Sunday, August 13, 2006

Resident Assistant (RA) Boot Camp

One of the most responsible and demanding jobs at American and most other universities is one of the most unsung: Resident Assistant (RA). The typical RA is a full time student, typically a junior or senior, who lives in a dorm and serves as a combination friend, mentor, and disciplinarian for about 40 students. Anderson Hall, the largest AU dorm has 18 OR 19 RAs this year. On Monday, they arrived for 10 days of training. Days begin at 8:15. After a day of training, the RAs return to their respective ‘halls’ for additional meetings and training. When that wraps up, their may be more work to be done: decorating bulletin boards and posting student names on rooms; compiling resident inventory forms (RIFs) and a myriad of other tasks.

I thought it might be of interest to list just a few of the topics that are covered in the ten days. This is my ninth RA traning – an abbreviated version is held at mid year – so I am getting to know them pretty well.
• The residential education program
• Community development and programming
• Publicity
• All women’s communities
• Working with transfer students
• Working with honor’s students
• Mediation and managing conflict
• Working with students of color
• Crisis response and emergency procedures
• Serving as an agent of the university
…and much more

When the training is complete, the new and returning RAs are expected to have mastered a set of “competencies.” I think the list is illuminating:

Attention to Detail
Global Sensitivity
Interpersonal Relationships
Planning and Organizing
Problem Solving/Analytical Skills
Resident Focus
Role Modeling

The Anderson RAs are almost among my closest student friends on campus and the students whom I admire, respect and learn from the most.

Last year they voted me the “Most Respected Anderson Staff Member” and one of two staff members with the “Most Anderson Spirit.”

There are few awards of which I am prouder.


Anonymous Dan O said...

Good to see a faculty member getting involved in res life. They (The RAs) are fortunate to have you!!

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I'll be working as an RA this year and am writing about my experience here.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

As an RA myself, its extremly refreshing to see faculty helping out in res life. If you need it, a great resource for RA-related affairs is a site called

11:53 PM  

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