Resident Assistants Underappreciated

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Resident Assistants put up with more than most students could imagine. When I found out my room floods every time it rains and that my air conditioner gives me allergy headaches I didn’t put in a request to move out like anyone else would have. Your RA’s come back to school two weeks early, are the last to leave for breaks, turn off alarm clocks when residents forget to turn them off before going home, and sacrifice weekend hours to spend time training in subjects like sexual assault and suicide.

We are full time students, involved in campus organizations, and have thirty to ninety minute staff meetings each week. Hard as it to believe, we aren’t doing this for the huge $150 paycheck every other week. Understand that 90% of your RA’s are doing as much as they can with what resources they have. For my parents to be asking our insurance company whether there’s some sort of coverage in case I get sued if anything happens to a resident is ridiculous. We could extend the premise behind the lawsuit and sue everyone who now claims security was neglected but never once went to the hall director with concerns or wrote Housing and Residence Life a letter saying there needed to be change. They didn’t do anything to prevent tragedy either.

Maybe security should be increased. Western could install metal detectors and armed guards in lobbies. Twenty-four hour cameras could record every activity on every inch of each floor of every dorm. Attendance at Western’s many Alcohol Awareness and Date Rape programs could be mandated for every resident. We could do all of these things.

However, these methods rub against deep grain running through me that believes in the right of students to autonomy. I’m will to be an ID Nazi at the front desk but I will not patronize the adulthood of my residents or demean their right to make their own decisions. I will do what I can to educate residents and help them make wiser decisions but I am a resident assistant. As the word implies, I can only assist — not control.

This isn’t a safe world. Ultimate we each are responsible for doing everything possible to protect ourselves from evil people. Whether that involves avoiding poorly lit parts of campus after dark or asking a friend to watch out for us at a party.

It is a prayer straight from my heart that brutality of this nature never again infects WKU or any other university. A place will always be left open that should have been filled by Katie Autry. Money can’t resurrect. Scapegoating doesn’t heal open wounds; it only infects them.