The RA at IU. What we do and some tips!

A girl waving

If you are living in a dorm Residence Hall this year, you will meet someone who calls themselves the RA of your floor. A RA or Resident Assistant is there to help the floor: be safe, bond and most of all HAVE FUN! RAs are not there to get you in trouble, though that CAN be part of the job… 🙁 I personally am a RA in Collins Living Learning Center and I am here to let you know what your RA does! Now here a some myths I have heard about RAs.

Myths about RAs:

  1. We are out to get you in trouble.
  2. We are evil and hate everyone.
  3. We can go through your closets and fridges without any warning/ we dig through anything left when we check rooms for breaks.
  4. We can’t sleep during duty nights.

A group of RAs

These are all untrue! I mean do we look terrifying? No (hopefully) ! We are just people who love to help others! We do not want to get residents in trouble. We cannot dig through any personal belongings. We sleep and get woken up often during duty (meaning we deal with incidents). But this is what we chose to do and most of the time we love it!

The RA will:

Plan programs for your floor. These will be fun and a way to meet the many wonderful people who live on your floor! Programs will be planned by your RA and others in the building to have an educational experience or just to bond the building or floor. Programs are a great way to get to know your RA better and to meet new people, which is what college is all about! To learn about programs your RA could have a facebook page or will post fliers or emails to tell you when, where and what the program is! RAs put a lot of work into their programs; it makes us feel great when residents attend. (:

Be there as a resource for (almost) any question you need answered! This can range from very personal questions, to where a building is to just needing a band aid, your RA will be able to find you an answer. This is really what we are here for to help you have a great first… or second, third or even fourth year! Don’t be shy about talking to your RA about problems you may be having, majority of the time it can stay confidential between you two and she/he will be willing to go anywhere or do anything to make sure a resident will be okay! This means CAPS, Health Center, ER or even if you want to go get dinner(!) your RA will want to help you!

Email you… a lot. Sorry about this one, I know it will get old. But this is the quickest way of communication and a way to get in touch with everyone! But you will learn about campus events, floor bonding and programs if you just skim the emails we send!

Handle Policy Violations: This could be my least favorite part of the job, but it has to be done. Your RA will not try on purpose to get you in trouble, PROMISE, but if we see, smell or hear policy violations (drinking in the Res Halls, smoking, weed or tobacco or noise violations) odds are you will have to go through the judicial process. We don’t like to do it and I’m sure you wouldn’t like it either. So keep the drinking, smoking and loudness during quiet hours out of the Res Halls and everything will be okay!

Here are some tips to living in a Res Hall:

  1. Get to know them! Your RA will try their hardest to get to know everyone that they can on your floor. But when you have 60 residents it takes some time to finally find the time to know everyone! So go meet your RA without him/her coming to you first! It can get you known quicker and helps your RA out a ton!
  2. Do your roommate agreement!!! I cannot STRESS this one enough, if you have a roommate you will get a form at a floor meeting (your RA will email J, yell or tell you when this will be during welcome week!) this will define what you do and do not want in a roommate. It talks about if a boy or girl is in the room, what you will do or if a guest is rude what will occur or even do you like quiet or noise when you study. If you and your roommate talk about this BEFORE these things occur, your year is bound to go MUCH smoother than if you don’t talk about anything.
  3. Keep your door open! This one is HUGE! By just keeping your door open your RA can stick their head in and see how you’re doing or another floor mate can do that! By keeping it shut you are closing yourself off to everyone and everything that is occurring on your floor! Keeping it open is one of the easiest things to meet people and to find out about fun things going on.
  4. And most importantly, if you and your RA are not compatible or you feel as if they just don’t care go find another RA! It happens, I have had this problem in Collins where people don’t feel as connected to me as they do another, just go and find another RA you are like and get to know them. Everyone knows that sometimes people simply just will not get along with them, it’s okay! But please, for me, find a RA that you do like, another floor or even another building so you are able to have a confident to help you if you need it or to go to their programs to meet people.

Your RA can be your biggest help your freshmen, or any, year. They will go to a new club with you if no one else will go, or bend over backwards to give your floor the programs they want. They will go to the health center with you or even just out to dinner. Your RA wants to do these things for you, so go find them!

PS: If you feel like you want to be a RA in the future. Either email me, comment here, or ask your current RA! We are more than happy to help you with the crazy application process!

Jennifer Jensen
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