Whether you are a freshman away from home for the first time or a senior preparing to graduate, college can be a perplexing experience bound to induce questions and worry. Due to this, California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) provides students with Residential Advisors that help guide residents through whatever challenges that they might endure during their time spent at CSUMB. The Lutrinae had the pleasure of discussing what being a Residential Advisor actually entails with an RA from Area 1, Donny Wilson.
The Lutrinae: How long have you been an RA?
Wilson: This is my second year.
What is one fun fact about you?
Over the summer, I got really into Tetris, the video game, and actually wound up getting a score of over a million. I really take pride in that. I don’t know if I should enter a Tetris tournament or not, but that’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about.
Why do we have Resident Advisors (in your opinion)?
The catch-all answer to that would be a lot of people consider CSUMB to be a small campus, even though we have the largest land footage of any CSU. Even though we are still considered small by most, we still have a lot of resources that are available. Most [resources] don’t even get a lot of advertisement for students and residents to know about them. I feel like as RA’s, we are tasked with the duty of being in tune with all these different resources and different opportunities for students. [To tell them] ‘hey, there are biology seminars every Monday in the chapman science center’ and ‘there are other opportunities off campus also through CSUMB,’ but that’s not really being advertised too much because there’s disconnect between the larger body of the school and the students. We are here to bridge that gap.
What is the number one question that you are asked by
It is probably “How do I become an RA” or “What does an RA do?” The answer varies depending on time of day and who is asking me because RA’s do a lot of things, we are multifaceted. There are so many things we can do, that we have an opportunity to do, in terms of being in contact with different faculty on campus, or getting to know different prostaff, that can help us out in our careers later on in life and then just connecting with our residents and giving them an experience that they probably wouldn’t have had if there weren’t RA’s in general.
What can resident advisers help me with?
Personally, I have helped students with their academic schedules, helping them design their two year plan, figuring out what teachers to take and which teachers are ideal for their different learning styles. I’ve helped them find different places off campus because that’s been a big thing for me in my two years before I became an RA. I didn’t know where to go to get good food off campus and where to go and have fun. Being able to help them with that aspect of life and keeping them enjoying the Monterey Area instead of [saying] “it’s boring” because all they do is stay on campus. I try to encourage more students to get off campus, being there for them and having fun and getting through their personal issues.
Let’s say I can’t stand my roommates, what do I do?
If its this point in the year and you cannot stand your roommates I would for sure come and talk to your RA and let them know the issues that are going on in the room. From that point on, the RA can get in contact with the other roommates in the room and figure out their perspective on what’s going on and figure out what the bigger overall issue is here. For me personally, I have seen a lot of issues come from a lack of communication within the room. I like to encourage my residents to just talk to your roommates and let them know what you’re having issues with because more than likely they are going to be considerate and say ‘okay yeah I will fix that or change that’ or ‘I’ll see what I can do about it’. But if you can’t solve it on your own, then as an RA we have a mediation and see what’s going on. If things don’t improve after the mediation, then after two weeks the room change process opens up.
I don’t know anyone but I want to meet people, can you help me?
Generally, RA’s are second years and up, we have been on campus for at least a year so we are in tune with some of the different organizations and programs that the school has to offer. We are also here to promote different clubs and organizations, like Black Student Union, Otter Student Union and Associated Students. There are also different student leader positions on campus, getting a job on campus, maybe connecting you with different residents in the hall that have the same issues. That’s the cool thing about RA’s is that we get to interact with, at least me personally, 45 different residents. Getting to know each one individually and then noticing Person A and Person Z have things in common and saying ‘you should go talk to them’ and then they hit it off.
What is a quick way to get in trouble?
Not following community standards. When I get duty calls and quiet hour violations. Quiet hours Sunday through Thursday start at 10 p.m. and then Friday and Saturday they start at midnight. Violating those is a really quick way to get in trouble, especially midterms or finals season.
If you enjoyed this interview with Donny Wilson, tune in next week for an interview with Leslie Gonzalez.