By BRIDGET DANVER
The roommate agreement is one of the most sacred promises on college campuses. It sets boundaries between all sides, and can be referred to in case an issue occurs. Usually roommates that are on good terms with each other never have to refer to it, but those who absolutely cannot tolerate their roommate’s quirks may treat the contract as the Ten Commandments in a ‘Thou shall not leave the lights on after 11 p.m.’ kind of situation. This year, UMW made it a requirement for RAs to be present when roommates complete the agreements, and this rule is unnecessary.
It should not be mandatory for RAs to be present because not every group needs the extra supervision. A better solution that would be more beneficial for all parties is for RAs to be present if students request it. From rescuing poor students locked out of their dorms, facilitating conflicts, keeping up with paperwork, and basically babysitting college students, RAs already have enough on their plate. We often forget that they are also students with coursework and other responsibilities, and deserve to have fun too with their social circles.
Junior English major Catherine Cosgriff supports the new rule.“I feel [it] should be necessary for the RAs to be there because I feel like if there are any pressing issues going on between roommates or suitemates, at that moment the RA is already aware of it ahead of time, they can check in on you like if things aren’t going well.”
While problematic roommates or random roommates may benefit from an RA’s presence, most roommates have chosen one another and handle their differences privately. If a pair of roommates have established their rules, known each other for a decent amount of time, and have never had any serious conflicts, it would be a waste of time for the RA to stand there and listen to best friends handle the agreement smoothly. It would make more sense for the RA to be present if there were actual issues that needed to be discussed.
Another con to making it mandatory for RAs to be present is finding a time for all needed members to be in the same room at the same time. Students that are active members of the UMW community may have difficulty finding free time to schedule a meeting with their RA and roommate, whether it may be because of sports, theatre or clubs. RAs as well have to add that task to their list of priorities. If it was optional to have the RA present, then RAs would not have as many students to visit and will lessen the chance of them being overwhelmed.
“My RA is also a bio major and obviously those classes are pretty tough and not only that she’s also a Chemistry PASS leader so she has to tutor freshmen on Chem 101,” says sophomore and biology major Michelle Marin. “I know her on a personal level because we were friends. I knew her last year, I know she’s the type of person that likes to have time to study but like I know with this added onto her schedule, she seems a little frustrated.”
It is important to remember RAs are human too, and they are allowed to be angry, overwhelmed and flat-out busy. Their job is to make residents feel comfortable in their own living space, and if residents are already comfortable, then there is no need for them to be present during the roommate agreement.