I’m an RA (a Resident Assistant). Or, rather, I used to be a RA. However, once you’re an RA, you’re always an RA. It becomes a part of you. August becomes your most dreaded month of the year. You cringe (and sometimes start twitching) every time a phone rings with the duty phone ringer. You critique bulletin boards and fliers every where you go. Discounted office supplies excite you. You feel sympathy for anyone who works a night shift. Housekeeping and cleaning crews become your best friends. You can spit out an icebreaker at any given time. You become really good at thinking of cutesy names for boring events. Anything looks better with glitter glue.
It’s kind of like a cult.
Actually, Residence Life is a cult.
I went through the emotions of my last year as an RA last year. I got teary eyed at my last August Training Banquet. I made amazing door decs and decided they all needed glitter glue at 4am on the morning of move in. I stayed up for 42 hours during August training to get things done. I dealt with being on duty during early move in while Hurricane Irene left our campus isolated from the rest of our University. (I still need to make “I survived move in weekend” tshirts.) I had more serious, tear-jerking resident issues in my last year as an RA than I did in my 2 previous years combined. I TA’d a RA course. I pulled all nighters for the first time in my life. I baked A LOT of cookies. I made creative bulletin boards every month for my 2 floors. I fought fire with fire when residents gave me shit. I used pounds of colorful paper. I had great, meaningful programs. I made a yearbook page for my staff. I freaked out when I realized I only had a few duty shifts left. I felt a sense of mourning (and relief) when I attended my last training session. I may or may not have cried just a bit when we took the graduating Res Life staff members photo, and I felt a lot of Feelings when it came to be May and I went home, not to May Training. I spent a lot of time this past year feeling nostalgic and saddened that my Res Life days were over.
This creation I made in January got a lot of action on tumblr. It made me feel quite special.
SURPRISE! I’m back.
I had been in talks for a position as a grad during the year, but I didn’t know if it would actually happen until August. I was appointed Assistant Residence Life Coordinator in one of the newer buildings on campus, and I actually am living on campus in the brand new University apartment complex that was just built. I’ve been working hand-in-hand with the RLC of the building I work for to help prepare for residents, plan programs, and basically make sure everything is running smoothly. It’s been a nice transitional position, as it doesn’t have a lot of the dreaded RA responsibilities (duty, pulling all nighters during August training, making 60+ door decs), but it has a few of the fun ones: helping plan (and approve) programs, making fliers, making 11 door decs for the RAs, shopping for programs on Res Life’s dime, etc. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and I’m really happy that I was given this opportunity to stay involved with Res Life for my final year of grad school. (I can’t be a Hall Director [the individual in charge of RAs or buildings] because I’m student teaching in the Fall Semester and it’s considered a full time responsibility.)
I made my RAs some pretty hardcore technology-themed door decs.
Res Life is in my blood, and I can’t get rid of it, no matter how hard I try.
I have my own studio apartment, and for the first time in YEARS, residents will not be knocking on my door when they’re locked out, when they don’t like their roommate, or when they have a silly question. It’s kind of weird to realize that I’m actually someone else’s resident. On my first night living in my apartment, there were a lot of thoughts running through my head that make me think that perhaps Res Life is too ingrained in my soul at this point. Such of these thoughts included “Don’t they realize it’s quiet hours?”, “I wonder who the AA (Apartment Assistant) on duty is,” “When’s the first floor meeting? Do we have a floor social?” or, my personal favorite, “Why don’t I have a door dec when everyone else does? And what exactly is the door dec theme?”
I am probably my AA’s worst nightmare.
Can you imagine being in charge of someone who used to have your job? I really feel for you, AA of mine, whoever you are. I promise to try not to randomly throw cookie nights in my apartment, or fix bulletin boards when they get vandalized. I won’t initiate icebreakers when I hang out with groups of residents in the lounge, and I promise not to document individuals for noise violations. I won’t even call University Police when I suspect someone is smoking pot. I will try my darnedest to not overstep any boundaries, and to be a helpful-yet-not-annoying resident.
I will not, however, cope well with the fact that I am the only person on our floor without a door dec. There are somethings that are inexcusable, and I will be making myself a door dec at some point this weekend. Don’t be hurt when the other residents like mine better because it’ll have glitter on it.
Res Life is a cult…and I love every minute of it!