Sudeep Neupane, a senior computer science major and Pace Hall resident assistant from Butwal, Nepal, knocks on a resident’s door to perform a routine room check. RAs typically check rooms twice a month.
Troy University Office of Housing and Resident Life recently sent out an email calling for applications resident assistants (RA) for the upcoming academic year.
The position of an RA entails working as a liaison between the students and the housing office while catering to the specific needs of on-campus residents.
“Resident assistants live in the residence hall with the students and give students a more convenient way of having someone that lives in the building and sees them on a regular basis with, assist them,” said Sabrina Ann Foster, assistant director of housing and residence life.
“They have to do a lot of administrative work and there is a lot of paperwork involved.”
According to Foster, resident assistants are responsible for implementing policies, including both housing and university policies.
Tasks, such as weekly inspections, bi-monthly room inspection, conducting a fire drill at the beginning of each semester and doing check-ins and check-outs are some of the housekeeping duties that come with the position.
With 15 residence halls, Troy University currently has 51 resident assistants serving the on-campus residents.
“Currently, our RDs and RAs get their housing paid for, and then they also get a biweekly paid stipend,” Foster said. “The resident assistants currently get 13 hours per week, the resident directors get 19 hours per week at the university’s workship payment rate.”
However, there is more to the job that the specific duties and the financial perks.
“It is kind of a leadership role, I would say,” Foster said. “The majority of our students that live on-campus are new incoming freshman, therefore, it is very important that our RAs are leaders and role models.”
For Sudeep Neupane, a senior computer science major from Butwal, Nepal, and a resident assistant at Pace Hall, the decision to become an RA was a natural choice after attended some cool community builders organized by my RAs.
“My RAs were always looking for ways to involve more residents in knowing each other and make life in the dormitory fun, and that’s what inspired me,” Neupane said.
“I had immediately noticed that I could help residents feel more comfortable and safe if they have someone to talk to once they start school, and I wanted to be the one for them.”
Neupane, who has served with the housing and residence life for almost three years dubs the decision to become RA, one of the most important and impactful decisions he took as an undergraduate.
“Being an RA, I have seen the effort Housing and RAs invest in maintaining a safe living environment,” Neupane said.
“I have learned decision making, communication, and time management skills while helping residents to be the best version of who they are.”
For Daniel McCray, a junior history major from Demopolis, Alabama, and a resident assistant at Trojan Village, being an RA has enabled him to be more confident and assertive.
“I perceive the RA job as a job that requires a great deal of maturity and dependability to handle extreme circumstances,” McCray said. “Being an RA for two years I have found that I am more capable of asserting myself. It’s easier for me to tell people, ‘No,’ or to confidently reject peoples’ desires to break the rules.”
As resident assistants work so closely with people, the experience of the job brings them in contact with people from diverse backgrounds.
“If you are wanting to work with people, work with different issues, meet new people, get out of your shell and do things, this is definitely the job for you,” Foster said.
“You are going to meet students from all different cultures – they could be in your residence halls and you’re going to meet parents, a lot of different people.
“A lot of times people apply for the job for financial reasons and that’s completely understandable especially when you’re trying to get housing paid for and trying to get a job on-campus.
“But I think, in the long run, they also learn a lot of things from the job, patience for sure.”
For Kaci McClendon, a junior biology education major from Leeds, Alabama, and a resident assistant at Pace Hall, the free housing was a small bonus for the bigger opportunity to give back to the school and especially work with international students.
“The perks of the job, of course, is free housing but it has brought me a lot of friends and has given me leadership experience,” McClendon said.
“The fact that you have a new community every semester that you can be directly involved with,” McCray said in agreeing with McClendon.
“I get to meet a lot of new people, and I have made many new friends from being an RA. That is probably the number one perk.”
However, even with all the perks and individual development that one can gain, the job itself demands a serious commitment to it.
“You are always on duty,” Neupane said. “There might be times when you have to cancel some plans to help the residents.
“You should be ready to change yourself for the better, work together with your co-workers, and work on your weaknesses. You ask to be a leader, therefore, you should be willing to embrace leadership qualities.”
McCray shares that the biggest challenge attached to the job is being dependable and maintaining a welcoming and friendly spirit no matter what the situation is in front of you.
“You must be dependable and you must support your other RAs so that the building you are placed in has a strong teamwork foundation,” McCray said.
“I have learned that when you have great RAs surrounding and supporting you the whole building flourishes, but if there are divisions among RAs then the whole process of being an RA suffers. Be unified, be friendly, and be wise in how you handle all situations.”