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Alyce Rogers
Career

Being an RA During a Pandemic: Ranicka Walker

When I received my first “Welcome Home” introduction email from Ranicka, a week before move-in, I knew I had gotten one of the best RAs FSU has to offer. A sophomore, pre-nursing major, Ranicka Walker had no idea what she was in for when she applied to become an RA. She applied for the job because she wanted to prevent the new college students from making the mistakes that all freshmen make (that she too admittedly made). Not to mention, she wanted to meet people. With Ranicka’s sarcastic yet warm personality, there is no doubt she is a natural people person. She describes the characteristics that make a good RA as, “being compassionate, understanding and most of all learning how to put your own beliefs aside to help people.” Within my three weeks living in Landis Hall, I can confidently say she encompasses all of these things.

However, this fall has been a completely unprecedented time for college dorms. Coming into this semester, Ranicka’s greatest concern was the lack of contact she would be able to have with her residents. Without being able to physically see her residents, she has to find new ways to check in with her freshmen and ensure there are no problems. One clever way she came up with to get to know her residents was virtually. Though a virtual hangout may not be most 18-year-olds’ idea of a good time, Ranicka got over twenty of her residents to attend the virtual trivia night, rewarding the top three FSU history trivia winners with lunch on her.

The job of being an RA is completely different this semester than it has been ever before. Ranicka acknowledges that because of the limited contact she has with her residents, she has to push even harder to make connections. “Freshmen need a lot,” she says, “I have to push to have conversations with the residents.” For those who have not been in a fall 2020 dorm on FSU’s campus, there have been a lot of changes that make interactions difficult to have with strangers. Besides the hand sanitizer stations around every corner, masks are mandated at all times outside of one’s dorm. While on night duty at the front desk, Ranicka sits behind a plastic barrier that protects both her and students that come up to ask questions. Though this is for the safety of all parties, there is no doubt that through the barrier and the mask, conversations can often be tricky and can oftentimes go only as far as what is needed to be communicated. In order to comply with the school’s rules on group gatherings, the RA’s have to closely monitor the capacity of the building. While students who are residents of FSU dorms may visit students in other dorms, no off-campus students are allowed.

All the restrictions haven’t stopped Ranicka from making floor two feel like home. She wanted to go for a never-before-done hall theme. While surrounding floors have jungle and Disney themes, we are the cute rat hall. Our subway mixed with Tom and Jerry themed hall has little rats next to all of our name tags. Just in time for spooky season, we have rat skeletons spread around the hall. This may sound funny to some, but us residents are very fond of the theme. After coming back from home over the long weekend, I was comforted by the sight of the “don’t fall in the traps” signs on the wall. (A homage to the many academic and social traps freshmen tend to fall into that Ranicka wants to help us avoid.)

In conclusion, this was not the semester any of us expected. Us freshmen are more confused than ever, but with RA’s like Ranicka, I’m sure we will end up alright. The dorms still feel like home thanks to our cute rat décor, and we still are making connections thanks to our virtual game nights.

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Julia is a second-year student at FSU majoring in editing, writing, and media. When she isn't writing or studying, you could probably find her somewhere drinking a lot of coffee and watching some good movies.
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