The Office of Residential Life (ResLife) welcomed three new staff members—Assistant Director Liliana Carrasquillo-Vasquez ’12, Area Coordinator (AC) Kristina Latorre, and AC Sunny Jeon—following the departures of Assistant Director of ResLife Kieran Duffy, AC Robert Spignesi, and AC Stephanie Lewis. Latorre is the AC for senior housing and westside program houses, and Jeon is the AC for Bennet Hall, Clark Hall, 200 Church, Malcolm X House, and Writer’s Block.
The new staff were selected by a search committee that included AC Emily Pearson, Assistant Director for Student Employment Nafeza Kingston, and House Manager for Open House Calvin Gao ’23. This committee held preliminary interviews with applicants over the summer and then conducted full-day interviews to fill the positions. The three new hires joined the department and hit the ground running, according to Director of Residential Life Maureen Isleib.
“First and foremost, we were looking for people who had the knowledge, skills and abilities to fulfill the responsibilities of each position,” Isleib wrote in an email to The Argus. “What separated our finalists apart from the others came down to ‘fit.’ It is critical to me that we find people who are going to be ‘good colleagues,’ committed to growing and helping the department develop. I also seek out candidates who are excited about Wesleyan and supporting our students.”
Soon after their arrival, Carrasquillo-Vasquez, Latorre, and Jeon prepared to focus on some of the University’s biggest residential concerns, including equity and inclusion in University housing and the lack of community among students in wood-frame houses.
Carrasquillo-Vasquez is returning to the University as assistant director, having held the same position from 2016 to 2019. After taking a brief leave to take care of her young children and for other personal reasons, Carrasquillo-Vasquez was happy to come back.
“I have always really loved Wes, it feels like a home to me,” Vasquez said. “I brought my daughter home to the Butterfields, and I brought my son to Home Avenue when we lived here.”
Carrasquillo-Vasquez is deeply passionate about housing insecurity, equity, social justice, and inclusion in University residences, and she intends to work on these issues through the assistant director position. Though some progress has been made in those areas, Carrasquillo-Vasquez is currently attempting to address the need for reliable housing for low-income students on campus.
“As the person who oversees housing selection and room changes, I am in a position to steward in change,” Carrasquillo-Vasquez said. “I am in charge of a system that could potentially create feelings of inequity.”
Above all, Carrasquillo-Vasquez values the advocacy and ambition of Wesleyan students. This makes it easier to solve problems and understand student opinions.
“I have always deeply appreciated the feedback Wesleyan students are willing to give, as well their sincerity and honesty in doing so,” Carrasquillo-Vasquez said.
Originally from the Boston area, Latorre fell in love with residential life during her undergraduate years at Lesley University, in Massachusetts. After working at Assumption University and the University of Tampa in their residential life departments, Latorre enjoys the work environment at Wesleyan and is excited to return home to the northeast.
“I specifically picked Wes because I liked the University’s mission and what the culture was here,” Latorre said. “I loved how active the student body was with social justice, diversity and education…. That’s why I fell into this position.”
After Latorre’s arrival on campus, they immediately focused on the wood-frame residential community. According to Latorre, the geographical divisions and non-uniform distribution of these houses tend to isolate students. She hopes to address this by building community between wood-frame houses, starting with the creation of wood-frame neighborhoods.
“Something I worked on this summer, right before I started, was dividing the wood-frame neighborhoods into different communities,” Latorre recalled. “They are currently named after highlighter colors, so there’s the green, pink, and blue communities.”
According to Latorre, this gives each community an identity separate from the larger one, which they hope to develop further.
“We now have a ‘Name Your Neighborhood’ contest,” Latorre said. “Students can submit names and work together to build that sense of community.”
Also overseeing program housing, Latorre hopes to integrate the program housing communities with the wood frames. All in all, Latorre’s vision is to make a stronger westside community as a whole, though that may prove to be a difficult task.
Though saddened by the departures of Duffy, Spignesi, and Lewis, Isleib expressed ResLife’s excitement to welcome these new members into the office.
“All three of our new staff members hit the ground running and have already started to make changes to better the student residential experience,” Isleib said.
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