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Behind the Scenes of Residence Life

It is 3:30 a.m. most people are asleep preparing to wake up for their 8 a.m., but for Matt Hall he is up in a panic because there is a pounding at his door. Hall flies out of bed to answer the door, one of his residents is crying because her boyfriend just broke up with her. Hall has to calm her down and help her back to her room to make sure she is safe.  Once she is settled in her room he leaves. He then goes back to his room and if he thinks she is in serious trouble, he will contact his boss and suggest that she go to counseling services. 

Residence life is important at any college or university.  Being a resident assistant is not an easy task, but it pays off in the end.   Making sure residents have the best time at the school they attend is vital.  For freshmen, it is a new experience and an adjustment period.  RAs will have to deal with home sickness, adjustment issues and roommate issues.  RAs will try to become your best friend to make sure that, the student, is as comfortable as possible. 

Some of the benefits of becoming an RA include having a job, leadership, being a part of a team and having your own room.  Being an RA at York College means that you will be paid in more than one way. The first way is getting a paycheck, either every week or every other week.

Matt Hall commented, “We get paid via stipend. First year RAs make $1,000 a semester, each year it goes up by $100.” There is also the benefit of having free room and board and a full meal plan.  This will help reduce student loans in the long run. 

Nicole Anderson, a first year RA loves her job “I love meeting new people and feeling like I have a place on campus,” she said. Hall and Anderson both agree that the job is filled with life experiences that will be beneficial in the real world.

But being an RA does not stop there. RAs must have programs to get their residents and the community involved. This is great to meet new people and become a leader to those who attend.  For freshmen, it is vital to attend programs as a way to branch out and try something out of the ordinary. “It is easier to get freshman involved than it is upperclassmen because of the way the residence halls are laid out,” Hall commented.

It is difficult meeting new people and making new friends. When becoming an RA, they become part of a team. There are weekly meetings with staff to discuss any issues. “We discuss facility concerns, past and future programs, share stories about our lives, have team building excerises, and nominate staff member of the week,” Anderson said.

 In the beginning of the semester, all RAs go through training to make sure they are fully prepared for the position.  These include group activities, meetings in case of certain issues, team building exercises and scenarios that could potentially happen.  Being fully prepared for any situation is vital because it could mean someone’s life could be at stake.  “In August we meet for 10 days and learn everything there is to know about being an RA, then in January we come back for four days as a refresher course for the upcoming semester,” Hall said.

Some of the cons to being an RA include time consumption and dealing with issues you may not want to deal with.  An RAs job is 24/7, if a resident is having a problem at 4 a.m., be prepared to hear a knock on the door. For an entire year your life is dedicated to juggling school, work, extracurricular activities and making sure your residents are comfortable. Hall became accustomed to it “At this point my social life and RAing are mostly one and the same. Yes it has been tough to properly manage time and social relationships outside of the job, but you get used to it.”

Roommate issues happen a lot, especially with freshman, because they are complete strangers forced to live together.  Their personalities do not always match up and there could be conflicting problems and arguments. Anderson has had to deal with a few issues regarding roommates, “I hear both sides of the issue and then I have to decide from those discussions whether or not the roommates can resolve this issue or they have to be separated, I keep my supervisor up to date with all information.”

If issues continue between residents, the community is affected and it could greatly impact the entire residence hall.  Some issues that RAs are told can relate to, but not always. Fortunately, enough Hall and Anderson have not been given any issue that cannot be handled.

RAs meet new people and go through learning experiences as the year goes on.  They learn to grow and appreciate all that the job has to offer.  It has a lot of ups and downs, but how you are able to handle it shows what type of person you are. 

It is best if the RA does not take the job too seriously; it may become too much to handle.  It can affect relationships because an RA’s mind is always in a “need to fix it” mode.  It is most important to go into the job with an open mind and to not have too much going on in your own life.  If an RA is having personal problems and issues, it will be more difficult to deal with them along with 50 other resident issues. “Be wise about the position, know how to maintain a friend verse friendly relationship with residents and know the job comes first, “Hall added. 

M V

YCP '16

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