Resident to resident director: An interview with Ananda Gupta

Shara Carranza, Podcast Reporter

Illustration by Lily Buller.

On this week’s episode of the Whitman Wire Podcast, reporter Shara Carranza-Ornelas spoke with Ananda Gupta, Stanton’s Resident Director (RD) to find out more about his position and dive into the future of residence life.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Wire: How has being an RD been?

Ananda Gupta: Being an RD is a fantastic opportunity and I would highly encourage anybody who is interested in social work, psychology or working with people to consider it post-graduation. When I was graduating, I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something people-focused. I knew I wasn’t ready for a nine to five, and the RD gig is anything but a nine to five.

You learn very real-world valuable skills.  You learn a lot about communication, dealing with interpersonal conflict, understanding personalities and what makes people click, what motivates people.

Wire: Did you start [working with Residence Life] your junior or senior year?

AG: I started after I graduated. I was never really able to be a part of the Res Life team prior to graduation, and I’m so glad that I am a part of the team now.

Wire: Did you plan on [supervising] sophomore housing? [Did] you consider other age groups?

AG: I was very enthusiastic about being in Stanton because I lived here. I was in the first class to live here in 2019, so I feel like it’s a very full circle journey for me. I didn’t go into it and say I only want to do sophomore housing.

I was open to whatever, and I was fortunate enough to get Stanton, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Wire: How do you think COVID-19 impacts things like touring potential housing, for example, and changing how dorm space is used? How do you think that will influence the future? Do you think it’s going to be a bigger issue, or do you think things will return to how it was before?

AG: I think now more so than ever, people want to be around other people, and people want to feel connected.  Something that we’ve really noticed this year is that people have a real desire to form [a] community. I don’t think there’s a better way to do that than living with people.

I think that Whitman is very well equipped in terms of housing options.  We have Jewett, Lyman, North, Prentiss, Douglas, Anderson, Stanton and Marcus, and other houses that could be occupied if need be. I think people are going to want to be in residence hall [communities].

I think the residence life team is aware of this, and we’re doing our best to foster community, to bring people together while still being safe with the pandemic still ongoing, but allowing people to have a space they can call home. They can feel comfortable and enjoy the presence of others and learn from each other because learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom.

Listen to the rest of Gupta’s interview and more about the future of on-campus housing in this week’s episode of the Whitman Wire Podcast, releasing Friday, March 4 at 11 a.m.  Full episodes of the podcast can be found here.