Opinion: RA's are more than vomit squad
As an Residence Assistant, even when you’re off duty, you’re on duty.
This is a statement that I would think all 54 of the RAs on campus can agree with. But I think this statement needs to be fleshed out a tad (i.e., A LOT) more. Being an RA does not, in any way, mean that we are simply a vomit squad. Are we trained to respond to that type of situation? Of course! Those “magic sprinkles” are an amazing invention, let me tell ya.
But what is more important is why we respond to that resident in need. The reason why we even applied for the job. We care. We care about our residents, about our fellow RAs and above all, we care about our communities. We care so much that we choose to stay up until 2 a.m. Each one of us chooses to sleep with that duty phone tucked underneath our pillows. We choose to let you into your room when your roommate locked you out and you’re standing in the hallway wrapped in a towel.
I have never thought of my job as being a “custodian”. There is only a small percent of my time dedicated to cleaning up a resident’s vomit. Sure, it’s more comical to talk about the less glamorous parts of our jobs (e.g., dealing with bodily fluids), but maybe that’s because no one really understands but us, and our hall directors, what we actually have to deal with.
When I look back on my time as an RA, the first memories that come to mind aren’t those weekend duty nights that I had to bust out those magic sprinkles.
The memories will be filled with those nights I sat on the floor of my resident’s room listening to her as she cried about the hardships she was facing. Or the time I walked my resident to her appointment at the health center because she knew she needed more help than I could give to her, but she just needed a friendly face to help her get there. It will be that time I put a resident to bed, and the next morning found her texting me to get breakfast to talk about it.
But most of all, it will be those moments of happiness and joy that I shared with my residents that will stay with me forever. Those Sundays we were all so stoked to get breakfast tacos at the Commons, or going to my resident’s music recital and watching her belt out a song better than Adele. Or that time five of my residents hid in my room and spooked the you-know-what out of me.
That is what being an RA is about. It’s about loving, laughing and walking with residents through the good times and bad.