Eileen Harrington Roth has been appointed as the Ithaca College off-campus living coordinator, a new position for the college.
Harrington Roth has worked at the college since 2018 as a residence director, a position she also held at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, prior to her time at the college. She holds a master’s degree from Salisbury in conflict analysis and dispute resolution. She also has experience with implementing restorative justice practices, is a certified mediator and worked with local resource centers during her time at Salisbury.
In her new position, Harrington Roth said she will focus on communicating, educating and assisting students who are living off campus this semester. Staff writer Syd Pierre spoke to Harrington Roth about her goals, which include opening up lines of communication with students through different platforms, like Instagram, and ensuring that resources offered to students are accessible and equitable.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Syd Pierre: As a former residence director, what skills will you be bringing to the table in your new role as the off-campus living coordinator?
Eileen Harrington Roth: Having that background knowledge from when I was in Maryland to now, being able to transform that and implement it in Ithaca is really exciting. I also think it is really awesome that I worked here for two years and have a sense of the Ithaca students [and] some of their needs. This role here, I think, is really important because it hasn’t been in place before. And so I’m really motivated to build student-focused practices and outreach that works for students. … I constantly hear students say, “I don’t want to read a long email. I’d rather digest it in small bites or see it in this capacity.” Obviously, there’s always a point and a reason for an email. But there’s also ways that we can transform that communication style into something that’s a bit more tangible for students or access them in a capacity that is on a platform that they already use.
SP: What type of role do you hope to facilitate between administration at Ithaca College and students living off campus?
EHR: One of the things we’re launching is the Off-Campus Advisory Council. We are having the dean of students, [Bonnie Prunty], on that group. We are having local administrators as well as individuals from our [Hammond Health Center], as well as landlords and just community members in the area. And I think this group is really important because it’s bringing a lot of people together that maybe haven’t had the opportunity to meet each other and say, from their perspective, what they need.
SP: How will you work with administrations of other schools, like [Cornell University], to foster a safe community of students in Ithaca?
EHR: I know that in my position, we do meet with the local colleges, [Tompkins Cortland Community College] and Cornell, and keep up those communications around their dashboard updates or just different things that they’re doing, such as social media campaigns, social norming campaigns. A lot of those relationships were already built before I came into this position. We meet with them very regularly and try to gain an understanding of what they are focusing on. … So there is a collective need for all of us to be on the same page and come together and understand that if there are cases, [they] could affect each other’s campuses.
SP: What types of resources do you plan to offer to students who are living off campus, both in the Ithaca area and across the country?
EHR: We are working with the local community around food cabinets in the area, as well as local things students can do, such as the drive-in movie theater [and] local art in the area. But I do think that there’s a lot of offices that are already doing things that give support to students. And so one of the things that I like to do is, in the Instagram Live, I like to bring in other offices. … I’m bringing in [the Office of Case Management], and we’re going to be talking through all the different mental health and wellness supports that are going to be offered. … I know the Fitness Center has weekly classes that you can take all online [that are] free to students. And so I think just highlighting them for students in a way that they don’t need to click on maybe four different things on the website to find [them], and so that’s really my goal here.
SP: It’s been an unprecedented year for both students and faculty at Ithaca College. What advice would you give to students living off campus this semester?
EHR: I guess my advice for students living off campus is it can be more independent. My biggest thing is independence doesn’t need to be isolating. Taking advantage of resources that the school is offering and advocating for oneself if they feel like a resource isn’t being provided, I certainly welcome that from students and I can connect [them] with either local community members or IC community members or IC college members to see if we can provide those things. I will also say being aware of the larger Ithaca community, I think that we want students to feel connected and that connectedness might look a little bit different. So if you are seeing another friend for a small study group, we ask that you wear masks if you’re not part of that same household. … It’s more important than ever about who you associate with and trying to be safe as much as possible. Because then, that can help keep our community safe.