Since I began my job in May, I have blossomed into an overly enthusiastic RA. I work mail room office shifts and dance a little bit when the packages arrive every day, I have adjusted to a body clock of being wide awake at midnight to complete rounds (literally just walking around campus to make sure nothing suspicious is going on) and I know all the rules in the average residence hall lease.
I have made some amazing friends and although the campus is pretty dead during the summer, I've communicated with people I would never have gotten the opportunity to talk to if not for this job. Plus I have access to all the craft supplies in the basement of the community clubhouse, so it's pretty intense.
Although there are many benefits as an employed resident assistant, there are a lot of students living on campus who really hate us. Nine times out of 10, these residents are those who break the rules and get in trouble, but there is also just a natural relationship of the average resident keeping their distance from the RA down the hall. In order for me to make more friends and maintain the peace on my campus, I have laid out the main phrases and misconceptions RAs are tired of hearing.
1. That we want to do drug and alcohol busts.
I live on a dry campus and our alcohol policy is very strict. Since I go to a smaller school with no real Greek housing, it's easy to maintain order when it comes to drinking and drug use. Even if you're 21, if you live on campus, there is no alcohol allowed in the dorms, and people tend to dislike that rule.
When we go on rounds every night, we know what to listen for and what smells to smell and we have an "incident" procedure to follow in the event of one of these issues. Yeah, sometimes it's fun to listen to residents complain because they were being stupid, but most of the time, it's midnight or 1 a.m. when these issues arise, and we have to stay up until they meet their end. Sometimes it's as simple as dumping a bottle of wine and taking some names for a quick incident report, but other times, the police department gets involved, and we have to block the doors when residents try to run away. At one in the morning. When we could be asleep.
So, no, we don't want to bust you. In fact, we all dread it. You try wearing khakis all day and then hearing "pour me another shot" 10 minutes before you plan on changing into pajamas for the night.
2. That we don't have lives outside of the job.
Although RAs typically have one duty day a week, where we are required to be on campus and on call for 24 hours, we do actually like to have fun. My friends and I went to an amusement park recently and I still go out at night and eat dinner at places other than the dining hall (or The Caf, as we like to call it). A handful of RAs are even 21, and dare I say, go out for drinks on the weekends. As long as we adhere to the rules of our job and maintain the safety and wellbeing of our residents, we can still live our lives. Just like, don't be a felon and apply to be an RA.
3. That we don't care about our residents.
Although I haven't been around for move-in day and what comes after, I still communicate with people on campus and always try to strike up a conversation with residents from all different properties in our area. I, for one, only want the best for our residents and will do anything in my power to provide that. It's literally my job, but it also comes from an innate desire for me to welcome people into our community and our lives. Our dorms really do rock and it's up to us to make them feel like homes.
4. That our events are lame.
OUR EVENTS ARE NOT LAME. Most of the time. A ton of planning goes into all the programming on our campus, and we have a pretty sweet budget for all the activities we offer. Residence life events are part of what make the college experience what it is and it's the number one place to make friends and connections with your neighbors. We also like to get feedback from residents in order to make these events as fun and exciting as possible. We host things like Harry Potter marathons, dorm decor craft nights, cooking competitions, game show nights, scavenger hunts and more. A lot of college-aged people don't necessarily live for organized fun, but if you're down for free food and some entertainment, at least give us a chance.
5. That the job doesn't require much of us.
Yes, we're all college students just like our residents, but we also spend so much of our free time fulfilling RA tasks. We have mandatory weekly meetings, we have monthly bulletin boards to make, we have to decorate our doors/buildings each semester, and we're the ones who let you in when you get locked out. It's a commitment like any other job, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Except maybe weekly meetings. Weekly meetings I would trade for the world.
6. That you need us to put in a work order for you.
On my campus, most residents have logins to place a work order for our maintenance staff if they have a light bulb out or a clog in the drain. But usually, they don't use their online logins or don't even know about such logins. They call us instead. And I get it, but if I were a resident, I'd so much rather type up a couple sentences about the state of my toilet than physically call someone on the phone and tell them I used too much toilet paper. Our maintenance workers even prefer to hear directly from residents than getting a messy summary from a middle man. Placing work orders does give us something to do during our office shifts and makes the duty day go by a little faster, but my God, I know I'm going to be tired of hearing about light bulbs by September.
7. That we are too outgoing.
Listen, I'm super pumped to be an RA and work as a leader in my community, but I'm very introverted. I love talking to people and being social, but by the end of the night, I need my me time. In fact, I need my me time sometime every single day. I know RAs can seem like too much and have a lot of passion for innocuous things, but a) that's not a bad thing at all, and b) we're probably just trying to get you a little excited about what's going on around campus. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it, and a lot of times, we're overcompensating for the fact that we're terrified you'll hate us. We're one in the same, you guys; I'm just the one making your door decs.
All in all, the RA position brings a lot of good into the world. I haven't even experienced the complete responsibilities of the job yet but I know what it entails, and I'm genuinely thrilled to take it all on. Having a good relationship with residents is of utmost priority to all of us, and I hope I've shed some light on what it really means to be one of us.
Please be quiet after 10, though.
Lead Image Credit: Kamrin Baker