Why I'm an RA Once a Semester...

Every semester, I choose to sit on duty as a Resident Assistant in one of our residence halls. And, not just any night. Busy nights. In the fall, I was on for Halloween. This spring, a busy Friday evening.

Our Resident Assistants sit on duty for weekends in pairs (as they oversee multiple buildings). I go to the RA office, use the radio to call in to Campus Safety ("RA Signing On), go on rounds, and usually let my co-RA that evening take the lead on rounds, bathroom checks, etc. I'm the Director of Residential Education, but sitting just a few hours into the evening reminds me of the important work our student staff do every day, and reminds them (I hope) that I value their efforts and dedication.

Now, I offer this as a prize. Typically, a "get out of duty" card is for excellent participation via Twitter during training, or being a great mentor to a new staff member. I publicly offer taking a duty night, and I love seeing staff get competitive to win it.

I show up early. I go on every round on-time. I even offer to do the duty log. Other RAs hear me on the radio--I'm hopeful they see that I understand the long hours, the rounds in the cold, and the anxiety they get when confronting a situation.

Last fall, I came across an unresponsive student. I felt the same uncertainty as when I came across a passed out student in a bathroom my first night of duty 15 years ago. I learn from the staff the intricacies of their areas. I ask them about the use of the lounges, where their problem areas are, and take the opportunity to share positive changes that I hope they'll then share with other RAs.

Staying up to 2am might be a bit harder these days, but I'm thankful for the opportunity!


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© 2020 by Dr. Brandon Barile

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