December 10, 2021 | LIFE | By Zoe Wirth | Photo by Rikki Held
Across higher education, regardless of state, school, or concentration, it is highly likely you will find Residential Advisors on campus. Residential Advisors, or RAs, play an integral role in aiding campus communities by providing peer mentorship of academic and social respects.
At Colorado College, students within this role can speak specifically to the Block Plan and the school’s anti-racism efforts. Students who become RAs can not only look forward to free housing and stipends, but also the chance to connect with other students and faculty in a more intentional way.
“The RA position has given me the opportunity to connect with staff members in a more casual setting [that] I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise,” said Katherine Beard ’24, an RA on East Campus.
Some students chose to be RAs to better connect with campus after a year of remote learning.
“Last year, with COVID, I was very much not engaged in campus life,” said Jeremy Cashion ’24, an RA at South Hall. “Being an RA has helped me to integrate myself into the campus a lot more, and in being an RA I get to cultivate on-campus events and activities in a way that is personal to me.”
Upon initiation, RAs are trained through a robust curriculum created by Residential Life Coordinators Kaylee Crivello and Angela Lowe.
“RAs receive various degrees of opportunities, all of which impact personal, professional, and academic realms of our life,” said Gil Vaught, Residential Life Coordinator for Loomis Hall and the Language Houses. “For instance, our students are trained on crisis management, conflict management, and emergency response skills. The RA role encourages our students to utilize their creativity, hobbies and interests as a means for developing their RA style.”
Despite the abundance of resources and support that RAs are there to provide, many expressed the stigmas of the job diminish students’ readiness to engage with them. COVID-19 has also posed unique challenges for RAs on campus over the past two years, creating a number of new responsibilities for RAs to take on.
“One thing we really struggle with in Mathias is that there’s been a lot of animosity between students and RAs. This is partly because of always having to uphold COVID standards, but also having students see me as someone who they potentially can’t trust just because I am an RA,” said Nick Bishop ’23, an RA in Mathias Hall.
“It’s been difficult dealing with the negative connotations that can come with being an RA. Some people have pretty negative understandings of the position or negative experiences that they almost project onto the RA duty as a whole,” Beard said. “To those people I would say, while honestly it depends on the person, just because you had one bad experience doesn’t mean that all of us are out to get you. We’re honestly here to support you, not to police you.”
When RAs are able to breakthrough with students, the rewards seem plentiful. “I’m an RA in the Outdoor Ed living and learning community and I’ve really enjoyed hanging out, talking and hearing about other people’s experiences,” Bishop said. “Just doing the job of trying to help students feel comfortable at the school and give them resources when I can has been really rewarding.”
The Residential Life Coordinators are currently taking applications for RA positions for fall 2022. The selection process includes an individual interview and group interview, both of which will occur during Block 6.
“For those who are considering applying, keep in mind the things that you love about your community and the things that you love about the people in it,” Cashion said. “Especially if you become an RA and start feeling the pressure, it can be really easy to feel disheartened, but having in the back of your mind the reasons that you started in the first place and, all of the wonderful aspects of the job make it a lot easier to do the work associated with being an RA.”
To be eligible, you must attend a panel session. You can find the session times and dates and the application at http://coloradocollege.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0IX41rPpXodXEpM. The application closes Jan. 28, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.