Residence Assistants and their double lives
By JOSE REYES
Inboxes flooded with numerous emails, campus walk crowded with signs, and dorms painted from wall to wall with posters, all urging student to, “be an RA today”!
Benjamin Garrison, a freshman majoring in biology, said, “I have seen many signs around campus, they must be running low on applicants or having a hard time finding people.”
Many students have noticed the signs, and wonder if their presence mean there is a current shortage in Resident Assistant (RA) applicants.
Dave Fleming, the Assistant Dean of Residence Life explained why the processed has been advertised to the extent it has this year.
“We want to bring awareness that the process is occurring,” said Fleming. “We often receive feedback from students that they don’t know what’s going on and don’t know what opportunities are available. It was important to simply get the word out.”
RAs live somewhat of a double life, and the position requires more than what meets the eye. For Sarah Giuseppe, a junior majoring in political science and geography, and the RA for the fifth floor of Mason, being an RA has had a meaningful impact on her college life. Giuseppe almost transferred from Mary Washington her freshman year, but she says, “I became an RA because someone who was an RA urged me to and through doing so I discovered the sense of community I was looking for at Mary Washington.”
Ronan Gofourth, a junior majoring in American Studies, and the RA’s for Madison, shared some of the difficulties of the position.
“The hardest thing about being an RA is not being able to fix everything for everyone of my residents,” said Gofourth.
For Giuseppe, one of the more difficult aspects of being an RA is finding a way to balance everything.
“The hardest thing is your work, life, school balance,” said Giuseppe.
Flemming wants to help students make the best educated decision when thinking about applying for the position.
“We don’t want to make assumptions about how many people will apply without any marketing effort on our part,” said Fleming. “The RA job is a challenging, yet rewarding position. It takes good time management, patience, and a commitment to others over self. It takes compassion and persistence. We have found that a personal invitation, with multiple methods of getting additional information out sets students up to make informed decisions about their own candidacy while feeling supported through the application and interview process.”
Gofourth and Giuseppe will no longer be RAs going into their senior years.
“As I expand my academic and professional pursuits, I feel that it wouldn’t be fair to my residents to have so much time taken away from them,” said Gofourth.
The task of being a RA is not an easy one, and all the advertisement seems justified. Both Giuseppe and Gofourth have advice for anyone who might be interested in applying for the position.
“I think that it’s not for everyone and it really depends on the individual,” said Giuseppe. “It really matters where your strengths lie, where your heart lies, and the reason you want to apply in the first place.”
While like all jobs, being an RA comes with its benefits, applying for the position should not be based solely off of them.
“I wouldn’t recommend it if you are just in it for the perks, and you should be self aware when thinking about applying,” said Gofourth. “Not only are you going to be busy, but you will be having a huge impact on the residents and their lives.”
Although there are many emails being sent, posters being put up, and signs hung across campus, Fleming says they feel strongly about meeting the needs of all students and ensuring they have someone they can connect with.
“By attracting a larger candidate pool, we have an opportunity to ensure our staff is representative of the UMW population,” said Fleming. “We feel strongly that any UMW student should be able to look at our staff of roughly 75 and see at least one person they can relate to in some way.”