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Resident Assistants vital to dorm life at UWRF

April 16, 2009

Resident Assistants at UW-River Falls experience much more than the average college student.

“Resident Assistants (RAs) are expected to work with student residents to create an open, inclusive and supportive residential community,” according to the UWRF Resident Assistant position description.

Along with those expectations, RAs must work with the Residence Life staff and contribute to student life programs on their wing of the dorm.

“The main responsibility as an RA to make sure that everyone in the building is safe,” Johnson Hall RA Hailey Samples said.

She also has the responsibility of making sure that everyone in the dorms is obeying the rules and that strangers do not get into residents’ rooms.

Students who wish to become an RA must fill out and submit an application. From that point, they will have an interview with Residence Life where it will be decided whether they qualify for the position.

Kevin Smith, who has been an RA for two years, explained some other duties of being an RA.

“I make bulletin boards, door decs [decorations] and offer programming for residents. It’s a misconception that RAs are just here to ‘bust’ residents for underage drinking. In fact, that is usually the worst part of the job,” Smith said. “Being an RA is all about making relationships and building an inclusive community.”

“Super helpful” RAs have been present throughout the college life of Amanda Mollner, a resident with a disability. 

“They all really cared and listened when I explained what was going on,” she said.  “All three of them gave me numbers and told me I was more than welcome to knock on their door at any time of the day or night if I needed help.”

Reduced cost of tuition and a desire to get more involved with campus activities are what made Samples decide to become an RA.

She said one of the benefits of being an RA is that “you get free room and board [and] also get paid $87.50 once a month.” 

However, being an RA has its disadvantages as well.

“It is hard to have a life outside of Residence Life because you are so busy and also everyone knows who you are and what position you hold,” Samples said. “What you thought as a simple cuss word becomes taboo to say in front of anyone that might go to the University.”

“You’re always wearing your RA hat, no matter where you are, on and off-campus. People know you even though you might not know them,” Smith said.

RAs are responsible for many different tasks, including student group activities, staff functions, management functions and community development, according to the UWRF position description.

“I loved being an RA,” Smith said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience and I am grateful for all of my experiences, all that I learned and all of the amazing people I met along the way.”