Dealing with drunk peers, answering a duty phone at all hours of the night and manning a residence hall desk on a Saturday might not seem like the most appealing job on campus. But regardless of these factors, many students are planning to apply for the position of a Residence Life Advisor this term.
For some current RLAs and potential candidates, the benefits certainly outweigh the detriments. RLAs receive a single room at a double room rate, roughly $1,500 in compensation, and gain invaluable leadership skills and experience working with people.
Greta Schmitt ’15 plans to apply for an RLA position this term. Schmitt is anxious about the application process. She said that she knows “it’s very competitive,” and acknowledged, “I only have a few questions to answer to show the selections committee who I am and why I would make a good RLA.”
However, even though she acknowledges the competition for this position, she hopes to be able to reflect the positive qualities she notices now about current RLAs. “I definitely see RLAs as my peers that I know I can talk to if I have a problem.”
Ormsby Residence Hall Director and Leadership Development Coordinator Christina Martinez attributes this personable quality displayed by RLAs to the nature of the job requirements. Said Martinez, “You need to have a lot of self awareness about how you are conducting business, conducting your own self and really need to think about what your actions mean to other people, to yourself and to your coworkers.”
RLAs need to display these qualities to their residents at all times, not just when they are scheduled to be on duty. This type of responsibility requires commitment during all hours of the day, and for this reason Sage Residence Hall Director and Student Organization Coordinator/Greek Advisor Rose Wasielewski explains, “you don’t punch a clock – you’re always holding that title in certain ways.”
This position certainly creates an interesting dynamic between RLAs and their residents. Sometimes, RLAs are younger than the residents on their floor, or need to assume an authority position over residents that are their friends.
Wasielewski acknowledges the challenges of balancing one’s role as both a peer and authority figure. Said Wasielewski, “It can be hard to be a role model to a peer and also be an authority member to a peer.”
Gina Torcasso ’14, an RLA in Sage Hall, does not find it difficult to fulfill an authoritative role on her floor, but she does “find it hard to accommodate everyone’s needs.” The residents on her floor are diverse: It is a co-ed floor with residents ranging from freshmen to seniors.
Regardless of these difficulties though, Torcasso and her co-RLA Nate Nichols-Weliky-Fearing ’14 ultimately enjoy and appreciate their positions. Said Nichols-Weliky-Fearing, “I really like the people I get to work with, and how it is my job to meet the residents and get to know a bunch of great people.”
Since it is their job to reach out to residents and get to know them, many RLAs find that through this experience, they have had the ability and a purpose to meet people that they might not have otherwise.
Orbmsy Hall RLA Nicholas Perez generally finds the position valuable. “Connecting with my residents has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as an RLA,” said Perez. However, he sees some drawbacks as well. “I feel my individuality has been continuously suppressed for the integrity of an RLA identity,” continued Perez. “Although I look forward to completing my sophomore year as an RLA, I am excited for a lifetime of questioning the illusion of societal norms.”
Aside from balancing social responsibilities to their residents, RLAs also have tangible obligations to their halls. From decorating bulletin boards, organizing activities and working their shifts while they are on duty, the RLA position requires efficient time management skills.
Generally, RLAs are required to be on duty during a weeknight and during some weekends. Many RLAs, like most Lawrentians, are involved in other organizations or activities and need to balance their RLA duties, academic obligations and co-curricular activities.
In addition to the broad range of involvement among RLAs, Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life Curt Lauderdale asserts that there is also a broad range of personalities creating the current RLA staff.
Said Lauderdale, “There is no one right type of candidate for this role. We work with a large variety of students: male and female, college and conservatory, extroverted and introverted.” The selections committee strives to incorporate all spectrums of personalities in the future staff as well.
If you are interested in applying for an RLA position for next year, you can obtain an application from the Campus Life office or from your residence hall front desk.
The applications for RLA positions for the 2012-2013 school year are due March 1 by 5 p.m. to the Campus Life Office on the fourth floor of the Warch Campus Center.