New and improved resources in HRE

Housing & Residential Education has created a new position to further the U’s commitment to campus safety. Jimmy Thren is the resident outreach coordinator, operating as a support system for residents—whatever their needs may be. His role is central to assisting residents who may have concerns or are experiencing barriers to success here on campus.

Thren will be focusing on an individualized approach and working to provide each student with the care, action and follow-up they need. He will go straight to the individual—right where they live—to have direct conversations and identify resolutions to concerns. His new role will streamline the reporting process for any resident experiencing hardship, and ensure there is an individual to reach out to and help them be heard, supported and aware of campus resources.

“My job here at the University of Utah is to connect with students and create a rapport with them to ensure they feel safe and heard,” said Thren. “I’m always careful not to make judgements, and recognize and communicate emotions. I think the most important thing is to break down barriers that keep students from the resources they need.”

Thren and his supervisor Kolay Carver, assistant director of conduct and resident outreach, want residents to know their names, recognize their faces and feel comfortable talking to them both conversationally and in crisis. They will be working with other groups, attending campus events and getting to know residents personally.

“Part of the goal, too, is to create safety nets for folks with resources and relationships to help students along the way,” Carver said. “The more safety nets that we can put in place, the less likely that a student falls all the way through and crashes.”

For example, the team will work with any resident who is injured on campus and needs medical attention. They will form an action plan that takes into consideration what is needed immediately needs and getting them support. After that the team will conduct regular follow-ups with the resident in the days, weeks and months that follow and adjust the action plan as needed. Changes will be made based on if the condition has improved, how moods and behaviors may have been altered and what campus resources could be helpful. In certain cases, academic allowances may be needed as a result of the injury. Carver and Thren will work with the Office of the Dean of Student to provide those types of support.

The goal for this new position and these new procedures is to keep track of resident concerns and issues and encourage campus-wide partnership and awareness. This work requires collaboration between resident directors as well as student and community leaders to ensure that concerns are addressed. Carver and Thren have met with 12 partner offices, including the Office for the Dean of Students, the Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Title IX, the Department of Public Safety, the Counseling Center and the Women’s Resource Center. They also serve on the U’s Behavioral Intervention Team, a group that meets once a week to review new reports and follow up on ongoing cases.

If you or someone you know live on campus and may need some additional resources, submit an Incident Report here. Anyone—parents, siblings, roommates, classmates, friends—can file an Incident Report. Carver and Thren read and evaluate every report and decide the best way to proceed. A team approach is essential in helping students holistically and providing the resources that make the most sense for them.

In Housing & Residential Education, there are resident advisors on call at night and over the weekends. Carver and Thren help to support a team of eight on-call resident directors who take turns being available to respond to reports from resident advisors and others 24 hours a day.

For more information on housing safety, securities and resources, click here.

Kolay Carver received her bachelor’s degree in communications, and holds a master’s in higher education administration. She spent the last 10 years at Iowa Western Community College, where she worked with student life, student support and outreach, and residence life.

“I think there is a powerful opportunity to have real conversations with students during conduct meetings. A student may have an alcohol policy violation, and when you talk to them you find out that they're drinking because their going through a difficult time. Being able to connect students with on campus resources and help them in a holistic way, we can truly impact and mentor and change students' lives through this process. That’s where my passion lies.”

Jimmy Thren studied psychology and sociology, then earned a master’s in student affairs and higher education. He became a resident director at the University of New Hampshire for the past four years, working both one-on-one and with communities.

“I believe that life can be pretty hard and I believe everyone deserves support in one way or another. I was a first-generation college student, and I had no idea what resources were available, and I now I feel like I can be a resource to students.”