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SUNY Canton to use SUNY Potsdam grad students as residential advisors

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County’s two SUNY campuses have harnessed a little creativity to go beyond the system’s demand for more shared services between them.

This semester, SUNY Canton is using a SUNY Potsdam graduate student, Andrew C. Metz of Ilion, as a residential adviser at one of its dormitories.

“It seems like it’s a win-win situation,” said John M. Kennedy, director of residence life at SUNY CANTON. “Sometimes with the shared services, people are worried about losing jobs; this is a situation where everybody seems to be coming out ahead.”

Graduate students are used as residential advisers on most college campuses, but SUNY Canton doesn’t have any graduate programs. Typically, the school hires full-time employees to staff its dormitories; however, it saves money by using SUNY Potsdam students.

“Before this arrangement, we have in each residence hall one director, they are usually full-time employees,” Mr. Kennedy said. “In Heritage Hall where Andrew is now working, he had a full-time director who left to take another job in December.”

Mr. Metz said he is adjusting to culture clash between the two campuses.

“Potsdam has a lot of people in the education program, like myself, or at the Crane school, while here (at Canton) there are a lot of people in accounting and veterinary sciences,” he said. “The clientele is a bit different, but everybody has been very pleasant. I get along great with my staff.”

Mr. Metz is a student teacher in Hogansburg.

“It is quite the ride every afternoon, but I am very glad the position was open and available,” he said.

Under the arrangement, Residence Life at SUNY Canton pays a portion of the student’s graduate tuition.

“We reimburse the cost of up to three classes per semester, the student will take their classes and out of my budget I pay Potsdam for those classes,” Mr. Kennedy said.

The school also offers free room and board to Mr. Metz.

“I’m not sure yet if this is going to save me money,” he said. “I took out my loan at the beginning of the year and I’m still trying to figure out the credit situation.’’

“The savings for us are about half the cost of a full-time position,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Full-time residential advisers make just over $30,000 a year, he said.

Currently, only one SUNY Potsdam graduate residential advisor is in use at Canton, but Mr. Kennedy said more may be used in the future.

“The other big benefit is you get kind of a young, often times ambitious person who is looking to make their mark in the working world in a student residence,” he said. “Potsdam has some really brilliant graduate students. It brings some of the culture of SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam together.”

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