Residents Assistants (RAs) are student leaders or (pre-) professionals and members of the Residence Life Staff who ensure that the residence halls are in order. They enforce school regulations and policies as well as make sure that residents who are caught in violation of school rules and regulations are reported to the appropriate council (Judicial Council, Honor Council, the Dean of Students, Resident Coordinators for Administrative Hearings etc. ) to be held responsible for his/her action(s) if necessary. The responsibility of a Resident Assistant includes building and fostering a community among residents in his/her residence halls, being a good communicator that has updated knowledge about campus/ community resources that can be of help to residents, enforcing college policies and regulations, planning and implementing social and educational programs for residents, as well as the administration side of the job which involves duty nights, submitting work orders to the maintenance staff about damages and repairs needed In the dorms and all other paperwork aspect of the job. All of the RAs I knew during my three years as an RA in college performed their jobs effortlessly while maintaining other leadership position(s) on campus, some even doubled majored alongside a minor. This made me wonder more about these group of superhuman college students, the Resident Assistants. What is it about a student that makes him / her suitable for the Resident Assistant Position? Personality or Brains? More of which and less of which? I say both!
I was an RA for 2 years before I was promoted to the position of a Head- RA my senior year of College. I had my own share of duty nights, monthly programs planning, bulletin board due dates, being there for my residents whenever they needed me and having a crystal understanding that I am never “off duty” as long as I am on campus or in my college town. My formal RC (Residents Coordinator) compared being an RA to the life of a “fish in a fish bowl.” A vital part of the RA position is assisting residents with roommate conflicts. At the end of a roommate-conflict settlement meeting(s), the RA(s) would encourage the roommates to come up with a compromise and or an agreeable plan, upon which all parties could agree on, with the hope that they can now continue to live together with less friction and courtesy. Eight to nine times out of ten, it works!
The interesting part of this case is that RAs do not have roommates, yet we are the go-to people for solving roommate problems. And as helpful and resourceful as we are, I do not think that we would ever be able to completely “put ourselves in our residents shoes.” This does not mean that we do not know what we are doing or undermines our qualifications in anyway, it only means that we are not directly experiencing one of the problems that we are reputable for being good at solving. If so, do you think former RAs (who have both the experience and brains as student leaders) make good roommates after college when they might no longer have as much space and privacy to themselves as they did in college? Which leads to the question of, what makes one a good roommate? Personality or Knowledge? Does knowing how to read people, reading about or having some sort of experience about what people like to see in a roommate gives some people a better advantage to be good roommates or living companions than others? Or Is it purely about being even-tempered, party-proof, clean, organized, courteous and caring about the people around you that makes one a good person to live with?
It sounds silly to ask what makes one a good roommate when it seems obvious that attributes such as discipline, organization skills, and selflessness are good qualities that makes one a good roommate. What about former RAs? Does possessing some or all these qualities and the experiences they had as RAs set them up for a future of awesomeness and a superhuman power of knowing how to live amicably with different kinds of people? I say yes!
Our experiences/ exposures as former RAs makes us the best kind of people to live with (maybe I am biased :D)! We are well-informed about conflict resolution and are well- experienced on what roommate etiquettes worked and did not worked for our residents.
And when conflicts arise in our futures as most of them are inevitable, we would know how to handle them and keep them from escalating, thanks to the professional development opportunities that comes with being an RA!
Duties of an RA. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.salem.edu/residence-life.