Ortiz: Residents assistants are new students’ best resource

Kenia Ortiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

As a second year resident assistant at Colorado State University I, along with the 300-plus RAs are prepared to welcome incoming new students and freshmen to the residents halls.

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Most new student’s time is spent with future peers, family and orientation leaders who do an amazing job of representing CSU. Through all of the chaos and excitement, most of them did not realize or put much thought into the RAs present during your orientation and would also be present during the school year.

When RAs are noticed, I often overhear negative comments such as “Here come the RAs, they’re so mean” or “We can’t have any fun when the RA’s are around”.

RAs are perceived to be mean and bitter individuals who dedicate their time to spoil any fun in the residence halls and ruin the night of residents by writing them up or “getting them into trouble.”

In reality, RAs are nothing like that.

A resident assistant’s  job is to be a presence in the hall that focuses on building community, trust, offering support and resources to help resident’s transition into college.

A RA’s job is not to spoil the fun or ruin nights; our job is to be a presence in the hall that focuses on building community, trust, offering support and resources to help resident’s transition into college.

When RAs go on duty walks throughout the night it is not to write someone up or disrupt any fun being had. RAs go on duty walks to get to know residents, build community, answer lingering questions/concerns and also make sure that everyone is safe.

However, if residents are breaking any of the rules that were placed for the safety of them and others, then actions will be taken by RAs to keep them and others safe.

RAs are not only present to make sure residents are safe but are also emotionally, mentally and physically healthy. We are a resource when it comes to a resident’s academics as well.

We are the ones residents generally first come to when they are feeling stressed, confused, angry or alone. We are also the people students come to when they are having a crisis and may not be safe for themselves or others.

RAs are the people residents go to when they have a problem with their roommate. Residents go to RAs when there is a weird smell in the bathroom, when they feel sick, when they are having trouble registering for classes, when they need someone to vent to, someone to help them with a class and much more.

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RAs understand that being on your own for the first time is exciting, mostly because we were in your shoes as well, so we understand that many residents are trying new things and having fun.

Yet, we also want to make sure residents understand that when making adult choices, there are adult consequences and want to prepare you for that.

It is important to remember that RAs are people and students too. Like you, RAs go to class, many have a job or more outside of being an RA, they also have friends, family and their own well-being to focus on. Many RAs handle a lot of stress and experience burnout when balancing their social, academic, work and RA life.

RAs know that their role requires putting the well-being of residents’ before their own, even when they are exhausted and stressed. They do it with so much grace because we know what it is like to be trying to figure everything out and feeling alone.

I cannot speak for every RA on this campus, but what I can assure you is that a lot of time and effort is put into preparing for your arrival and making CSU your new home.

Please appreciate and respect your RAs. They aren’t perfect, they aren’t super-humans but they aren’t evil either.They are a resource for you, a support system and a friend; you can always count on them to be there for you.

Kenia Ortiz can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian