Hi, I’m Matt Brunale. You may recognize me from my past blogs such as 7 Must Do Items on My Summer Bucket List, and I AM Social Work @ Naz. You may see me at Naz working with the Center for Civic Engagement or the Social Work Department. What you may not know, however, is that I’ve also worked for Residential Life my entire college career, and was an RA in Kearney Hall my sophomore year. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, some people don’t know or understand what an RA is or what they do before they come to college. So, I’m going to walk you through all that and why RAs are such important members of campus!
Let’s start with the basics: what is an RA? An RA, or Resident Assistant, is a student of the college, second year or older, who wants to help you while you stay in your residence hall. They can be a mentor and a friend, as well as a policy enforcer. They are there whenever you forget your key, to let you into your room. They are there if you’ve had a long day and need to vent. They can also refer you to certain offices, departments, or places on campus, if they aren’t sure how to handle your situation. As for the policy enforcement, that simply means that they make sure you are safe, and your fellow hall mates are safe. They are a helpful link between resident students and the college.
In addition to doing all of that, an RA is an event coordinator. Every month your RA will plan two events. These events are free to attend, and oftentimes happen about 30 feet from your dorm room door. Designed to be fun, and low stress, there’s often a craft, a movie, or food in order to give you, and admittedly your RA, a break from the day. Don’t forget, they’re a student too! Not to mention some of the programs RAs come up with are insanely cool! There have even been events held in the Shults pool and in the Nest game room.
Often times, when you ask someone what exactly an RA does, they will say one of two things: “I don’t know” or “oh, they are there to get you in trouble.” We’ve addressed the first part, now let’s talk about the second. Yes, an RA does enforce rules in the residence hall and while that is one of their responsibilities, that is just a small portion of what they do. The reality is that, when it comes to enforcing the rules or writing up students for their behavior, RAs are not out to get you, or to ruin your day. They truly just want to make sure you are safe. Again, they are students too, they know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes and they’re just doing their job.
In my time as an RA I encountered a lot of new students, some of whom I now call friends. Everything previously stated is true, I can’t tell you how many times I had residents knocking on my door to either ask question, report an issue in the building, or to just talk. There were times, late at night, when residents who were bored would knock on my door to watch a movie, or see what I was doing. I was in Kearney, the all freshman dorm, and my all time favorite part was being able to watch incoming students transform over the course of their first year into confident college students.
I hope this provides a basic understanding to what an RA is and what they do. If you take away anything from this, remember that they are your friend, not your enemy. They will be there for you through thick and thin, and will always lend a hand when you need. Maybe you even want to be an RA one day and, if so, that’s great! It’s an exciting job and it lets you meet interesting people who you may have never gotten to know otherwise!