The image of the Resident Assistant is a complicated one. Not only are resident assistants supposed to get to know their residents, learning about them and becoming close friends with them, but they are also expected to act as resources, giving information, consoling, and helping in any way they can. They are also burdened with the responsibility of enforcing rules and ensuring fairness and equality. Although some of these expectations and responsibilities may seem to contradict each other, all must be combined to create the ideal resident assistant.
Overviewing how resident assistants are viewed, not only in class, but also in staff meetings and in Student Staff Council, the topic appears to be an important subject. Each resident tends to view their resident assistant differently, making this an even more complicated subject. Some residents view their resident assistant as a best friend there to provide help and entertainment at any moment of the day or night, some a rule enforcer meant to avoid at all costs, and others a ghost who’s never seen or heard from. It is important for a resident assistant to know how he or she is viewed and to try to influence that image to become how he or she would like to be known as. This may be a difficult challenge, however, because residents can be hard to communicate with and it may be difficult to find how they feel about their resident assistant.
I feel like most of my residents are aware that I take charge of my floor and enforce rules, but also offer myself as a resource and a friendly face. Because I often leave my door open, I tend to wave and greet residents who pass by and will even have short conversations that stop and enter for a moment. I also try to help my residents in any way I can, giving them addresses, useful information, and even closing schedules for places on campus. I feel like my residents know they can turn to me, but understand that I will get on to them when they are not following the rules correctly. I also believe that my residents know that I am watching out for them and trying to make their first year at Texas State the most enjoyable experience that I can make for them.
While I believe this is how I am viewed, it may not be true, and there are times when I feel I may be deceived. It troubles me to think that resident assistants may be viewed in a negative way, including myself. Thoughts such as these occur at times when I hear people talking about resident assistants or when I view notes written about them, such as one left outside my door on the bulletin board. Because I live next to the elevators, I post notes and advertisements on the bulletin board in front of the elevators, next to my door. On that board at the moment is a poster that asks, “Want to be an RA?” and lists the times and places for Open Houses at the residence halls. Unfortunately, someone wrote profanity under the question, responding “F— no!,” and although I have covered the statement up numerous times, it continuously becomes uncovered and is often pulled off the board and thrown on the floor. There are also shoe prints on the poster, showing great disrespect towards the event and the title of the resident assistant. This concerns me and I hope that my residents do not view me in that negative way.
Resident assistants are given a lot of responsibilities and are expected to become a variety of different faces including friend, enforcer, and resource, and I hope that I effectively combine these jobs into my personality and persona. I hope that my residents view me in a positive manner and I hope that I am the best resident assistant that I can be for them because I am trying my best and doing all that I can do.
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I know you are a great resident assistant. For some reason the group of people around you this year seem to be a less than respectful bunch. However I’m sure that when they move on with their lives, the things you helped them with, the times that you were there for your residents, will stick in their mind, and a few will even come back to see you. I think it’s great that you are in this position, because when you do start teaching, you may find some of the same behavior in your students. This way you already know how to handle it.