Serving as an Assistant Rector (i.e. living with undergrads!)

Author: Lauren Fleck

By Nicholas Schilling, 3L

While at NDLS, I have been fortunate to participate in a number of amazing student opportunities: as a member of the Journal for Law, Ethics, and Public Policy; as an oralist on for the Moot Court Board National Showcase Team; and as a leader of and student in the Galilee program. One opportunity has stood out above the rest as uniquely available at Notre Dame: serving as an assistant rector in the undergraduate men’s dorm, Marilyn M. Keough Hall (Go ‘Roos!).

For Notre Dame alumni, the first question that graduates ask each other is, “Where did you live?” This reflects the centrality of dorm life to the undergraduate experience; freshmen through seniors live side-by-side and often live in the same dorm for the entirety of their time as Notre Dame students. Dorms operate as the residential, spiritual, and social home for most ND students, and each has a distinctive culture. Dorms provide a variety of programming (dances, lectures, retreats, etc.), as well as a signature event. In Keough, we construct homemade chariots and race them — it is as awesome and dangerous as it sounds. Each residence hall also has a motto, colors, and a mascot that facilitate a sense of unity. Residential life uniquely represents the heart of the Notre Dame undergraduate experience: student formation with a particular concern for the education of the heart and the mind.

As an AR, I am empowered to help in this formation through direct mentorship with dorm residents and indirectly through guiding other members of the hall staff. I also help to coordinate the dorm’s liturgical worship. My counterpart, Mathew (another law student), guides the dorm’s hall government, which is the primary programming body for the dorm. The Office of Housing describes the position as one requiring functions of a professional, minister, educator, and administrator. These are certainly all present, but the AR position invites graduate students to serve as a unique brother or sister in the dorm communities. Operating in this capacity allows me to diversify my student experience, help satisfy a desire to serve, and partake in a special component of the University of Notre Dame.

In addition to these ministerial-focused outcomes, the AR position affords a number of tangible financial benefits, including room, board, and a stipend. However, don’t apply to be an AR just because of these perks. A true commitment to service, interest in student life and formation, or desire to develop as a minister or educator is essential. The AR role requires discipline and sacrifice. ARs must be disciplined in order to balance the pressures of being a law student and living in and serving a residential hall community. ARs must be willing to sacrifice a night out or a normal sleep schedule. In my estimation, however, the discipline and sacrifice of the role is well worth it.

Applications for AR positions open up in the winter. The AR position is available to students during their 2L and 3L year at Notre Dame Law School. A high percentage of AR positions are filled with NDLS students. Prospective ARs must complete a job application form that asks various questions about relevant experience and interest in the role. To learn more about the AR position, the selection process, and the salary and benefits, please visit the Office of Housing website.

After that process is complete, the Office of Housing hosts a meet-and-greet reception during which ARs can meet with the dorm rector (think a more-involved version of a “hall director”) and current ARs and resident assistants (at Notre Dame, only seniors serve as RAs and the positions tend to be highly sought after because of their centrality to the dorm experience). After this reception, dorms will invite candidates to interview. The interviews may vary based on dorm, but usually include a meeting with the rector and ARs, some include interactions with the RAs. In early March, at the end of this process, rectors select the candidates who would best serve the residents of the hall. For me, receiving notification that I had been selected to serve as an AR in Keough was one of the more exciting outcomes of my NDLS experience.

Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Nicholas Schilling is a 3L at Notre Dame Law School. Schilling graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2014 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science.