RA’s hold high responsibility for students


College holds a lot of responsibilities in itself: making the grades, disciplining yourself to do homework, going to class, maybe getting a job and the list goes on. One thing that may not be at the top of a college student’s list is taking care of all the other people that inhabit their floor, or supervising what’s going on in the building they’re living in for at least twelve hours a day. But that is the number one priority for a resident assistant at Northern Kentucky University.

There are 50 resident assistants (RA’s) at NKU, all in different residential halls and in different wings and floors. Every RA has to be on-duty from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., meaning if any problem arises on their floor during that time they are the ones who are supposed to handle it. They also switch off being the one on duty at night. They have the extra responsibility of watching over the students on their floor, and taking care of any problems that might arise.

Each year, the residential staff hires around 25 new resident assistants depending on how many previous RA’s come back, according to Laura Mals, hall director. To apply, students must fill out an application for student employment through NKU Human Resources, provide a resume and fill out different essay questions. Students who are selected from that go through a selection process which includes a first impression mixer, a group process and an individual interview.

“We want staff members our students would look up to, good role models with a good attitude,” Mals said. “They have the responsibility to be there for their residents and be reliable for the students they’re interacting with, it’s very much a lifestyle position.”

The RA position is live-in with unstructured hours, six hours a week at the desk, required staff meetings and being on duty. They are required to adhere to NKU’s policies and enforce the same to the students on their floors.

“You definitely have to be outgoing and not afraid to help people, this job requires you to put others first,” Sara Daugherty, senior resident assistant and special education major, said. “You have to be good at time management, balancing school work, the job and lives of your residents at the same time.”

Housing generally looks for a diverse group of individuals to hire for the RA position, some student leaders or those looking for opportunities with NKU enthusiasm and an ability to show potential for leadership and bring a new dynamic to NKU students, according to Arnie Slaughter, director of university housing.

RA’s have to be equipped with general knowledge on how to help others and how to handle sticky situations. They have to work out disagreements with roommates and know how to appropriately make use of their conflict management skills in more serious situations.

“Suicide is a big problem with college students because of stress and depression,” Daugherty said. “When you get that call about someone considering taking their own lives… Not all RA’s get that call, but more than you think. But we go through suicide prevention training and we know how to handle the situation.”

Although RA’s have a lot of responsibilities and hard work is involved in their role, many of them just enjoy working with students and networking in the process.

“It’s difficult sometimes to address conflicts when they are people you know; it’s something you have to do,” Matthew Wallin, sophomore resident assistant and history major, said. “Being an RA is something I’ve always really wanted to do. It’s fantastic, you get to know your staff, the students you’re in charge of, as well as university professionals.”

RA’s must have a willingness to learn, good time management, an open mind and work with students who may or may not have different beliefs and values that they do. They not only take care of themselves and their own work, they look out for others and help solve problems. RA’s get room and board paid for at NKU and get a small stipend.

“It never hurts to apply if it’s something you’re serious about, it can’t just be about the compensation, once you get in the role it’s more than that,” Shamell Smith, junior resident assistant and social work major, said. “You have to be passionate, empathetic, responsible, flexible and somewhat optimistic and value oriented.”

If you are interested in applying for a RA position apply on jobs.nku.edu before Jan. 30 or contact Laura Mals for more information.