By Madeline Marriott ’24 

Lafayette’s Office of Residence Life recently received the Benchworks Assessment and Impact Award for students’ high rates of sense of belonging and overall satisfaction on the company’s survey. 

The award, given to only three schools across the country, comes after the residence life team used the Skyfactor Benchworks survey to take stock of which areas under its purview could be improved upon to ensure a positive experience for students. 

“Our goal is always to ask the right questions of ourselves,” says Grace Reynolds, director of residence life. “The data helps us understand how to work with students to help them be successful and create a residential experience that is so powerful for them.” 

The honor, which uses data from the 2021 survey cycle, recognizes Lafayette’s high scores on survey questions that related to residents’ sense of belonging and satisfaction with student staff. Skyfactor highlighted three areas of focus in which Lafayette particularly stood out: cultivating connections during the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing a holistic student experience, and ensuring a wide range of staff members contribute to a sense of student belonging. 

Reynolds and Julie Mulé, senior associate director of residence life, highlighted the hard work of the resident adviser (RA) team in making the student experience special. 

“So much of our program is delivered through the RAs, and they’ve been high-performing on this survey for many, many years,” Mulé says. “I think it’s reassuring for them, because they do have a tough job, but when you see survey results like these, it can reassure them that their time and their effort is all worth it.” 

Reynolds and Mulé are particularly proud of the team’s innovation during the virtual semester and the transition back to on-campus living. The semester saw the advent of Zoom mates, a program that matched student pairs on the virtual platform with the potential to eventually become roommates. Additionally, the Office of Residence Life, led by Mulé, redesigned the housing system to allow incoming students to request neighbors—people they had met over the course of the virtual semester who could live in the surrounding dorm rooms. 

“We feel really proud of what we put into place,” Mulé says. “We put a lot of thought into everything we do.”