Toyon Hall introduces pre-assign program to give sophomores mentors

Feb. 24, 2017, 2:08 a.m.

Toyon Hall, an all-sophomore dorm on east campus, will introduce a new residential program called Re-Imagining the Sophomore Experience (RISE) next academic year.  The program will focus on community building for second-year students.

Toyon Hall introduces pre-assign program to give sophomores mentors
Toyon Hall (MCKENZIE LYNCH/The Stanford Daily).

In the RISE program, nine of the 160 living spots for Toyon residents will be pre-assigned to rising juniors or seniors. According to Toyon Resident Fellows (RFs) Grant Parker and Marie-Louise Catsalis, RISE will develop the nine pre-assignees’ leadership and mentoring skills so that they can assist sophomores in decision making about their futures. Catsalis believes the process will build stronger community bonds among sophomores.

RISE will give preference to former Toyon residents. The nine accepted students will enroll in a course during the fall for credit. In the class, they will engage in conversations with each other and the RFs to identify issues that sophomore year highlights and establish plans for further programs or courses of action.

The RFs hope that adopting RISE will help sophomore tackle the “big picture” of their experiences. They hope to see the nine student leaders helping with decisions relating to studying abroad, declaring a major, applying to staff in other residences and coping with a change in environment.

“We want to bring in people that have an ongoing commitment to Toyon and are prepared to draw on their experience to help facilitate programs,” Parker said.

RISE participants will live in singles, leaving only double-occupancy rooms for Toyon sophomores. According to Catsalis, this arrangement works to prevent feelings of isolation.

“We think that it is better to have those singles when you’ve already made a network,” Catsalis said. Throughout their time as RFs, Grant and Catsalis have found that sophomores struggle with an environmental change following freshman dorm experiences.

Catsalis said pre-assignees will be distinct from dorm staff.

“The difference between being on staff and being part of this pre-assigned program is that when you’re on staff, you get trained by [Residential Education], and then you’re on the job,” Catsalis said. “This is more of a training program aimed at the development of these nine people in hopes that over the course of the year, they will be able to experiment in terms of trying things out and how to build a team and develop its strengths.”

Catsalis hopes RISE can create a trickle-down effect by surrounding sophomores with students who have recently gone through experiences comparable to their own.

“Grant and I are really committed to enhancing the idea of the sophomore experience,” Catsalis said. “We are really eager to help students into the next step of adulthood.”


Contact Vibhav Mariwala at vibhavm ‘at’

Vibhav is a senior staff writer from Mumbai, India. He is a history major writing an honor’s thesis on the Indian Constitution and Indian economic policy from 1947-60. When he’s not reading history books, Vibhav enjoys sailing, kayaking and hiking.

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