Move over, mom and dad, resident assistants are in charge now.
RAs are the first level of authority for students living on campus. They are more than just individuals who set volume limits for stereos – they also act as surrogate parents for students by sorting out roommate disagreements and offering advice to wayward residents.
The Phoenix interviewed three RAs to help students understand what their RAs do and how they can avoid pissing them off.
Loyola’s paper-thin walls make it difficult to pull the wool over Milica Radanovic. She is a biology and environmental science senior entering her third year as an RA. She works at Georgetown, where her residents are upperclassmen.
One of her pet peeves is when students try to get away with having people over to drink.
“The walls are paper thin in almost all the buildings, so (RAs) and the rest of their floor hear everything that is going on,” the 21-year-old said. “Before we even knock on the door we have an idea of what is going on in the room.”
Her advice? Don’t try to lie or cover anything up. In fact, that’s the advice she gives whenever students are confronted with anything. She said all lying does is make the situation drag on and make it more difficult for the resident in the long run.
Confronting students is actually Radanovic’s least favorite part of being an RA. Radanovic said she enjoys building relationships with students and always fears that confronting them about breaking community standards will hurt the relationship.
“I wish students knew how much we care about them,” Radanovic said. “We want to get to know all of our residents and want them to come to us for help. We love when residents stop by our rooms and we get a chance to catch up.”
Radanovic said she also dislikes when students tear down the building decorations.
“RAs spend a lot of time preparing and decorating the buildings for their residents,” she said. “The worst thing is when residents decide to rip down things you have spent a long time making in order for the building to look nicer for them.”
Former RA Emily Sible agrees with Radanovic about the annoyance of decoration destruction.
Sible is a senior biology major with two years as an RA under her belt. She’s not an RA this year, but she met some of her best friends through Residence Life, the department RAs work for. The community she found there was her favorite part of the job.
The oddest part of the job was when she would organize programs for her building, and no one would attend. She said her theory is that students believe it’s lame to hang out with their RA, but she said it’s a great way to get free stuff.
“There’s always a point to the programs,” Sible said, “so you learn something new, in addition to (getting) free stuff – and isn’t that what college is about? Food and learning?”
What shocks her more is when residents forget she’s a student at Loyola, too, which has happened. Most RAs take the job because they want to make a difference at Loyola, Sible said, but some students seem to have the perception that RAs are only there to get their residents in trouble. Although, RAs receive a stipend and on-campus housing free of charge.
Another RA, Brendan Courtois, has run into the same stigma.
“Part of the job is enforcing community standards, but it’s not the part of the job that I or many others look forward to,” Courtois said.
Courtois, a history and finance senior who has spent two years in the trenches working with freshmen, has run into some strange problems.
The 21-year-old can’t stand when residents do things to tarnish the experience of other community members, no matter how funny. There was a practical joke trending among Mertz residents while he worked there from 2014-2015, where students would pile furniture in front of another student’s door. While somewhat amusing, Courtois said it can be detrimental to victims.
Although this won’t stop students from becoming victims of other practical jokes, Courtois noticed his residents bring a lot more college supplies than needed, so he recommends packing smart to avoid having a lot of useless items.
While they won’t make students clean their rooms or do their homework RAs want students to know they are there to help.
“RAs are students just like you. They’re not some judgy observer of your life; they’re people that you can use as a resource if you need to,” Courtois said.