Res Life: Freshmen can apply to be RAs

Michelle Ma

Students in Northwestern residence halls might soon see younger faces enforcing the rules.

Starting this winter freshmen will be invited to apply for resident assistant positions as part of a pilot program, said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director for Undergraduate Residential Life.

Residential Life officials noticed a decline in applications for RA positions this school year, prompting them to broaden the application pool, Koch said. But she added that she doesn’t think the decline in applications was due to a lack of student interest.

Student involvement in campus activities and programs is so high that rising juniors have trouble juggling club leadership responsibilities with an RA’s commitment to residents, Koch said.

“As study abroad programs and other opportunities for academic-related things have grown, students have made the tough choice of not applying for an RA position,” Koch said.

Last year Residential Life received about 100 new applications for RA positions and 40 applications from returning RAs. Koch said she would like to see 150 new applicants for RA positions.

This Wednesday all on-campus housing residents should receive cards asking them to nominate students who should consider applying for an RA position, Koch said.

Students who are recommended will be invited to attend an RA information session on Nov. 16 and 17. The recommendations do not guarantee students an RA position but do encourage students to consider applying.

All students, whether nominated or not, can attend the RA informational meetings, Koch said.

Some current RAs said they can see the advantage of having sophomore RAs. Sophomore RAs could empathize with freshmen residents because they recently experienced being a new to NU, said Shepard Residential College RA Tina Shah, a Weinberg senior.

Giving sophomores the opportunity to be RAs allows students to serve in an RA position one year and complete a form of study off-campus, including semester or full-year study abroad programs or the one-quarter Teaching Media program for Medill School of Journalism students, Koch said.

The key consideration in adding sophomore RAs will be how to place them in residential buildings, Koch said. Sophomore RAs probably will be placed on an all-freshman wing or floor and in the freshman quad, Koch said. Rising sophomores chosen to hold RA positions next year will have to demonstrate high levels of maturity and integrity, she added.

Having RAs who are closer in age to their residents might initiate closer RA-resident bonding, said Thomas Parisi, a senior RA for Allison Hall and Public Affairs Residential College.

Although rising sophomores who demonstrate ability could be chosen for RA positions, Shepard RA Joseph Wang said it’s also important to have RA’s who have the kind of understanding of NU that can only evolve over time.

“An RA’s priority here is to help students,” said Wang, a Weinberg senior. “Being at NU for two years might make you a more valuable resource.”

Students said it’s important to have an RA who is available and enthusiastic, regardless of their year.

“It’s better to have a young RA than no RA,” said Sam Noyd, a McCormick sophomore living in Allison Hall. “I could take (young RAs) seriously.”

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected].