Tips from a former RA


1. Stop thinking of your RA as a warden. Speaking from experience here, the last thing I want to do is write you up. Seriously. That is a lot of paperwork, does little to foster relationships and does not look good on either one of us.

I am not saying go wild. You still need to respect and follow the rules set forth by the university. However, please understand that I am here to help you and guide you.

2. I cannot stop you from destroying things, but I can charge you to replace or fix them. I honestly cannot prevent you from lighting a couch on fire, but trust and believe that during end-of-year room inspections, I have to document the damage. That couch may look and feel like it cost $100, but that will not stop the university from charging you far more than that to replace it.

3. You are jointly responsible for everything that goes down in your room. Pot found in your room during room checks, but it is not yours? Does not matter. You share the room, you share liability. If you know about illegal things in the room before hand, meet with your RA. If you let someone know before anything happens, you are less likely to be held responsible for the paraphernalia.

I am not saying this will completely absolve you, but it is worth a shot. If nothing else, you may have a sympathizer on your side if anything happens to go to trial. Side note: If you are going to drink in your room, please at least recycle the cans and bottles.

4. Do not draw attention to yourself. We know you drink. We all did it when we were freshmen.
Likely, if you have your door closed and you are keeping it down, we will not even know you are drinking in your room.

The second you start getting loud and not listening to our quiet hours warnings is the second you are just asking for that alcohol documentation.

Be smart — have someone stand outside your door to see if they can hear the music or pong game. If they can hear it, so can we.

5. Understand what medical amnesty is and how it applies to you as a college student. Do not worry about me being upset that you are drunk — get your friend the help that he or she needs.

6. If someone writes on your whiteboard with Sharpie marker — and it will happen (especially if your whiteboard is on the outside of your door) — draw over the Sharpie marker with an Expo® marker, then wipe it off. It will come clean.

7. If you are set on having a candle in your room, use a hot plate candle warmer. Residence halls typically have a fire rating of anywhere from three to 10 minutes. For everyone’s sake, do not have an open flame in the building.

8. You do not have to come to programs, but sometimes we give out awesome prizes. Just off the top of my head, I have given out gift cards to Walmart, a Netflix subscription, movie packages, sweatshirts from the bookstore, and, of course, lots of free food.

9. Yes, I can smell it when you smoke pot. Towels stuffed under doors do not hide it, and neither does running a fan with dryer sheets taped to it. I agree that it should be legalized, but right now it is not, and I have to take action against you.

10. I have no power to punish you. I can document you all I want, but the ultimate punishment is handed down by a dean or someone else in student affairs. I just tell them what I saw; they make their own judgments.

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