What are Resident Advisors even for?

By Jessenya Guerra and Jenna Ethridge

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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 asked what being a Residential Advisor actually entails with third-year East Campus RA, Dixie Albertsen.

The Lutrinae: How long have you been an RA?

Dixie: This will be my third year.

The Lutrinae: Why do we have Resident Advisors?

Dixie: I think really just to support the community and the students and to facilitate their journey here at CSUMB, whether it’s their academic journey or social journey. A lot of times, the residents are out on their own for the first time and that can be kind of challenging, so we’re just here to answer any questions and just provide support, encouragement, and anything that they might need. Once you’ve built that relationship, I think it’s important to carry it over.

The Lutrinae: What is the number one question that students ask you?

Dixie: I get a lot of questions about different community standards. I’m an RA on East Campus, so I get a lot of questions about parking- that’s a big one out there, our major challenge is parking for everybody. I get a lot of questions about wanting to get involved, “How can I be more involved on campus?”, that’s also a very popular question.

The Lutrinae: What can Resident Advisors help me with?

Dixie: Pretty much anything and if it’s something we can’t address, we have different resources that we can connect residents with. Whether it’s the PGCC, care team, or career advising, anything that’s sort of outside our immediate wheelhouse, we have those connections with campus partners that we can really easily connect the residents to. Otherwise, we can help with “adulting”, life skills, and social things. We do events every month which kind of helps connects neighbors to neighbors.

The Lutrinae: It’s day one and I can’t stand my roommates, what do I do?

Dixie: I always recommend giving it some time, especially if it’s day one. You’re not always going to like everybody right away and not everybody has the same standards of living, so shared living can be kind of difficult. I think just give it some time and if within a couple days it really seems as if there is an issue, we can always do a mediation where we sit together and talk through things. I also recommend doing a roommate agreement because that way you can set boundaries, expectations, and stuff within your household. I sometimes refer to going to school as having a job, you’re not always going to like your coworkers, so just finding that common ground to where you can coexist. There is always the option of doing a room transfer, but we like to have that as sort of a last resort because it’s not really practical to always have everybody moving around. A lot of times, we don’t have open rooms and there’s also the possibility that with the new people you move in with, you might have some issues there that aren’t ideal either and different from the ones you had previously.

The Lutrinae: I don’t know anyone but I want to meet people, can you help me?

Dixie: The events that we do can help with that! There’s at least one big one that we do every month that’s all East Campus, and then there’s individual court events. Those are really great opportunities to meet people because we have not just from our particular street that we’re on, but from the whole East Campus area coming together. This Friday, we’re having a big welcome barbecue and I think that’s a great way to connect with neighbors, other people in East Campus, and other RA’s. We’re also going to have tabling for some campus partners like Greek life, sports teams, and Outdoor Recreation, so getting connected to those organizations is also a great way to meet people that might be living on Main Campus or might not even be residents, just other students here.

The Lutrinae: What is a quick way to get in trouble?

Dixie: First of all, we don’t really exist to get people in trouble, that’s not our goal. I feel like a lot of people think that we’re just sort of going around like, “What are you up to? What can I write you up for?” That’s our least favorite part of the job when we have to write up somebody and do an incident report. The only reason why we would have to do that is for the safety and comfort of other people, not specifically to get somebody in trouble. That would include breaking any of the community standards, any kind of safety issues, or really loud parties if UPD has to get involved. Even if something happens and they get in trouble, the conduct process that residents go through is really designed to be educational, thoughtful, very purposeful, and not about punishment. Even if residents do get in trouble, it’s not the end of the world!

The Lutrinae: How can I become an RA?

Dixie: We have info sessions coming up in November and December this year, those are really good opportunities because they’re led by current RA’s and they kind of explain the job, what it entails, and it’s a really good forum to ask questions. Student Housing is starting a program called RAIL and it’s Resident Advisor Internship and Leadership Exploration: it’s sort of a mentor program where RA’s partner with residents or students who are in interested and they really get a sort of behind-the-scenes look, they can be involved in some of the events, and potentially get to go on a duty round with us to see what that looks like. That’s something that the department is really excited about, I think it’s gonna be a great opportunity even if it doesn’t lead to more people applying for the position, just more understanding of what we do and what it’s about!

Tune in next week to hear from Area 1 on-campus RA, Donny Wilson.

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