Hello, again, dear readers! As you may know, this past Monday and Tuesday were fall break for undergraduate LMU students, and I don’t know about everyone else, but my break was especially wonderful. While I did do a few exciting things, like participating in the Color Me Rad 5K race with my old roommate, Megan, as well as a few productive things, like catching up on homework assignments, I spent the majority of it just relaxing and enjoying this rare bit of time off before getting right back into the swing of things. (And I mean RIGHT back into things—I had a test yesterday and today I’m on the road performing with the University Concert Choir!)
Because my resident assistant (RA) duty nights are on Mondays this semester, and because there were quite a few students who decided to stay on campus over break, I was asked to stay on campus as well and remain on duty during the Monday of fall break. This was totally fine by me because I hadn’t planned on going home for break anyway and also because, well, I love being an RA! It can be a pretty hectic job from time to time, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve done during my time here at LMU.
What exactly does an RA do? Well, first and foremost, my job is to help keep campus safe and secure for everyone. I do this by making two or three walking rounds through the different residence halls at night to check for excessive noise and violations of various campus policies. If I see anything suspicious that needs to be reported, I get help from the on-duty resident director, or RD. An RA is typically only responsible for one part of campus at a time, but the RD is in charge of the whole campus when he or she is on duty. Any RA that needs backup at any part of campus can call the RD. If something especially serious occurs on campus, we occasionally will call campus police or an administrative faculty member for extra assistance. Everything that takes place is recorded in that night’s duty log, and all of it is reported to the Director of Residence Life the next day for evaluation and discussion.
Even though LMU is a fairly safe place to live, and even though there haven’t been any seriously threatening events on campus in recent years, RAs and RDs must still be prepared to handle any kind of situation that might arise. Back in August, we all returned to campus a week earlier than the other residents for safety and security training. This included drills for inclement weather like tornadoes, as well as preparation for evacuation during a building fire. We all also received our certification in CPR, and now we are fully equipped to perform those life-saving measures in a medical emergency. To make sure all of the training stays fresh in our minds, as well as to make sure that the residents also know what to do in an emergency, we perform fire drills regularly, and we host meetings several times throughout each semester to keep students up-to-date with any changes that take place.
Of course, being involved in residence life isn’t 100% business. We don’t monitor the halls like prison guards and terrorize all of our residents. In fact, one of the biggest parts of our job description is actually to work with the Director of Student Life to organize plenty of campus activities for everyone. We start planning our events a month ahead of time, and our goal for each month is to have something fun and awesome to offer to students every single day. Campus activities can be quick and simple, such as an easy craft project that anyone can do or a dodge ball game in the Mary Mars Gymnasium, or they can be big events for hundreds of students at once, like a foam party in the parking lot with a live DJ. We always ask other students for input, and we try our hardest to incorporate the things they tell us they want to see most, whether it’s a Mario Kart tournament or karaoke night in World of Wings Cafe.
I would say that the hardest part about being an RA is being on call even when I’m not necessarily on duty. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night to assist with something when someone else was on duty, but I always respond to it just as I would on a normal night. I receive a call or text about a maintenance request or a noise complaint almost daily, and if it’s not something I can address myself, I at least will make sure that the information is passed along to the RAs on duty so that they can fill out the proper paperwork. And I’ve accidentally been called countless times by other residence life members while I was in a class to see if I could help out with something. Going above and beyond what is expected of me as an RA, though, is what makes the job so rewarding. Whenever possible, I try to always be there for my residents to assist them with any and every problems they may have.
Got any questions about residence life? Do you have any suggestions for cool campus events, or want to know more about what a typical duty night is like? Feel free to email me or drop a comment below. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive an alert whenever I post something new.