A resident assistant (RA), is someone who is looking out for students during the period of time they live on campus. These undergraduate students create a fun but safe atmosphere for residents.
According to the Manhattan College website, “RAs are assigned to a particular wing or floor in each residence hall and are responsible for fostering community among fellow resident students by developing social and educational opportunities, assisting students in personal and administrative matters, and ensuring that the standards set forth in the Student Code of Conduct are consistently being met.”
To become an RA, eligible students who meet the requirements of going into their junior year with 60 credits with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA participate in a competitive three-part process beginning with an online application.
“The first part is the online form. That can be filled out immediately so you don’t need to submit everything at once so if anyone is thinking of applying for it they should fill it out as soon as possible. The second part is that students need to email a response to some essay prompts which are also available on the website and also send in a current resume with a couple of reference letters.After that we have the group process, candidates just have to go one night, and from there we have individual interviews,” said AJ Goodman, associate director of Residence Life.
The group interviews take about two weeks. The group interviews allow the Residence Life administrators to see all of the candidates in a short period of time.
“Having that group process gives us the chance to see candidates go through a bunch of different activities and it gives them the chance to express their thoughts on why they want the position and see how they work in a team environment. A lot of the RA position is working with others so seeing how they interact with their peers, who are really some of the people they are going to be working with, shows us some of the things they will be working on as well,” said Goodman.
Basic duties of an RA range from paperwork and decorating the floor to writing incident reports and being called upon for more serious issues. A few other RA responsibilities include making rounds at night or working the bridge(s) in Horan or Lee.
Caroline Ferri, an RA in Horan Hall, is a junior accounting major who is also on the track and cross country teams.
“I wanted to be an RA because when I was a freshman I had RA Kieran and I really enjoyed having him be a leader. My sophomore year, I didn’t have much interaction with my RA in Horan and I feel like Horan is such a fun building, so I wanted to make up for something I had lost out on. I didn’t really have a connection with my RA or have programs that were fun, so I wanted to step the game up. You are the big brother or big sister of your building,” said Ferri.
It is important for an RA to get students involved with floor programs allowing residents a chance to bond. A few programs Ferri hosted included a “Graham-my” party which had s’mores for students to eat during The Grammys, a hot cocoa night and Cans for a Cone where students brought canned goods to donate towards hurricane relief in exchange for an ice cream cone.
“Being an RA in Jasper Hall is one of my favorite parts of being a student at Manhattan College. Because the sense of community is so strong in my building, I feel like my job is to provide opportunities for residents to grow and learn together, and of course to make sure everyone feels safe and provide guidance where it is needed. The best thing about being an RA for me is definitely getting to know my residents and helping them out whenever I can. It’s always great when they are able to share their successes and we can celebrate together,” said Kevin Donald, a junior philosophy and English major.
An RA’s job can also be incredibly difficult and tasking. It is a demanding job and can require a lot of time but is still manageable.
“The most difficult thing about being an RA is managing my schedule. I am already involved a lot on campus, and the position really requires your attention whenever you have a free second. However, I will say I have learned to balance this responsibility, and that it has definitely made me a more organized student and worker,” said Donald.
There are 54 RA’s on staff spread throughout the five dormitory buildings on campus. Usually about 15 to 24 return and the rest are new hires. Residence Life casts a wide net when looking for people to be an RA.
Past hires have included athletes, former commuters and other students from all different backgrounds.
“The RA is a very broad position. There is a lot involved with it so when we are looking for candidates we are looking at people who know themselves and know why they want to be there and why they think they will be good at it. There is so much to it from being on duty, to programming, to individual interactions whether or not they are just checking in or dealing with some serious issues some residents might have. It’s just so broad so we are looking for a broad range of types of people,” said AJ Goodman.
Because of the variety of situations that RA’s deal with, Residence Life looks for responsible, organized students with leadership skills and a sense of caring for others.
“If there are any students out there that are interested in helping people and getting more involved with the community, we think the RA position is a great position for them. It is really an opportunity to learn a lot about dealing with people and learning about yourself. It is also a great opportunity to build a lot of skills so if that’s something anyone is interested in then I definitely encourage them to apply,” said Goodman.