Resident assistants help students avoid bad decisions

Morgan Haire

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Resident assistants Kelsie Allen, sophomore in nursing, Ashley Minx, senior in social work, Mae Johnson, sophomore in nursing, Ashley Brown, senior in nursing, Kimberly Nowell, senior in education, and ­Rebecca Stogner, sociology junior, get together and prepare for the fall semester Aug. 16, 2013. File photo by Hanwool Lee.

Resident assistants Kelsie Allen, sophomore in nursing, Ashley Minx, senior in social work, Mae Johnson, sophomore in nursing, Ashley Brown, senior in nursing, Kimberly Nowell, senior in education, and ­Rebecca Stogner, sociology junior, get together and prepare for the fall semester Aug. 16, 2013. File photo by Hanwool Lee.

For freshman it’s time to go off to college and, finally, to be away from the parents. However, being all alone with so much freedom can lead to problems. That’s where resident assistants come in.

With the pressures of college—especially in the first year—younger students will certainly make some bad decisions. For students in college housing, the school provides a resident assistant for every floor in hopes to make those bad decisions few and far between.

“My first incident happened around 2:30 in the morning,” said Rachel Bullard, theater senior and Killingsworth Hall RA. “A girl came in very intoxicated and tried to stumble up the stairs but couldn’t manage. I asked her what her name was but she spelled her name instead, so I knew I needed to file an incident report.”

Being an RA is filled with responsibilities, experiences and situations people may have never dealt with before. Coming into the position, RAs know there is a high expectation to follow the rules, but the chance to have real-world experiences draws applicants into the program.

“I’m most excited about building relationships with the new freshman,” said Madison Scogin, composite science education freshman applying for RA position. “I will be looking to the returning RAs for guidance and advice throughout the training process.”

A resident assistant is a student who has already been at the university for at least one semester, and who feels they are capable of being a role model and a friend for students that live under them.

“Being an RA has helped me open up and be more comfortable with socializing with any type of personality,” said Bianca Hernandez, radiology sophomore. “I’ve built some great relationships with my residents that have led me to be the best RA I can be.”

An RA has more responsibilities than just enforcing rules and regulations. They have to come up with different monthly programs on various topics, and they have to decorate their hall and make it more “homey” for the residents, along with balancing their own life.

“We try to make a second home for the residents,” said Tiare Hidalgo, biochemistry freshman and Killingsworth Hall RA, “one in which they can experiment in safe parameters.”

Benefits of being an RA include not having to pay for housing or dining. But RAs have to work at least two office shifts per week for a stipend of $40 every two weeks.

“I like getting to work office shifts,” said Mason Wilson, business management sophomore. “Seeing everyone come in and out makes interacting and getting to know the residents easier.”

Before the March 27 deadline, each of the 76 applicants completed am online form and submitted a resume, recommendation letters and an essay, followed by an academic background check. In a group interview, the selection committee member see how the applicant works in a group setting. If the applicant is picked from the group, they have an individual interview with the hall directors, current RAs, and a portion of the selection committee.

“The process was actually easier than I thought it would be,” said Dyamond Tankersley, business freshman applying for an RA position. “The most intimidating part was the one-on-one interview with all the housing directors.”

The returning RAs process is not as strenuous as for the newcomers. If they wish to be an RA again, they fill out an intention form.

“With our returners, we’re looking for those who have shown the leadership and skills to be an RA in the past,” said Angie Reay, associate director of housing and dining. “We want the returners to be the energy for the staff and a role model for not only the students, but the new RAs.”

Of the 76 applicants, only 36 will get the job. The list of hired candidates will be released by April 30.

“We’re looking for the best candidates,” said Michael Mills, director of housing and dining services. “We want students who will be a leader and be someone who can help the incoming students and their transition to college.”

Shelby Binford, radiology sophomore and Killingsworth RA, said she originally applied because she needed a job, but found the experience to be more rewarding than she thought.

“I’ve learned a lot from my residents,” Binford said. “I feel like I’ve become more diverse in the sense that every girl is not the same but deserves to be respected.”

Past RAs have found the experience to be more meaningful than flipping burgers or folding shirts to pay the bills.

“It teaches you how to work with people,” Jake Starkey, Housing graduate assistant. “Becoming an RA helped me become more extroverted which helped me grow into a marketable employee.”

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