BU Today

Campus Life

Where Real Life Meets Dorm Life

ResLife seeks RAs for 2008-2009; applications due January 18


Lara Wild (COM’09) says being a Boston University resident assistant, or RA, is different from a normal job in one important way: the stakes are much higher when you live where you work.

“It’s a different environment than most jobs, because your decisions affect the community you live in,” says Wild, a first-year RA in the Towers. “The position can make you more responsible if you take it seriously.”

The Office of Residence Life is now accepting RA applications for the 2008-2009 academic year, but the job isn’t to be taken lightly. Meg White, the area director of Upper Bay State Road, says that the RA selection committee she chairs looks for students who are “leaders, people who are going to get their hands dirty.” Resident assistants, she adds, will ultimately need to develop skills in time management, negotiation, mediation, public speaking, meeting deadlines, and working as a team.

As part-time ORL staff, RAs are expected to make the assistantships their highest nonacademic priority. In addition to staff meetings and on-call duties, they conduct monthly floor meetings, mediate conflicts between students, enforce University rules and regulations, and complete a variety of administrative tasks, such as yearly room condition reports.

Although the positions are not paid, RAs assigned to a dormitory or suite-style residence receive a free single room and a meal plan, and those assigned to a small hall or apartment-style residence live in a free single studio apartment with a kitchen.

Wild applied to be an RA because she wanted to help younger students adjust to college life. “I really liked the idea of students having a designated person to turn to, someone going through the same struggles,” she says. “I’ve had two wonderful RAs, and I wanted to be as friendly and helpful to others as they were to me.”

RAs have someone to turn to as well — each other. “One of the unadvertised benefits is the connections that they make on staff, the relationships they form, the support they get,” White says. “They become kind of a family on staff.”

RAs attend a two-week training program in August, where they participate in ice-breaking and team-building activities and prepare the halls for incoming students. For the remainder of the year, they attend weekly meetings and spend time together on call.

“You meet a lot of interesting people,” says Kaitlin Monahan (COM’09), an RA at 575 Commonwealth Ave. “There’s a sense of community among the RAs.”

For Monahan, learning how to manage an RA’s 20-hour-a-week time commitment has been the most challenging — and most useful — part of the job. “I never realized how big a factor time management is,” she says. “It helps you not only complete tasks, but prioritize what’s most important.”

When considering applicants, the ORL central administrators, area directors, and hall directors look for students who will form the most well-rounded staff for each hall, according to White. Applicants must have full-time junior, senior, or graduate standing by August 2008 and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7. They must also attend one of the six information sessions and submit a completed application by January 18, 2008. Click here to learn more about the sessions and the application process. 

Rebecca McNamara can be reached at ramc@bu.edu.