Resident assistants – what are their responsibilities?

At California Lutheran University, a resident assistant’s responsibilities include providing and maintaining a safe, friendly and enjoyable environment for those who choose to live on campus.

“For me, being a resident assistant is all about being a resource, being there for all the people that are in the community and being able to help foster, build and grow that community within a resident’s hall,” Coordinator for Residence Life and Student Conduct Andy Hanson said.

According to Hanson, potential resident assistants participate in an extensive interview process that includes multiple sets of interviews along with group activities to test their teamwork skills and personality traits and aspects.

“We start with individual interviews, and we also have group processes, so with that we get to see their teamwork skills and how they do working with a team, what kind of dynamic they bring and how we could implement that into constructing our team,” Hanson said.

Additionally there is a set GPA an RA must have and maintain in order to be qualified for the position.

“Students who apply to be RAs have to have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA,” said Associate Director of Student Life, Christine Paul in an e-mail interview. For returning RAs, they must conduct a different interview process that involves a presentation to the hiring staff said senior RA Magen Sanders.

Due to the fact RAs are the student’s first outreach when needing assistance, it is important that those filling the leadership position be well prepared and properly trained.

“RAs are trained for over two weeks in August. This extensive training gives them the foundation of knowledge and skills they need to be able to perform their job,” Paul said.

In addition to being trained to handle a variety of resident hall situations, residence assistants must also project the correct type of personality and etiquette towards their residents.

“[RAs] make sure people are well-connected and with that, they really need to be approachable and very supportive, friendly and community oriented,” Hanson said.

While a resident assistant’s primary concern is to promote their fun, homely and welcoming environment on a daily basis, there are also rules and regulations that each RA must follow.

“There is a wide range of policies that go from no sports in the hall… you can’t ride your bike or a scooter, throw a football and that includes no water sports, so no water balloons or squirt guns,” Sanders said. “There is absolutely no alcohol allowed in the resident halls, whether you’re 21 or not, and if it’s a prescription drug, it must have your name on it, dated correctly.”

Resident assistants are compelled to document each and every policy violation, however there is a common misconception of their actual role in the disciplinary process.

“We find no fault or responsibility, we don’t say you are in trouble, we address and document the situation word for word and from there it goes to the conduct office and Residence Life to conduct meetings and further find responsibility,” Sanders said.

Sanders said that RAs take a literal snapshot of the situation and write everything down almost as if it were a short story, and all documented information is pure fact with no bias attached.

“As Dean of Students, my interaction with the RAs is primarily to provide support so that they can do their very best work. It is almost never discipline based,” Interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Melinda Roper said in an e-mail interview.

While the halls are constantly on 24 hour courtesy hours, there are assigned quiet hours in the halls from 9 p.m. – 9 a.m. on weekdays, and 11 p.m.–9 a.m. on weekends.

“Someone of the opposite sex can’t be in your room from 2 a.m. –7 a.m., and that’s about roommate courtesy,” Sanders said.

Being a resident assistant has its perks in that it is a paid position. RAs also receive a single flat rate for housing regardless of which dorm they are placed in. Sanders said that the RAs also have the option to reject purchasing a meal plan, as well as being assigned their own room.

“[Being an RA] is one of the most unique opportunities in student leadership that you will ever find… a lot of people will say that this is the best position you can ever get at a university,” Hanson said.

The bulk of a resident assistant’s job is providing, creating and planning fun activities for the residents in hopes of upholding a community based and friendly campus.

“RAs are a much more expansive thing that they’re working towards. It’s really intended to build a great community that everybody feels welcomed and included in and has the ability to fully authentically be themselves,” Hanson said.


Jessy Corsello

Staff Writer

Published November 19, 2014