What is a resident assistant?
First off, an “RA” is short for Resident Assistant or Resident Advisor, but this is the age of technology and emoji’s so we don’t have time to not use acronyms! Some of you may even save your RA’s number with a person emoji next to them to better explain your relationship, such as The Girl Flipping Her Hand, The Purple Devil, or most commonly, The Person Making An “X” With Their Arms.
No matter how you feel about the person watching over the floor or your large suite, here’s what you need to know about them and the jobs a resident assistant might do
- They Really Are There to Help You
RA’s typically get free boarding privileges as compensation for their work. They live among the dorm residents, and if you’re living among freshman, they will at least be a sophomore if not older. They are accessible if you have questions about where something may be on or around campus, and sometimes they can give advice on what General Education courses to take—possibly major and minor related classes too if you’re pursuing the same studies. You may even meet RA’s who are more personal and can help with that break up, or give advice about a fight with friends. But don’t forget…
- They’re Also Doing A Job
One of the reasons RA’s are even in place in dorm situations is so that the residents don’t burn down their building before Welcome Week is even over. RA’s have to patrol that there is no underage drinking, no smoking (depending on your state & school’s laws), no harassment, and literally no fires being started. I know there are RA’s who will sneak shots with their residents, but for the most part these are as common as unicorns, and even if you do find one, they might not necessarily open up to hanging out and getting drunk with you. So proceed with caution when kicking open their door with a handle of plastic vodka in hand as an invitation to bond.
- Random Stuff!
Another part of the RA’s job is to get the floor together. Whether this is for floor meetings to introduce everyone, or socials that are usually sober and kind of required, RA’s are typically in charge of planning events. As the year goes on, and people get settled in their own routines and extracurriculars, this responsibility will slowly fade away. One RA may even be designated as a ‘academic advisor’, mandated to meeting with you throughout the semester to checkin on classes and to make sure you’re on track.
Most people look at RA’s like the police officers of the floor, and while their rent-free room is dependent on them doing their job, they’re also people. They’re people that really aren’t that far off in age from you, and are still looking to have a fun time in college. Who knows, you or one of your dorm mates might even find yourselves applying to be an RA next year! So be friendly to your resident advisor, give them as little s**t and stress as possible, and who knows- maybe one day when you’re both out of the dorms you will be taking shots together.