RAs provide unique atmosphere for residents

Vine Grove sophomore Parish Richard stands in front of Gilbert Hall where she is a resident assistant, Saturday, May 2. “I enjoy the relationships I’ve built with people more than anything,” Grove says about her time as an RA. Mike Clark/HERALD


Semester after semester, resident assistants plaster tiny cut-outs of cartoon characters on the doors of their residents. RAs, however, do much more than peruse Pinterest and come up with unique events for students. 

“For me, it’s about the relationships that you build,” said Parish Richard, a sophomore from Radcliff. “I’ve met so many cool people that are now good friends of mine just from being an RA. That’s probably the biggest thing for me: the relationships that let you connect with people.”

In addition to building community environments, RAs also create bulletin boards and door decorations, or “door decs,” three times per semester. While the floor themes don’t have to convey a universal message across all the buildings on campus, they are intended to be informative and educational, but also creative. 

Richard said she designs her floor themes in Gilbert Hall around relevant topics. Around Valentine’s Day, she organized a bulletin board highlighting the do’s and don’ts of dating.

“For me, personally, I’ll pick themes based on what’s going on around campus or stuff that I’ve specifically done,” she said. “When I studied abroad and went to Costa Rica, I made my whole theme of door decs and stuff about studying abroad using globes.” 

In Minton Hall, former RA and Shepherdsville junior McKenzie Perdew described her creative process as one that looked to the students. 

Perdew said she tried to keep her boards as interactive as possible. For example, one of her favorite themes was a re-creation of the floor’s Twitter page. 

“For the actual bulletin board, I set it up like how the Twitter profile looks, and I did it from the perspective of the sixth floor,” Perdew said. “We also had a Twitter account for our floor, so [the bulletin board] let them know about that and let them ask questions if they didn’t feel comfortable doing it themselves in person.” 

In addition to the educational themes, the RAs were also encouraged to explore other creative outlets.

Sarah Snipes, a Lawrenceburg senior and former RA in Minton and McLean Halls, said one of her favorite floor themes involved the Pixar movie “Up.” 

“It wasn’t educational, but I thought it was really interactive for my residents,” Snipes said. “I made the little house from ‘Up’ and had the girls fill out a balloon with things that lifted them up: things that encouraged them, things they liked to do and things that made them happy in life. So they each got to post a balloon up on the board until everyone had a balloon up there.” 

Snipes said she drew a lot of inspiration from pop culture, specifically movies and children’s literature. She tried, however, to keep the themes universally accessible and make everyone feel comfortable. 

She said Housing and Residence Life works hard to make all people feel included. 

“They usually encouraged you to do a little bit more, like making a list of birthdays for people on the floor,” Perdew said. “Just different things like that to cover the empty wall space, but also make the floor feel more like a community that keeps people engaged.”

Pinterest and similar sites are valuables resources for the creative process, all three RAs said. The time it took to create the themes varied depending on the scale of the project.

Snipes said she enjoyed being able to leave an impression on students at WKU, making them feel at home. 

“I’m going into teaching, and it’s kind of like that,” she said. “It’s a lasting impression for people, knowing that you made them feel comfortable and like they had a place at Western.”