New director of residence life settles in


Gunter Kleist

Demetrius Brown

Arriving last fall, Demetrius Brown, the new director of residence life, has settled in comfortably in his Dewey Hall office, eager to bring positive change to campus life.

His goal, he says, is to improve all aspects of the student experience on the NVU-Johnson campus.

Originally from Mississippi, Brown has also lived in Illinois, Ohio, and now Vermont, having wanted to move to New England for a very long time. He’s excited about the skiing this winter and living in a place where the seasons change.
Brown graduated from Jackson State, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in Mississippi, in 2018.

He was a member of one of the D9 fraternity’s, Kappa Alpha Psi. He has previously worked in Residential Life at Shawnee State University in Ohio. He is also a January Capricorn, stating that it’s always important to have one in your life.
As director of residence life, Brown’s key role is caring for the students of NVU, whether that be assigning rooms or settling arguments between roommates.

“Even if you live on campus or don’t live on campus, I still have a responsibility to care for you and ensure that if you need any type of assistance, I’ll make sure you get to the right place,” Brown said. He wants students who live in the dorms to have a comfortable living space, as many of these students have only just started living on their own.

Brown took this position as he felt it was an opportunity to bring difference to a prominently white school.

“I want to give the students of color, or those from different backgrounds who aren’t white, an opportunity to see someone that identifies or looks like them so they feel like they have someone they can talk to give that different insight,” Brown said, adding that he understands that not everyone of color chooses to go to HBCUs, and that even when a student enrolls at a college where they may be a minority, they should still feel supported.

In residential life, everyday is different. Brown finds comfort in change, and when dealing with situations with students with varying needs, anything can be expected from day to day. Even in a serious situation that may occur, Brown is ready to help and understand.

“In some generations there has been that gap of not understanding, especially with the baby boomers trying to understand generation Z,” Brown said. “The baby boomers are stuck on a mindset, but Z is thinking something totally different. I think that’s where the issue is.”

As a millennial, Brown thinks of himself as a mediator between the older and young generations, both of whom he thinks can be hard of hearing. Brown is all about listening and trying to understand multiple points of views.

He said he hopes to push inclusivity with expanding the holiday calendar to include celebrations from other cultures, such as Ramadan and the Chinese New Year. Brown makes it clear that he believes other cultures and religious holidays should be respected, including Mardi Gras, which is widely celebrated in the South.

“In the South, it’s something really big,” he said. “You eat certain foods, depending on your religion, you might go on a fast, and for some it’s a real big party. There are parades, and excitement with that, and being able to celebrate different cultures.”

A big aspect of Brown’s position is guiding and supporting the RA’s and hall advisors.

“I think of the RA’s as the big brothers and sisters, they’re going through the same things you’re going through as far as getting an education, but they’re supposed to have more responsibilities just like in a family,” he said. “Older brothers and sisters are supposed to already know better even though they’re still growing up, and they still have to help the younger siblings along.” Dorm life, Brown said, is a home away from home for many students.

Although things can’t change overnight, Brown has a few ideas regarding what he wants to improve on campus. “I understand a lot of people don’t want to live on campus because of the price, but at the same time I think the enjoyment of meeting people and the things that are offered to people who live on campus, give you a different perspective of college,” he said. He understands financial differences, and that some people don’t want to live on campus, but Brown wants to get more people to be involved and embrace campus life.

Brown’s office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, although he is always available if his office door is open.

He can also be reached via email at [email protected].