By Robin Gericke, Features Editor
Asbury is committed to making the residential environment one of community, not just housing. The Asbury Handbook for Residential Living states that Asbury wants dorms to be homes for students, a place where they can experience fellowship and belonging. RAs are an important part of fostering this community. Yet what does it really take to serve as an RA at Asbury?
Senior and RA of Johnson 4th East Graham Duncan, believes that being an RA isn’t just about enforcing rules; instead, it focuses on community. “That’s a huge buzzword around campus. I feel like sometimes it’s a little hazy what it actually means, but as an RA you have the chance to be on the front lines creating and fostering relationships on your floor,” he said. “Enforcing the rules is only a minor part of what it means to be an RA at Asbury; the larger and more important role, for me, is being able to do life alongside the guys on my floor and making sure they feel welcomed and at home.”
Being an RA is both an act of service and a job. Rebecca Frazer, Junior and RA of 1st Crawford, was surprised by the administrative work required of RAs. “As an RA, you’re on duty sometimes and you do a lot of meetings, building checks, fire checks, incident reports, trainings, check-ins and check-outs, etc.,” she said. It is expected that RAs commit 10 hours a week to the job, although it fluctuates each week.
The job of RA is a time investment, but it is also a large emotional investment. Being an RA can be both emotionally taxing and fulfilling. “It’s very stressful and hurtful to me to see pain in people’s lives that I can’t fix. This is an inevitable part of life, but it’s amplified by being an RA,” said Frazer. “Sometimes I can help, so that’s rewarding.”
Senior and RA of 1st Glide Savannah Riley wasn’t expecting the deep affection she would feel for the residents on her hall. “I knew I would like getting to know people, but I just truly love them all like sisters,” she said. “When you take the time to get to know someone it is just amazing the connections you can make.”
Those connections that make residents feel at home can be made through big things, such as planned hall events, or small, simple things that aren’t necessarily in the job description. Senior and RA of 3rd Front Lydia Sisco, stresses the value of the small ways to invest in the hall community. “When students go home to their families, rarely do they say, ‘I can’t wait for the events my parents have planned for me!’ They just want to be home,” she said. “In the same way, though we do events and they’re great, sometimes the most positive steps toward making a home are the small things like propping your door open so you can greet your hall mates.”
Balancing friendship with leadership can be a struggle for RAs. Sophomore and RA of Johnson 3rd East Jonathan Waterman, believes that is the most challenging part “is balancing being friends with your residents but also being strict when they are doing something wrong. Sometimes that can be hard, but you need to still uphold the rules, even with your friends,” he said. Duncan agreed that RA’s need to balance being a “safe place” for residents while still keeping enough separation to be able to enforce the community standards.
Although challenging, serving as an RA is a job with benefits. Community is found with the other RAs and residential staff. RAs have the opportunity to meet and connect with many people of all classes and majors. Students who serve in this role can increase in maturity, responsibility and leadership. Serving as an RA is an outlet to serve the Lord. “I like to think of 1 Corinthians 13,” said Frazer. “Every function we do as RAs should flow out of true love for our residents.”