Easing the transition: living life as a resident assistant

Living away from home for the first time can be confusing and difficult for college students. Luckily, they don’t have to face this situation alone.

Butler University resident assistants are available around the clock to all students living in residential halls.

The job requires behind-the-scenes work and begins with a rigorous application process.

Sophomore Ryan Tewell is an RA at ResCo and said he remembers the process well.

It begins with a written application, a group interview and finally an individual interview.

During the individual interview, perspective RAs give a presentation about themselves to a panel of current RAs and residential hall supervisors.

The process doesn’t end there, Tewell said. The job requires RAs to attend classes before they take the position.

“Basically, we learned some of the things that we would be dealing with, but we also learned about ourselves: our strengths and how that would help us in the job,” Tewell said.

The RAs come back a week before everyone else arrives on campus to complete training on how to deal with situations they might encounter while on the job.

“We learned about the policies and participated in diversity training,” Tewell said. “And then we were deemed ready for our residents.”

RAs are also required to put on a certain amount of events that promote the Butler Wellness Model.

The model includes seven different aspects of a student’s wellness, including social wellness, mind and body wellness, cultural awareness and community interaction.

The event programming is set up differently this year, but Tewell said it’s been easier than he had anticipated.

“I have received a lot of help from my faculty-in-resident Meredith Beilfuss,” Tewell said. “She has been absolutely great helping me and the rest of the RAs in my wing plan out events.

“The wellness model is almost taking care of itself through her help.”

The work of an RA doesn’t stop with event planning. They also have daily duties that include making hallway rounds to complete safety checks and keeping track of campus news and events.

“It’s really hard to balance everything,” Tewell, a pharmacy major, said. “You find out what you have to do and you that done before you get done what you want to do. I’m learning what I have to do and what times I have open to do those types of things.”

Despite the hardships of the job, Tewell seems to be a doing a fine job thus far as an RA, one of his residents, freshman Cole Smith, said

“He is a friend, but almost higher than a friend, because if we need anything, we can come to him,” Smith said. “He looks out for us and makes sure we have everything we need.”

Junior Trisha Wilcox is an RA at Schwitzer Hall and said she too feels being an RA can be difficult.

“Balance is the hardest thing about being an RA, because you have to balance between your personal life and the life of being a resident assistant,” Wilcox said. “They get so intertwined sometimes you cannot separate them.

Your whole life becomes your job, so finding a way to balance that out can be really rough.”

Wilcox is in her second year of being an RA and said she has finally found some effective techniques that allow her to manage the balance between her social life and her job.

“A key to balancing my life is keeping in touch with other staff members and making sure I have an outlet of people to talk to,” Wilcox said. “I make sure I have someone to keep me down to earth.”

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