Behind the Scenes: Resident Advisors
Posted: November 6, 2012
Robert Marley is currently a Resident Advisor at Wolf Village.
While some form of a Resident Advisor (RA) position has existed at NC State University from its beginning in 1887, the position title has varied from Room Captain, Floor Assistant, Dormitory Assistant, and Educational Counselors. In 1942-1943, the Educational Counselors were selected from senior and junior members of the faculty and given a room in the residence halls to assist freshmen in adjusting to their new life on campus.
Today’s Resident Advisors are selected from the upper-class student population through a rigorous selection process that consists of interviews and exercises performed as both an individual and a member of a group. Those selected for the position spend over 100 hours in training and attend a class specifically designed for Resident Advisors. These peer leaders attend to students needs whether they are first year students or pursuing graduate degrees.
“We do anything from programming to taking care of any kind of needs that they have whether it be roommate conflicts or facility issues or just general education—any questions about classes, academics or anything,” said Robert Marley, a third-year RA and senior business major who has served in Tucker/Owen and currently resides at Wolf Village.
The goal of the position is to be a resource for residents. RAs help their residents manage the various demands of college life from classes, to friends, to facilities, and life outside the classroom. It is a demanding position and yet a Resident Advisor will say that this is one of the best positions to help them learn and understand so many things. Even how important it is to ask the question—is everything okay?
Robert shared an experience when he was conducting rounds one evening. “I was on rounds on the third floor, when I saw three first-year female students just sitting out in the hallway, staring into the room.” Robert asked, “Is everything okay?” The student told him that she just woke up to find a spider on the bed. When Robert looked, there was indeed a spider just sitting on her bed. “We got it out and took care of it.” It was one of the myriad of memorable stories RAs often have, and certainly one of the easier ones to handle.
Many times the role of the RA is to be a teacher, helping students to understand the world around them. “We attempt to educate residents and encourage them to diversify their knowledge. It’s important that they understand the people they are living with and their different perspectives and cultures.”
Although the RA job comes with many benefits, one of the greatest benefits is not financial. Students who are RAs receive a lot of in intangible benefits such as meeting a lot of people and learning a lot about oneself and the greater world.
“You get to learn, organize, and plan events and programs. You are coordinating with real business people who work 8 to 5 jobs and you want your programs to be at 6 and 7 at night, so how can you coordinate those? You get to interact with all walks of life. You get to meet people who are just like you and people who are the complete opposite. You just get so many different types of experiences. I definitely think that the RA job has been the most valuable job I have held so far. It has benefited every aspect of my life. It teaches you leadership, communication, and all sorts of qualities that will benefit a person in the actual workforce when you get out of school.”
As a testament to the powerful leadership found in our Resident Advisors, this year, three of the six nominees for the annual Leader of the Pack scholarship are Resident Advisors with University Housing.
To learn more about the Resident Advisor position at NC State University, visit the RA job description on our website.
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