Resident assistants are often expected to fill many roles on campus. They serve as event coordinators, conflict mediators and authority figures for their fellow students in order to make Residence Life more enjoyable. However, being a R.A. is not an easy job, and the process of selecting R.A. staffs may be just as challenging as the roles themselves.
According to Josiah Hatfield, Residence Director of Naugle, the process of selecting new R.A.s is a very “involved” process: “[R.A.s], they’re on the front lines. They’re the ones that, you know, are living on the floors and interacting most closely with the student body at large, or the residential student body at large, so we put a large amount of time and energy into the overall process.”
R.A. selection typically begins with informational meetings that are held in early February for anyone who is interested in learning more about Residence Life. These meetings are then followed by Carousel Night.
“We usually have somewhere around 100 or 120 new R.A. applicants who show up for [Carousel Night],” Hatfield says. “We group [the applicants] into groups of like eight or 12 and they go to four different rooms, do different kinds of activities that are centered around Res Life issues. That gives all of the R.D.s as well as all of the current R.A.s a chance to just see everyone and scope it out.”
“When I went through [Carousel Night] my first year, it’s intimidating just because you have no idea what it’s going to be,” notes Joel Johnson, senior R.A. of Kelly C Section. “There’s just different activities that are designed to bring out different parts of the way that you interact with people.”
After being evaluated at Carousel Night, the next step in R.A. selection is interviewing.
“Along with Carousel Night, [applicants] also have to submit references, so we ask them for three references,” says Julie Price, R.D. of Grantham and Smith. “We take reference scores, and then they also fill out an application. All of those different things are scored on a rubric…we look at those scores, and we decide from those three things [Carousel Night, references, and applications] who will get an interview and who will not get an interview.”
According to Price, approximately 80 students are selected for interviewing. Once all of the interviews are complete, R.D.s meet to decide who will officially be offered a position as a new resident assistant. The process of R.A. selection may be intensive, but Residence Life itself is designed in a way that helps to prepare both current and prospective R.A.s for roles in Christian leadership.
“All of the R.D.s look for different things,” says Price. “For me, one of the things I have learned about myself is that I really value R.A.s who are willing to serve, who are servant leaders in the sense that they understand the Gospel in a way that they understand the sacrifice that Jesus has made for us on the cross, and so they understand the sacrifices that it takes to be a leader on their floor.”
“I’ve definitely learned the importance of silence and the importance of, ‘you don’t always have to talk and you don’t always have to be the one that takes over,’ so to speak,” says R.A. of Witmer 4B, Molly Gallagher. “I’ve definitely learned to find the good in people and that one common thing that I can share with them to become more unified.”
Johnson states, “Res Life brings you into some very uncomfortable situations sometimes, and through that you learn ‘what are those barriers that I come up against within myself, what are those things that I don’t want to release to God, what are those things that I’ll be comfortable serving people up until this point?’ And then Res Life throws you way past that and you really have to re-evaluate. Just recognizing that service encompasses all aspects of your life has been a really hard, but good part of Res Life.”