By Kelline Linton, Staff Writer
The light ahead was yellow, and the campus was at least 10 minutes away.
“Hurry, hurry! Go, go!” Christie Smith urged her friend. With five minutes left before 10 p.m., it looked like she might not make curfew tonight.
Smith, junior missions major from Allen, has a weekday curfew that begins at 10 p.m. At the age of 21, Christie is several years past the 11:30 p.m. freshman curfew but willingly gives up a late night out for her unique job Ð the residence assistant.
The RAs on campus are generally upperclassmen students who live in underclassmen residence halls, usually two per floor for each hall. These students receive free board and a monthly salary.
“RAs are here to put the smackdown and to enforce the rules,” said Ashley Durham, sophomore management major Salem, Ore., and Nelson Hall RA.
“It’s hard not to step on people’s toes,” Smith said, RA in Sikes Hall. “You want to enforce the rules, but you also want to be there for them and build their trust.”
Marie Thomas, residence director of Nelson, said a RA’s “first and foremost job is ministry. They are spiritual role models, and are meant to build a community and to curate a family environment.”
The residence assistants this year went through a week-long training session, including two days at Camp Butman, where they discovered their strengths.
“We built friendships, and relationships grew,” said Kristin Gravley, sophomore nursing major from Overton and Nelson RA. “Camp taught us that we are all different; our strengths are all different. Being an RA is not an individual job. You have to lean upon your staff mates.”
The main duration of RA training focused on potential scenarios ranging from the signs of homesickness to the possibility of suicide. In severe cases like alcohol and suicide, each RA has been trained to notify their residence director. RDs host the Monday business meetings and Wednesday spiritual meetings and give out the usual RA assignments Ð curfew check, event advertisement and a once-a-week shift at the lobby work desk.
“I enjoy being an RA because you’re living in the hall, right in the middle,” Durham said. “You are here for everybody; you have the 411 on everybody. Girls look up to you because they think you are more mature than them, yet you’re only one year older.”
A residence assistant is a full time job. Their curfew is at 10 p.m. on weeknights, and their door must be open from 10 p.m. to midnight. Each RA can only check out for a maximum of three weekends per semester with prior notice given for each. Former Nelson RA Amy Stoll, junior nursing major from Tucson, Ariz., said that it’s nice not having a curfew, but it’s fun to see her girls still around campus.
The majority of RA’s said they feel the worth of the experience.
“You get to build personal relationships with the girls on your hall,” Durham said, “and these relationships far outweigh the difficulties of the job.”