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Hall Presidents Council encourages collaboration between dorms, hall improvement

| Thursday, December 6, 2018

As Hall Presidents Council (HPC) co-chairs this year, seniors Joe Trzaska and Brendan Watts said they have focused on making HPC a collaborative environment for hall presidents and vice presidents.

“At HPC, our goal is to disseminate information, to encourage collaboration between the halls and we run the Hall of the Year competition, so it’s like a competitive, collaborative spirit hybrid that exists in HPC where each dorm is trying is maximize its potential but all the dorms are working toward the same goal,” Trzaska said.

To help with this goal, HPC hosts weekly meetings that feature hall announcements, other announcements and recurring features such as StaNDout and HPChat.

With StaNDout, Trzaska said the presidents and vice presidents from two dorms each week share about life in their hall. While this segment has existed in the past, Trzaska said this year he and Watts have shifted its focus to a more day-to-day look.

“Everyone knows about [the] Keenan Revue and Cav used to be a men’s dorm,” he said. “That’s interesting, but it’s not really relevant to how you can build your community today. We’ve tried to shift the focus of the StaNDout segment to a contemporary look at goings-on in the hall and things that make you proud of living there.”

With the second feature, HPChat, Trzaska and Watts said they have tried to bring in outside speakers to help guide discussions. Past speakers have included Karen Kennedy, director of student centers, activities and events, and Mia James, assistant director for educational initiatives at the Gender Relations Center. Trzaska and Watts also plan to host vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding, they said.

Watts said the goal of bringing in the speakers is to make HPC engaging for hall presidents, to let them take valuable information back to their hall and to enable them to host better events. For instance, Watts said one HPChat focused on improving multicultural events in dorms.

“We’ve had some really cool guests who have been able to get the presidents’ minds on different issues they might not have been focused on,” Trzaska said.

To help encourage a more collaborative spirit between halls, Trzaska said he and Watts have tried to change the way dorms talk about their events during HPC.

“Sometimes in the past there was really a spirit of competition, sometimes at the expense of other dorms in HPC,” Trzaska said. “If dorms had a really cool event — a recurring event, say — they would keep their cards close to their chest so that no one else could use it and get Hall of the Year points, too. To combat that, we tried to reframe the way dorms think about those events by doing cool event highlights each month.”

Trzaska said he and Watts look at the Rocknes, forms dorms submit at the end of each month, and if they see a good event in the form, they will ask the president and vice president of the dorm to talk about it during HPC.

As another way to help hall presidents and vice presidents, Watts said he and Trzaska have continued to host one-on-one meetings with the presidents and vice presidents at the start of the year but have also added in a mid-year meeting.

At the beginning of the semester, Trzaska and Watts had the dorm presidents and vice presidents outline their goals for the year.

“Each hall is trying to accomplish different things, trying to change different things,” he said. “ … We’re going to check in mid-year and see how they’re working on that rather than waiting until the end-of-the-year presentation and seeing if they accomplish [their goals]. By meeting with them mid-year, if they’re not on progress to meet those goals, we can hopefully help facilitate that.”

Trzaska and Watts have also made a change to this year’s Hall of the Year competition, reallocating 5 percent of the score to GreeNDot participation.

“If a hall reaches 15 percent participation in GreeNDot bystander training — they have 15 percent of the dorm bystanders trained — they automatically receive that 5 percent of the Hall of the Year score,” Watts said.

Watts said there are also several incentives, such as cash prizes and water filtration systems, to help encourage dorms to go beyond the 15 percent. The change, Watts said, should help promote a safer campus environment as well as help give halls opportunities beyond the final presentation to earn Hall of the Year points.


This year’s HPC co-chairs have made concrete steps to focus on specific changes in accordance with the goals for the year. They have an organized approach to creating change and have made actual changes in addition to thinking through future changes they want to make.

Grade: A

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About Alexandra Muck

Alexandra Muck is a Notre Dame senior majoring in business and economics. Originally from Dallas, she currently lives in Howard Hall.

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