Some students work at coffee shops, retail stores and on-campus jobs to make money. Most of these jobs you clock out at the end of the day and continue your day-to-day life without really thinking of work.
One of the hardest is the role of a Resident’s Assistant.
A study done about the role of RAs stated: “The resident assistant (RA) position was one of the most demanding assignments on a college campus.”
It also said it was a 24-hour job, which I agree with. Sometimes it can feel like you’re always “on” because you’re always accessible.
Residents can reach you by email, see you around campus and sometimes even come to your door which is encouraged by having open door hours.
And that’s just the beginning. At USD you have one night every two weeks that you’re on duty. This requires you to carry the duty phone and be no more than 15 fifteen minutes away from your residences hall.
Then on top of regular duty are power weekends. These duty shifts start on a Thursday and extend until Sunday at 5 p.m. so you’re on duty for the entire weekend. Typically you have two power weekends a semester and any extra duty days that everyone is expected to pick up.
This is not the same for all RAs everywhere, or even every single RA on our campus (sorry Brookman RAs.)
But it still can be a lot of work, especially at 2 a.m. when there’s an incident you have to document. Dealing with some incidents can last up to a few hours and involve law enforcement.
It’s not fun writing reports until 4 a.m., getting residents in trouble and then trying to repair that strained relationship.
As RAs we’re expected to be friends with our residents, but not too close. How are you supposed to walk that line when you genuinely become friends with your residents? Personally, I think it’s one of the hardest things about the job.
On top of the previously mentioned, we plan programs for those who live on our floor and our entire building. This is very time consuming, considering you have to come up with ideas that meet a certain curriculum.
Planning programs is the most creative part of the job, therefore my favorite. But it does take a lot of time, effort and energy on top of everything else.
Burnout is prevalent in the housing realm. The previous tasks I listed are only some of the expectations of RAs. All of these responsibilities on top of being a full-time student (which is a requirement of the position), is a lot.
The study “Investigating the Correlation between Burnout and Spirituality among Resident Assistants at Liberty University” suggests burnout results from emotional stress on an employee.
Not to mention that outside of the compensation of room and board and meal plan, RAs don’t get paid.
Most RAs I know have outside jobs, not to mention heavy involvement in their campus organizations. RAs are usually motivated, have strong work ethics and are hustling constantly.
I’m honestly amazed by my coworkers, because not many realize how much work we do outside our RA jobs. Most people only see us as enforcers of housing policies and not students too.
Working in housing is absolutely not for the faint of heart and those who do deserve more respect.