At UMW, parents and families are an integral part of our community. We know from a recent survey that our students value the input of their families. You are the first people they go to when faced with a question, concern, or challenge. We’ve designed this section to give you the tools and knowledge necessary to support your student through their transition to on-campus living and throughout their time at Mary Washington.
Why Live On Campus?
Students at UMW spend 75% of their collegiate career outside of the classroom. Studies show that students who live on campus are more likely to remain at UMW, achieve a higher GPA, and matriculate compared to their off-campus peers.
This doesn’t happen just by chance. It’s because students who feel more connected to their university are more likely to succeed academically. Our Residence Life staff provides many opportunities for students to engage with their peers, faculty, and staff, become involved in programs, activities, and organizations, and develop skills in leadership, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.
At UMW, we believe in helping students identify and reach their potential. We believe in the exploration of self, the community, and the world and every student’s responsibility to each. The exchange of idea, beliefs, values, and opinions are critical in the growth and development of our students and living on campus provides an exceptional opportunity to engage every day with a diversity of thought.
Empowering Your Student
If your student is having a problem on campus, empower them. Encourage your student to seek help first. Their resident assistant (RA) or area coordinator can help guide them to the proper resources.
If you are working in conjunction with your student to help solve an issue, try to find out the details of their situation so we can better help you. There are certain things we are not permitted to disclose without your student’s permission, but we are happy to walk through our policies and procedures so that you can feel comfortable knowing your student is being supported.
If your student becomes frustrated, you can help them problem solve. Teach your student how to problem solve by using the questions below:
- Ask them if they are just venting or if they are looking for advice/action from you.
- Ask them to outline the facts. Facts are concrete and observable, not emotions. Challenge them to look at multiple perspectives surrounding the issue.
- Who have they spoken with? If they are having difficulty connecting with their RA, have they tried contacting their Area Coordinator or the Residence Life office?
- What strategies have been discussed?
- What are the next steps?
- What is the timeline for follow up?
We want your student and you to be happy with the UMW experience. The Residence Life staff is committed to partnering with students and their parents to find resolutions that are in the best interest of all parties involved.
There is an issue with my student’s room. What can I do?
Maintenance issues in the residence halls are managed through UMW’s Facilities Services. Students are able to submit a work order for routine maintenance concerns by filling out a work order. Instructions on submitting work orders can be found at http://adminfinance.umw.edu/facilities/work-management/. It’s important to recognize that based on the nature of the problem, a resolution can take time if parts are needed or the work requires following a certain protocol. If there are questions or concerns about the maintenance issue, the Residence Life professional staff can assist in obtaining information from Facilities Services on the status of the repairs or resolution. Residence Life encourages students to maintain records of the date(s) of their work order request, the work order number, and the name(s) of any UMW personnel they have interacted with regarding the issue. This information will be useful in our follow up with Facilities Services.
My student is experiencing conflict with their roommate (or someone else in the community). How do I help them navigate the conflict?
Conflict is a normal part of any relationship and often stems from lack of communication which leads to misunderstandings or assumptions related to another’s perspective. Your student will certainly encounter other students who come from different backgrounds, family values, and household rules and/or expectations. Residence Life believes that if students approach their collegiate experience understanding that conflict will happen (and that it’s okay) and with a willingness to have open communication, they will be better able to navigate the resolution process.
Parents are often the first ones to hear from their student about an issue with their roommate. Often, parents receive the raw, emotional account of what is going on and will hear statements like “my roommate is the worst”, “no one here is willing to help me”, and “my roommate should have to move out”. We encourage you to engage your student in some of the questions outlined in the “Empowering Your Student” section to support them in their own conflict resolution process.
We recommend the following “parents as partners” tips to maximize the potential for a successful outcome:
- Listen to your student and ask questions. Provide an opportunity for your student to work through the issue with appropriate challenge and support.
- Remember that there are multiple perspectives in a conflict. Your student will share their point of view, but it is important to acknowledge that their truth may not be the same as that of the other student. Do your best to help your student consider the other perspective and work toward a mutual resolution.
- Encourage your student to take a win-win approach rather than a win-lose approach. If both students approach the conflict with a goal of winning, both will likely lose.
- Do not contact the other student in the conflict or their parents. Whether it is by phone, text, social media, or in person, this method of intervention rarely goes well. Leave the communication to your student with the assistance of Residence Life staff.
- Call us if you are unsure of how to help your student. Our staff will be happy to discuss university and departmental policy, procedures, philosophy, and typical courses of action for similar situations. You can expect us to ask you to encourage your student to come speak with a Residence Life professional so that we can partner with them to find a resolution to their conflict.
- Understand that Residence Life doesn’t force residents to move in most instances. Except in extreme circumstances, a conflict will not result in us moving your student’s roommate out of the room (unless that student requests to move).
- If something illegal is occurring in your student’s room, report it to UMW Police. While conflict is normal, it is our expectation that UMW students are obeying the law. Conflicts that involve illegal behavior can be handled more swiftly and effectively if appropriately reported to law enforcement officials.
I am worried about my student’s well-being. Who can I contact and what resources are available?
The University of Mary Washington prides itself on the level of care and compassion for its students. While the Residence Life staff often has its finger on the pulse of our students, we also rely on friends and family who know the student best to let us know when they have concerns about physical and emotional well-being. We partner with family and friends who report a concern to determine the best way to intervene and offer appropriate resources to the student of concern.
Who to contact:
If you believe your student is an immediate threat to self or others, please contact UMW Police at 540-654-1025 immediately. The UMW Police will work in conjunction with Residence Life staff, the Talley Center for Counseling Services, and other emergency resources to conduct a welfare check and get your student help. The UMW Police operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If there is no imminent threat, but you would like to share some observations and have someone check in on your student, you can contact Residence Life at 540-654-1058. Depending on the information you provide, we will have either an RA or professional staff member touch base with your student and offer resources as appropriate. While Residence Life has staff on-call 24/7, the office is only open M-F, 8a-5p. All after hours and weekend concerns that cannot wait until the next business day should be reported to UMW Police at 540-654-1025.
Often, concerning behaviors that are presenting in your student are easily resolved with a Residence Life staff member checking in with your student and offering a listening ear. Our staff does many of these checks a year as well as a number of routine checks as part of the RA job, regardless of whether or not it’s prompted by a concern. When a concern or issue is beyond the scope of our expertise, students can be referred to any of the following resources:
- Talley Center for Counseling Services- the UMW counseling center, which provides service at no cost to all undergraduate students
- Title IX Coordinator and/or Advocates- handles cases of sexual misconduct and sex-based discrimination
- BIT- which stands for Behavior Intervention Team, usually comprised of three Student Affairs professionals who can better assess the whole student experience and determine intervention strategies for success at UMW
- Academic Services- available to offer specific advice on major exploration, academic concerns, dropping/adding courses, and withdrawal
The important takeaway is to communicate with someone if you have concerns about your student. UMW offices and departments work closely to ensure the student is put into contact with the appropriate resources.
I need to share some upsetting/bad news from home. Is there someone who can support my student while I tell them?
Life happens. Studies show that students are less likely to experience homesickness if they are kept apprised of the news from home. We encourage you to maintain an open line of communication with your student throughout their college career. Expectations regarding frequency of contact, mode of communication, and mutually agreeable times should be discussed before school starts. It can then be reevaluated as both you and your student gets acclimated to this new chapter in life.
Sometimes while your student is away at school, unfortunate things take place and it is not always possible to share that information in person. Please know that any time, you can contact UMW Police and request that someone is present with your student while you share unexpected news. This may be about a family/friend death (or of a beloved pet), divorce, significant illness, loss of a job, or any other news that you feel might have a substantial impact on your student. UMW Police can arrange to have an officer or a member of Residence Life or the Talley Center present while you share the news and offer appropriate resources to ensure their well-being while at UMW.
Will I be notified if my student has an emergency?
Students are asked to provide UMW with their emergency contact information. It will be important to discuss with your student expectations around who is listed as the emergency contact. This is our only means for contacting you in the event of a serious emergency. Residence Life typically makes phone calls to the emergency contact for injuries, illnesses, and alcohol/drug related incidents that result in a hospital transport.
During this call, we will provide the name and phone number of the hospital and ask that you make contact with the hospital for more information. We may not be able to provide any specific information about the nature of the transport.
How can I have flowers delivered to my student?
Parents or friends who wish to send flowers to a residential student should have them delivered to the Office of Residence Life (Marye House).
The street address is:
1301 College Ave.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Staff members will then notify the student who can pick up the flowers from the office in Marye House. Delivery should be made Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Florists will not deliver directly to the residence halls.