The high rate of students who live on campus sets Lawrence definitively apart from your average college. With more than 90 percent of students living somewhere on campus, the Lawrence experience depends heavily on community living. However, after even just a term on campus, anyone could tell you that where there is on-campus life, there are bound to be complications such as broken heaters, overworked smoke detectors and, of course, roommate issues.
Luckily, in these situations there is a team of people that are always ready to take charge and remedy any problems that may happen in our living spaces. Residence Life Advisors (RLAs) are the keys to allow communities on campus to not only survive, but thrive. At least one RLA is located on every floor in every residence hall, and each are full of advice on managing less-than-ideal roommate situations and how to make the most out of residential living at Lawrence.
Senior Brett Barnard has been an RLA for three years and is currently working in the North Wing of Colman Hall. He has worked in Colman and Plantz Halls during the general school year and has also dedicated his time to being a summer RLA in Trever and Hiett Halls. With Barnard’s vast amount of experience in this field, it is easy to imagine that he has seen most of what comes out of residence life first hand.
“No matter what happens,” Barnard said, “remember that you can always come to the RLAs for advice or assistance.” Barnard also emphasized that an important aspect of his job is to remain neutral when dealing with roommate issues, reminding people that the RLA rooms are meant to be a private and comfortable place for people to deal with their conflicts. “We have those singles for a reason,” Barnard said.
Sophomore Madi Gardner is a first-time RLA in Colman Hall. “I would say the most important thing when handling a bad roommate situation is to be proactive,” Gardner advised. “If you put it off for too long thinking it will get better by itself or if you underplay how you feel when you communicate with your roommate, then it will only make things harder.” Gardner continued, echoing Barnard’s message, “It might be difficult to approach your roommate, so feel free to reach out to an RLA for some advice or assistance with this. If it’s a very bad situation, an RLA can help you find a more immediate solution.”
This same sentiment comes from junior Emma Reading, a second-year RLA in Colman Hall. Reading feels that the best solution to any issues that may arise from living with roommates is to just talk about it. “It can feel super awkward to bring something up when it bothers you,” Reading said, “but it is worth it in the long run because you can actually overcome the issue and you will learn how to improve other relationships in your life by learning to identify what might bother you and how to solve relationship issues that arise.”
When it comes to making the most out of your time living in residence halls at Lawrence, all three of these RLAs agree that involvement in your hall is the most important thing.
“Be a part of the community in any way that you can be,” Barnard said on this matter. “While it may not seem like it at first, Lawrence is a place where virtually anyone can find their niche, with the residence hall itself serving as a perfect bubble for you to adjust to life at Lawrence and try to take advantage of the community within the hall.”
“Be involved,” Reading encouraged. “Say hi to people, know who lives in your dorms. I was not that person my freshman year, yet I ended up as an RLA somehow, and I regret it.”
While residence life on campus may go through its difficult patches, it is paramount to keep the community at Lawrence strong. Thankfully, RLAs are always there to make on-campus living comfortable and enjoyable.