By Emilye Martin
Ashleigh Blair fast-walked down the long halls of her building, poking her head in and out of lounges and open rooms. She was checking in on residents and chatting with them about classes and work.
Being a full-time student at Western Michigan University is stressful enough, now imagine being responsible for 48 other students.
That’s the life of this WMU junior who is 20 years old, and a second-year RA in the Draper/Siedschlag dorm.
Between greetings, Blair listed off RA responsibilities:
Two monthly bulletin boards, planning and hosting four programs each semester, sociograms, which are a floor plan with resident’s rooms. They have to know which residents go into what room and after a month, have to know three facts about each resident, three pages of health, safety, social, and academic questions about 75 percent of their residents twice a semester, two service hours per year, and one presentation at a staff meeting with tips for fellow staff members.
“I hate that that isn’t even all of them. Those are just what I could think of off the top of my head.” Blair said.
It’s a full-time job.
It’s assumed that being an RA is simple job where you decorate your hallway and help residents adjust to life at a university.
“I wanted to be an RA because I had a great RA my freshman year who helped me with a lot with adjusting. I wanted to help the experience of new students in the way that she shaped mine,” said Blair. “We still keep in touch; she’s given me a bunch of tips for being a good RA.”
“It’s a lot to handle, especially since all we get in return is room and board. I have a second job on campus so I can have a little money to spend”. Said Blair.
In the sparse free time she has, she likes to get away and go to coffee shops around Kalamazoo, her favorite being Black Owl. She also uses this time to catch up on her favorite podcasts and to find new music to listen to.
“It’s a much harder job than people think, but it’s worth it when a year ends and even one resident comes to you to thank you for making a difference in their life or tells you that you impacted them in the smallest of ways,” said Blair. “On top of that, I love the friendships I’ve made with the other RAs in my building.”