looked on.
Friday, Jan. 21
Shaw said she enjoyed herself throughout the Challenge and found living in the apartments easier than living in the dorms during the Dorm Challenge two years ago, but she found this experience just as educational.
Before the Challenge concluded with an open forum, Shaw sat in her office thinking of the last few days and why she chose to participate.
“I used to think I was really in touch with students,” Shaw said, “I meet with them every day, but I realized I really hadn’t experienced their world.”