Life of an RA

Lillian Nomie, News Contributor

For Oregon State University students who are considering their residential options for next year, becoming a residential assistant is a potential option, and the application deadline is Mar. 3.  

A resident assistant is a live-in peer mentor who helps manage the residence hall they are in.  Some current student RAs say their favorite parts of being a resident assistant include living on campus, being a part of a community and helping guide others through the transition into college. However, RA’s can face challenges such as combating the odd working hours and living in the same space they work. RA’s are also required to be a full-time student in good academic standing. 

Buxton Resident Assistant Tim Albertine, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, says he decided to become an RA because it made sense financially and he wanted to continue to be a part of the community in the same building he stayed in as a first-year. 

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Nick North, the University Housing and Dining Services resident area director, said, “One of the biggest draws for the position is not having to pay for housing and meals.” 

The position includes a resident hall room, an RA Meal Plan, and a $300 stipend per term.  

Being a resident assistant has many perks, which can be worth it if students already have a passion for mentoring others and are prepared to put in the work, according to West Hall Resident Assistant, Will Duke an oceanography major in his second year.

“The benefits are pretty great but there are some aspects of the job that don’t work for everyone,” Duke said. “So, if you’re looking to be a resident assistant just for the on-campus housing and the room and board it probably wouldn’t be the best choice.”

For students looking to live on campus next year and obtain a job, the RA position checks both of those boxes. 

One thing current RAs warn potential RAs to be aware of is the late hours. A typical shift for an RA is 8 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The university approximates around 15 hours a week per RA. 

“Make sure you are ready for the weird hours and the time commitment,”  said Erik Ruby, a West Hall resident assistant and second year studio arts and pre graphic design major.

“If you’re on duty on the weekends, you do have to be up until two a.m. and that’s not including if you get an emergency call on the duty phone. So your sleep schedule might get a little wacky. Make sure you are ready to make that commitment.”

According to Albertine, even when he is not on duty, he is still an RA. 

RAs live where they work. For some, that is very convenient and for others, that can cause a conflict in how much time they are spending in one place. 

Ruby said living and working in the resident halls can be overwhelming, so it is important to find things to enjoy outside the dorms. 

“Sometimes it feels like a fulltime job because you live where you work and that can be stressful,” Ruby said. 

Creating an emotionally and physically safe environment for the students living in the resident halls is a main responsibility for RAs, according to North. Additionally, he says RAs should be encouraging students academically and making sure they are personally successful, which involves having one-on-one conversations as well as facilitating floor meetings, and promoting and attending OSU and UHDS programs.  

Besides providing a place to live and work, being an RA presents students with many other experiences.

“There’s a lot of different projects you do, such as decorating the bulletin boards, that can allow you to show your creative side,” Duke said. “Being a resident assistant also looks really good on a resume and all the skills that you gain and developed while you’re on the job can be applicable in any field.” 

In order to be considered for an RA position, there are specific requirements including being a full-time OSU student or degree-partnership student, having an OSU cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, maintaining good academic and conduct standing with OSU and UHDS, and passing a Criminal History Check. RAs must be able to build relationships with people, address conflict and complete administrative tasks in a timely manner. 

Similar to any job, there is a training period for live-in student staff. This takes place two to three weeks prior to move-in day of fall term. 

“This training focuses mostly on community building, crisis response and student support, and logistics and procedures. Additionally, student staff have ongoing training throughout the year including at the beginning of winter term and during staff meetings every week,” North said. 

The 2019-20 RA application closes on Mar. 3, 2019, and can be found on the UHDS website. Any further questions can be answered at [email protected] 

“Living on campus was very convenient last year and I get paid to do it this year,” Ruby said. “Plus, it’s really nice to have that sense of community already instilled in where you’re living.”