A college career spent in the ResLife system can be summed up in one word.
“Community,” said Jake Hall, senior English education major from Springtown.
Hall, the assistant director of Smith-Adams Hall, is on his third ResLife round, a job he said goes beyond the title of midnight curfew checks to nurse or nurture the hall residents.
The lives of ACU’s resident assistants do not allow the luxury of leaving work at the office.
“We live at work,” Hall said. “While most people go back to their homes at the end of the day to spend time with family, housemates, significant others, or simply just themselves, we live among residents that we have taken on certain obligations towards.”
Sharing showers and personal space, even an RA’s bedroom becomes a community gathering place.
With scrolls of commitments to the freshman or sophomore residents, “community” can also come to mean sacrifice for these college parents.
But this year, four ResLife vets made the trade, taking to new quarters outside dorm walls dubbed ResLife Rehab.
“I really got to know a lot of amazing RA’s my freshman year who helped encourage me and get me through that year,” said Bekah Perry, senior youth and family ministry major from San Antonio. “That’s what got me into the program. After the first year of being an RA, I loved being able to be a source of encouragement and help for the girls on my hall.”
The relationships made between fellow RA’s and residents persuaded Perry to stay on another year.
Along with Mariah Morrell, senior nursing major from San Antonio, Lily Assaad, senior psychology and marketing major from Cairo, Egypt and Lydia Brown, junior biology major from Tucson, Ariz., the four clocked in residency and RA-ing in three dorms and were on staff in the others.
Assaad was living in a house off Washington with other housemates last semester, but was looking for new roommates for the next year.
When word got out she was housemate hunting, Morrell, Brown and Perry jumped on board, having already worked on ResLife staff together.
“Once we had established the details, our house quickly was given the name as the ‘ResLife Rehab house” by our ResLife staff and friends,” Brown said. “I found the name quite hilarious, even though it was a great description of our soon-to-be house dynamics.”
RA’s are the first line of defense for any dorm dilem as, Hall said.
“At any moment, there could be anything from a roommate conflict to an overflowing toilet and we are the first ones to hear about it and deal with it,” he said.
Due to those duties, the post-RA adjustment will be a culture shock in living arrangements, they said.
“Being an RA is a not a job, it is a lifestyle,” Brown said.
A lifestyle the four are ready to trade in for one thing: sleep.
“I loved all my residents, but they had a special ability to come into my room right when I was trying to take a nap or go to bed,” Brown said.
With all having an RA record, they said their ResLife experience will play out in how they operate as roommates.
“We know the value of communication,” Assad said. “We know it from living with 25 girls and seeing the problems they went through due to their lack of communication and conflict management skills.”
Within the first week as housemates, the four laid out the law of the land, assigned house chores and set rules of the buying of shared items, door locking, dish duty, guest rules, billing and rent schedules.
“Boy have we set rules,” Assad said, “I have never met a group of housemates who got right down to business with that before. It’s because we know the importance of being honest and open when it comes to living with people, from being RAs.”
“The transition so far has been great,” Perry said. “We are good at communicating our needs or keeping each other accountable with house chores. I am glad to be able to have a haven off of campus.”
Though surrounded by smaller numbers this year, Perry said the new home will enrich her relationships.
“I’m looking forward to being able to start a community with a new group of people, especially my peers,” she said. “I will have the opportunity to have people over for dinner or just open the house to others who need a safe haven outside of the campus.”
Community: the hardest aspect of parting from their freshman hall homes.
“You are surrounded by a couple hundred girls,” Perry said. “All of them are unique and come from different backgrounds. We always had such a great time spending time with each other and doing everything together, such as movie nights, late night talks, group runs and homework study sessions.”
But they will not abandon all details of their former dorm lives. Though it is more elbow room than RA quarters, the new home has one bathroom to be shared by the four housemates.
“I am glad all my roommates have spent most of their college careers having to use a community bathroom,” Brown said. “It is going to be quite an adventure,” said Brown.
Between the four girls, they have covered being residents and RA’s in three dorms and on the staffs of five.They’ll get by with a little help from their former RA roommates.
“It’s already made the transition from being RAs to normal students so much easier,” said Assad. “It is such a godsend.”