Once again the University has selected a group of fun, friendly and passionate students to watch over the dorms.
Every year, ULV’s Student Housing and Residential Education program selects a handful of students to work as resident assistants, who supervise each hall and serve as peer leaders to their residents.
Being compensated with room and board may make the job appealing, but there are many goals and guidelines the students are encouraged to follow and meet, just like any other job.
“Throughout the year, the R.A.s participate in a duty rotation for monitoring the halls and responding to crisis situations and all other emergencies,” Resident Life Coordinator Lisa Lester said.
“They also plan and implement programs in the areas of community development, academic success, diversity, health and wellness, career and personal development, and civic engagement. And lastly, but most importantly, they work to create a safe and welcoming community for their residents and are often the first line of support to residents who need assistance.”
In order to become an R.A., students must attend an intense month-long training, be enrolled as a full-time student, remain in good judicial standing and maintain a 2.5 cumulative and semester GPA.
“The month consists of extreme team bonding, learning policy, as well as leadership skills, and social awareness,” Stu-Han resident assistant and junior communications major Emily Burchett said. “We go through mental health training, CPR certification, first-aid training, safe zone and other certifications.”
The ULV R.A.s also prepare programs during training to help build close relationships with their residents.
“I have held a number of different programs including ‘Agents of K,’ where I encouraged residents to do random acts of kindness on and off campus and have them encourage others to do the same,” Burchett said. “I did a program where we talked about the health benefits of laughter and then watched funny YouTube videos that made us laugh and extend our lives.”
Brandt Hall R.A. and junior psychology major Elias Maldonado thinks they are getting positive recognition from residents because of how well the R.A.s get along and work together.
“We really bonded during training, we’re like a family,” Maldonado said. “My fellow R.A.s know they can count on me, we are all there for each other.”
The staff seems to be closer this year, which could be why residents recognize their R.A.’s work and efforts to develop a community. The closeness has helped create a bond between R.A.s and residents.
“At my first floor meeting I cracked a lot of jokes and made sure my residents felt comfortable enough to be themselves around me,” Vista R.A. and senior biology major Marina Youngblood said.
“Being my residents’ friend comes first, but if they betray the trust I place in them by breaking rules, I can still take an authoritative position when necessary.”
“I do my best to make myself accessible to my residents,” Oaks R.A. and sophomore business administration major Rachel Stewart said. “This gives them the ability to come and talk to me about their days or anything else on their mind.”
Many residents feel supported by their R.A.s, which keeps relationships strong.
“We could not be more proud of our resident assistants for the hard work they put into their position each and every day,” Lester said. “They do this work because they want to help others succeed and develop.”
Lauren Harchut can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.