On behalf of The Vector Editorial Board:
Students invest thousands of dollars and years of study in obtaining a degree. However, this piece of paper means more than simply a certification of completion of required courses—it is greater than the sum of its parts. The experiences and memories made, and the time spent fostering relationships are what characterize college as the years that help define the life of a maturing adult. The administration and staff at the institution of a student’s choice are responsible to provide the foundation needed to prepare a student with knowledge and experience that will help them grow and succeed in life after college.
Lynn Riker, Director of Residence Life, is a refreshing reminder of NJIT being a student-based institution. She goes above and beyond her role as the director of a department, voluntarily working alongside the student body in various projects and functions around campus and listening to the needs of the student body. Therefore, it was particularly troubling to learn last week that Lynn has been placed on administrative leave.
Working in Residence Life requires a great deal of customer service skill and experience. Move-in days, at all times of the year, are always busy, with students checking in and checking out at different times. Residents who live on-campus invest their time and money to live in a setting that is clean and comfortable. During the hustle and bustle of move-in week, a room may not have exactly been cleaned well by a previous resident, and this occasionally results in a new resident encountering a dirty room. Lynn personally takes the time to help out her busy staff during move in or move out week, and cleans the room herself to ensure that students get the clean, sanitary room and quality living conditions that they paid for. This is a great example of customer service, but also speaks volumes about her character. She is more than just a director who coordinates a department: she not only works directly alongside her fellow associate directors and other administrators, she also goes out of her way to help the ResLife staff.
Her profound work ethic is also on display during the alumni reunion weekend when returning alumni spend the weekend on campus. Even though it is the responsibility of Alumni Relations and their team of students to ensure that the dorm rooms are sanitary, have clean linen, and welcome gifts prepared, Lynn Riker jumps in and helps. Last year, she took the time to ensure that all of the rooms in the Honors College used to house alumni for the weekend were above–and-beyond normal living conditions. If a room needed to be vacuumed, had dirty furniture, or even if there was a paint chip or scratch on the wall, she arranged for maintenance to come to the room so that it was in perfect condition.
Not only does Lynn Riker work alongside students, but also she works hard to ensure students have what they need to succeed at NJIT both academically and socially. She is in tune with what students want and need—this can only can be understood by her constant interactions with students in different capacities, whether it be in a public setting at a meeting or on campus event, or in one-on-one interactions behind closed doors, where students can finally feel comfortable opening up to someone who they can trust with their deepest secrets, fears, problems, and anxieties. For some students, Lynn is one of the few people at NJIT that they can comfortably confide in.
The new housing options have been introduced to students for the 2016-2017 academic school year are another good example of how Lynn responds to student needs. Lynn has been instrumental in helping to usher in these options, which include recovery housing, modest lifestyle housing and LGTBQ housing. Recovery housing allows for students that are involved in a recovery program to live together. This helps build encouragement for students involved in such a program. Modest lifestyle housing consists of a commitment to a 24 quiet hour, smoke and drug free lifestyle. This also has a no-visitation policy by members of the opposite sex. LGTBQ housing ensures students have a safe space where they can openly express their gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation.
The examples discussed above are only a handful of the ways Lynn Riker demonstrates a true commitment to the student body. By leading by example, she creates a department that not only genuinely cares, but also constantly reaches out and engages with the students.
The possibility of Lynn Riker no longer being a part of NJIT is distressing, and that is why the Editorial Board of The Vector has taken the opportunity to speak out in regards to the compassion and support she brings to student life at NJIT.
With support from:
Raj Das, Student Senate President
Malorie Pangilinan, Editor-in-Chief, Nucleus.
Michael Osztrogonacz , President, SAC