The Resident Assistant develops and maintains a positive living and learning environment for the floor and in the hall. RAs promote understanding and respect of diverse cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. RAs establish relationships with and among residents. RAs utilize counseling, helping, and referral skills to assist residents in identifying and resolving academic, social, and personal concerns. The RA explains and upholds all policies, procedures, community standards, and confronts inappropriate behavior. The RA serves as a role model for students by following all University policies and mediates conflicts among individuals and groups of residents. Resident Assistants encourage, support, and assist residents in becoming effective floor and hall leaders.
Most common encounters with residents that require you to be a community builder:
- Listening to residents.
- Answering individual questions at floor or building meetings.
- Facilitating the creation of a roommate agreements and community standards.
- Helping residents settle their own roommate disputes.
- Helping individuals cope with stress from college and from relationships.
- Helping students determine their strengths, and help them to build stronger interpersonal skills.
- Assisting and referring students to academic advisors when they need help.
- Allowing students to learn from their own mistakes and discussing those mistakes with them.
- Confronting inappropriate community and self-destructive behavior.
Training you are given for community building:
- Prospective candidates are interviewed and assessed on their counseling skills as well as their ability to work as part of a team.
- The 'Leadership in Student Affairs' course covers a variety of topics including interpersonal communication skills, diversity appreciation, programming, and community building techniques.
- Fall training offers many sessions on community building, programming, and confrontation skills. Training also includes presentation of services from the university community. Topics such as suicide, depression, anger management, homesickness and college adjustment, stress and time management, and multicultural interaction are also provided for Resident Assistants.
- In-Service training each semester to establish and reinforce a variety of job-related skills.
What happens if there is a crisis or community issue I am not comfortable dealing with?
You will always have your supervisor to fall back on. All areas have a full-time, masters-degreed professional and/or a graduate student as a resource for handling difficult situations. You will be mentored to grow in confidence and understanding of counseling for common student issues, but you can always count on your supervisor if you are in a bind.
How will my experience with counseling situations apply to a future job after graduation?
- Employers recruit candidates who know how to solve their own problems and who help others solve their own problems. This indicates that the future employee will not burden a department manager with petty problems.
- Demonstrating appropriate listening and feedback skills will indicate that the candidate has strong interpersonal skills and would relate well to other members of the team.
- Showing a willingness to help others in need by assisting with personal issues will attest to a candidate's willingness to prioritize others above themselves.
- Facilitating discussions about roommate agreements and community standards will provide the candidate with concrete examples on how to help a group set and achieve standards and goals.