by Rebekah Bresee
There are many student leadership positions available at Whitworth University. One of the most visible positions is the resident assistant. A RA makes major contributions to dorm life and community life at Whitworth.
RAs have a variety of responsibilities.They must help residents develop a sense of community within the living area and between students. A RA is there to aid and advise students and serve as a role model.
“A RA is primarily there to be a resource if and when residents need it,” Duvall RA and junior Daniel Thomas said.
Thomas lived in McMillan his freshman year and said he loved the feeling he got from interacting with his RA.
“I wanted to give a freshman the experience I had been given,” Thomas said.
Thomas decided to become a RA after a couple RAs suggested the he apply for the position.
This is Thomas’ second year of being an RA. Last year he was a RA in Baldwin-Jenkins.
“Sometimes it was a challenge and could be exhausting, but I loved it,” Thomas said.
The residence hall leadership team of a dorm is committed to providing programs that build a sense of community within the residence halls.
“I love being in charge of building a community and setting the tone for the floor,” said sophomore Seth Flanders, a RA in Stewart Hall.
He said the aspects of being a RA he particularly enjoys include Prime Time, everyday interactions with residents and connecting with people.
Being a RA takes considerable commitment. From planning Prime Times to organizing hall activities to interacting with the residents in your hall, the duty of a RA is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“I’ve had difficulty with time-management. Finding time for classes, studying, prime time and building a community with the RA staff as well as the dorm is a challenge,” Flanders said.
RAs are encouraged to not have too many outside commitments such as clubs because they conflict with their positional duties and responsibilities.
Commitments of a RA include hosting eight Prime Times a month, attending a staff meeting every week and spending one-on-one time with their resident director every week.
Junior Hannah Crawford is a RA in Ballard Hall. She tried to apply for the RA position last year, but did not make the cut.
“Looking back, I’m glad I did not get the position. I wasn’t ready and didn’t take it seriously at that time. I matured and learned a lot about being a RA and I applied again,” Crawford said.
Applicants must be a full-time Whitworth student with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.
A student needs to be at least a sophomore that has lived on-campus at least two semesters for the year of employment. Transfer students who are otherwise qualified may also apply.
“Other qualities we look for are a teachable attitude, a drive to grow and learn, a person who is genuine, listens well and cares for people,” said Matthew Baker, the RD for McMillan, Ballard and Cornerstone.
Baker is one of four RDs on the committee that coordinates the selection of RAs. Applicants are then evaluated by all RDs, the Director of Housing, the Director of Student Life and other RAs.
“The application process is one of the most beneficial experiences, regardless of the outcome,” Thomas said.
There are three phases in the RA application process.
First, applicants submit an online application along with a resume, a cover letter and a reference from their roommate, their current RA and a faculty/staff member.
The second phase is an experiential process.
“Applicants are put into real life RA situations and are evaluated on how they perform,” Baker said.
The situation given to a potential RA is a residential ordeal they may face in the future such as dealing with two roommates who are fighting.
Applicants are cut throughout the process.
The applicants who have passed the first two stages engage in a 30 minute formal interview with a current RD and multiple RAs.
“We want to see applicants in their natural and true nature. We want to see people for who they really are,” Baker said.
After the selection process is complete, the committee forms leadership teams for the different communities.
Though the committee assigns the RAs to their dorm, RAs are asked where they feel they would be an asset.
“Some feel they would connect better with freshman or would work better in a pod,” Baker said.
The job of a RA starts in the spring where they help with the housing lottery and attend a leadership retreat.
RAs do not have other obligations until fall when they go through a week and a half of training. The RAs decorate their building, connect with other RAs and learn what to do in emergency situations, among other things.
“Being a RA has made me want to stay involved in community and residence life. I want to help out and interact with people,” Flanders said.
Generally, a RA keeps their position throughout the whole year, although if a RA wants to go on a trip or study abroad for Jan Term, someone else is assigned to cover their position.
The application process for Jan Term RAs is shrunk down. Only the online application and interview are required.
Flanders said Jan-term would be a great time to be an RA if you want to try it out.
“Anyone has the potential to be a RA. You just need the courage to grow and want to engage in relationships with people,” Crawford said.
The Residence Life staff seeks to hire people who are truly themselves. It is not required for a RA to be extroverted or come from a faith background. Applications are accepted from everyone.
“There is no ‘ideal’ RA. We are all very different and have an array of personalities that we bring together in a team,” Thomas said.
The experience of being a RA is intended to not only to help others grow, but to bring an individual personal growth as well.
Contact Rebekah Bresee at email@example.com.