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Dear incoming freshmen/transfer students,

I would hope by now you have at least met your Residential Assistant (RA), you know, that one person who keeps trying to talk to you or possibly have met one from your building. Chances are you already have if you attended your mandatory floor meeting, (yes, it was mandatory) locked yourself out, called the on-call phone, or already been at a party that was shut down by them (Freshman Towers, I’m looking at you). I know this can be both an extremely exciting yet overly terrifying time in your young adult lives. Whether this is your first year of college, second, third, or maybe it’s just your first time away from home. Either way, it’s a brand-new chapter in your lives, and I’m sure most of you do not want to start it off with being documented, or “written up”, in the first few months. It may be too late for some of you, but I have hope for the rest.

Let me just give you all a few tips for those of you who live in a residence hall on campus. First off, do not, I repeat, do NOT throw parties in your room. Whether you are in the freshmen towers, Hale Kahawai, or Gateway House, it’s not very hard for an RA to figure out what is going on behind those thin doors of yours. If you are having a “get together,” or whatever you want to call it, with a group of friends, just think things through. Do not drink if you are underage. If you are over 21, make sure you are only surrounded by those who are of age as well. It’s that simple. Do not even think about going to Taco Tuesday and trying to play it off when you come back. Do not blast your music so loud your neighbor three doors down can hear it. Here’s a hint: noise travels. Your RA will hear it, or the RA on-call will while they are doing community rounds. Yes, you can listen to music, but there is a thing called “quiet hours.” You know, those hours posted on signs throughout the whole building you claim not to see as you walk by every day. Think you can just get away with blasting music during the day then? Nope! Say hello to “courtesy hours!” They are 24/7. Oh! And by the way… the RAs, they have noses and you know what those can do… they can smell what you are up to as well behind those doors of yours with the incense burning, which isn’t allowed either, in hopes of covering something up.

Now that we got that out of the way, some of you may be feeling overwhelmed right now, or you may not. You might be having a hard time making friends, or maybe you have a lot of drama occurring between your friends… All in all, if you ever find yourself needing to talk to someone, consider your RA. Yes, I know many of you may feel standoffish or nervous by seeing our RA around, but trust me, they are not there just to try and bust you for the first thing you do wrong. Many of us, if not all of us, hate having to document residents. It makes our lives harder as well as yours. They really just want to try and be there for you all. They want to build friendships if possible, or at least be a good resource. With that being said, please do not burn the bridge between yourself and your RA if you do get written up, it’s just part of our job. Anyways, RAs can be great resources for all of you. Whether you need help finding a specific building, absolutely cannot stand living with your roommate, need help to study for that first exam or just want simple recommendations on where to eat around town, I know they can help.

Let’s say you need to talk to your RA, but they never seem to be there when you are. You have tried knocking on their door at all times of the day but still nothing. You have to keep in mind that your RA is a student just like you, and sometimes they can have very demanding classes or other responsibilities outside of the building. This is why your building tends to have an RA on every single floor. If you ever need something, from questions answered to more serious circumstances, you can easily walk to another floor and try to find the RA there. This RA may not be your actual RA and that’s okay, just know that you can befriend any RA you meet, not just the one living on your floor. It’s okay if you do not exactly bond with your floor RA or just don’t get along with them, but that does not mean you need to make your floor RA’s life harder. Please, be at least civil with them. It will make your life and theirs much easier. I cannot stress enough that RAs are not the enemy, they are just doing their job. Yes, some parts of their job may involve negative circumstances for some, but that is not the sole purpose of their work. RAs are there for supervision, to lend a helping hand, to be a shoulder to lean on, and most importantly for your safety. Plus, they all put in numerous hours of work behind the scenes in order to produce fun educational programs for you all! So, make sure to stop by a program or two if you have the time, there’s usually food! With that said, I hope you all have a safe and fun school year. Make safe and most importantly, make smart decisions.

-A former RA.

P.S. Do not dead-bolt your door.

Kayla Shaffstall is currently a Senior at the University Hawaii at Manoa majoring in Sociology, with a focus in Criminology and a minor in English. She plans on furthering her education by attending graduate school to obtain a Master's Degree in Sociology. When she is not writing you can find her soaking up some sun, hiking or drinking coffee at a local coffee shop. She is originally from Southern California.