The concept of community is at the heart of the residential program at The College of New Jersey. A Residence Hall Social Contract was developed in 1976 and has been reviewed and revised each year by members of the Residence Hall Association and the staff of the Residential Education and Housing. The social contract provides specific, negotiated behavioral expectations for students in such areas as study environment, security, use of facilities, and mutual respect.
To take the process a step further in the First Year Experience, each floor will negotiate an additional floor contract that outlines the community norms for their own, specific, community. Students discuss their need for quiet, use of bathrooms by guests, floor cleanliness, and how residents will confront each other if these norms are violated. Finally, this model is utilized once again on an individual room/suite basis, where each set of roommates will be asked to discuss and create their personal set of agreed upon expectations.
Over the course of the year, these agreements are revisited to determine if they need to be revised or if community members need to be addressed for not meeting the expectations they had previously agreed to. Throughout these processes, undergraduate paraprofessional, graduate, and professional staff are available to assist students in their discussions.
Community development is accomplished through the integration of academic work, opportunities for civic engagement and service learning, and the transitional programming aimed at our first year students living in residence. The Department of Residential Education focuses its efforts on teaching our incoming first year students the basic life skills needed to cope with the transition to a higher education environment and build strong communities within our residence halls.