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Resident assistant selection begins

Eva Binda | Thursday, February 15, 2007

With the academic year well past the midway point, residence halls are already gearing up for next year by selecting their staffs. Applications for next year’s Resident Assistants were due Jan. 19, but the process is far from over.

The position of resident assistant (RA) comes with many benefits and many sacrifices. Although RAs receive free room and board, they often give up many extra-curricular activities and time with friends to devote much of their free time to the dorm.

RA applicants must be willing “to take on the unpleasant tasks of staying up late [on] consecutive nights and pretty much giving up all her [or his] free time to the residence,” Badin Rector Denise Lyon said.

Current Alumni RA Joe Nava had similar feelings regarding his position.

“You don’t see the reality of the choice you’ve made until school starts. […] I realized how much I had to say ‘no’ to activities outside the dorm,” he said.

Nava also mentioned “handling disciplinary issues” as of the hardest things about being an RA.

Despite some of these drawbacks, many juniors apply each year to join the ranks of hall staff. Students fill out an application that is sent to the Office of Student Affairs soon after semester break, which tracks their academic performance as well as their disciplinary history over the past three years. Three recommendations are also required.

In addition to an application, dorms require interviews to get to know the candidates. Each dorm has a different system in choosing their staffs.

Most dorms, like Cavanaugh and Sorin, have two interviews, while Badin requires three. One of the interviews at Badin is with a Student Selection Committee, which is composed of 11 to 14 residents who interview the candidates from a resident’s point-of-view.

During the interviews, the hall staff – made up of the rector, assistant rectors and current RAs – asks questions about participation in activities, especially within the dorm, and how he or she might behave in certain situations.

In Badin Hall, applicants are asked to describe their leadership style and how they have grown since freshmen year.

Most importantly, however, RAs must be able to work well in a team.

“You need a group of guys who can work together and relate to the other guys in the dorm,” Nava said. “Personally, it’s who can work with and be a support to Father George because he’s the heartbeat of our dorm.”

Ultimately, the hall staff comes to a consensus about which applicants will receive the positions.

“If the Rector really wanted or did not want a specific individual, then [he or] she has the power to overrule the others, but I don’t think that happens too often,” Cavanaugh Hall rector Amy de la Torre said. 

Competition for the positions varies between dorms. Alumni Hall consistently receives a greater number of applications than positions available. This year, Alumni received 15 applications for six spots.

“The reason we have so many applicants is because Father George has been the guy you want to serve and work with,” Nava said.

Sorin Hall only has six applicants for four positions. However, Sorin RA applicant Pat Reidy said there is “competition in a different sense” despite the seemingly lower number of applicants.

“All of the guys are incredibly competitive applicants,” Reidy said. “It’s less difficult for those of us applying, but it puts greater pressure on the hall staff picking [RAs] for next year. It’s harder to say ‘no’ to two guys than six.”

Most RA applicants expressed a desire to be a leader in their dorm and a willingness to make sacrifices for the position because of a love of their dorm.

“I love my dorm,” Reidy said. “I look at the RA position as the greatest way you can serve the dorm.”

Residence halls must make their decisions by March 2 and turn them into the Office of Residential Life. The applicants will find out if they have been selected prior to Spring Break.