Reflections on Behavior and the RA Job
By Terri Scanlon,
semester has just concluded. Hopefully you all completed the responsibilities
of your position successfully. Being a successful RA goes beyond just
doing the job however. To be truly successful, you have to make tuff decisions
about your behavior and that whole issue of positive role modeling that
is so critical to successfully fulfilling the position. Its tough
to make decisions that are at points contrary to the things you might
like to do
but role modeling exemplary behavior is one of the most
important things you can do to maintain you integrity and credibility
on the job.
A lot of
the information covered in this article is pretty simple stuff
it is easy for simple stuff to become complicated. With that said, lets
spend some time considering a few things to get you thinking about what
you are role modeling to your residents:
spent much time thinking about what you role model to your residents about
the importance of academics and the college experience. Lets face
it right up front, this is the primary reason students go to college.
How are you doing academically? Do you role model good study practices
and are you involved with your academics? Do you miss classes regularly,
and always need to cram before your next exam? Do you enforce 24 hour
per day courtesy hours? At this point in the year are your residents respectful
of the need that others have for quiet time during the day to study? Have
you formed relationships with any of your professors, beyond the classroom
experience? Do you cheat on tests? Have you figured out the value of academically
supportive programs and brought those programs into your residence hall?
As an RA
you should be supporting the academic mission of your university. Academics
are tough for a lot of students, and the distractions to do things other
than study are certainly prevalent in a residential setting. Spend time
thinking about the messages that you send to your residents about academics,
through the things you do, the things you say, and the way you manage
your floor. If youre not happy with the results of your reflections,
then think now about how youll have a more positive impact in this
area for the second semester.
RA involves making tough choices about your own personal behavior. Partying
for years has been an important part of the perceived college experience.
The fact here has always been and remains that the consumption of alcohol
if you are underage is against the law, as is the use of pot and other
So, if you
are underage and you think about partying, do you or dont you? Do
you own a fake ID that you use from time to time? Do you think it is O.K.
to party if you are discreet and no one finds out about it? Is it O.K.
to party off-campus with other students
who could potentially be
your residents? What about the use of illegal drugs
is this something
that you have done since you became an R.A. on your campus?
decided to become an R.A. you hopefully reconciled some tough decisions
about taking the job and the impact that it would have on your life as
a party-er on your campus. Like it or not, the bottom line
here is that as an R.A., if youre underage you should not party,
and if youre of legal age, you need to consume alcohol responsibly.
Do you treat
all your residents the same? Has there ever been a situation where you
looked the other way when you needed to document a situation, because
you were friends with the person involved in the situation? Has a friend
ever passed out from too much alcohol and you decided to manage the situation
on your own, verses calling for assessment assistance and potential medical
intervention (when you know that although this may keep your friend from
getting into trouble, in could lead to their death due to alcohol poisoning)?
RA involves making judgments regularly about how you will handle situations.
Its easy to have these judgments become clouded by personal relationships.
As an RA you know the established standards and protocols for evaluating
and responding to situations, and you need to work hard to adhere to these
standards all the time. Applying standards consistently, regardless of
personal relationships, will uphold your personal credibility and maintain
the safety of all of your residents. Managing situations involving friends
is complicated, but if you adhere to developed standards and protocols,
youll judge situations consistently and make good decisions.
do you make in regards to your own personal safety and security? Whether
youre in an urban or a rural area, do you role model the utilization
of good common sense in regards to your personal safety and security?
Do you lock
your door during the day when you are not in your room, and at night when
you are sleeping? If someone knocks on your door, do you ask who it is
before you open it? When you return from the library or from working late
at night, do you call for a campus escort so you are not walking alone
at night? Are you friendly and considerate when interacting with the desk
staff or security/police officers who work on your campus?
It is easy
for your residents to consider themselves invulnerable to harm. In addition
to advocating making safe choices, you need to walk the walk
and partake in the same choices that your advocate.
Honesty and Respect
reach out to those on your floor who are less popular with others? Do
you attempt to learn about the individual differences that exist amongst
your residents, and do you advocate respect for differences while working
to help residents find out about their similarities? Do you communicate
with residents in an honest and assertive fashion? Do your respectfully
confront others when their behavior against another on your floor is disrespectful?
Do you gossip about floor residents in a non-confidential way with other
floor residents? Do you speak negatively about another staff member behind
As an RA
you can have a critical impact in assisting with the development of the
positive character of your floor and other building residents. Youll
have the most impact if you are of sound character yourself and mindful
of your behavior at all time. Its easy at points to lower your self
to anothers position. As an RA you need to reach towards higher
standards, by role modeling kindliness, honest communication and respect.
One of the
lessons learned in life is that even the simplest things become complicated
at times. As an RA you have the awesome responsibility of helping your
residents develop emotionally, socially and intellectually. A lot of the
teaching that you do comes from the choices you make and the behaviors
you role model. As student leaders on campus and in your hall, your residents
watch you and make decisions based on your actions. Before the second
semester begins, spend time answering the questions posed in this article.
you are a good role model for your residents.
not, hopefully youll become a better one as the spring semester
Me Your Thoughts on this Article
on this article? Are there other areas where behavior and role modeling
are critical to the RA job?
Send me your thoughts to email@example.com