The Paw Print
It’s a warm afternoon in the middle of the school week. Bright sun streams in through the dorm room windows and falls on Melinda Viescas, who sits surrounded by large pieces of vibrantly colored paper. She begins to arrange cut strips of paper into a design for a bulletin board when a frazzled looking student appears in her doorway. Anxious and out of breath, he explains his predicament of being locked out of his dorm. Calmly, Viescas stops her work and goes to help the student, and then comes back and continues to create her bulletin board. This scenario may seem peculiar for some dorm residents, but Viescas is a Resident Assistant in the Coronado dorm rooms.
Resident Assistants, more commonly known as RAs, are students who are employed by the college to help dorm room residents get the most out of their experiences living on campus. RAs set up programs to encourage interaction among students, enforce the policies of the residence halls, and are a resource for students who need help. Viescas and the other RAs on campus are still college students; they just happen to have a demanding job on campus working with the dorm living experience. But what is it like to be an RA?
Working on the computer amid the chatter of college students playing Ping-Pong in the lounge, Diego Cacique sits in the RA booth in the Coronado lobby. Tonight is Cacique’s night to be on call, meaning that he must be available if any residents need help or if any incidents occur. For RAs, being on call is just another part of their daily routine. “The RA position works mostly around your schedule,” Viescas said. Each RA gets to pick which nights he or she wants to be on call, she said. RAs are also required to hold “in-room” hours each day. During in-room hours, Viescas said, RAs are required to work on things that pertain to their job, such as door decorations or bulletin boards. They also have to be available if their residents need them.
Even though they are only on call a couple nights a week and only hold in room hours for a few hours a day, working with residence life is a 24 hour job, said Residence Director (RD) Catherine La Roche. La Roche supervises nine RAs in the Coronado dorms and was once an RA herself. People always stop her, she said, whether or not she is working because to students she is always seen as their RD. As RD, La Roche is in charge of upkeep of the building, supervises and assists the RA staff, interviews and hires new RAs, and meets with students who are having problems.
Outside of being an RA, each is still a student and is still involved with campus activities. “I feel like just school and being an RA isn’t too bad but when I add in soccer, time management can be an issue,” said Hawken Hanna. Each RA has found a way to manage all of their responsibilities as well as handle the stress that might crop up. As the cold spring wind whistles past the windows of her office, La Roche sits surrounded by sports memorabilia from her alma mater, the University of Louisville. She wears a bright red shirt supporting their basketball program and anxiously awaits the game that is set to tip off at 7 p.m. that night. For La Roche, watching the Cardinals play helps take her mind off of the stress associated with being an RD. Many of the RAs also make sure to have some of what La Roche calls “me time” in order to relax. Joseph Chavez enjoys his “me time” by getting involved with events on campus. He always tries to catch whatever theatre or music performances are going on, he said.
One of the hardest parts of managing their schedule is the inconsistency, said both Chavez and Tiana Hicks. Some days or weeks may be busy and stressful, they said, because you have major assignments due in class and you are on duty and run into an incident. Other days and weeks are extremely light. “It’s all about time management,” said La Roche. You have to always remember to factor in work, Hicks said.
Many of the RAs feel that there are misconceptions that come with their job title. “I used to hate RAs,” Hicks laughed. She