Residence Life and Housing provides numerous wonderful opportunities for students to become resident assistants. This position helps to foster leadership, time management, responsibility and also helps make college affordable to students who may not otherwise be able to pay.
Despite all of these wonderful positives, sometimes ResLife simply asks too much of their RAs.
For instance, the duties of an RA include holding numerous programs to help educate building residents, as well as community enrichment events aimed at helping residents connect with their RA as well as with each other. While in theory this is a wonderful notion, residents as well as their RAs have busy schedules and good relationships are not going to be made by RAs desperately trying to get residents to go on adventures or hang out with them around everyone’s busy schedules.
Community is important, but the more natural the encounter, the more realistic the relationship. Sometimes the “Hi, how has your day been,” in the bathroom can make more of an impression than an out of the blue knock on the door and “I need someone to hang out with me to fulfill a requirement.”
RAs want to get to know their residents, but the ways in which we are asked to do so are unnatural and ineffective. ResLife should be promoting discussions with residents, but not make it another chore to check off the list of RA duties. If having to talk to residents becomes as routine and mechanical as rounds, then the whole point of having a real, genuine conversation with someone that naturally arose from shared interests and heartfelt effort is lost.
RAs act as the front-line defense for whatever happens inside of residence halls. Whether that be broken elevators, a new slow mail system or someone passed out in the hall on a weekend. Some on-call days are light and others are emotionally draining.
Yet, ResLife still forces us to go to programs, stressing their already busy RAs more by having to fit another thing into their schedule.
This is not a fair thing to add on to an RA’s list of duties.
Yes, we should all want to support each other and if RAs were not forced to go in these situations, many would still attend the events and more than likely have more fun since they are doing it out of free will and not because they have to.
If each hall is forced to make a team for lack of interest, RAs are forced to pick up the slack of yet another task. It is unfair. There are many roles of an RA and you never truly clock out of work while you are in school.
ResLife needs to take a second look at what they are asking of their RAs and next time they need to force halls to make a team to ensure attendance, remember what it is that RAs have between school, work and clubs and rethink forcing them to add another task to try to fit into their schedule.