Student, community builder, role model, resource, advocate and friend. Such are the duties of the residence assistants (RAs) who keep students safe and help them manage living-quarter conflicts while living on Xavier’s campus.
In exchange for housing and a meal plan, being an RA comes with high expectations and a lengthy list of responsibilities — many of which are behind the scenes. Per the job description provided by the Office of Residence Life, RAs must open and close all residence halls, communicate effectively between residents and the administration and maintain both a professional and approachable persona.
Above all, RAs are responsible for the well-being of their floor.
With such hefty obligations, it is no wonder the application process to be an RA is an extensive one. This year’s application process recently finished, and next year’s RAs have begun the training process.
Zach Lippe, a first-year mathematics major, was one of the applicants hired and can attest to the intense selection process that lasted two months.
“There are a bunch of essay questions on OrgSync for the general application to narrow down the pool. After that there is a group interview to see how you work in a team dynamic followed by two personal interviews where we are interviewed by a hall director or a current RA,” Lippe said.
RAs go through lengthy training to ensure they will be prepared to care for residents. “We have summer training, winter training and then a spring training as well as educational opportunities for professional development,” senior RA Anna DeHondt said.
DeHondt has been an RA in Brockman Hall for the last three years and applied because she has always been drawn to opportunities for leadership and the the idea of working with incoming students. “I have a lot of passion for Xavier,” she said, “and I like helping first-years develop the same passion.”
Supporting fellow students was also an incentive for Lippe. “I really like being a role model in the community and being there to help others with whatever needs they have,” he said. “I am really looking forward to build a sense of community in my residence area.”
Being in these leadership roles also has a downside. “You’re in a fishbowl so everybody can and will be paying attention to what you are doing, so you have to be a role model in all aspects,” DeHondt said.
RAs also have to strike a balance between being approachable while enforcing rules, something Lippe thinks will be a challenge. Though DeHondt understands its necessity, she dreads the discipline process. “I wish people knew that RAs do not enjoy documentation and write-ups,” she said.
DeHondt says the role isn’t for everyone. Besides being emotionally taxing and time consuming, you do have to enforce rules against peers, and it has been difficult for her to watch friends move off campus. “I would recommend somebody who is willing to have an alternative college experience but who is also able to see the positives of such an experience,” DeHondt said.
Otherwise, both DeHondt and Lippe encourage people with all sorts of interests and personalities to apply. “You need to have a diverse set of RAs in order to relate to the diverse group of residents,” Lippe said.
DeHondt added, “Just going through the RA process is a great opportunity to learn and grow as a person. You can develop skills that will apply for a future career.”
DeHondt sees RAs as vital to dorm living and the college experience: “I can’t imagine a building without RAs. I think we do a lot more with safety than people recognize.” Besides safety, Lippe noted the emotional impact of RAs. “It is important, especially for newer students, that there is someone who can easily be approached to answer questions or talk to,” he said.
By: Alex Budzynski | Staff Writer