Q&A with Oakwood Hall’s new resident director Josh Hartsell

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Former assistant of the Bethel semester abroad program, Josh Hartsell is the new resident director of Oakwood Hall. (photo by Brent Reimer)
This year Josh Hartsell, a 2008 Bethel graduate, took the position as the new resident director of Oakwood/Slater Hall. Hartsell served under legendary former Oakwood Resident Director Bill Bemis for three years as a resident coordinator. He is a native of Bluffton, Indiana and holds a B.A. in Christian Ministries B.A. While at Bethel, Hartsell also served as the assistant director in the Studies Abroad office for the past three years. JW: So far what has been the best part about being the RD? JH: The best part is just the fact that I get to do the same thing I’ve always done, but now I get to do it full time. Now I have five RAs I get to invest in as well as all the guys in the dorm. JW: What are you looking forward to most as the RD of Oakwood? JH: Watching the guys come in and get a new start in life is what brings me back each year. As the RD I am able to walk alongside the guys in their new journey where everything is new and seeing their changes is what I really look forward to. JW: What did you learn from your experience working alongside Bill Bemis? JH: The significance of service and one of the ways I knew Bill was doing his job was well was because people didn’t know what he was doing. He had a constant servant’s heart. I have a desire to serve people as lavishly as he did, which here can be a 24/7 job. JW: Carol Bemis used to bake cookies every Sunday night in Oakwood is this a tradition that will continue under your reign? JH: No, the tradition of cookies and Skip-Bo is temporarily on hold. However, we did have a Justin Bieber “Never Say Never” movie viewing recently. As time goes on I hope to develop my own Sunday night traditions. JW: Breakdown the replacement of the community showers in Oakwood. Did you have any say or influence in that decision? JH: There were always concerns with the showers with people not feeling comfortable about them. In any sort of community this was one of those things we needed to upgrade in order to make everyone comfortable. I wasn’t opposed to the change because I don’t believe Oakwood is made or broken by the showers. JW: It’s been said Oakwood has the best community of any housing on campus. Why is this? JH: The community in Oakwood is different. I think we love to say it has the best, but I don’t want to undercut any of the other dorms. The intentionality of the residence life here is huge. In addition, the energy the freshmen bring builds community. JW: Is there anything special you think Bill did to help foster this community environment? JH: Bill recognized early on that an environment of craziness was not good for the dorm. So he and Carol tried to give it order and structure with a visible presence of RAs, Skip-Bo, and cookies really help in the process of building community. JW: What is your philosophy as an RD? JH: My philosophy is diving in and getting to know these guys and trying to challenge them spiritually and we lay a foundation for the rest of the time they are here and even after they graduate. JW: Will there be any new traditions for Oakwood on your watch? JH: I sure hope so. The unique thing about Oakwood each year it comes with its own personality. My heart is to get to know these guys and let that carry us into the year. If I do my job well there absolutely should be new traditions and a new identity in the dorm.
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