The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

RAs are people, too


They take their jobs seriously, but that doesn't mean resident assistants don't know how to have fun.

By Socrates Gavriel
On any given night at Fitchburg State, there are residents who break campus policies and get caught. Then, instead of being angry with themselves, they take it out on their resident assistants – calling them the “fun police” or other, even less favorable terms.
According to the Fitchburg State web site, RAs are chosen “because of their personal qualities and skills” to serve in a demanding position: “The Resident Assistant serves in a wide range of roles, from friend to role model. Each Resident Assistant is trained in helping skills, community development, crisis intervention, conflict mediation and other areas to help residents cope with problems that may arise.”
Nowhere in the job description does it say, “Resident Assistants exist for the sole purpose of getting residents in trouble, and they must enjoy every moment of it.”
Yet Michael McCarthy, the building director of Russell Towers, says that some students in disciplinary hearings have the attitude that RAs exist for exactly that reason. His response is, “RAs don’t like getting residents in trouble any more than you like being in trouble; part of their job is enforcing policy, and it’s only a small aspect.”
Resident assistants are students first – there is a 2.2 minimum required GPA – and as students, RAs are expected to keep up with their schoolwork in addition to keeping up with the rest of their duties.
RAs also have “duty days,” during which they sign on with Campus Police and a building director on duty at 7 p.m., and are available to deal with any incident until 7 a.m. During the days, RAs are around campus as role models and friends when they aren’t being students.
Part of the reason that RAs don’t like “getting students in trouble” is that they don’t like filling out a bunch of paperwork any more than the next person does. Policy violations in which a resident assistant becomes involved result in an incident report, a report in which the RA documents the situation in detail, right down to what was said. Some reports are shorter than others, but during the day an RA would love nothing more than to walk away and be hanging out with friends instead of writing up an incident report because some students felt it was necessary to be belligerent at 4 p.m.
The heart of the reason that RAs don’t like getting residents in trouble, though, is that RAs are people too. Resident assistants were picked because they are personable and can build community; they aren’t robots. No one likes getting residents or friends in trouble. Sometimes an RA might lose a friend over it, but, more often than not, an apology comes shortly after incidents take place. 
RA’s take their job seriously because they have to, not because they want to get students in trouble.

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  • M

    Melissa ShiklesOct 5, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Your article was very informing and made me realize a lot about the RAs. I didn’t know the requirements for being an RA and how much work they actually had to do. I know that I wouldn’t be able to stay up from 7p.m. to 7a.m. RAs have a lot of hard work that I was completely unaware of and now that I know I am going to look at them in a whole new way. I am also going to treat them with more respect now that I know all that they have to do.

  • R

    RyanOct 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I agree with this article. My RA is one of my friends. i hang with him here and there, we walk around Russell talking about random stuff. he hates getting people in trouble. He really rather be chilling in the common room talking with his residents rather then writing them up for having alcohol and such.

  • Z

    Zach DeschampsOct 5, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Being an RA is actually a really good job to have on campus. One of my long term high school friends is an RA in the city of Boston and he loves it. He gets paid to be an RA because he is only a RA for his work study program. He constantly has an income and the pay is not bad. He can decide whether he wants to use this paycheck to deduct from his total college bill or he can use the money to live off of it.

  • H

    Haley WallaceOct 5, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I enjoyed this article thoroughly. Though not an RA myself, nor am I looking to be one, I have to say, I sympathize with them. Dealing with students, especially freshmen, who think that whatever they are doing is “fun” or “cool” when it’s breaking the rules is not something I would ever want to do. I find it entertaining that some people who get caught doing stupid things blame their RAs, or think that RAs are out to “get them.” It’s simply ridiculous, and the fact that I know people like that annoys me.

  • K

    KatieOct 5, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I’m glad that this article got posted. My sister-in-law is an RA at another school and is constantly complaining about how she absolutely hates getting people in trouble. She goes above and beyond, using her own money (usually they get a certain amount from the school for activities) to buy nice soap for the whole floor and make excellent boards (that often get torn down). Anyway, good topic.