As director of a men's residence hall at Kansas University, Kami Thomas generally is treated just like one of the guys. But she definitely isn't.
"It wasn't a big adjustment for me, and I don't think it was for the guys either," she said of taking on her KU job this year.
Thomas, 26, is director of Battenfeld Scholarship Hall. This year, she is the only KU scholarship hall director with residents of the opposite sex.
As hall director, she manages Battenfeld's $40,000 budget and is the lone female occupant among 48 male residents.
"There have been no problems associated with me being a female," she said of her first semester as hall director.
"I wasn't expecting any problems, but when I am interviewed people always ask me if there are."
THOMAS, a Morganville doctoral student in higher education administration, is working in student housing in part to get a start on a career in higher education.
She has bachelor's and master's degrees, both in education instruction from KU. She taught seventh grade for a year in Richmond, Mo.
Thomas describes her position as director for a male residence hall as "a novelty."
"It wasn't really a shock for the guys," she said. "But sometimes we have alumni that visit and when I tell them I am the director they ask, `Did they change this to a female or a co-ed hall?'"
Jim Wilkins, KU assistant director of student housing, said Thomas' situation has occurred before and that a male director had been assigned to a women's hall in the past. Directors are assigned according to their suitability for each hall, not necessarily according to their sex.
THOMAS SAID Battenfeld last had a female director about 10 years ago.
Her duties include planning menus, ordering food, receiving deliveries and other administrative tasks, as well as just "being there" to assist residents.
However, Thomas says she hasn't been asked to give any serious advice about women or other personal problems for the men.
"I don't give advice," she said, smiling. "Sometimes when we're all eating, the guys will say, `Hey, you're a woman, what do you think about this,'" she said. "But it's never anything real serious."
Quoc Trinh, a second-year Battenfeld resident from Wichita, said Thomas is "like one of the guys, really."
"The cool thing about Tami is she knows a lot about sports," he said. "We can be watching a basketball game . . . and she'll know where players are from."
HOWEVER, Trinh said some residents have to change their behavior slightly when Thomas is nearby.
"We have to watch our language," he said.
He also said some residents may "judge her less harshly" because Thomas is a woman.
KU has eight scholarship halls, four each for men and women. A ninth is under construction. Each hall has a director and a proctor, who is a resident to assist the director.
The scholarship halls are cooperative living units, each with about 50 undergraduate residents. Residents must maintain a 2.5 minimum grade-point average and take 28 hours of credit over the academic year, not including the summer session.
Although the position is technically 30 hours a week, Thomas said she spends most of her time at the hall. Paperwork takes about 25 hours of work every week, but she tries to make herself visible several times a day.
Thomas said she's unsure if she will be working in the hall next year.
"At this point, I haven't decided on what I want to do," she said.