Freshman Corner: Student sees lack of assistance

Ever since I was a little kid, I liked to volunteer and help others. So when I finally got to college, I found a job that originally seemed like a dream come true. The position was a Resident Advisor, more commonly known as an RA.

When I researched the details of being an RA, I fell in love with the idea of being the go-to person, helping others and being a leader. For most people this might not seem like fun, but for me, it is. I know that I need help and others will, too. The nice-sized paycheck is not a negative, either.

But after living on campus for this long, I’ve come to realize that this job might not be what I initially thought it was. I was expecting to be working all day, but judging by my floor that’s not what the job entails. It is anarchy on my floor. People watch football or hockey loudly on TV and blast music until 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night. Aren’t these the kind of violations that an RA should be reporting? What’s even worse is that we all contribute our tuition dollars in order to pay these people to do virtually nothing.

Some of these highly skilled and caring RAs give off the same sort of enthusiasm as a reluctant teenager working at McDonalds: popping gum, text messaging underneath the counter and looking at you with an expression of total annoyance and boredom. This is what they signed up for. So yes, they do get the single room and a paycheck, but that also means that they might have to, dare I say this, work. Sorry for the foul language that may have caused a few readers to faint on the spot or burst into tears.

Dealing with these “supportive” RAs has left a bad taste in my mouth and makes me second-guess my decision to apply for this position. Instead of just ranting about this, I am actually going to do something. Shocking, I know.

First, I am still going to apply for and hopefully get the job. If I do get it, I will not just walk by a group of noisy students even though it is my day off. With that, if an RA is only a few rooms down from a really noisy resident, how does he or she not hear them?

Next, I’ll learn the names of my residents, not just the bad ones. I don’t even know what my RA’s name is, so there is no way he knows mine. Maybe if I had something as small as an acquaintance relationship with my RA, I would not be so critical of him.

This also goes along with not being a ghost to the residents and actually being a factor in their lives on campus. This can really make a difference as to how we respect you. I did this when I worked with children during summer camp. When they like you and enjoy your company, they are less likely to do something that would get the counselor in trouble.

It has been said many times before that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So next year, I will apply to become a resident advisor, and really try to assist my residents as the name implies.

– Thomas Gentile

Freshman TV/radio and journalism major

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3 thoughts on “Freshman Corner: Student sees lack of assistance”

  1. This is absolutely ridiculous. What this student failed to realize is that Rider Staff reads this paper, and for bashing the current RA’s probably just ruined his chances.

    I would love to know where people get the idea that we get a “nice-sized paycheck”. I am not saying that it is bad, but it certainly does not add up to the amount of hours we work in a week. As a matter of fact we paid for 12.75 hours a week, yet work many more than that. The idea of getting a single room is also not necessarily true. We pay for our room. The scholarship that we are given is to cover the cost of our roommate. We are not allowed to have a roommate (a policy that is standard for RA’s across the country) because our room can be used to deal with roommate conflicts, meetings with residents, etc.

    I am glad that the student wants changes to happen to help improve the life on campus for residents but he is going about it wrong. I wonder if he has made the attempt to reach out to his RA, or RD for that matter, to make these changes happen. Has he gone to any programs/meetings in his building. As someone who has lived in Conover prior (I am assuming Conover because he is a freshman, forgive me if I am wrong), I have noticed a high attempt of programing. Just because you do not go, does not mean they do not happen. Just a little tip to Thomas that you may not understand until you get the job, programing is our way to get to know our residents, if you do not attend it makes it very difficult to get to know you.

    *I am not accusing anyone of anything, but this seems to be a student who may be upset with his RA for something more than what he states in his article. Perhaps a documentation occurred that he did not agree with. AGAIN, I am not suggesting that that happened, just my prior discussions with people have shown that anger towards an RA may be because a student being documented for a policy violation.

    If you are wondering my knowledge in the subject, I am a 4th year RA. I have made an effort to get to know my residents in each wing I have lived in, and have had an enthusiasm towards building a community that I feel has been very good. I am not saying that there are not bad RA’s, perhaps there are, I am just saying that you may want to make an attempt to reach out to yours before you begin to judge. Many of us are very interested in our residents lives and do not want to come off as too strong. I appreciate your opinion of the subject, Thomas, but hope you begin to see how your article may have made the entire RA’s jobs more difficult, which is not a positive because it will not lead to the change you are seeking.

    Good luck with the interview process. I wish you all the luck in the world! I hope you take this as an opportunity to reach out to your RA, and let him know your willingness and interest in getting to know him better.

    Paul Vacchiano
    Resident Advisor
    West Village B2 and B3

  2. I would be curious to know how fully thought-out this op-ed piece was on the part of the writer. For instance, Mr. Gentile acknowledges that he has no idea who his RA even is–yet seems to have quite a bit of criticism readily available. The RA/resident relationship is a two-way street, my dear, and some of the responsibility of becoming involved must be placed upon the individual resident.

    Naturally, as with any job, there will be individuals who are less engaged, motivated or excited. This can result from many factors, some of which can include having disengaged or even downright rude residents–for example.

    However, many staff members at Rider do an incredible job in the specific areas of programming and community building, which focus on building relationships with students outside of conduct-specific occurrences (I hesitate to say “bad residents,” as there are no bad residents, simply those who sometimes make bad or poor decisions and need guidance toward the path of making better ones. And, in fact, those interactions can build very strong and positive relationships between RAs and residents).

    I would have liked to see a more rounded approach to the piece, one that highlighted some of these positive contributions to communities across campus. A list of non-specific interactions, however creative the writing is spun, does not accurately represent the 36 RAs employed by Rider’s Residence Life department–especially when the writer demeans his own credibility by saying he does not know his RAs name so the staff member clearly must not know his. This assumption rounds out the article and makes it fair to reason that many other things may also reasonably be offensive and incorrect assumption–and not statements of fact.

    This writing seems more as an outlet for the writer to tout his perceived ability to “do it better” and I’m unsure as to why he would wish to so publicly burn these bridges with potential future peers. It’s very easy to criticize this type of position from the outside–it looks so easy, right? Good luck to you, dear.

  3. The attitude that this article is written in is not going to get your hired. If you see issues with the current staff, especially if you’re able to pinpoint particular staff members, it is your job as a dissatisfied student to bring it to that staff member’s attention, the attention of their superior, and even the overseeing administration if you feel the job is still not being properly done.

    I was an RA for 3 years and it is a thankless position. For every 2am noise violation that I put an end to, there are twice as many complaints that I was, “being a bitch” for having done so. I gave up my snow days to ensure my building was safe when the power went out, I even missed Easter with my family (the last Easter in which my great grandmother was alive) because my building needed to be staffed.

    This article is beyond disrespectful to those who went through a week’s long early morning training process in the winter and the fall, and who helped moved students in early, and who stayed up late at night and early into the morning just to be talked poorly about by the students who could not take responsiblity for their own actions and by the students (like this article’s author) who were in an area of the building that an RA could not hear from their own room and di not report those violations.

    I transferred to Rider University, and I love this school very much, but I am more than just disappointed to see an article like this was edited and published here.