Virtual CL recruitment takes off, hoping to find next generation of student leaders

Sophomores Jantzen Griswold from Oklahoma City and Josiah Bergstrom from Houston work as CLs at North Russle Residence hall. Because of the 10 person occupancy rule at functions they say that they have not been able to meet with all their residents at once, making it harder to connect. Emileé Edwards | Photographer

By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer

Community Leader applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are now open, and they close on Oct. 16. Both the application process and the role of a CL have adapted due to COVID-19.

The applications were released early this year to accommodate for interviews, which usually occur during what is now an extended winter break. Oklahoma City sophomore Jantzen Griswold is a CL in North Russell and said he encourages students to apply now.

“I applied to be a CL because I realized how big of an impact CLs had on my life freshman year,” Griswold said. When he was going through a difficult time, he said his CL was “someone there specifically designated to watch out for me and look out for me in that first year. He was able to walk with me, pray with me and check up on me when, at that point, I hadn’t made a ton of friends yet.”

Now, Griswold said he gets to “give back in the same way” through his CL position to “show incoming freshmen that there are people here that care about them and are there to help them through their first really big transition into college.”

According to the Community Leader page on Baylor’s website, a CL “provides leadership by fostering community and cultivating relationships, mentoring residents and facilitating learning through efforts that integrate aspects of diversity, faith development, academics and relationships.”

Jasmine J. Jennings, senior coordinator for student staff recruitment, training and advising, oversees the CL hiring process in the Campus Living & Learning department. She said that while the main duties of a CL remain the same, COVID-19 has changed the way things are being run.

“A lot of the CL programming efforts have changed, whether it’s CLs having smaller programming opportunities or they are moving their programming to a virtual platform,” Jennings said. “I would also say that a lot of their one-on-one student interactions are a lot more virtual this year than they have been in the past.”

Jennings said everything that Campus Living & Learning is doing is “done to protect our environment and our community” and that the CLs have been “rolling with the changes.” She said this has encouraged CLs to be more “creative” and “flexible” with their planning.

For example, Griswold and his second floor community at North Russell did a scavenger hunt where they broke out into groups of six to eight people. He said the goal was for his residents to be able to “meet people from other halls but still be socially distant and have their masks on.”

“[The CLs] have been so resilient,” Jennings said. “I applaud them because having so much change happen in a short amount of time and having to change the way they do their job takes a lot of guts.”

Griswold said even with the COVID-19 adaptations, “it’s a really enjoyable job” that has a lot of worthy benefits. He said the community formed with residents and with other CLs is his favorite part of the job.

CLs also receive “a free room, a free meal plan, and a graduated stipend based on years of service [$400-$1200]” according to the application portal.

“You are not going to find another job where you are building relationships and literally getting paid to make friends and hang out with people all the time. I think it’s unique in that way,” Griswold said. “You probably aren’t going to have too many other jobs where you study, you work, and you hang out all in the same place.”

To apply, go to the Starrez Housing Portal or follow the link on Baylor’s website. Here, students can find the application, requirements and contact information about the position. Applications are due at noon on Oct. 16.

Jennings said the interview process and training presentations are normally in person, but this year is the first time they are being held online. She said this year’s process will include 30-minute Zoom interviews, group discussions and the normal CL class requirement before decisions are made.

“The most important characteristics that we find in applicants,” Jennings said, are exemplified in a “student who loves living on campus,” has “a desire to help others,” “values diversity” and “works well in a team.” They also will be looking for good “time management and communication skills.”

Last year, Jennings said there were over 100 applicants. The number of available positions depends on how many current CLs choose to return to the role next year, which is decided early spring.

“I know how freshmen have been impacted by things that they’ve had to miss out on,” Griswold said. He thinks the CL job is important now more than ever because “being able to live in a residence hall is one of the few things that hasn’t been completely taken away from them. It’s been really impactful to see the transition into their first few weeks of school and being able to give back and serve them and not having our roles taken away.”

Jennings said she encourages anyone who is interested in the position to reach out to their own CLs and ask questions. She is “excited” that so many students have already shown interest in applying and looks forward to the hiring process.

“I hope that future CLs or students who are interested know that this is a very special position in the sense that they can help people,” Jennings said. “When they become a CL, they have Campus Living & Learning to support them through difficult times. I think that COVID and everything else that is happening around us has made a lot of us think about what it means to be close to one another. I hope that this position helps you develop life long relationships.”