By Tim Leeds
Carol Jestrab, circulations supervisor at the Vande Bogart Library at Montana State University-Northern, said she would definitely recommend participating in the "Adopt a Floor" program at Northern.
All of the full-time staffers of the library participated in the program last year, its first year. They received information about new students living in the dorms at Northern, then contacted them several times over the year. The library staffers gave the students care bags with useful items and treats, making the students feel more at home and more a part of the community.
"They seemed glad we went out of our way to care," Jestrab said. "They were just shocked we would take the time to bake them homemade treats."
Sue Swan, student health director at Northern, said the purpose of Adopt a Floor is to give the students a clear connection to the community, to make them feel at home and more likely to remain a student at the university.
People adopting a student review a questionnaire the student has filled out, then contact the person at least three times during the semester. Swan suggests the adopter contact the student during the first two weeks of school, sometime later in the semester and just before finals week.
Classes at MSU-N start Sept. 5.
The program provides special note cards to send to the student, but Swan said the contacts could include visits, phone calls, care packages, invitations to a family event, sporting event or a movie.
Cindy Barnard, now a student employee at the university library, was one of the students adopted by the library last year. She said she originally didn't get picked, but the library staff ended up adopting more toward the end of the semester.
She said the staff gave them things they needed for their rooms, and the homemade treats were nice.
Jestrab said the library staff started out adopting 16 students, but had adopted 26 by the end of the year. She said the staffers kept the resident assistants informed about what they were doing and also found out from the RAs the best time to visit the students in the dorm.
Staffers took turns buying things to put in the care bags, and making homemade goodies. They tried to find things students in a dorm might need and want, like cups, paper, pencils and microwave popcorn. She said they included a card or note in the package, "telling them we were glad they were here."
The library staff usually decorated the bags, and made special packages for holidays.
"For finals week we gave them lots of gum," she said. "That's supposed to relieve stress."
Swan said there are usually 12 to 15 students per floor in the dorm, and if enough people get involved they might be able to form teams for each floor, instead of individual students. She added that the important thing is that every new student is assigned a partner to make the student feel more connected with Northern and Havre.
For more information, contact Swan at 265-6653.