The Wake Forest Office of Residence Life and Housing is still hiring resident advisers, or RAs, for the fall 2019 semester.
“Shortage is a strong word,” said Stephanie Carter, a staff member for the office, “but we have a few vacant positions that we are actively recruiting for.”
There are four vacancies in total, two in Collins, one in Babcock and one in Bostwick.
“We have a dynamic group of RAs this year who are helping out and filling the gaps on their teams,” Carter said.
Kirsten Fernando, a junior second-year RA on the first floor of Collins, said that the RAs on the first and second floors have to take turns filling in.
“We try not to leave any resident unattended, but it can be a little bit hard because we can’t be there all the time,” she said.
This situation means more work and more of a time commitment for the current RAs, especially with the new 24-hour duty.
“It really depends on the person, but to me, being an RA was always something I wanted to do,” Fernando said. “I love spending time with freshmen because of the energy that they have, and I love being the ‘someone’ who can help them with their college transition.”
She also mentioned that working with the other RAs has developed her people skills and helped her find a sense of community. But, being an RA is still not easy.
“There is definitely a lot of time that you have to put into, especially in the freshman halls,” said junior Yixin Zhang, a second-year RA. “Though you get a single room without having to pay for your housing, it definitely gets lonely sometimes, since all of your friends live on North Campus. You can’t exactly look to freshmen for support at times of need.”
The differing hall situations also contributed to the differences in RA experiences.
“My hall from last year was really sweet,” Fernando said, “I love getting to know every individual in my hall.”
“It’s almost like babysitting,” said former RA senior Donovan Martin, “but you do get to know a lot of freshmen, so that kind of makes up for it.”
According to Fernando, the most direct reason for the shortage of RAs is the reopening of Bostwick.
“They weren’t planning to use Bostwick as a freshman residence this year,” she said. “But as more students committed than they had expected, they decided to reopen Bostwick. Some of the RAs who are initially assigned to other residential halls were then reassigned to Bostwick.”
The RAs also shed light on some other possible reasons for students’ lack of enthusiasm for becoming RAs.
“It might be attributed to the fact that it’s kind of draining, especially with school work and other activities,” Zhang said.
He also expressed his view that the job isn’t as flexible and fun as before.
“In the past, the activities can be organized on short notice, but now they have to be reported and go through more levels of verification before taking place, which take some fun out of the job,” he said.
Also, since adding the 24-hour-duty, the RAs were required to work for longer hours. “The return for the work didn’t really increase that much, so maybe that’s why people aren’t that enthusiastic to be RAs anymore,” Martin said.
Also, the diminishing enthusiasm for becoming RAs might also be due to the fact that some of the RAs feel like they are not being heard.
“I did hear some people talking about this issue,” Martin said. “But I do see the Office of Residence Life and Housing trying their best to work out solutions with the RAs.”
Although there are vacant positions within the RA system, the Office of Residence Life and Housing has taken measures to secure professional presence within residence halls. According to Carter, Community Directors were recruited for this year.
“These are master’s level individuals who are here to provide supervision of staff, to support students and to help our office create an unrivaled residential experience,” Carter said. “The Community Directors work in partnership with their assigned Graduate Hall Director. This pairing works to support the RAs and residents in their community. It’s a new partnership that we are very, very excited about.”