Meet the Residence Dons & Why You Need to Know Them

Posted by Sunera on August 27, 2014

On-board to York

Living on residence is a fun experience. There are also many advantages because you are immersed in your new environment.  If you are planning to live on residence for the first time then living in undergraduate residence is a different experience than living with your parents or your own apartment. Planning, smart-packing, and becoming cognizant of the services offered to support you can lead to a very enriching experience as it can have a positive effect on your undergrad experience and student learning.

Winters College Residence-Double Room
Winters College Residence-Double Room


There are many individuals who play a key role in residence life for students:

Residence Life coordinators (RLC): York has nine RLC to make the York u residence students feel at home. RLCs are professionals who oversee the residence life and supervise residence dons and night porters. They also respond to emergencies, provide academic and personal support to students while building strong kinship and community by organizing various social activities in each residence.

Night Porter System: Student staff members who sign in your guests that come to visit you work from 7p.m. to 1 a.m.

Residence Don Staff: After arriving to residence, one of the first key people you will meet is your Residence Don. Dons report to Residence life coordinators. Dons are student staff members who live in the residence buildings and they are on call from 6pm to 8am respond to emergencies and answer any questions you have. Each don is responsible for two floors on their assigned residence and approximately 45 students.

Dons act as mentors to residence students and guide them through academic, personal, physical, or emotional difficulties. They also support you throughout the year regarding concerns, questions, or issues that you may have. They are an excellent resource and can point you in the right direction, as well as relate their own personal university experiences to make your undergrad years memorable, positive and enjoyable. I encourage you to get to know your Don personally as they are supportive student leaders who can guide you through their experiences.


To give you an insight to the crucial role residence dons play in the life of students. I interviewed one of the many amazing individuals involved in this process to see what he has to say about his experience as a don. Read on to see why students like James will be a fundamental part of your residence experience.

Picture - James
James – Vanier Residence Don

First Name: James

Last Name: Chang

Program and Year: Honours Bachelor of Human Resource Management, Year 4

Residence you are working for: Vanier Residence

S: What does your job entail?

J: Residence Dons wear many hats. We’re coordinators that plan social, emotional and educational events and gatherings. We’re also mediators to help sort any conflicts with between residents, disciplinarians who enforce residence policies, and para-counselors whom students can confide in with personal or academic issues. We’re essentially a multifaceted resource with a genuine interest in helping students in their journey at York.

S: Why did you want to become a residence don?

J: I have a passion for empowering people, which by my definition means assisting them in developing their capabilities to help them attain their goals, whatever that may be. It’s one of the reasons why I chose Human Resources as my major and the primary thrust that drives me to be involved in so many activities. To this extent, I felt that Donship would be an excellent platform which would enable me to return the amazing experiences and practical knowledge I accumulated back to the York community. Plus, it sounded kind of fun and I wanted free housing. 🙂

S: Some advice and tips you can offer to incoming residence students. 

J: Constantly ask yourself why you’re attending York. Specifically, why have you chosen this institution and exactly what you’re hoping to get out of this experience? Having a clear sense of what you want to do will act as a beacon to help determine where you’ll spend your time and energy. At the same time, it is important to recognize that university is a time for exploration and your goals will most likely change. This is perfectly normal.

Also, your religious inclinations notwithstanding, my friend introduced me to prayer which offered very practical advice:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

You’ll encounter a torrent of new experiences in University, not all of which are pleasant. You may fail an exam for the first time in your life, break up with your high-school sweetheart, or be faced with something stupid and frustrating. In any case, dwelling on a problem with no solution is poisonous for your mental health. If you can’t do anything about it, try your best to accept the situation and get over it. If you can do something about it, take the initiative to change it.


If you have any fruther questions then drop us a line below!



Sunera graduated from York University in May, 2016 with an Honours BA in Work and Labour Studies.

See other posts by Sunera