Congratulations. You made it into the role of a lifetime. The fun is just about to begin. Something that needs to be understood about this job is that it is a lifestyle that you are about to live. You will be living with your boss and your coworkers at all times. Imagine living in the big brother house, and that's what this job is like. It will also be the best experience of your life and you will not regret it. During training you must prepare for the residents to move in. Have no expectations to what they are like because everybody is different. Be ready for the unexpected and expect to learn more about yourself in this journey.
Step 1: Develop Purpose
Having a purposeful community is where the Resident Assistant, Resident Director and the residents all share a common goal. Set a purpose with your hall and find something in common. A goal to develop with your residents should at first focus on academics as everyone is here to get an education. We are here to help with retention. As an institution we are here to provide a degree with a sense of accomplishment. By having the purpose and setting the goals we are strengthening the relationship between academics and the residence halls. As an RA make sure that you are aware of your residents and to foster a positive atmosphere everyone will achieve success. A great example of an activity would be to have a goal chain where everyone in your hall writes their goals and works to achieve them. Also helps everyone to be accountable.
Step 2: Develop Open Community
The place in which we live is an open community. We are in an environment where we live where we work. We are at a constant communication We need to develop a place where students are able to be themselves. Ask some questions
How many of you feel like you can be yourself in this hall?
How many of you feel like you can be yourself at ECU?
Do you feel judge if you dress, speak or act like your true self?
It is important to have a community where each persons own individuality and uniqueness is protected
Step 3: A Just Community
This community is one that focuses on living in an environment that the sacredness of each individual is honored. Try to envision the kind of community that you want and are trying to live in. Make it a place where diversity is honored and respected. Have every individual be aware of their own rights and be proud of who they are. Is everyone is your hall having different opinions? That's just exactly what happens when you have a mix of people from different backgrounds. It is your job as an RA to have a democracy in your floor and building. Make it a space where all are welcomed and all opinions are validated.
Step 4: Discipline in the Halls
I think one of the most important steps to take when living in the halls is to establish the boundaries that residents must adhere to. At times residents think that they can get away with everything because they are freshman. They need to understand that there is rules and consequences for all that they do. Make sure that clear defined policies are stated because we must inform them of what exactly are the rules. You cannot expect them to follow the rules if they are not aware they are breaking policy.
One of the biggest disagreement that you will experience is individuals having issues with there roommates. Some of the biggest issues that you will deal with are sleep hours, cleanliness, ac and politeness. Roommates are randomly matched and have no time to get to know each other. It is important to do a roommate contract to help roommates get to know each other and set boundaries and rules. This often helps because their is already a set expectation set.
Step 5: Be Celebrative and Plan Programs
Water balloon fights!
Minute to win it challenge!
These are just a few examples of the activities that an RA can use to build community and help make their job easier. By setting activities up for residents we are offering a event for students to interact and become friends. By setting these activities up it makes our job easier because a resident will begin to find their own identity on this campus.
Something important to note is that to plan an event you must have great advertisement. It has to be legible, colorful and interesting. When a flyer catches my eye I will read it and try to know more about it. The activity and events that you develop are the ones that are going to be the most remembered after the college career. We are there to celebrate the accomplishments of our RA's.
Step 6: Everyday Role
What should you expect to deal with everyday? That's something we wonder and train on, but really depends on the community that you serve. For example first year students are much more involved than upperclassmen. First year students have that need to be helped and guided in many of the situation. Some things to help get the job done are
You have to plan your whole life to the dot every week. Their are job obligations, meetings and personal life that needs to be set up every week. Any organization can make this job easier and more enjoyable. Also will help make the college experience more structured.
Have a problem and don't know where to go? Ask your coworkers. They have been with you since training and are their to guide and support you in your time of need. They are truly a family and will always be there supporting you through your ups and downs.
Be fair to all the residents. Know that every situation has a story and there is more than one truth. As long as residents know you are there to help them they will trust you.
Step 7: Fishbowl
Be aware of your surroundings.
Know that you are always being watched. This is so you know that whatever you post will always get back to you. Look at what you would do if you were in certain situations.
Scenario 1: You are invited to a party off campus. Its the first week of school. Your friend drags you to the party and wants to drink. You recognize many residents from your building and there is alcohol.
What would you do?
Step 8: Health & Safety
One of the most important things to note is that students are not having their parents or guardians to remind them to clean. Some of the messiest places are the bathroom and under the bed. It is not our job to help them clean, but it is our responsibility to maintain a safe environment. Their is also a duty to maintain a clean environment in the hall because you want people to be happy of where they live.
Remember to ask roommates if they have issues with any cleanliness in our building
Step 9: Diversity/ Inclusion
Week of inclusion is a week long event sponsored by Housing and Residence life that promotes events that help students interact with the community as a whole. These events range in different activities and offer a different experience to those who participate. As an RA, it is our responsibility to help with the events and promote them in our halls.
Religion panels, political debates, and whats my pronoun. These are just some of the events that were offered in the previous year.
Step 10: Self Care
Know that everything you do is for a reason. Know that you are making a change in the residents life. Know that you are growing and learning as a professional. Take time when you are stressed out to do things that YOU care about. Some of these activities an be going to eat off campus, eating dinner with friends or just going for a walk in the park. Since we work with each other all the times, the boundary line can be blurred. It is just your responsibility to ask for help and everyone in your staff will be able to help you out. Remember we are only as strong as our weakest link.
A great way to relieve stress is to celebrate holiday dinners together and have lots of food options available. We all love to eat.