In preparation for the next academic year, both new and returning students have signed up to endure the challenging process of becoming a resident advisor (RA). This year, however, administration has made several changes to the RA hiring process.
Previously, becoming an RA involved a two-week period in which prospective RAs shadowed a current RA, including going on rounds and throwing a program. Residential Life opted to get rid of this two-week process and the RA shadowing.
“This year we devoted a Saturday to observing the first-time RA applicants complete certain tasks in group process day,” third-year and current RA Adriana Diaz said. “The other difference is that returning RAs had to give a presentation about how we helped build community in our interviews with no creative limitations.”
Prospective RAs are still evaluated based on academic, judicial and housing requirements. In order to qualify, students cannot be on academic probation or have a history of any behavioral problems with administration. Additionally, applicants must have lived on campus for at least two semesters, allowing students to qualify by the end of their first year.
“We had to fill out a pretty extensive application. Then, based on that, we were asked to participate in a group day,” first-year and prospective RA Sara Gregory said. “The group day was full of team building or individual workshop activities where we were observed by current RAs. Then, if we made it past that, we had a formal interview.”
The new hiring process has been praised for its efficiency and range of training activities.
“I think both of these changes are useful because they allow applicants to be assessed in a variety of ways that is not limited to one single facet of what they are capable of,” Diaz said. “I feel that we got a well-rounded view of applicants’ strengths and weaknesses from a variety of perspectives on group process day.”
However, the changes have also received criticism from those who feel the shadowing aspect of the hiring process was essential.
“The criticism I’ve heard has been good criticism to hear,” Burr said. “What I’ve heard is one of the things that they liked about last year was having a mentor and having someone that they could ask questions to. After being hired, they still had someone who they felt they could go back to. […] One thing that is very New College is our ability to learn from each other.”
The duties and responsibilities of an RA are centered on creating a safe community for their assigned residents. In building these strong communities, RAs are able to enforce policy without the need for police interference.
“The position of being an RA gives me so much more access to be helpful,” Diaz said. Diaz is applying to be a returning RA for next year. “I try to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible so that residents feel comfortable coming to me.”
In exchange for these responsibilities, RAs receive benefits such as a $1,500 stipend each semester, which is broken down into $8 per hour with a required 10 hours of work each week. RAs also receive an optional apartment-style meal plan, as well as a housing fee that has been reduced by 75 percent regardless of where an RA resides on campus. The RA position is also beneficial post-graduation.
“Being an RA is one of the strongest leadership and work positions that you can have on your resume when you leave college,” Residence Hall Director Lauren Burr said. “One of those reasons is that primarily most employers that you will encounter had an RA, they know what that job entails and they either were one or did not want to be one. They understand what that responsibility is and it automatically tells someone that you are a responsible and caring person.”
The RA hiring process is subject to change once again depending on the feedback it receives. Potential changes for next year could include bringing back RA mentors.
“I think we will try to be intentional about getting feedback from our RAs before the hiring process begins,” Campus Life Coordinator for Student Involvement Vanessa Van Dyke said. “This feedback will help us make any necessary changes. In addition we will make an effort to tell the [New College Student Alliance] about our hiring process and how they can get involved more early on.”
Regardless of the changes in the hiring process, the turnout for being an RA has been the same between this year and last.
“We received 26 applications, and we extended group process applications to twenty of them,” Burr said. “A lot of our candidates thus far have been first-years, which is not unusual for a college campus for that to be where your primary applicant pool is.”
Overall, the feedback received about the RA hiring process has been positive, with many students excited at the prospect of making a difference.
“It’s a good opportunity to be what you want to see changed in your own residential area,” first-year and prospective RA Miles Iton said. “You always have to be proactive in what you want to see done in your community.”