Texas Tech University

Howdy TECHsans Help Create Community in Residence Halls

McKenzi Morris

September 4, 2019

Howdy TECHsans help during move-in.

The program focuses on leadership development while welcoming students back to the Texas Tech University campus.

At the beginning of each fall semester, thousands of students move into the residence halls on the Texas Tech University campus.

To ensure a smooth process throughout Move-In Weekend, preparations start months in advance. When it comes time for students to descend on Raiderland, the ones helping them get settled into their new home are the Howdy TECHsans.

Howdy TECHsans started in the early 2000s as a way for a handful of students to move in early and assist University Student Housing throughout the weekend. Now, the program has close to 300 participants each year and has transitioned into a leadership development program.

"The program is designed to bring those aspects of student leadership into students' lives before they even really get started in classes or anything like that," said Anna Witte, student housing residence life coordinator for leadership engagement. "It allows them to form a community and navigate campus, helping them get to know their way around and then also offering them the ability to see the different resources we have on campus."

Where it starts

Howdy TECHsans is part of the Residence Halls Association (RHA) within student housing. Each spring, applications are open to any student who will be living on campus the following academic year. As applications come in, staff members in student housing and RHA look for people who stand out. While the applications close in July, there's a first come, first serve mentality when accepting students to the program.

Alyson Cole, residence life coordinator for student development and RHA adviser, said one of the main things she looks for on the application is community service and the desire to help others.

"We are really big on servant leadership within University Student Housing, and our customer-service model is 'Serve Tech,'" Cole said. "When students talk about being involved in community service, serving others and wanting to be more than just a resident in the residence halls, that stands out to me."

Once accepted into the program, students move into their residence hall on Wednesday instead of Saturday or Sunday during Move-In Weekend. Throughout the week, they spend time going through training, meeting people around campus and learning to navigate campus. They also focus on leadership development, which includes hearing from different campus departments and members of the Housing staff.

But it's not all work. The Howdy TECHsans spend time getting to know each other and forming friendships through icebreakers, team-bonding activities and residence hall preparations.

"One of the main purposes when we're thinking about getting students acclimated to campus is building community," Cole said. "These students are in the residence halls before anyone else, right when our community advisers are going through training. So they're the first students who can really establish what community looks like in the buildings, which is really a thing we look for, to set the school year off on a good note."

Once the weekend hits, Howdy TECHsans are spread throughout the residence halls, ready to welcome new and returning Red Raiders home. They greet students and their families, check out carts, and provide information about RHA, Complex Council and more to help make the move-in process as smooth as possible.

"They're getting that chance to start building connections across campus and really forming relationships with those people," Witte said. "They're setting the tone that Texas Tech is a great place to be, so let's show you and let's get you excited about living here."

More than move-in

Howdy TECHsans are students helping their peers move back to campus, but what makes the program unique is those leading it are other students. Each group has a student leader who is involved with RHA and student housing.

Having students run the small groups emphasizes the leadership program Howdy TECHsans has transitioned to over the years. Camden Anderson, vice president of public relations and external affairs for RHA, served as a leader this year and said working with the group put his leadership skills to the test.

"What I enjoyed most about my experience as a Howdy TECHsan leader was how it challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone in terms of leading a group of other student leaders," Anderson said. "The experience I gained as a leader throughout the program has left me feeling more confident in my ability to lead others in a fair and effective way."

While the program ends after Move-In Weekend, Witte said many of the students take what they learned during the week and get involved with other organizations on campus. She said many become officers for Complex Council, community advisers and student employees, in part because of the relationships formed during the week.

"We're only with them for five days, but those five days can have a really big impact on their entire college career," Cole said. "The program has a high impact, just to be part of moving into the residence halls a little earlier and helping out with move-in."

The program doesn't just have an impact on the students involved. Howdy TECHsans also make an impact on other students, their families and the Texas Tech campus.

"It's important for Texas Tech to have a program like Howdy TECHsans because it helps orient students to what it's like to live on campus as well as provides them with a head start on the school year for extracurricular involvement," Anderson said.

With all the opportunities provided for students, Cole said she encourages everyone eligible to apply and get involved.

"If you're living on campus, you're missing out if you're not a Howdy TECHsan," Cole said.