Everything You Need to Know About Your Resident Assistants (RA)

What is a resident assistant? What do they do? How can they help me? Find out the answers to these and other questions as we explore the duties of your RA.

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Resident assistants, sometimes known as resident advisors, provide varied assistance for students living in dorms.

The resident assistant in a dorm is the head of the community, planning projects, making peace treaties and providing information to students.

Being a resident advisor may not seem like the most glamorous job, but plenty of famous people have taken on the task.

The Many Roles of a Resident Assistant

Being a resident assistant is no easy task. Resident advisors are needed to play many roles, ranging from medic to mediator. Just a few of the roles resident advisors play include:

  • Medic: Resident assistants have first-aid kits.
  • Social director: Resident assistants do everything from plan movie nights to setting up outreach programs in the larger community. They get to know students and can help set them up with groups and activities that may interest them.
  • Mediator: Not all dorm dwellers are happy, and resident advisors are sometimes called on to settle disputes between denizens of the residence hall.
  • Tutor: Resident advisors may also be called upon to help a student with homework or studying, or direct a struggling student to a campus resource that can help her.

Resident Advisors on Campus

Resident advisors’ roles vary slightly from campus to campus. They may be in charge of a floor, house or suite community. Being a resident advisor is like having a job.

An RA usually has a minimum GPA requirement, and he or she often receives a stipend per semester, in addition to discounted board and the benefit of having a private room.

Resident advisors often undergo training for the job and may also investigate online resources.

Resident Advisors' Thankless Tasks

Planning parties and community get-togethers can be fun, but resident assistants also have to perform thankless tasks. Unruly dorm-mates may require disciplinary action or write-ups. RAs may need to direct clean up or other maintenance issues. And, of course, since the RAs door is always open, there’s always the chance of that 4 a.m. wake up call for…whatever emergency comes up.

Famous RAs

Being a resident advisor may not seem like the most glamorous job, but plenty of famous people have taken on the task. Here's a list of some former resident advisors:


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