It’s 8 pm. I have homework left and I say a silent prayer that I’ll be able to get it done tonight. As I walk to the office I wonder briefly what my GPA would look like if I wasn’t an RA. As I sit down at the desk and crack open my laptop I know that it’d be higher. I can’t count the hours where I was busy busting a party instead of studying. There were too many. A lot of people’s tendency to party causes their GPA to fall. In my case, other people’s tendency to party has made mine lower.
I have the phone tonight. From eight o’clock at night till seven o’clock in the morning that phone dictates my night. There’s a joke in res life that the sound of the ring tone haunts their dreams. It’s true. One time I was at an airport and I heard the sound and flinched. My palms started to sweat and my heart beat faster. I had to physically force myself to calm down. I know it sounds like an overreaction but hearing the phone ring at four in the morning to report a high-level incident (sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other awful events) is terrifying. It’s hard to be brave when it’s four o’clock in the morning and you’re afraid too.
As my partner arrives at the office we start our rounds. I’m shocked at the number of people who don’t wear masks in the hallways. I’m even more shocked at the number of people who, when asked, don’t have them on their person at all. It makes me nervous. I don’t know any of these people and yet I’m risking my health for them. Most of the time they don’t appreciate my fear. They just take it as being annoying.
The first party of the night happens before I can even crack open my homework. The music is deafening and the vibrating across the hallway alerted me even before I turned the corner. I hope that the people inside the apartment are nice. As I knock on the door and I hear a resident say the dreaded words, “Sh*t! It’s the RA.”. Immediately I know it’s going to be a long night.
The bottles are hidden loudly. Sometimes the door is cracked open. Sometimes the door never opens at all. But the result is the same. We end up in the room with people who swear they don’t have alcohol or drugs. After a literal ten-second search we find them. After a few years, I realize that when the residents are dumping the alcohol they show their true colors.
Sometimes they yell at us. Other times they threaten us with legal battles that their parents will spearhead. Sometimes residents get physically aggressive. And others will call us names. There are a few times when they will apologize or I’ll have a few minutes of silence before Public Safety comes. When it’s time to leave I know I’ll have at least an hour of paperwork even though I still have homework to do. I still have a few rounds to go and I’m already tired. I feel it in my soul and I want to cry. But I can’t cry because this is normal for me. And it shouldn’t be.
Some nights are worst than others. One time I dealt with a sexual assault, a broken pipe that caused flooding, and busted a party with a lot of drugs all in one night. Other nights I’ll do my rounds and go to bed without incident. I signed up for this job and I knew the risks. I just didn’t know how often I’d be yelled at or demeaned while doing my job. I know that it sucks getting busted for a party. But I don’t like busting people either.
I’m a broke first-generation college student. I have two jobs and I can’t afford to live on campus without this job. If it’s between paying for my education and you finishing your rager I have no choice but to bust you. But you have a choice not to lunge at or yell at me. I always try to treat people with respect and kindness and it’d be so wonderful to receive the same respect. So next time you interact with your RA in an incident or just out and about be kind to them. They’re tired. They’re overworked. And they don’t receive kindness in their job often.