By Madison Lands
College housing is the home base for student life, a system designed to provide living environments that both support rigorous academics and stimulate intellectual and social growth. It is uniquely UChicago, and Sean Lee is proud of his role within it. As a Community Assistance Director in College Housing and former Resident Head of Jannotta, he is familiar with all aspects of the program and the Houses.
Serving as the College Housing liaison to the houses in Max Palevsky Residential Commons, Maclean Hall, and Snell-Hitchcock Hall, Lee doesn’t have a typical work day. He spends his time consulting with the residential staff and the building managers and staff. He supports the housing staff through advising, the dean-on-call program, and Residential Staff training.
Although he does not spend as much time with students as he did as a Resident Head, he does see how his role in College Housing affects their lives.
“The way we are able to support and have high touch relationships with our communities, and create this sense of family, is really helpful to support students who are in such a rigorous academic situation,” says Lee.
Lee also plays a role in navigating major disciplinary issues. He takes on this role because it allows R.A.s and Resident Heads to continue to maintain strong connections with their communities. Having been a Resident Head himself, he understands the importance of their role in the house, and feels that anything he can do to make their lives easier is rewarding and important work.
He ensures that the students come out of his office feeling that the corrective process was fair.
“The conversations we have are not punitive – they’re more about the educational component, about why the action was damaging to the community and why something like it can’t happen again,” Lee says. “The process gives students real world experience with actions and consequences”
Lee sees the housing system as an extended family--literally. His own family started when he and his wife were the Jannotta House Resident Heads—their son, William Kahlil, was born in 2012. Raising a child in Jannotta made it an even more integral part of his personal life and family, and he was happy to see that his residents felt the same way.
“What I have often heard is students referring to their houses as “home,” says Lee. “And that’s an affinity that students seldom find.”