Every college student living in a dorm at WKU has encountered one of Housing and Residence Life’s most important and utilized assets: Resident Assistants.
The RA is a unique and outgoing individual. HRL looks for a specific type of individual that best fits each dormitory. Each resident hall has at least one RA per floor.
Resident Assistants have a lot of responsibility, and being considered for the job itself is a rigorous process. RAs must be at least a second year student, live in a dorm for at least one semester, be a full-time student, and be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university.
Their responsibilities can be tricky, for they often have to balance friendships with rule enforcement.
Such is the case for Evansville, Ind., sophomore Katie Harrison, an RA in Pearce-Ford Tower.
“The most difficult part is when you have to differentiate between being a friend and doing what’s best for [the residents],” Harrison said.
But the pros of her job far outweigh the cons.
As an RA in the tallest dorm on campus, which just so happens to be all female, Harrison said her favorite part is getting to know her residents.
“I like the look on their faces the first week and they don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “I like to watch them grow throughout the semester.”
One way RAs are tasked with getting to know their residents is through programs and activities planned throughout the semester.
Minton Hall resident assistant Zack Gallatin said he usually has really good turnout to the programs he plans for his floor. He actively engages his residents and asks them what they want to learn about. Then he turns their ideas into a program.
“We had one earlier in the semester and we had people from HRL and other floors at it,” Gallatin said. “It was a heck of a time.”
Gallatin prefers living in an underclassman dorm to an upperclassman hall because he enjoys the sense of community among the residents.
“Minton is by far the best hall on campus,” he said. “We have the best unity. Not just on the halls but the whole building.”
An RA in Barnes-Campbell Hall, senior Charles Hooper of Mount Washington knows his job has given him innumerable skills and experiences that he’ll take with him when he graduates and transitions into his career.
“It goes back to skills you’ve gained,” he said. “The skills are transferrable.”
Hooper has been an RA for four years, all of which he has spent in Barnes. While he enjoys the connections he’s made and the people he’s met, there’s one downside to the job.
“The hardest part is living where you work,” he said. “You want to get off and go home but you live here. There’s no escape.”
Besides that, Hooper said being in charge of a group of boys can get messy.
“It’s frustrating at times because freshmen can be immature,” he said. “And really messy.”
Union sophomore Lauren Nolan said working in an upperclassman dorm means she doesn’t have as much to do but that being an RA isn’t as easy as some assumes it is.
“You don’t just sit at a desk,” she said. “It takes work. It’s pretty rewarding, it just takes more effort than some might think.”
One thing almost every resident assistant has in common is their appreciation for the sense of community that being part of HRL and working within their halls gives them.
“It’s a great experience,” Hooper said. “Definitely worth doing if you’re interested. It’s the best decision I made at WKU.”