RA, ICA and RLP: a breakdown of residential life on campus

Maddie Wright

The first week of moving into residence halls includes a lot of people introducing themselves to you.

There are many names, majors, hometowns, and other things to keep track of. It may be even harder when people are using words and acronyms that are not common knowledge outside of the CSUniverse. Here is a little breakdown of the other undergraduate students who are working to help you.

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RA: Resident Assistant

A resident assistant is a live-in student staff member who lives in the hall and is there to help promote safety, inclusivity and success of their residents.

“This is a big transition, but it is by no means the last one in life or even college,” said Corbett RA Eliot Hawkes. “I think that ideally an RA connects students to resources and passes on skills they can use on their own in their future transitions. We get to be there to make them feel safe, okay, able to succeed, and maybe most importantly, never alone.”

“We aim to be places of support and care, advocates, and resources for our residents. We’re not doing the job to do write ups, but that just happens to be part of the job expectation.” Joe Bretz,Westfall resident assistant.

There are a lot of stereotypes that students come in with to place on their RA. People may assume an RA is just there to write them up when they get too rowdy and are just a glorified hall monitor who doesn’t really care about the people in the hall.

“I think a lot of residents see RA’s as people who make them go to floor meetings and as people who write them up for quiet hours,” said Westfall RA Joe Bretz. “I don’t know a single RA who signed up for the job for those reasons. We aim to be places of support and care, advocates and resources for our residents. We’re not doing the job to do write-ups, but that just happens to be part of the job expectation.”

“One of our biggest goals is to create a space where everyone can feel included and comfortable in their own way, whatever that may look like to them,” Corbett RA Jess Gerton said. “We work to support the folks in our community with their academic, social, and professional lives, through the good and the bad!”

There is the possibility that residents want to form a strong relationship with their RA. Many RAs want to form those close relationships with their residents and be someone they can turn to when they need help.

“One of our biggest goals is to create a space where everyone can feel included and comfortable in their own way, whatever that may look like to them,” Corbett RA Jess Gerton said. “We work to support the folks in our community with their academic, social, and professional lives, through the good and the bad!”

People typically can get along well with an RA.

“My number one goal was to connect people in the hall and then to let them know if they ever needed anything or wanted advice, I was there any time,” a former RA, Caleb Smith said.

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Ultimately, RAs are a resource for residents and while they may not know all the answers, they can help guide residents to where they should look.

“RAs are trained to know the ins and outs of CSU’s resources and can point residents to what they need and aid them in most ways,” Alpine RA and former finance director for the Residence Hall Association Mo Crump said. “RAs are here to help residents not police them, and they what to do whatever they can to make their time in the residence halls the best possible.”

ICA: Inclusive Community Assistants 

One of the Principles of Community at CSU is inclusion. The residence halls have a whole position dedicated exactly to that called the Inclusive Community Assistants. There is one in each resident hall across campus to promote inclusivity and provide strategies for residents and staff to create these inclusive communities.

ICAs engage in intentional conversations through community walks and programming. ICAs walk through the building, sometimes with goodies, to talk with residents about issues surrounding inclusivity and providing an opportunity for residents to learn and grow through conversations they can have on their own.

ICAs work with the Student Diversity Program and Services offices. These include the Black/African American Cultural Center, the Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center, the Native American Cultural Center, the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, the Pride Resource Center, El Centro, and the Student Disability Center. They will often do programs in collaboration with these offices and work to promote inclusion for these and other identities.

 “ICAs are knowledgeable about campus resources and their services to students,” According to Residence Life Recruitment. Utilizing diverse and educational programs they will challenge members within the community to grow both personally and academically. The ICAs along with other staff members and residents are responsible for helping to create an atmosphere conducive to study and enjoyment.”

RLP- Residential Leadership Programs

RLP stands for Residential Leadership Programs and is comprised of the Residence Hall Association, National Residence Hall Honorary, and Hall Council.

“I’d say the purpose of RLP is to provide a variety of leadership experiences, perspectives, and roles to students that live on campus,” RHA President Kyra Ferguson said. “Through RHA, residents can act as the voice of their hall and the campus, and in NRHH they can participate in service. Hall Council is a personalized experience hall by hall, and students can make it what they want.”

According to the CSU RHA website, RHA’s purpose is to improve the on-campus experience for residents by advocating, providing opportunities for leadership, development, and growth all while building a community for students to feel at home.

“I’d say the purpose of RLP is to provide a variety of leadership experiences, perspectives, and roles to students that live on campus,” RHA President Kyra Ferguson said. “Through RHA, residents can act as the voice of their hall and the campus, and in NRHH they can participate in service. Hall Council is a personalized experience hall by hall, and students can make it what they want. All of them advocate for students and can provide direct and indirect leadership opportunities to grow and develop in.”

“RLP (is) an engaging way for students to be involved in campus in an inclusive and positive way.” Lauren Rodgers, Director of Residential Development

NRHH is an honorary for students who live on campus that can continue with them when they move off campus. They honor leading students and work to benefit life on campus.

According to the CSU NRHH website, CSU’s chapter members “represent the top 1% of the student leaders on campus and are those who have contributed extraordinary amounts of personal time and energy in order to make the residence halls home away from home.”

Where RAs and ICAs typically have to be at least a second-year student, first-year students can get involved in RLP their first semester at CSU as a Hall Council member, RHA senator and/or NRHH representative.

“From getting involved by participating in events put on by RLP to being a leader in your community as hall council member, RHA Senator, and NRHH representatives, residents are able to further their sense of community and involvement on CSU campus,” Crump said.

It also helps first-year students build the community they want to see in their halls.

“If you’re really into trying to create an inclusive community and you’re really into trying to create a better community then this is a pretty good outlet to get a foothold on like starting to do that as a college student-adult,” former director of residential events and programming for RHA Wes Taylor said.

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddierwright.