Whether they are creating encouraging bulletin boards, hosting on-campus programs or just working on homework, resident assistants will always be scattered across campus doing their unique job: taking care of the rest of us.
We have all seen RAs on their rounds in residence halls, knocking on bathroom doors and shouting, “RA on duty,” for all to hear, but what their job is actually meant to accomplish sometimes seems less apparent.
Junior Rob Kahrs, a third-semester RA, describes his responsibility quite simply.
RAs strive “to promote well-being throughout the community, and to maintain a presence in their residence’s college experience,” Kahrs said.
“Helping the new students find their footing in their new environment is important,” said sophomore and RA for Onondaga Hall Ashley Jones.
Jones said that an RA’s job is to “help the residents get involved and help them figure out what … their place at Geneseo is.”
Obtaining an RA position requires an application, letters of recommendation and participation in Carousel Day, an intensive interview process during which Residence Life professionals and current RAs evaluate candidates. After they are selected, all RAs attend training sessions in August and January, before each new semester starts. During the school year, RAs are scheduled for duty and attend staff meetings.
As opposed to his first two semesters as an RA in Livingston Hall, Kahrs said he’s tailored his style a bit differently to fit with his current residents in Onondaga Hall. He said Livingston residents were a bit less high maintenance, mostly made up of transfer students and upperclassmen who volunteered to remain substance free while on campus. He said Onondaga offers a completely different set of students, needs and expectations.
Geneseo RAs are unique in their own respect because they are involved in more than just Residence Life. Kahrs balances his work as an RA with a position as president of National Residence Hall Honorary and acting in a musical. Jones, who is still in her first semester as an RA, is also pledging a national sorority.
According to Kahrs, an RA’s job is not without reward.
He said, “watching [my] residents grow,” is the best part of being an RA, and the worst part is “watching [my] residents falter during their growth.”
“I had the corniest reason for [becoming an RA],” said Kahrs. Having always heard about his older brother’s RAs, Kahrs said he knew about the great RAs and the terrible ones. He knew right away that he wanted to be someone who could help out students in need.
“Please remember: We are students too,” said Kahrs. “We are not out to get you, just to promote your well-being.”