As a junior I thought I was prepared for the upcoming school year, especially in my role as a second year RA on East Campus. I expected my life to be relatively similar to my sophomore year in Bell Tower, but Iâve been pleasantly surprised by the changes that have come with a new RA team in Blackwell this year. Not only do I have 34 new freshmen in my hallway, but I also have five new RAâs who have become my residence life family.
Even as an RA, I sometimes feel slightly out of place being an upperclassman on a freshman campus. Itâs hard to maintain relationships with the people in my own class because I live far away, and sometimes itâs difficult to be close friends with freshmen because they view RAâs as an authority. But thatâs why itâs important to have a few RA friends who are in the same situation. Facing the same challenges brings us closer together, and when the RA team is strong, the overall community of the dorm is stronger, too.
The Blackwell team this year is five sophomores and myself, so Iâve become the âveteranâ RA. Iâm more confident this year in my ability to build community through planning events, and Iâve helped the new RAâs to learn about the logistics of our role; the paperwork, planning, and meetings can be a little confusing at the beginning of the year. However, I have had a lot to learn from them as well. They bring fresh new ideas to the team, and they have renewed my enthusiasm for building community. It can be frustrating when people donât come to programs, but having a team of new RAâs who are excited to work hard for the dorm is refreshing and inspiring.
Before the freshmen arrived on campus, the RAâs went through a week of training to learn and practice the skill of solving problems. We discussed the policies and procedures of dealing with various situations ranging from alcohol and drugs to homesick and depressed students. Itâs a lot of information to pack into one week, and after training during the day the teams in each dorm completed tasks such as putting up bulletin boards, making door decorations, and checking for damages. Training could be overwhelming and stressful, but the challenges provided a great way to bond with the other RAâs on our teams. We worked in small groups to accomplish tasks and shared individual experiences during training sessions to help each other learn about new ways to solve problems. When we werenât working we spent time together at the gym, watching movies, and getting to know one another better. Iâm appreciative to have such a supportive team to work with this year, and Iâm excited to see how weâll continue working together to create a home for the freshmen of Blackwell.