On-campus residents rely on numerous people for safety needs, academic resources or a guiding hand to achieve success.
Resident Assistants (RAs) say they hope students living within residence halls feel a greater sense of safety, community and familiarity. Approximately 130 RAs are hired every year at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The UW-W website describes the RA position as “student staff members who help facilitate positive learning communities within the residence halls.” RAs are expected to show leadership skills and respond to the needs of the residents while continuing their own growth in their academic learning.
An RA position is treated just like another work position held outside of academia. The benefits, aside from keeping close contact with your residents, include being paid for the position, a single room if permitted and a meal plan.
Senior Allison Armstrong said she enjoys the job but added that the money isn’t what’s most important.
“If you’re going into it because of the financial benefits, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” Armstrong said.
She said she has held a continuous RA position since her sophomore year for a total of four years in the Tutt and Fischer complexes.
“The leadership opportunities, the incredible connections and the potential for personal growth that this position can bring are worth more than money,” Armstrong said.
Before RAs may begin their duties, they take part in training sessions on campus during the summer. RAs are required to come to campus for training sessions two weeks prior to the start of the academic year. Further training is conducted weekly during the semester and once between the fall and spring semesters.
“Our training never really ends,” Armstrong said. “We are constantly learning new things while actually working the position. I still learn new things based on the new residents I have every year.”
Armstrong said she believes the best part about maintaining an RA position includes the connections she made around the campus community with coworkers and residents.
Even now, she said, she is still in contact with previous residents that she oversaw her first year. It is hard, however, to balance between work and relaxation.
“Living at your job is hard, but I know how to set boundaries and give myself time,” Armstrong said.
Senior Jennifer French said she has become more confident in herself through being a RA.
French said she found that she loved the position, and it has helped her become surer in her decisions.
“I am able to confront situations better now,” French said. She said she wanted to continue her position as an RA; however, she was unable to balance between academia while giving 100 per cent to the RA position. “It’s a great experience.”
If interested in applying for a resident assistant position, visit http://www.uww.edu/housing/staff/resident-assistants/ra-position-description-and-application and read over the description of an RA further. Questions can also be asked to current resident assistants within the dormitories for more information.