Opinions & Editorials

My experience as an RA

By Anthony Contreras, Guest Writer

Getting involved in campus life and assuming resume-boosting leadership roles are some of the many joys of college. That’s why getting free room and board,  a meal plan and printing as an RA seemed like such a great deal. 

I was so excited to forge new relationships. I was optimistic for a great year ahead of me. Now, in my last week as an RA, I have reflected on my year and I can say that this is quite possibly the worst experience I could’ve had in a leadership position at Xavier. 

I am deeply disappointed, but I know that things are changing in Residence Life (ResLife) next year, and I hope that change will be for the better. Here is my experience.

Normally, RA training involves a one-day spring session, followed by two weeks of training in the fall. However, this year, training was shortened to one week, crammed in before residents arrived on campus. I bonded with my staff, and it was fantastic to see people I hadn’t seen in six months. 

When the year started, I was nervous to interact with residents but cautiously optimistic that my programs would attract them. 

Other residents around the building called me and other RAs their favorites. Admitedly, I was having a great time. I was learning the job and wanted to improve, but things took a turn after winter break.

Our final training was held a week before classes started. We were informed that mask documentations within Husman would be mandatory even for first offenders — a zero-tolerance policy. After I started documenting people for not wearing masks, I started to realize that there were no repercussions for violating this rule. 

To clarify, I do not think punishments are always necessary; however, it was difficult to see the same residents blatantly violate the mask policy because they knew nothing was going to happen to them. It made me and other RAs feel drained from documenting every violation.

At this point, I was known as the “Mask RA” around campus, not only in my buildings, but in other dorms like Kuhlman and Brockman. I did my job based on what ResLife taught me to do. I thought I was doing the appropriate thing until my hall started being vandalized every week.

I had my bulletin boards ripped down, door decorations stolen and posters ripped through my hall. I thought it was just first-years being first-years. However, the more students I documented, the more my hall was vandalized. 

When my door decorations were the only ones torn down, I realized I was being targeted. Gum was smushed onto my board. People would bang on my door, kick it and run away through the hall before I could see. Some even spat on my door. Then, I was verbally harassed. Twice.

“F*ck you!” “F*ck you, Anthony!”

This was screamed at me from a room in Husman, but I had no proof of who did it, so ResLife swept the harassment under the rug. It didn’t stop there. 

I continued to face vandalism in my hall. It’s childish, but I now understand that because we were required to document so many people in the building, there was backlash, especially towards me. It seemed like I was being punished more than residents violating policies.

Then, a member of my staff left the building, and ResLife did not offer any permanent support whatsoever. We did not even know why this was occurring.

Most recently, ResLife almost restricted me from having a program that involved a piñata due to concerns of potential cultural appropriation affecting their reputation. The problem is… I’m Mexican. ResLife had me validate my ethnicity and race to “prove” that I was Mexican enough to hold this program, which was to get a COVID-19 piñata and bash it in the yard. 

While I did get to hold the program, it was apparent that ResLife cared more about their reputation rather than supporting me. They were worried Newswire would write negative things about them.

Overall, it has been a pretty bad year. I am ready to move on from this chapter at Xavier and get involved elsewhere. I am not blaming any one person at ResLife. In fact, my supervisor was my biggest supporter through everything that happened to me here, and I cannot thank him enough. 

Still, I believe that ResLife can be better than this, avoid this treatment in the future and give their RAs more recognition for the work that they do. This is just my story. There are dozens of others.

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