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RAs urge juniors to apply for position

Irena Zajickova | Wednesday, January 20, 2010

With the beginning of spring semester comes a very important deadline — the one for resident assistant (RA) applications.
This year’s RA applications consist of four short essays, three online surveys filled out by the applicant’s professors or employers and an interview process that differs according to each residence hall. RA decisions will be made close to Spring Break at the beginning of March, although the exact date varies with each dorm.
There are many different reasons for applying to be an RA. Lindsey Zimmerman, a current RA in Cavanaugh, applied because her interactions with her RA freshman year made her want to take on the job.
“[She] really had an impact on me and changed my Notre Dame experience,” Zimmerman said. “Your support system is totally removed when you go to college, so I think it’s really important to establish a welcoming environment for everybody, but especially for the freshmen.”
Christina Karam, an RA in McGlinn, applied for similar reasons.
“I first thought about being an RA freshman year because I loved my RA,” Karam said. “I’m a people person and I love giving advice, so I thought that one day I would love to help freshmen adjust to life at Notre Dame.”
The RA job has many benefits, among them paid room and board and free laundry service.
The position also has many drawbacks, according to Keith Ruehlmann, an RA in Dillon. Finding the balance between enforcing rules and forming relationships with the students in his section is difficult, he said.
“Sometimes [students’] efforts at having fun go beyond what’s expected and responsible,” Ruehlmann said. “It becomes difficult crossing over from being their friend to being the enforcer of rules and the guy who ruins their fun.”
Zimmerman said understanding the full extent of the enormous time commitment that being an RA entails is also difficult. RAs are typically on duty at least once a week and every other weekend.
“[The most difficult part of being an RA is] realizing what a big time commitment it is,” Zimmerman said. “You have these chunks of time that you have to set out every day for it.”
Despite these drawbacks, the RA job also has many emotional and psychological benefits. Karam said the job has really enhanced her senior year.
“It makes it more about others, rather than yourself,” Karam said. “You get to share your experiences as an underclassman with your residents, and watch them relive the same moments you had in previous years. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
Michael Sayles, an RA in Sorin, said RAs mature into better people after taking the job because it touches so many aspects of their lives.
“Aside from giving back to the dorm, there is a lot of personal growth that you will experience as an RA,” Sayles said. “You develop better time management, organization, communication, and people skills. You learn a lot about leadership and how to be a leader not only in terms of a group, but in the way that you live your life.”
Zimmerman said meeting new people is another one of advantages of being an RA.
“I love just really getting to know all the people in the dorm,” Zimmerman said. “With all the hall staff I’ve made six new best friends, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
Although being an RA is extremely demanding, Ruehlmann encouraged underclassmen to apply for the job.
“Know that it’s more work than you might expect, but don’t let that deter you from becoming an RA,” Ruehlmann said. “It’s easily one of the most rewarding things I’ve done here at [Notre Dame] and I’ve loved almost every minute of it.”