RAs are meant to help, but also to report: Are students more concerned with RAs than they are thankful for them?

 2018-2019 Maple RA Staff bonds at Colt State Beach.

Residential assistants, or RAs, are an important aspect of college life. They help freshmen adapt to new situations, encourage campus involvement and assist all students with any issues they encounter in their living areas. RAs are people with many responsibilities on campus, but what is their true purpose? Are they just out to get their residents in trouble, or are they there to protect their residents?

Emily Whitehead is the RA for Maple Five, or as she likes to call it, Maple Thrive. This Maple hall is an all-freshmen and substance-free living-learning community. Whitehead is a junior and she loves her job as an RA. She shared her thoughts on the job and the misconceptions that people may have about it.

There are many aspects to the job really, so I think the main part is the time commitment. You have weekly staff dinners and meetings, nights that you are on duty, programs and really just being there for the residents in any way that they might need. Situations can arise at any time so a large part of the position is just being accessible,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead decided to become an RA for a multitude of reasons. She was excited about making cool door tags and being more involved on the campus. She also loves being someone people can depend on and her residents do depend on her.

“She creates a very friendly environment and always knows how to handle situations,” Nikki Czarnowski, one of Whitehead’s residents, said.

“She’s good to talk to,” said Joe Brown, another one of Whitehead’s residents.

RAs also have to take action when they find their residents in a troubling situation. The job has to be taken seriously to make sure everyone is safe on campus. They tend to act as a middleman between students and any administrative staff, so they do have to make tough decisions if campus rules are broken. Whitehead says people that believe RAs are just out to get them in trouble have not really interacted with their RAs.

“I would say after getting to know your RA, even after one conversation, you realize that there is more to the position than that,” she said.

RAs can be a very helpful resource throughout a student’s college years because they help build communities within residence halls and the campus as a whole. The main part of the job is ensuring accessibility for residents, and they always try to be there for any problem or situation residents find themselves in.

Many RAs find the job to be very rewarding, and the difficulty of the job lies with the residents. They can make the job very hard or very easy. The RAs are still students who have to take classes and may be involved in other extracurriculars, so they must balance all of their responsibilities while being in a leadership position.

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the role of RAs on college campuses. They are there to make college easier for students, and in many cases, they are not fully utilized. Students might think they are just there to be watchdogs of the residence buildings, but giving tips about how to handle busy class schedules or planning programs that will help students de-stress are also part of the job.

“For me, realizing that there was a lot more to the position than just being on duty in the hall was a motivating factor when it came to wanting to apply,” Whitehead said.