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So You Want To Be An RA?

Are you interested in becoming an RA, but are unsure as to whether you are cut out for the job?  I sat down with Alex Roberts, a sophomore RA, to ask some questions about what his job is really like.

What are the challenges of being an RA?

When you first become an RA, it can be challenging to learn how to adapt to this new lifestyle. You can’t really step out of your role as an RA, because you always have to uphold certain values. It just becomes integrated into your character. We have to learn the policies we have to abide by, as well as enforce. I don’t particularly enjoy getting people into trouble, so sometimes it is challenging when you are trying to be an authority figure, as well as a friend.

What are the benefits of being an RA?

I really enjoy meeting new people. Once you become an RA, you suddenly become involved in a whirlwind of friends, activities, responsibilities and more. I really like putting together programs that I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t an RA. We do everything from having video game nights, to going out to eat, to having entertaining yet informational discussions. I enjoy community building and informing residents of various events going on around campus. It’s always rewarding when they tell me that they gained a valuable experience, or would like to get more involved with something, or that they were simply happy they went. I appreciate being able to help people out. The free room and board is nice too!

Are there any cons to being an RA?

I would not consider these as “cons” per se, but I don’t like seeing people mess up. If you have unruly residents, you might have to call the police a few times. Overall, most RA’s would agree that their residents are good people, who just made a few mistakes. Since being an RA is my primary job, I am expected to be in the building as much as possible. So, besides schoolwork and studying, I am not heavily involved in leadership positions in other organizations. I keep a “locator board” outside my room so that my residents know where I am. They all have my phone number as well. Also, I’m required to organize “programs” sometimes, and it’s not fun when a lot of people don’t show up!

What are the general responsibilities of being an RA?

We have weekly staff meeting, and we have to be on duty at specific times. The shifts are generally 14-hour shifts on weekdays and 24-hour shifts on weekends. It depends on which building you are an RA in, but I have duty 15 times a semester. In addition, I have to hold a certain number of programs a month. I have to decorate three bulletin boards, and change at least one of them once per month.  I also have to take care of anything that randomly comes up as requested by the hall director, assistant director or graduate assistant. I basically have to maintain law and order, while being someone my residents can trust and look to for advice. 


Image Sources: stcloudstate.edu, mnscu.edu, pointpark.edu, topnews.in

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