A resident assistant, also known as an RA, is a supervisor in the residence halls. The job of a resident assistant includes enforcing rules, policies, and building a community that everyone feels comfortable in. There are seven upper classmen housings and five freshman residence halls on the Saint Leo University main campus.
In the week before spring break the Residence Life office has selected the resident assistants for the 2017-’18 academic school year. To become a resident assistant the students had to go through an application process with a meeting and group interviews in order to get an interview with the residence life full-time staff. Even the students that have previously worked as a resident assistant had to interview again and present why they should be able to continue their function as an RA.
“It is very exciting! I am really looking forward to building a community amongst my residents while helping them to the best of my ability. I think handling the responsibility of the RA position will be manageable as we go through a complex training regimen for 2 weeks at the beginning of each semester to ensure that we are ready and know how to handle all different types of situations that occur in the RA position,” said Kari Grippo, who is a junior with a major in accounting and healthcare management that got selected as an RA for the first time.
“I am both excited and a little bit nervous. I am not of the responsibility because I feel confident in the other RA staff to help me when I need help. Being an RA means being part of the residence life community and the team at Saint Leo,” Grippo continued.
The position as an RA comes with many responsibilities. A resident assistant needs to be a responsible steward that represents the values of Saint Leo University and is a good role model for the other students. Each RA is responsible for around thirty to fifty residents in their hallway. The position also requires artistic skills, since a part of the job is to decorate the hallway and create bulletin boards every month.
“I am really happy that I got rehired to be an RA in the next school year. Being a resident assistant in Henderson Hall was a great experience. I really enjoyed building a community on my floor and helping the freshman students to guide them through their first year at Saint Leo. The biggest challenge for me when I started was to get to know my residents so that I can make programs that they like. Also, I had to be an adult because you need to be very reliable and responsible when you want to be an RA,” said junior economics major Jennifer Litzen.
Before a resident assistant can start, they have to go through a two-week long training at the beginning of the new school year. The training includes a trip for new and old RA’s to get to know each other and learn the skills that they need to master their job. In addition to this intense training, there is an additional week of training for all resident assistants in January.
In this detailed training, the resident assistants learn how to approach people and build a community with their residents. An RA also needs to have excellent communication and mediation skills to assist with conflicts and encourage conflict resolution. Furthermore, the RA’s have a monthly training and need to report to their resident assistant director every other week to see if everything is running smoothly.
All the training requires a big time commitment for a student that also needs to attend classes, do homework, or also be part in clubs and organizations on campus. However, the selected resident assistants enjoy great benefits and free housing for their efforts. In addition to that, it can make a difference in a future job interview, since it shows that a student has leadership abilities and can take responsibility. All around the job of a resident assistant comes with great responsibility and requires a good work ethic, but it is well worth it for the people that chose to do it.