Rosie McSweeney Makes an Impact
Rosie McSweeney has made an official impact on campus. Heading AU’s Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution Services department since 2008, the Minnesota native recently received the annual Impact Award from Housing & Dining Programs.
McSweeney started out in higher education with residential life as a resident director and area coordinator. During that time, she encountered the field of student conduct – a field that appealed to her from the very beginning.
“It’s fascinating work,” she says, looking back at her eight years in the profession. “There are times when you’re intersecting with people at a critical point in their life, where some of the decisions they’re making are antithetical to who they are or what goals they’re accomplishing. That can be really important to them, and the intervention can really matter.”
With all the different aims students have while at college – from academic and social to professional – there’s a lot of room for conflict. McSweeney believes many issues arise from conflicting goals and needs. It’s an idea she and her department address through the conflict resolution process. She even oversees several student volunteers who serve as in-hall mediators to help resolve roommate disputes.
When it comes to conduct issues, she sees a number of cases that – after talking things through – reveal deeper issues that need attention. In those circumstances, McSweeney immediately becomes a solid support for the student, a person who can help make that necessary intervention.
“For everyone to be successful here, we have to have some common expectations for behavior. So, that needs to be addressed,” she explains. “But I’ve had conversations with students before where I learn that maybe academically they’re not doing well, they’re homesick, or something else is influencing their decisions...The student is going through so many other things that I want to connect them to resources and want them to understand that we’re a supportive environment for them.”
It was because of this empathy and passion for student engagement that McSweeney received the Impact Award, a prize that honors significant achievements in improving AU’s living-learning communities. She admits she was surprised to be recognized in this way.
“It was very humbling,” she shares. “I think when you do a job where there’s not a lot of feedback, the moments of feedback mean so much more. Housing and Dining have done an amazing job with helping us. The award should actually probably go to [them]. Without [their] opening doors, we wouldn’t be able to have any impact.”
In presenting the award, Housing & Dining Programs’ director of residence life Rick Treter noted McSweeney’s leadership and commitment to collaboration as well as her popular Cookies with Conduct program, where she visits residence halls to outline and answer questions on the Student Conduct Code in a relaxed environment.
“’Cookies and Conduct’ is one of the most highly attended programs in the residence halls,” Treter explains. “Students enjoy her approach and her way of explaining policies in a way that students not only understand but can support.”
While McSweeney may have only just received the award, her supportive efforts with students have been evident in her years of service at the university, during which she has strived to help students become the well-rounded people that AU sends into the world after graduation.
“I think that, ultimately, one of the ideas of the Student Conduct Code is to become a better citizen and a more aware person over all, that our behaviors impact others and ourselves,” she says. “That’s a lifelong skill.”