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Feb 21, 2013

Going off to college and living in a residence hall is a new and exciting experience. You're moving out of your house and into a new territory rich with new friends to meet, activities, no set bedtime, and no parents. This creates a new-found sense of independence and in some cases, rebelliousness. Some students find it hard to leave the rules and regulations from their parents at home to move into a residence hall monitored by RHA staff.I've even heard some students referring to their RA as "the enemy". Even if the RA and student get along well and have common ground, some students feel like the RA staff can't be placed in the friend zone because they set guidelines in the residence hall and sometimes, have to write students up for misbehaving. If you see your RA as 'the enemy' or are even wary about befriending them, you should really consider what you're missing out on. Becoming friends with your RA can be a rich and rewarding experience; they're there for you when you need them the most. Want to know reasons why your RA is awesome? Here's 5 to start you off:‚Äć

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1) Your RA is there to help you - So maybe they don't want to see the bottles of no-no's in your dorm room that you already know you're not supposed to have. Their job is to monitor the residence hall and make sure nothing is being brought in and used while under their watchful eye. I'm not saying don't have fun while you're living on-campus, but don't blatantly try to do things you aren't supposed to and have things your RA wouldn't want to see right in plain view. They're doing their job and in most cases, they don't WANT to write you up - make it easy on both of you and be responsible and when you know they're coming to do room sweeps, tidy up your space.

‚Äć2) Your RA is NOT your enemy! - It would be beneficial for you to create a standing relationship with them because they will be your go-to source for anything you need while living on-campus. Having problems with your roommate you just can't seem to come to terms with after numerous tactics of mediation and talks? Having problems that you're going through and just really need some extra guidance? Tired of someone squeezing shampoo all over the shower floor causing a slippery/dangerous mess? These are concerns you can discuss with your RA, who is always more than willing to help resolve whatever issue you may be facing.

‚Äć3) Your RA is a student too. . .just like you - Why people draw their RAs as fire breathing dorm room dragons that lurk in dark residence hall caves is beyond me. So maybe every RA you ever have won't be your #1 choice of a best friend. Who cares, they aren't there to be your very best friend. They're there to protect you, to make sure things are running smoothly, and to make sure your (and other student's) time living in the residence hall is as comfortable as possible. Maybe you don't have every little thing in common, but that's rare to find in ANY friend. College is all about people coming from different walks of life. Embrace it, don't discredit them just because they may be a little different than you are (or you different from them) and because they hold an authoritative role. Be humble, be friendly. These people are students too. They have classes, meetings, activities, homework, exams AND they have to be on standby 100% of the time to help other students like you with any problems they may have in the hall. I'm talking about two roommates fighting over who lost the remote to much more serious matters. Not to mention, they basically have to schedule out their days for the whole hall to know so student's can know when the best time to reach them is.

‚Äć4) Let'sbehonest- They've got connections! - One of the biggest perks about being an RA member is that you get the opportunity to network with a larger population of students and other residence hall staff. You may feel like you're meeting tons of students on campus just in the hall, during class, or walking around campus, but when you add that to all of the meetings and events the RA members go to, you've got quite a large sum. These connections may be a great idea for you to utilize. Maybe you're starting to think about off-campus housing opportunities and need someone with extensive knowledge on the locations near campus to talk to. Or, maybe you want to dive into the professional world and start networking with certain professors or school staff. Maybe you need a great tutoring resource and just don't know enough people around the campus that can really mold to your learning style. As your RA is so active on-campus and meets so many students and professional individuals, they're a great resource for connections in these areas, and more.

‚Äć5) They handle the things you don't necessarily want to - College is more than just learning to be professional and attending classes. There's things that happen on the college campus that occur more behind the scenes, and more frequently. Occasionally, students have a hard time adapting to their new lifestyles away from home, where things are more accessible to them. There are occasionally the cases of students who get depressed and go through a hard time, some who end up with alcohol abuse or substance problems, and the like. Being a great roommate and being there for your roommate in these situations is helpful and wonderful, but it can become too much for you to bear if you feel like the weight of their lives is on your shoulders. In these cases, pulling an RA aside and very gently voicing your concerns about the well being of your roommate could be helpful. But remember, this is a very sensitive subject and should be handled in the utmost respect. The great things about RAs is that they go through extensive training and tutoring for crisis and problems such as this to be able to help students out most effectively.

They also are trained to handle situations that bother you (and most likely others in the hall) that are also things you don't want to be the one to say something about. Maybe the girl down the hall is constantly sneaking people she's not supposed to in after hours, breaking the rules and being destructive. If you'd rather remain in the shadows and not deal with the drama, you can tell your RA in confidence and they will handle the situation accordingly. Always keep in mind that living in a residence hall isn't always going to be the most leisurely experience and there will be times your RA will be there for you.These are just a few reasons why your residence hall staff could be some of the best people you'll meet throughout your college experience. If you're one of the students who viewed your RA as "the enemy" hopefully this blog will help you view them in a new light. Have any other reasons why RAs are awesome? Share with us in the comments below! Or, tweet us one reason at @OCMonCampus!

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