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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

RAs reflect on their communities

As Spring Term begins, students have started the process of applying for student employment for the upcoming fall. While some people initially considered applying to be an resident assistant (RA) because they had a low room draw number, many RAs also find their job very rewarding, and continue to be an RA for multiple years. Applications for these RA positions were due Thursday, March 28.

RAs help to maintain a safe and positive dorm space. According to Victoria Owusu ’26, the RA of third  Watson, “I decided to apply to be an RA because I thought this would be a good way to expand my leadership skills and push myself out of my comfort zone.” Owusu has enjoyed both the leadership role and planning fun floor events. “My favorite part about being an RA is building a community with my floor,” said Owusu. 

Penelope Steffen ’27, a first-year student who has applied to be an RA, said that the position was appealing because of the opportunity to build community and embrace collaboration. “I think one of the easiest places to cultivate community is on your floor, and I want to help spread the love of Carleton that I have,” said Steffen. Steffen views floor activities and floor culture as an important way that RAs can benefit students. 

Both Steffen and Owusu have found the application process useful, giving them practice writing resumes and cover letters, as well as polishing interview skills. “You get good experience communicating in a professional way and marketing yourself,” said Steffen. Owusu recommends going to the Career Center to  practice interviewing. As with many jobs, the process of applying can be valuable in addition to the job itself. 

Resident advisors are important because they also serve as a resource to help students and solve conflicts. “It can be hard to put myself out there at times, especially if there are issues that I need to help resolve,” said Owusu. RAs can find it difficult to balance being an authority figure among their peers. Although this can be a challenging aspect of the job, Owusu has also found this rewarding. This experience with leadership and conflict resolution is critical to many careers after Carleton. “My advice to new RAs would be to reach out to other RAs if you need help. This job is much more collaborative that I expected it to be, and everyone wants to help each other,” explained Owusu. She values the connections and collaboration that the job has provided. 

Bax Meyer ‘25, a junior who is currently the RA of ground Evans, noted,“Being an RA has an uncomfortable reality that you are effectively policing your peers.” He proposed a solution, which would be to allow RAs to set boundaries of what they are willing to enforce, which then might require hiring more area directors.

Meyer also wishes that Residential Life would do more to educate people about the history of oppression and displacement of indigenous people. “Since Residential Life is a residential facility, that is an especially pertinent part of its responsibility,” said Meyer. 

Overall, Meyer said that he has enjoyed being an RA, and is going to continue for a third year. “It has been rewarding. My sophomore year, I was with mostly first years, and I got to help make sure that first years made friends with other people on the floor. You can really make an impact on the people on your floor,” said Meyer.

RAs must show a positive attitude and a desire to help others. Steffen explained, “I like to bring a lot of enthusiasm to everything I do. I would like to help build an inclusive environment. Since Carleton is a residential campus, where you live is so important.” RAs have responsibility toward the physical and mental wellbeing of the people that they oversee, and a positive floor culture is the best way to ensure this. 

RAs serve important roles on campus to help fellow students. They have the opportunity to practice leadership skills that prove to be helpful when looking for plans after graduation. Although RAs sometimes struggle with being an authority figure over their peers, RAs also enjoy making connections with their floor and helping others. Meyer explained, “The RA applications have closed, but for the future, I would recommend people applying to be RAs. It’s a great social and professional environment.”

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