So, you’re about to begin your first year as a Resident Assistant… or perhaps, like myself, you’re entering your second or third year as an RA.
Regardless, you are part of a dedicated group of college students who have many, many important responsibilities.
You are responsible for the well being of residents living in your hall. You are charged with being a role model, an upstanding citizen of your college campus. You are depended upon to provide programs for your residents. You are even responsible for playing an important role in your residence life family.
I use the words group and family with no hesitation here. If there is one thing you should learn to deal with as a RA, it is that you are part of much more than a staff. You are part of a family.
Any RA who has a year or two under his or her belt already will tell you that, during the rough times, the word family will be far from your thoughts. Every RA staff will have its down moments.
Depending on what school you attend, your residence life family can vary in size. My own experiences come from a small public school family of about 20 RAs. Even at much larger colleges and universities, the theory that your RA staff is a family still holds true.
True, you can expect some bickering amongst your fellow RAs. But that happens anytime you get a group of strong personalities together such as those on your staff.
Besides your occasional disagreements, you will also notice that your family of RAs will become quite bonded even before the end of RA training. This will usually begin to take form during RA training when you begin the process of learning about the job, and continue as you work together as a staff team throughout the year.
But cliques and bickering aside, it is important that you simply remain a part of the family. It is all too common that a RA has a conflict with another RA or the staff in general and then decides to sever them self from the family.
When you step into those RA shoes, you have to learn to put differences aside for the sake of your staff and your residents. You have to learn to not talk negatively about your fellow staff members – especially around residents. You have to understand that you need those 20, 50 or 80 fellow RAs supporting you in everything you do – just as they need you supporting them.
If this is your first year as an RA, expect to spend some of your best moments this school year with your fellow RA family members. I’m not trying to predict your future; I’m just being truthful.
As the year progresses you’ll find that you will develop very close relationships with the other RAs on your staff team. As your work in the RA position, find a balance between spending time with others on your staff team and time with your residents. By having quality relationships with both your staff and residents, you’ll maximize the experience of being an RA.
Submitted by Brian Root, Resident Assistant, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg