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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

RAs and their residents: best frenemies


Darkness swallows the evening. Sweating beers abound and enfolding smoke hovers in the night. Muffled verses blare from the bump of a corroding subwoofer.

Oh lord, here come the RAs. Walky-talkies on the hip, notebook in hand, pen at command. Hit the deck, put down your drink, extinguish your cigarette, get out of town. Quaker Cards out, G numbers taken, some short frustrated conversation, and now preparation for the incoming email next week.

But, such a case does not apply to all student-to-RA interactions or to all instances of documentation. Every RA has a different approach to the write-up process. Most students and RAs communicate well beneath the dimmed lights and echoing laughter. After the disorderly issue arrives at a resolution, the noise quiets and the RAs continue their rounds.

“There will always be tensions or animosity towards RAs by certain students, and we do acknowledge that,” said senior RA Lamia Elgouacem in an email interview. “However, students do understand that this is our job.”

Yet, if noise persists and the RAs return, there are no more warnings. With no changes to the atmosphere, an RA will seek out the host and confront him or her. The write-up is somewhat painless. The assessment is complete. They move along and stumbling students exit the grounds. A few leave with expected citations for wayward conduct, and others walk away having had no documentation.

“There are cool RAs and some who take their job too seriously,” said sophomore Stephanie Selijman.

Students walk alternate pathways to avoid the “too serious RAs,” as if they were highschoolers lacking a hall passes trying to sneak by the stickler teacher. As the gaps of communication widen, the relationship shifts from friendly to strictly business. Students steer clear when in the wrong and the “too serious RAs” disregard discussion of those momentarily in the wrong. And mistrust becomes the communication, passive and non-confrontational. Time attests how the RA and student reform their relationship.

“The RA said: ‘This is my job. It’s in my job description for you to talk to me,'” said first-year James Missell. “Comes out the first day saying, ‘I’ll document you for this and that.’ What a way to make enemies.”

Missell hits on one of the largest attributes given to RAs: a position of leadership. Leading the community is not necessarily smooth sailing in the sea of youthful college students who are as oppositional as they are cooperative. But their leadership incorporates residential engagement. Missell has yet to experience that open door policy – a policy that encompasses a friendship and an openness committed to influence peers as an effort to better the community.

“Being an RA is one of the hardest jobs on campus,” said Aaron Fetrow, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “RAs are required to lead fellow students while holding them accountable. It’s a hard thing to ask.”

Recognition on either side of the circumstance becomes a vital dialogue in the course of sustaining mutual respect between RAs and students.

“RAs need to accept that students are going to want to live a little bit,” said sophomore Josh Rodriguez. “Though students have to know that letting things slide can put the RA in a difficult position.”

The job entails more than write-ups.

In fact, students consider most RAs as great friends, resources, or outlets. The differences between a student and an RA are few and far between.

“My RA is easy to talk to,” said first year Noah Wernsted-Lynch. “He’s helpful and I’ll get a text about things going on. I definitely feel comfortable talking to him.”

Befriending RAs helps students as much as it does the RAs. These individuals ensure student safety and monitor the Guilford wild child. Students are lucky to have people looking out for their wellbeing.

“It is really important for RAs and members of the student body to have mutual respect for one another,” said senior and RA Rebekah Burlason. “If you want us to be jerks, we’ll be jerks. If you want us to be nice, then we’ll be nice.”

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