By Marielle Echavez, Contributing Writer —
They keep your dorms under control, provide opportunities to get more involved on campus and can be a great friend, but inside the daily life of a UTC Resident Assistant (RA) is not as simple as it seems.
“We have a lot of things behind the scenes that residents don’t even know exist,” said Sophomore RA Isabel Gray.
RA are not only in charge of checking dorms and being sure illegal activities aren’t happening on campus. Before the job, they go through training to prepare for the responsibilities they encounter throughout the school year.
Gray was a RA this past summer and is currently a RA in Stagmaier Hall. She did not realize how many other obligations the job entailed until she experienced the position herself. To residents, RAs are just the ones they call when there’s a problem within the dorm and who check their rooms for regulations.
RAs do more than what residents witness. They plan dorm socials by submitting proposals and budgets. They do check-ins, which is a way to help students who are or could be “slipping through the cracks,” according to Gray. They’re also in charge of making dorm bulletin boards, housing fliers, check-ins, check-outs, safety and health inspections, on-call duties, staff meetings, roommate agreements and representing campus residents to higher faculties.
Of all the responsibilities, the most demanding is to be on-duty. The most common phone calls are from being locked out of rooms. Since Gray’s time of being a RA, she said, “I have only experienced a handful of major issues or housing policy violations that have involved the police.”
When asked about any other experiences, Gray explained how it feels to find illegal substances or things that shouldn’t be on campus laying out in plain sight during a health inspection.
“I’m not trying to get you in trouble. If it’s not in plain sight, we can’t search your personal items,” Gray said.
She emphasized how important it is to pay attention to housing inspection fliers and notifications. It is a student’s responsibility to plan to be ready for inspection.
“A lot of the time, students don’t even realize they’re breaking any rules,” she said. “So it’s not our job to get you in trouble, but it’s our job to tell you what the rules are and why they are what they are.”
When it comes to getting in trouble for things that could be avoided, Gray said, “If you apply your brain cells, you could avoid getting into trouble.”
Most students have the opinion that RAs are searching to get campus residents in trouble, but this is rarely the case. It is merely their responsibility to report all misconducts. They are required by law to be mandatory reporters on all policy violations including Title IX issues. If they witness something and don’t report it, this could result in major consequences for the RA.
“As a fellow student and resident assistant, I want you to make good grades, good friends, have fun and stay alive,” Gray said. “If I witness things that could’ve easily been avoided, I have to report it. And I don’t want that.”
The UTC website says, “The Resident Assistant position is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on campus.”
According to Gray, this statement holds true.
“It is stressful, but it’s a manageable stress,” she said. “I love my job, and I don’t regret being an RA.”
Aside from all the struggles of the job, she loves the friends she has made, the relationships with her residents and the benefits that go along with the job.
The RA motto this 2017-2018 school year is that everyone should make at least one new, really good friend each semester. All RAs, including Gray, encourage students to bond with new people and get more involved on campus and have fun, while also keeping studies as the number one priority.
“The whole purpose of what we do is that students are staying on top of their studies,” said Gray. “But the focus of housing is to build connections on campus so that students have a better experience and want to continue their college career.”