There comes a time in most conversations that I have when a certain topic arises. It could come about because of a slip of the tongue (usually a “that’s not diverse“) or due to an unusual story (“This one time I was talking to the police at two in the morning … “), but at some point I have to explain myself.
My confession isn’t the worst thing in the world. I don’t steal candy from children or go around running over people’s cats. However, people always seem to react negatively when I admit to my past. So, taking the chance that you’ll never want to read my column again (or at least let out an emphatic “Ew!”), I will confess to you what so many others have had to bear before:
I used to be a Resident Advisor.
Now that that’s out in the open, I want to take this opportunity to clear up some rumors going around about RAs so that hopefully everyone can be a little more open-minded about this misunderstood group of people.
Myth #1: RAs are just there for the free room and board.
Yes, it’s true that RAs get free room and board. However, anyone mentally unstable enough to do this job solely for this purpose won’t last long. As great as it was not to go grocery shopping or worry about paying the rent, that was hardly motivation to get through cleaning up throw up, waking up at all hours of the night to let residents back into their rooms and being threatened with bodily harm by a drunk guy dressed up as a gladiator – although in his defense it was Halloween. RAs have a higher motivation that leads them to knock incessantly on your door and guilt you into going to programs: They actually care about you.
Myth #2: RA’s are just out to get you.
Let’s be honest, no RA is Jesus. He or she will not love you in spite of the fact that you’re a complete jackass who has no regard for the rules or other people’s sanity. But at the beginning of the year everyone starts out with a clean slate. How you sully that slate is your own business (and your conduct coordinator’s). The RAs are simply there to ensure that most of the community is content and not crying at their doors at 3 a.m. because room 521 won’t turn its bass down and is playing the same ridiculous Akon song over and over again. And you can stop holding that grudge against that RA who called the ambulance when you were passed out in your own vomit. As much as people want to believe it, RAs don’t just think the flashing lights are pretty; they’re just not too keen on your death or anything.
Myth #3: RAs will believe anything you tell them.
If an RA has ever knocked on your door and asked you if you’ve been drinking in your room, it’s probably because you’ve been drinking in your room. Sure, there are those rare occasions when they will make a mistake. For example, I once questioned a student about his room smelling like a frat party and it turned out that he was cleaning his tennis racket with rubbing alcohol. Whoops. But in general, little clues like the clinking of bottles and 20 people yelling “Chug! Chug!” at the top of their lungs kind of tips the RAs off.
Myth #4: RAs have a quota for documentations that they need to fill.
RA’s do not have to document (not “write up“) people a certain number of times. But if you’re breaking the rules and an RA is around, you will probably be documented. Since residents seem to forget certain rules more than others, let me reiterate a few: There is to be no sex in the hot tub; it will always be quiet hours at 4 a.m. … always; just because the rules don’t specifically mention rappelling out your window, doesn’t mean it’s okay; underage drinking really is a no-no anywhere, not just in your dorm.
To sum up, your RA loves you (unless you’re a complete jerk) and wants to help you have a great year. So don’t be too hard on them. Try your hardest not to steal things from the DC, don’t set fire to the community kitchen and remember that putting couches in the elevator (not matter how funny it seems) is not okay.
DANIELLE RAMIREZ is slightly nostalgic for her RA days. To remind her how lucky she is to not have to deal with that stuff anymore, e-mail her at email@example.com.