“When I do my job, I want to make the experience on campus as fun and comfortable as I possible,” explained junior accounting student and resident assistant (RA) in Monmouth’s Spruce Hall, Chris Skwirut.
RAs are students’ first line of defense; they help students address the challenges and struggles associated with attending college.
Moving away from home is no small feat, hence the need for RAs in students’ transition from adolescence to adulthood. From hosting activity and community-building programs throughout the month, to room safety checks, to handling issues that arise during the day to day, these student leaders ensure that the semester runs smoothly, and everyone feels at home on Monmouth’s campus.
Joseph Myers, a senior psychology student and RA in Monmouth’s Beechwood Hall, said, “We’re all students and most of us have lived in the dorms, so we know what the deal is. We’ve dealt with a lot of the problems that they’re dealing with, so sometimes it’s easier to talk to a peer rather than an adult.”
While Monmouth consists of a large commuter-student population, it is important for RAs to give students, and themselves, a reason to be on campus, especially on the weekends, as it encourages, and fights against the “suitcase school” reputation.
Not only is it a beneficial job for the RAs to help out their residents, but they also get the opportunity to make lots of friends and grow their social connections. Both Myers and Skwirut agreed about this benefit to the job, with Myers adding, “It feels good to know more people on campus as it allows me to make connections with residents that turn into friendships. If we bump into each other, we can have a conversation instead of just being complete strangers.”
Both recommended the job both for its perks of developing new friendships, as a way to become part of the on-campus community, and combatting the negative stigma that can sometimes associate RAs as the “fun police.”
Skwirut further emphasized, “It [being an RA] builds community. I think this job helps the residents who are very outgoing, but also the introverts who may not have gotten the most out of their college experience. The college experience isn’t about introversion, so it’s the RAs job to pull those kids out of their comfort zone and give them things to be a part of.”
When it comes to the hiring process, both Myers and Skwirut had different experiences, but they explained that it comes down to a series of interviews. A general email with go out during the semester, inviting students to apply to RA positions on campus. From there, you will have a personal interview where you talk to another RA and one of the professional staff members, known as Area Coordinators. If you’re chosen to move on, you’ll participate in a group interview. From there, you’re either hired as a full-time RA, or some people are given the position of RA alternate, which comes in handy if a full-time RA has too much on their plate. Once hired, students do not have to apply again the following year or semester. Anyone is invited to apply for the RA job, and even encouraged to do so, as it’s one of the best ways to get involved on campus and make lifelong friends while doing so.
Many students make their fondest memories and friendships while living in the dorm halls on campus, and the RAs are largely responsible for the activities and environment that brings these students together.
While it is a job that requires a lot of work and patience, Skwirut said, “The RA job is just as demanding as it is rewarding. If you put in the effort, residents will see that and engage with you.”
Other important people to Residential Life are the Area Coordinators (AC). These adults handle any problem the RAs cannot accomplish, as well as leading them with their jobs.
Tony Conrad, AC for the University Bluffs, Great Lawn, and Garden Apartments, elaborated, “Being an Area Coordinator is a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. Connecting with students is one of the best parts of job, but I’m here for students when they are at their best and when they struggle, so I get to see the whole student and support them on their college journey. I love getting to know students and see them grow into remarkable people and then see them walk across the stage at commencement.”
“My CAs are an amazing group of students. I could not do this job without them. They help build community within the apartments, create fun programming for residents and support students to ensure a safe and comfortable living space for all.”
RAs and CAs truly make Monmouth a safer and friendly community. Not only is there reward with this job, but creating these bonds in the dorms, for both students and RAs, sets everyone up for a memory-filled and exciting college experience for their years at Monmouth.