If you're a college student, you probably know your RA as that person who always smiles at you in the hallway and asks how your day is going.
Maybe you've seen the signs in the hallways advertising one of his or her upcoming programs, which promises free pizza and wings with attendance.
Perhaps, your RA recently wrote you up for some kind of infraction, which resulted in you and your friends throwing darts at a picture of his or her face. Either way, your RA has so much more going on than the glimpses you've managed to catch through your interactions.
As a former RA, I'll share some of the things no one really tells you about us:
1. We're not out to get you.
The most common misconception about RAs is that they get some kind of sick pleasure from writing kids up. I won't lie, there are a select few out there who do intentionally seek out troublemakers for this reason, but the vast majority of us do everything we can do avoid it. Writing people up is awkward and uncomfortable.
Most human beings do not like confrontation. If you go to a small school like I did, there is a 99 percent chance that the person you just wrote up will be standing directly in front of you in the omelet line the next morning.
Writeups are also a lot of work for us, considering the after-the-fact paperwork. I don't know about you, but that's just about the last thing I feel like doing at 2 am on a Saturday morning -- especially when that evening has involved accidentally stepping in some sort of mystery fluid in the stairwell. It's not fun. I just want to sleep.
2. We're exhausted.
Being an RA is a 24-hour job. We don't simply clock out at 5 pm; something could happen at any time, whether it is a resident locking him or herself out or a threat to campus safety. I eventually lost count of the number of times I was just about to crawl into bed when a resident knocked on the door, saying that he or she had been locked out.
I have been called on my cell phone while at the dining hall because one of my residents was having an issue that required immediate action. I have herded masses of unruly students away from the building during fire drills. All of this is just part of our jobs, which is fine, as it's what we signed up to do.
After a while, however, it can start to take a toll. Being constantly at the disposal of so many people is extremely draining and overwhelming. Just keep in mind that so many issues arise in your residence hall on a daily basis, and your RA has to be prepared for all of them.
3. There's a lot expected of us.
In addition to resident issues, staff meetings, planning programs and -- oh, yeah -- our schoolwork, we are also expected to act as role models to students. There's a lot of pressure heaped on us to assume leadership positions on campus.
I think this is partially due to the fact that many times, the ones who become RAs are the ones who were their high school class presidents or straight-A go-getters. On the contrary, I was a regular student who was just aiming to get through college with as little financial burden as possible.
Even if you were that straight-A go-getter, we're all only human. Sometimes, we actually can't handle taking that sixth class this semester. Sometimes, we just don't feel like smiling at every resident who passes by. Sometimes, we want to close our doors and have a little peace and quiet.
Unfortunately, there's all this expectation for us to be superheroes -- and we're just not.
Bottom line: Your RA is doing his or her best while being pulled in about a million directions. RAs are overworked, underpaid and have seen more vomit than any human ever should. So, for God's sake, just try to be considerate of them and your fellow residents.
Go to their programs.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It