One of the best things about being an RA is meeting all of the wonderful people with who you will get to know throughout the year. A lot of crazy jokes and funny stories can accumulate and bring everyone closer together. Sometimes, however, residents may decide to leave the floor to go abroad or room with someone across campus.
These newly vacant rooms will not be empty forever. Soon residential life will assign these spaces to new people. Unfortunately for them, moving into a new residence hall might not be the most comfortable thing for them to do. These new residents may not know their new roommates, floor mates, or anyone in the entire area! That is why it’s important to help these new arrivals to feel welcome on the floor.
There are a lot of things a RA can do to make someone feel welcome and alleviate their fears about living in a new place. What follows is a list of some of the ways that a new resident can be included into a community that has already been established.
A New Nametag
Looking around the doors on my floor, I see 32 nametags. Each one is the same kind of design with a name in the center. These tags are unique to this floor to differentiate it from any other place on campus. Nametags are a form of solidarity, and your new residents should receive the same ones as everyone else. When a resident comes into a new building and puts a key into the door for the first time, it’s nice to see that he or she has already been thought of.
Maybe it’s just me, but I get so excited when I get to meet someone new. A new resident doesn’t necessarily know who you are or what the floor is like, so it’s a good idea to contact this person as soon as possible and introduce yourself. If the new resident gets a good feeling about the RA, he or she will probably feel comfortable talking to you when needed or having random conversations in the bathroom at 3 a.m. The RA should not be the only one talking to the new resident, however. If they aren’t doing it already, encourage others to begin conversation with this person. I have found that the easiest way to do this is when I’m in the middle of one of those famed 3 a.m. conversations. If another person enters the room, I introduce them to each other. More often than not, both of the residents begin chatting quietly for a while. Friendships are born.
A Community Action
I believe that holding a meeting solely about the arrival of a new resident may be a little embarrassing. The resident will probably meet his or her floor mates during daily routines. Instead, why not hold a community action to get everyone together? Not everyone on the floor may know each other, so having a get-together will help those people to get to know each other as well as the new student.
All of these are small steps to acquaint a new resident with the floor and its inhabitants. Many times the floor itself will take a new resident under its wing and make friends with him or her. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that easily. Ultimately, including a new resident into a community isn’t hard to do if both you and the other residents give that person a chance. Besides, who doesn’t like to meet someone new?
Submitted by Tasha Kates, Resident Assistant, Ithaca College