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 Tuesday, March 24, 2009 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Student Perspective: the life of an RA
by Monica Ly, junior, broadcast journalism and political science

Resident advisors (RAs) have the dual responsibility of making sure students are following the rules set by the residence halls while working to build community and help students with problems or questions. “The life of an RA really is the balance between being a friend and an enforcer,” said RA Garrett Hedman, a senior studying biochemistry.

RAs arrive a couple of weeks before students start moving into residence halls in August so that they can go through RA training to learn about their duties. Each residence hall has an RA staff complete with a senior resident advisor and academic support resident (ASR) who works with students if they need help with their classes. New RAs quickly learn how to handle certain situations from returning RAs who simulate a problem they might encounter over the course of the year. “I think the practicing was really good because I didn’t realize how tricky being an RA would be,” said RA and senior mathematics major Alan Nguyen. “I couldn’t think of a better way to train for the job.”

Throughout the year, RAs hold programs for residents to meet other residents and to offer a free and fun alternative to using drugs and alcohol. The Stearns East Hall in Williams Village held a “Root Beer Pong” night where students were able to play the game using the soda of their choice. Other campus-wide programs have included swing dancing, ice cream socials, movie nights and a poker tournament with a guest speaker who taught students about probability. “My favorite program hasn’t happened yet but I’m sure it’ll be the salsa program because I like to dance and it’s really interesting,” said RA and pre-SJMC student Abenaa Adjei. “I’m sure a lot of students don’t come in contact with salsa and so it’ll be a cultural experience.”

Many residence halls allow time for community building within their staff. They may go to dinner in the dining halls together and use extra funds for a fun activity that all can participate in together.

RA responsibilities also include attending weekly meetings with their hall staff, decorating floor bulletin boards and door tags, and keeping an open door at times to provide a welcoming environment. Though RAs have duty shifts that involve going on floor rounds, writing up students who violate rules and answering the phone after midnight for room lockouts, there are benefits. RAs receive free room and board and a meal plan.

“I’d say the best thing is probably seeing freshmen entering college as a new experience and being excited,” said Hedman. “It’s refreshing.”

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