RA - Position Overview and Roles
The RA is an undergraduate or graduate student leader who lives in the residence halls. The RA position is an integral position in the Department of Residence Services. RAs are responsible for carrying out the mission of the department by assisting with the development of community on their floors and within their hall(s). The RA position has a variety of responsibilities but to help you get an idea of what to expect we identified six roles that will help frame your view: role model, community leader, educator, administrator, helper, and team member.
A summary of each of these roles is listed below. While these roles do not define everything the position entails, they provide a good starting place to understand what it means to be a Resident Assistant. If you have further questions about the RA position itself, we encourage you to speak to a residence hall staff member
ROLES OF THE RESIDENT ASSISTANT
Role Model – Perhaps the most influential role you will have this year is that of role modeling. As the RA in a given community you carry all of the benefits and responsibilities of being a leader among your peers. We believe that the influence from one’s peer group is greater than from anyone else; thus we are committed to having students serve in this role. Given this leadership role it is critical that you promote characteristics and imitate behaviors that are in alignment with the mission of the department. Modeling also includes upholding and personally adhering to all of the policies, procedures, and community standards set forth for the residential communities.
Community Leader – RAs are responsible for supporting and developing relationships that help students form connections with each other and the university. In order to facilitate community, it is critical that you are visible and available to your floor and hall communities. Some areas you will be responsible for as a community leader include knowing all members of the floor section, facilitating community and roommate agreements, coordinating community building efforts, promoting hall leadership opportunities, and fostering a strong academic climate.
Educator – We expect you to help engage students in learning by promoting their academic success. To accomplish this we expect you will model behaviors that foster community, reinforce responsible citizenship, and honor differences. In addition to modeling, the activities we endorse and promote demonstrate our commitment to these values. You will be expected to create community activities and to implement academic initiatives (i.e. community study groups, engaging students in conversations about academics, promotion of academic resources, and academically focused programming) throughout the year.
Administrator – In order to pull everything together, RAs are expected to be competent administrators. This area includes being present and engaged in all training, meetings, and community events. It also encompasses being timely, completing paperwork, being available when needed, and following policies and procedures. Competency in this role is essential in accomplishing the expectations across all roles. It is important to acknowledge that this role is often the easiest to measure and will often serves as a gauge for whether or not other roles are being fulfilled.
Helper – As an RA, you will regularly encounter students needing assistance. These students may live on your floor or may simply surface as a student in need while you are on duty. More often than not, your role in these situations will be to connect the student to campus resources. As a result, we will spend considerable time and attention ensuring that you are well versed about campus resources and accessing these tools. It is equally important to communicate issues and concerns to your supervisor so they can intervene when necessary and offer additional resources and support. In addition, your one-on-one appointment time provides a personal outlet for each RA to discuss stress management techniques related to the role of serving as Helper.
Team Member – RAs are members of many communities. As members of these communities, it is our expectation that you recognize you are part of a team and contribute accordingly. As a team member, we expect that you will contribute positively and constructively in all settings, demonstrate care and understanding of staff colleagues, work collaboratively with others, and seek to understand and support departmental decisions. While it is expected that you will not always agree, it is necessary to channel dissention appropriately.