4 Things I Learned as a Carthage RA

If you’ve ever lived on campus, you’ve had a resident assistant. There are great RAs and there are not-so-great RAs out there, and more often than not, RAs get a bad rep. This may be due to RAs that take their job too seriously or try to be a police force rather than a support system. As a former RA, I learned so much and it really affected the way I look at RAs now.

1. Being an RA is a very difficult job

Being an RA is more than unlocking doors and busting people. Being an RA means duty until midnight on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. Being an RA also means long talks with residents and hours of planning, programming and crafting. Being an RA means having to redo bulletin boards and door decs they had already put hours of work into because a resident decided to tear them down.

Photo courtesy of Neely Hoegen

2. Most RAs aren’t out to get you in trouble

The Carthage Community Code has a lot of rules for the dorms but that doesn't mean that all RAs are out to get residents in trouble. The one thing that I stuck to during my time as an RA was that I was there as a support system, I wasn't there to “bust people”. It’s very unlikely you will ever have problems with an RA if you are smart and polite.

3. RAs are real people

Just like any other college student, RAs attend classes and will most likely stay up till 4 a.m. doing homework too. They will cry and be overwhelmed but they will do it in their room. Alone. RAs are available for residents but something residents often forget is that RAs have problems too. My favorite residents (and yes, we do have favorites) were the ones that would slip little notes of encouragement under my door or just ask me how I was when we saw each other on campus. A little act of kindness goes a long way!

4. RAs really do care about their residents.

A lot of RAs get a bad reputation or people think they’re too nosy. To be honest, they’re trying to get their job done, but they also want you to know that they’re there to listen to you. Carthage collegiette and former RA Tessa Constantine, ‘18, says, “My favorite part about having been an RA was meeting so many people. I also had the chance to actually be there for people to try to make their experience at Carthage a little bit better. The biggest thing I learned was that everyone is going through a lot. It was never my place to judge them for it or even try to understand it sometimes, but I knew I could be something positive in their day and that’s something I still try to do even though I’m not an RA anymore!”

Being an RA means spending time getting to know residents and sharing their happiest and saddest moments, so please, be nice to your RAs.  Write them notes or ask them to get lunch or coffee some time. Talk to them. You never know, they may become one of your best friends.

Rep image courtesy of Pixabay