What It's Like Being an RA: Meet Meg Deitchler

Megan Deitchler is a sophomore honors student at LUC, double majoring in biology and Spanish on a pre-medical track.  She is not only a resident assistant in Campion Hall at Loyola but also my friend. This allowed me to have a very candid conversation about what it is really like being an RA. The struggles, the commitment, and the benefits.

 

RA’s  have the opportunity to really be a helping hand on campus. They are not here to get you in trouble, or to be an authority figure, as many people may think. They can be a mentor, a helping hand, and most importantly a friend. It is very apparent that Meg puts her residents first and genuinely wants to empower the women in her hall.

 

Meet Meg Deitchler.

 

Annie Kate: Why did you decide to become an RA?

 

Meg Deitchler: That’s a good question. I get that way more often than you’d think, it’s kind of funny. I decided to be an RA because I felt like the transition into college is really hard for a lot of people and I am an out-of-state student and so for me coming in and not knowing anyone was really scary, and so it was nice to have that sense of community that my RA helped establish and I was never super close with her but she was a mentor from afar and did some really cool and super empowering events. And so I felt like it would be a position of power to empower women, or female- identifying students, and a good way to give back. And [chuckles] housing’s a part.

 

AK: Do you have a good reception with your residents? Do they like you, do they respect you or are there challenges?

 

MD: There are definitely some challenges. Just to give you some background, I have 20 residents, which is actually I believe the smallest hall on campus. I have friends who have 110 residents. The average I’d say is 35, but I have 20 so definitely on the small side. That’s definitely a perk; since I have a smaller amount of students, I have more time for each student. And so I’ve been able to develop some really good relationships. It’s up to them if they want to have a relationship, because I treat all of them equally. So if they decide to come and talk to me then that’s their choice. Last night I had a girl in my room for hours that was talking about her boyfriend problems. So I made her a cup of tea, we ate chocolate, it was fine.

 

AK: Do you consider yourself a role model for your residents? Or at least do you try to be?

 

MD: I mean that’s the goal. I don’t want to flatter myself and be like, “Oh yeah, I’m the most influential person in their life.” I just try to be a role model of like women empowering women. So whether or not they agree with my politics, or have my same major— regardless of if we’re similar— I just want them to have a safe place. I feel like I’ve been pretty clear about expressing that. And so I think that, if anything, they can at least respect that. I have a group of 6 or 7 girls that actually call me mom, they call me “Momma Meg,” so it’s kinda cute. I definitely have tried to establish that mentorship role, so whether or not they pursue that is up to them. Always reminding them, “I’m here for you, let me know if you need anything,” and I’ve had a lot of people take me up on that.

 

AK: Do you think you’ll want to do this again next year?

 

MD: Being an RA is really exhausting. Not only do we have 24- hour shifts but it is a very limiting lifestyle. We are held to a very high standard and it feels, sometimes, like I’m living in a fishbowl. I have 20 residents that watch me everyday. If I’m all dressed up to go out on a Friday night, everyone sees that. We are expected to be role models, so it can be difficult to balance with your personal life. Living where you work is really hard. If I have a bad day and need to cry and wear sweatpants, I still have to be on call. If I have a resident come to my room saying she’s having a panic attack, I still need to be there for her, even if I’m not necessarily in a good place. Obviously we have systems in place to help with that, but I would never turn a student away. Their health is more important than mine. Turning a resident away because I’m not taking care of myself would be an awful situation for me.

 

At the same time, it’s very rewarding. When I hear these girls talk about an abusive relationship they’ve had, and at the end of our conversation their self-blame is minimized. Seeing their growth is really rewarding for me and really exciting. I get a lot of joy from having that mentorship role. I can’t determine if I want to return. It’s not an easy job,  it’s a rewarding one, and it takes all of you. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but as of now I’m really glad that I’m an RA.

 

More Than Just Free Housing

 

At the end of our conversation, I had a greater appreciation for my friend. I realized that she was not only in it for the free housing and she genuinely cares about her residents. She wants to have community and make an impact. RA’s are a great resource at Loyola, and I hope this inspires women on campus to have a relationship with their RA!