Resident Assistants: Peer advocates or campus cops?

Photo by Larry Bartel, Hesston College Marketing and Communications
Photo by Larry Bartel, Hesston College Marketing and Communications

By Nick Yoder – Horizon Staff Reporter/Columnist

Something that they don’t tell you about becoming a resident assistant is that people’s perception of you change. When I became an RA I was expecting to connect with people. What I wasn’t expecting was the way that people changed how they looked at me. It wasn’t anything significant and it was easily overcome, but it was enough to throw me off balance. Seeing close friends (even my roommate) apply for the position and be unsuccessful made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t like the fact that I would be given some authority that they would not have. I felt like I was no longer viewed as a friend, but a cop. Everyone’s year changes between their freshman and sophomore year, but there is even more change if you become a resident assistant.

With new responsibility and commitments, the resident assistants must learn to adjust from some of the habits that may have been established in their freshmen year. Some of these adjustments are good, such as having a room to themselves, while others are more negative. With a heavier work load it is easy shift focus off of academics and onto the responsibilities required of the position. Not to mention the perception that surround RAs.

“When I first came to campus as an RA I felt like people on campus had to watch what they said about rules or teachers or RDs around me,” sophomore RA Carley Wyse said.

One of the benefits that come with the RA position is a small amount of authority. While this is necessary for the position it also creates a negative perception around the RAs that, for some, can be hard to shake.

Many RAs find that this is not an issue, however it is still something to consider. Whether or not students have an interest in the RA position it is important for students to realize that RAs want to be an active part of the Hesston College community. They do not want to be “campus cops,” but instead a resource to the students around them.

“At my first mod meeting I told my modlings that I viewed them as my peers,” Wyse said. “I was not more important than them and wanted to be their friend. I was not their superior.”


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