At Salisbury University, housing is an integral aspect of day-to-day student life. Essential to student housing, Resident Assistants (RAs) must ensure that the residents on their floor have access to any necessary resources, live in a decent environment and are safe.
For an RA, the benefits of a free meal plan and housing comes with a considerable cost: giving up free time to be available to student residents for minor tasks, everyday needs and in their times of distress. The position entails a great deal of responsibility and, for some, a sacrifice of cherished weekend college activities.
Despite the off-putting nature of responsibility, the RA application process has already proven competitive in its early stages. Each student interested in fulfilling the role must attend an information session. At each of the sessions, dozens of curious students have made a presence.
There are conflicting perspectives about RAs in the SU community. While some highlight the financial advantages and development of leadership skills, others focus on the immense stress which the role can entail.
Will Edmunds, an SU sophomore majoring in Geography, has been an RA since the beginning of this school year. Encouraged by two RAs from his Freshman residence hall, he decided to apply for the job.
“I really like it; Wicomico is a pretty easy building to be in," Edmunds said. "It’s very quiet, it’s one of the smaller ones [and] it’s also one of the nicer buildings on campus, too."
"So I really like it, it’s been fun and I enjoy getting to know the residents."
RA Will, as his residents know him by, has always enjoyed helping people and being a resource to others, a pursuit which the RA position allows him to fulfill. At the same time the job has made Edmunds more adept with the responsibilities of the job, like paperwork, a task that can prove tedious.
"Anytime you have to do an incident report, or like an FYI, or if there’s something wrong with one of the maintenance requests, it’s just a lot of paperwork and that can be really time consuming," he said. "There’s a lot of training with it, we have to come back two and a half weeks early for summer for training and a week early for winter, so our breaks are a lot shorter."
"That’s really, I guess, the only stressful part of it; just the added responsibility of having a job that requires 10 to 15 hours a week on top of being a student."
Edmunds' overall outlook on the RA position is positive, as he enjoys bonding with the residents, meeting new people and having his own room. He recommends that students interested in the RA position speak to others with experience and work on improving their own skills.
“I guess advice-wise, talk to RAs and really focus on time management," he said. "If you want to be an RA, you’ve got to become good at it…"
Ashlee Zavala-Guzman, an SU senior majoring in Business Management, has been an RA since her second semester of Freshman year. Inspired by an RA who helped her navigate the SU community, she decided to make a positive impact on students by taking on the job.
“Honestly, I really just wanted to help people," Zavala-Guzman said. "My RA was very influential to me and I just saw the impact he made on me so I wanted to help others, like freshmen."
"Also, me being a minority at this campus, I really wanted to [assist] a lot of minorities and help them out because it is a PWI (predominantly white institution) and it’s kind of hard being a minority, trying to find your place."
One of her favorite parts of being an RA is connecting with residents and seeing them grow as people. RA Ashlee enjoys the interactive dynamic at Chester Hall, an aspect largely absent from another residence hall she worked in.
“I was in St. Martin’s for two years, there it was difficult [because] it’s more work trying to reach out to residents; you have to put more effort and a lot of times they don’t give you the time of day," she said. "And then here, everyone’s just more welcoming, more chill and [they] want to talk to me.”
By Colin McEvers
Featured image courtesy of Colin McEvers