Res Life to change RA titles

Michelle Ma

“Community assistants” will replace resident assistants in university undergraduate housing next year, a move that Virginia Koch, senior assistant director of residential life, said is just the “tip of the iceberg” in a shift to build more community in residential areas.

“It’s an attitudinal change,” Koch said. “It’s the same jobs, just different ways of going about them.”

Changes in the way staff are selected are a first step toward developing deeper community, Koch said. Students who wish to become CAs can apply for up to three residential areas this winter, she noted. They likely will be placed in one of their three choices, unlike RAs, who could be assigned to any building on campus.

“Applying to three different areas gives people the chance to self-select based on location and student population,” Koch said.

The seven residential areas are regions such as the Freshman Quad. Applicants cannot apply to live in specific buildings unless a single building comprises a whole residential area, such as Foster-Walker Complex, she added.

Applications for CA positions are due in January. Current RAs who want to become CAs will be chosen earlier and will help interview and select new CAs, Koch said.

This revised system of returnees helping with the new CA interview process will allow new applicants to speak with staff members they might be working with in the future to decide if they would fit into their area, she said.

Assigning next year’s CAs to residential areas early in the application process will leave plenty of time to prepare them for their roles, Koch said. During Spring Quarter, CAs will participate in classes related to the area on campus where they will be working. Area coordinators will lead the classes with help from assistant directors in Residential Life, Koch said.

Current RAs who will serve as CAs next year are expected to return to their respective areas, Koch said, adding that this change will allow CAs to pick up where they left off. They can, however, opt to apply for an area transfer, she added.

The intended outcome of focusing on community development is to model the unique communities already present in residential colleges and broaden that closeness to each residential area on campus, Koch said. For example, CAs should concentrate on planning programming centered around a common theme to provide continuity, rather than random events.

Katrina Shonbeck, a Communication junior and Residential College Board vice president of academic affairs, said because of the application process for residential colleges, “you get a lot more people interested in building a community.”

To work toward this goal of community, Koch said that CA applicants must be willing to “think outside the box” and try out different ways of working with residents. A CA’s availability and time commitment to residents is of top priority, Koch added.

“We want residents to feel their CA is around and aware of what is going on on the floor and with them personally,” she said.

More about the program’s process and goals will be discussed at CA information sessions Nov. 16 and 17.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]

Quick facts:

 The ‘attitudinal change’ hopes to promote community similar to that in residential colleges.

 Current RAs who return as CAs will be expected to return to their same residential areas.

 CA information sessions will be Nov. 16 and 17.

 Applications for positions are due in January.