Twenty Things Every New RA Should Know

1. You will see the person you wrote up the night before in the dining hall the next day.

2. Every situation used as examples in BCD will happen. Without fail.

They might not happen all to you, but you will be surprised by the things you will have to deal with.

3. First year RAs may not know how to gauge how they’re doing as an RA against the work of other RAs.

After training, a lot of RA work is on your own, with your residents. Be confident that you’re doing a good job, because you probably are. Comparing yourself to other RAs is kind of useless when every RA deals with different residents and different issues.

4. Never underestimate the power of
passive programming.

Plan them ahead, stay on top of your passive programming plan, and then sit back and enjoy watching your residents get involved on their own.

5. When active programming, take the time of the semester into account.

Beginning of school year? Super fun complex team builders and crafting! Midterms? Simple movie night with an empowering theme. Finals? Go room to room and give free food, so people can remain studying.

6. Your relationship with your partner can make or break your year.

Make sure to treat your partner as three things: a. Your friend b. A fellow resident and c. Your business partner. Your partner will need support in all ways, so make sure to identify things you are great at that your partner will need you for. Whether it is getting bugs out of rooms (me for my partner) or being resident expert on mental illness, it’s a give and take.

7. Your personal time has value. Start taking advantage of it from the beginning of the year.

Get off campus at least once a week. It sounds easy, but there were some weeks I didn’t leave my room for anything other than meals and class. Get out of housing areas, if only to pretend you’re a normal college student for a while.

8. Think with your gut and your brain. Weigh decisions.

If you were in an emergency situation and let someone get hurt because you were worried about following policy and breaking rules, you aren’t doing your job properly. Policy is important, but so is knowing when to follow it and when not to.

9. No one in housing knows your residents better than you do.

It is your responsibility to fight for them and defend them. They are your family.

10. Worry about yourself first.

I don’t follow this all the time (I don’t think any RA really can) but people always say it and there is a point to it. If you are having a hard time academically, physically, or mentally, tell your supervisor and your partner and step back to help yourself.

11. You might forget names after they leave your hall. It’s weird.

But that’s what Facebook is for. Forgetting a name doesn’t mean that the resident didn’t matter to you, just that their name didn’t.

12. Be careful partying with residents.

Not only will they get a new idea of who you are, you might see a version of your resident you didn’t want to see.

13. You will be close with some residents, and there might be residents you barely know at all.

I call these residents “ghost residents.” It’s not your fault they don’t want to get involved. Make sure they’re okay and then give them space. Not everyone wants to make friends and socialize. Some people are living in the halls to study, work, and sleep.

14. Your freshmen will come to college with significant others from high school.

Keep lots of tissues and chocolate handy. It’s gonna get ugly around midterms.

15. You will know who of your residents will be future RAs.

Use them. I have this theory called the “three day rule”. Within three days of move-in, if someone asks you about being an RA, smile knowingly because they’re going to apply for the next year. Mentor them and get them involved. They can help you break down barriers for your floor.

16. Don’t go through the rooms with a black light. No good comes from that.

17. Feel free to brag about famous people who were once RAs.

I’m saying this because I do it, and feel like it should be done more.

18. Do not give your phone number out to your floor en masse.

Give your phone number if you are afraid for someone’s life, but don’t just give it out willy nilly because you will get calls about lock outs and complaints via text about roommates. Not something you like to read on your night off.

19. Sing during rounds. Trust me.

20. Life doesn’t end when your life in housing does.

It’ll be weird, but be happy you had the time you did and enjoy being a roommate again.

principles of being kind to others:

  • everyone is coming from a different place, meet them where they’re at
  • platinum rule over the golden rule. don’t just treat people the way you want to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated
  • if someone says something problematic, call them in, don’t call them out. let people learn and grow with you.
  • let yourself take up space as well as make space for others
  • assume good intentions
  • be open and honest
  • recognize your own intentions, and own your impact
  • listen actively
  • constantly create a brave, judgement-free zone
  • have compassion for people and their own stories
  • use eye contact, respect privacy, be attentive, show gratitude
  • help people feel seen and heard
  • engage in self-care and validate your own story, you are important

So this is my latest bulletin board. To begin with, there were some more little grey quotes, but I think at least one of my residents has been tearing them down. Oh well. The message is still clear. I like it. I feel as though this one is the one I am most proud of. It is not the most artistic nor is it the most fact filled. But it does serve a purpose I am passionate about.

Do You Wanna Plan a Program?

Do you wanna plan a program?

Come on let’s pick a day I never see the students anymore, They shut their doors, And stay online all daaaaaaay But maybe if there’s free food, And a prize to win, We’ll get them to come on byyyy So do you wanna plan a program? It doesn’t have to be inclusive Go away, RA! Okay, byee Do you wanna make some fliers? Or send them all emails Advertising is so hard to do I started reverting to  Not making them at alllllll (I don’t give a fuck) I used to be so eager  But now I’m not  But it’s required of my jooobbbbb (Cut paste cut paste cut paste) Mile? Please, I need your help now. I’ve done all that I can do You say be creative, and I’m trying to But no matter what I do The residents never cooommeeee The year is almost over My ideas are gone I don’t know what else to dooooo (Sigh) will you help me plan a program?