By Raena Doty
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
It may seem to resident students at FSU that resident assistants (RAs) are just people who tell them the rules of the residence halls at the beginning of each semester and sign off for packages.
A commuter student may know even less about RAs if they have no reason to interact with one another.
But at FSU, RAs perform invaluable services of leadership, mentorship, and friendship. They are not only in charge of day-to-day tasks like doing bathroom checks every evening and working at security desks, but also important community-building responsibilities that have given them a lot of wisdom.
As a few senior RAs come to the end of their time at FSU, they reflected on what they’ve learned.
Lily Borst, an RA from Horace Mann Hall and a business & information technology major, said a highlight of being an RA was the community she built with residents on her floor.
“Knowing I’m the person that, if anything happens, people come to, I feel like has been really - I don’t know if it’s exciting, if that’s the right word, but it’s nice to know that I’m the person who has been trained and is ready to help the students on my floor succeed,” she said.
Andrew Thompson, the administrative RA at Corinne Hall Towers and a hospitality & tourism management major, said he also especially liked connecting with residents in his building, but added it was challenging because people often considered it an adversarial rather than friendly relationship. He said enforcing policies for COVID-19 safety made it harder.
“As those policies loosened and people became a little bit more aware of why we were doing it, it was a little bit easier,” he said. “I’m not just the RA who’s coming to knock on your door until you quiet down your music or write you up or whatever it is, but I’m looking out for your safety and looking out to better your time at college.”
Catherine Henry, an RA at Corinne Hall Towers and a double major in child & family studies and early childhood education, said she also enjoyed getting to know her residents, and added she was particularly challenged because she was hired mid-semester after another RA left the position, but she felt a sense of pride when she began to recognize her residents and they started to get to know her, too.
“A big thing for me was when I not only started to recognize my residents with faces and names and start to learn who they all are,” she said, “but also when they would start to remember me and we got to know each other as people.”
Since RAs are full-time students, a lot of time management goes into their lives, especially when they’re active members of other organizations or have very specific constraints on their schedules due to classes.
Borst, who’s also president of the Christian Fellowship, said sticking to a schedule is an important part of time management, as well as optimizing her time by multitasking - for example, she said she often does homework while she’s on duty.
All three RAs stressed the importance of getting to know new people and doing different things around the school.
Thompson also serves as the vice president of the Framingham Student Activities Board, and said he urges students to become more involved with the school, because many people who never become involved have great ideas and deserve positions in student organizations.
Henry also stressed the importance of making connections, even if it’s not through a student organization or on-campus job. She said she’s not always been as involved as some students, but getting to know people in her classes and in her residence halls has made her life better.
Borst said, “Try the new thing that you’ve been thinking about that you’re not doing. I feel like plenty of people are interested in, you know, an event that’s happening or joining a different club or talking to someone in their class that they don’t really know but want to know.”