"Resident assistants should, in fact, live in the residence halls"
The constant absence of a resident assistant would relieve any irresponsible dorm resident.
If your RA typically goes away on the weekends or frequently sleeps over at a friend's house, you have a good chance of getting away with drinking alcohol in the dorms and being rowdy at late hours of the night, even though there are other RAs roaming the halls in addition to the RA on duty.
Perhaps this is why all the girls in my Coronado Residence Hall wing absolutely loved our RA. The majority of my hallmates partied seven nights a week, and they'd return to the halls in a blatantly inebriated state, but these 18- and 19-year-olds didn't worry about getting into trouble because our RA was never around to write them up.
Somewhere along the line, she was dubbed the ""coolest RA ever,"" and it was only because she didn't do her job. Instead of staying in her dorm room, this RA spent most nights at her boyfriend's house, which was, of course, off campus.
Part of the RA job is to live in the hall you're assigned to, so failing to do that violates one of the most significant position expectations. On page four of the 2008-2009 Resident Assistant Agreement contract, residents agree that, ""I may spend a maximum of two weekends away from the hall per month, which must be approved in advance by the Community Director. I am expected to spend all other nights in my room.""
I'll venture to say that it's worse for an RA to basically live elsewhere than to turn a blind eye to underage drinking in the dorms. Some RAs abuse the right to free weekends or dishonor the contract, and unfortunately, the Community Director has no way of knowing this unless a resident speaks up and essentially rats out his RA.
Not only does the seemingly careless RA neglect the residents, but he or she takes advantage of Residence Life, which provides all RAs with housing. If the RA isn't paying rent or staying in the halls most of the time, he is using his room as storage space and leaving residents out in the cold.
The Residence Life Mission Statement follows: ""We cultivate safe and educational residential communities to spark student success."" How can Residence Life maintain safe residential communities if even one RA rarely makes appearances in his or her designated hall?
As an out-of-state freshman, I had serious issues assimilating to college life at the beginning of the school year, and it would have been nice to have my RA around to help.
One evening in October, I was convinced I had appendicitis, so I knocked on my RA's door to no avail. There was no one in my wing who I trusted enough to help me, so it was extremely disheartening to learn that my RA had chosen to spend yet another night at her boyfriend's house at the beginning of the school year, when vulnerable freshmen generally need a lot of help.
According to the UA Residence Life Web site, college students reported lack of sleep, difficulty falling asleep, stress, colds and flu, feeling depressed, anxiety and worry about family or friends as the top health-related problems most likely to hinder their academic performance. Residents experiencing any of these issues should be able to easily contact their RA for guidance. One can argue that it's not an RA's job to parent his residents. Most college-aged residents are adults anyway, and acclimating to dorm life is a small stepping stone to growing up. Even so, there's a reason why RAs are needed in every hall, and they are expected to do more than just catch illegal activity.
An RA should be enthusiastic about the task he has undertaken. It's sad to think an RA would only accept the position to save money on housing, even though some students need to be an RA in order to afford other college expectations. Regardless, the RA should still want to be semi-involved in the residents' lives.
The Resident Assistant Agreement states that ""availability is a prerequisite to fulfilling RA job responsibilities."" It should be a given that an RA will be flexible and for the most part available, and failing to fulfill this basic requirement speaks to the RA's inability to commit to residents.
As earlier stated, RAs may only be held accountable for this if they are reported, so it's important for residents to take this neglect seriously and say something.
So, hall residents, don't let this kind of thing slide. There's no reason why an RA should get paid housing and a meal plan allowance if he is just going to take the free food and use the room as a free storage unit.
— Laura Donovan is the opinions editor.
She can be reached at email@example.com