Resident Assistant and Community Advisor
I. POSITION OVERVIEW:
Resident Assistants (RAs) and Community Advisors (CAs) are vital members of the Residential Life team, working with Residence Directors, maintenance and custodial staff, security, support staff and management staff to provide resources that serve our residents' needs. Most of all, RAs and CAs are expected to be people who respect and care about the rights and dignity of all people, who challenge and support growth in themselves and others, and who strive to create a welcoming, positive learning environment for all residents. The RA and CA positions require a significant commitment of time, talent, and effort. Therefore, Resident Assistants and Community Advisors should truly believe in the value of what they are doing, and ultimately, believe in their own ability to make a difference.
II. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:
This critical aspect of the job includes establishing a credible, visible presence on the floor and in the building, developing and enforcing standards for community behavior, and encouraging self-governance.
A. Community Development: One of the most influential factors in a student's persistence in college is a sense that she belongs. The RA/CA is responsible for promoting that sense of belonging by establishing foundations for a community. The RA/CA encourages residents to participate in and contribute to their own community, to respect the rights of all members, and to help residents feel at home.
B. Availability/Approachability: The most important criteria in evaluating one's RA/CA from a resident's perspective is the staff member's availability. To effectively demonstrate this, the RA/CA will need to spend a significant amount of time during normal waking hours on the floor, door open, visiting residents, etc. To be perceived as approachable, an RA/CA must respond to all residents in a friendly manner, avoid the appearance of exclusive relationships, and perform her duties in a fair and consistent manner.
C. Policy Enforcement:RA/CAs understand and enforce CSB policies and model behavior that reflects those policies. They also serve as peer educators who help residents understand the rationale for policies, the value of community living and the need for residents to be accountable for their own behavior Due to the public nature of their role, RA's/ CA's personal conduct can impact the integrity of the RA/CA position as well as personal integrity.
D. Programming: Community building is an essential role of the RA/CA position. One way in which to support this is through educational and social programs which support and enhance the academic mission of the College. Our goal is to help residents learn life management skills specifically to help them feel a sense of belonging, to have confidence in their intellectual capacities, to clarify their attitudes and values, and ultimately, to assume responsibility for themselves as adults. The six themes around which programming should be planned are:
1. Women's development and women's leadership
2. Diversity and intercultural competence
3. Community service
4. Spirituality and Benedictine Values
6. Other educational topics not listed.
III. INDIVIDUAL RESIDENT RELATIONS:
As peers, RAs and CAs possess the distinct ability to influence residents, and provide them with positive support and challenge. This is accomplished by demonstrating respect for the dignity of all individuals, providing peer mentorship and advisement, and serving as referral agents to appropriate college resources.
A. Peer Advising: Students come to college with an ever-widening array of academic, personal, social, emotional, and family issues. The role of the RA/CA is to be a listener to residents, helping them identify their issues for themselves, and then supporting them with appropriate resources. When issues exist between two or more residents, the RA/CA serves as a non-judgmental mediator, encouraging residents to resolve problems themselves.
B. Information Resource/Referral Agent:RAs/CAs are the residents' first link to the college and are expected to be interested, aware, and informed. Residents expect RAs/CAs to answer questions about residence hall/apartment living, but also expect help with questions about classes, tutors, majors, college procedures, financial aid, finding a job, recreational opportunities and more.
RAs/CAs are important partners with other department personnel in daily administration of a residence hall or apartment, which includes the safety and security of residents, assignment and occupancy reporting, room changes, hall opening and closing, and facility maintenance.
A. Duty:RAs and CAs are responsible for staff coverage of the residence halls and apartments. Staff are on duty when the buildings are open/occupied and during break periods as needed. Duty is an essential function for the safety and security of our residents and buildings, and provides opportunities for RAs and CAs to build relationships within the residence hall or apartment community.
B. Routine Task and Functions: The efforts of many are required for proper functioning of the hall, the residential life staff, and the department. Communication, cooperation, accuracy and timeliness in performance of administrative tasks are beneficial to best serve our students.
C. Relations with Facility Staff:Maintenance, custodial, and support staff are critical members of the building staff team. Regular communication and mutual respect between these staff members and RAs/CAs creates a safe, clean, comfortable living environment for residents, and creates a pleasant working environment for all staff.
V. STAFF SUPPORT/DEVELOPMENT:
Attention to group dynamics and development promotes positive, productive working relationships between RAs, CAs, and RDs. Each member of the staff team has an obligation to know and be known, to communicate and cooperate for the benefit of the group and advancement of its development, and to perform her job to the best of her abilities. It is important to create positive working relationships amongst team members.
A. Relationship with fellow RAs:The distinct nature of the RA/CA position, can both reduce one's anonymity and increase one's sense of isolation at the same time, thus relationships with other RAs/CAs provide significant support, empathy, and friendship. These relationships also demand respect to maintain the integrity of the RA/CA position.
B. Relationship with the RD:The relationship with the RD can be a rich learning opportunity for an RA/CA. Among the most important of the many roles of the RD is encouragement and support of personal and professional development of individual RAs/CAs.
VI. PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR:
Professionalism encompasses not only how one speaks, behaves or dresses, but also personal ethics. Maintaining personal and professional integrity is important to the credibility of Residential Life.
A. Commitment to the RA/CA position and learning:RAs and CAs must be healthy individuals, competent employees, and effective students in order to be credible role models to their peers.
B. Ethical Behavior:RAs and CAs are expected to display behavior that universally values, supports, and enriches those who observe or experience their actions.
The Resident Assistant and Community Advisor positions require an increased sense of responsibility in comparison to many other jobs on campus. The most successful RAs and CAs, and those who seem to enjoy the position most, share common characteristics. They demonstrate the ability to develop meaningful relationships, openness to new experiences, flexibility and capacity to deal with change, approachability, and social and emotional maturity. Resident Assistants and Community Advisors should also have patience, a sense of humor, and the ability to communicate without showing favoritism or prejudice, and a belief in the value of every person.