My life as an RA

By Clarence Scott
April 18, 2002

I guess the sharp pains in my back began last March when I found out that I was rehired to be an RA for my senior year. I would have to say that I had mixed emotions about accepting the job for the second year in a row. It felt good to know that my peers respected me and that I did a good job, which prompted the heads of Residents Life to rehire me. What bothered me the most was that last year was terrible due to all of the rule changes that we had to enforce and the way that our opinion never counted. The deciding factor was the free room and board, which is tempting to an impoverished kid from Philly. So I took the job, and that’s when my back started hurting.

The day comes to sign our new contracts, and surprisingly enough there are new amendments made to our contracts as well. The first glaring change in the contracts was, “you have to start duty at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.” When we asked why that change was put into our contracts, we were told by our bosses that it was because they wanted us to be seen by students earlier in the day. They wanted us to walk around and be a part of campus life at an earlier time, and they wanted us to be more available to the student body. We were not going to be looked at as “cops” like we were the previous year. The next change in the contracts was, “RA’s in Xavier, Woodcrest, and the New Dorm have to be at the front desk from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and they cannot leave until relieved by public safety.” Now, if you have been following along carefully, you will see that this amendment to the contract totally contradicts the reasons that were given to the first change mentioned in our contracts. Another change was that we have to do four programs instead of three. When we brought these facts to the attention of the “brain-trust” in the Residents Life Office, we were told that our thoughts would be “taken into consideration.” This can also be interpreted as “leave me alone.” This is a term that you hear coming from that office a lot. After reluctantly signing my RA job contract, I continued on to finish the rest of my school year and I had a great summer.

August rolls around and the back pains start up again. My mom tells me to see a doctor but I figure that the pain will just go away. RA training starts in the middle of the month and I’m pretty excited. I’m glad to see the people from the returning staff and even happier that it’s the start of my senior year. The training starts and runs about seven hours per day. After the “training”, it is time for the staff meetings that could last from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and you still have to find the time to decorate the rooms on your floor and do the room check reports. These things you have to do on your time. We asked if we could miss a couple of meetings or a training session so that we can have more time to do paperwork and decorations and we were told that our request would be “taken into consideration.”

After the learning how to deal with situations that (in many cases) a fool could effectively handle using common sense, and making collages on clip boards for eight hours, we get to meet with our RD’s for a period of time.

Meetings with my RD were pleasant. The RD of the apartments told us on the first day, ” You guys can trust me. I will always tell you the truth, and I expect you to tell me the truth no matter how bad it may seem.” This made me feel great. All I could think of was how great it is to have someone on our side, someone in a position of power that would finally listen to us. I was in a state of bliss.

Training ended and in came the students. First semester as a senior went pretty well and not too many things changed from the previous year. Classes were still hard and Thursdays thru Saturdays were still the party nights. This school is so predictable. I didn’t really feel the effects of the new RA policies; I was just going with the flow. I spoke to my RD on a few occasions about things that bothered and upset me, which was helpful because I needed someone I could trust to talk to, and she was there for me. Who knows, she might have even been able to make a change or make a few suggestions that could make life easier. She gave me several suggestions and was very helpful, but she could not help me with my back pain. The sharp pain between my shoulders was getting worse and worse.

Second semester rolls around and this time becomes harder and harder to deal with. Especially since this is the time when things should be getting easier. I am a senior who is well on my way to graduation, I was on the Dean’s List and I had a big part in the school play. Everything seemed to be going well, but there was something that really bothered me and it wasn’t just my back. I guess one of the things that really bothered me was that another RA had been terminated via email, which doesn’t seem too professional to me. Another thing that bothered me was that there was a new amendment to our contracts that stated that we had to handle all lockouts until 6am on nights that we were on duty. When we disputed this amendment due to the fact that we are still students (which they claimed was most important) and need a proper amount of sleep, we were told that our concerns would be “taken into consideration.” Fortunately this amendment did not last that long, but it was a nightmare for as it was in effect.

Then, about three weeks ago, another RA was terminated and I just could not figure out what was going on around here. RA’s were dropping like flies and we were definitely expendable, I just wanted to keep my nose clean for the last two months of school. This brings me to Thursday April 4th.

See the rest of Clarence’s perspective next week.

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Clarence Scott

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