Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

A Day In The Life Of An RA

Posted on November 12, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Jack Hahn

Possibly the most underappreciated people on campus, Resident Assistants (RAs) are an essential part of the college experience. From event planning to ensuring student safety, they are constantly at work to make residential life great for students.

The RA of Second Hastings-Wing, Justin Lapointe, a senior history major, described his role and how he contributes to the college community: “My duties are to ensure that my residents are connected with the school and have a great school year.”

To apply for an RA position, students must have and maintain a GPA of 2.5 and in good standing with USM. They must also have two recommendations, one from their own RA and one from another RA.

It is essential that college students develop a bond to the campus community. Many students who do not develop that bond feel discouraged and are more likely to leave the school. It is one of the RAs main functions to help residents develop these bonds. They will put together many fun events that anyone in the hall can attend. From game night, to arts and crafts, to pizza parties, these events help develop friendships and a sense of community within the dorms. Many residents also develop a bond with their RAs, just as you would to any other friend. They are always willing to talk with residents about issues they may be experiencing or just to hang out.

One student, Tracy Edwards, a first year health sciences major, had this to say about her interactions with the RA: “My experience with the RAs has been pretty good! They always say hello to me, and I say hi back. We always joke around. They’re really friendly.”

Another important aspect of the RA position is the enforcement of school safety, school rules and policies. These policies include the obvious, such as no underage drinking and no drugs, including marijuana. Smoking of any kind is not allowed on campus. In addition to these rules, there is also a quiet time policy in place where residents must keep their volume to a minimum from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 12:00 midnight to 9:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

“I had to enforce our alcohol policy a lot last year, along with our marijuana policy and noise violations,” Lapointe said.  

To some it may seem that they are a sort of dorm secret police force, actively seeking to ruin someone’s night. In reality, they are just like any other students, and what they want to is make sure no one gets hurt.

Nate Genrich, a junior theater major, enjoyed his sophomore year RA. “My floor RA last year was chill. He wasn’t overbearing but he let us know that if we were doing stuff, but he was fair about it,”  he said, “If something got broke or something he’d call a meeting and say ‘yeah, ok, we can’t do this.’”

Once a week, all of the RAs in a dorm convene to discuss topics such as residents in need of attention, the planning of hall events and the general state of the building itself. Along with RAs, their bosses, the LRAs, or Lead Resident Assistants, and the hall’s Residential Director also attend the meetings.

Lapointe described student confidentiality as one of the most important parts of his job. However, there are some instances where confidentiality would hurt the student more than not. In addition to their other duties, RAs are also “mandatory reporters.”

Lapointe described what this means: “Being a mandatory reporter means we have certain things we must report no matter what, like sexual assault, suicide, and other major concerns.”

With a stressful job like this comes some pretty impressive perks. As Lapointe  put it, “It looks great on a resume, you get to work with an amazing team, you get leadership skills, a single plus room and board, you get connected on campus, and you build great relationships with the residents”.

So next time you see your RA walking down the hall, say hi and maybe ask how their day has been going, because you know that most of it has been spent worrying about you in one way or another.

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