Student interest in CAs high

Michelle Ma

More than 100 students attended community assistant informational sessions Tuesday and Wednesday, with freshman and sophomore attendance dominating Wednesday’s session. Undergraduate Residential Life officials also decided to add a third session on Dec. 1 after receiving a higher-than-expected number of students with interest.

Residential Life staff presented an overview of expected responsibilities, with an emphasis on CAs paving the way for community building through programming and time spent with residents. The session then moved to presentations from each of the seven area coordinators highlighting each residential area of work and aspects unique to each.

Area Coordinator Aaron Cook called the meetings “well-attended” and added that Residential Life officials have heard from many students who cannot attend sessions who will still apply for CA positions.

The support of nearly 20 current resident assistants who came to Wednesday’s meeting was positive, said Area Coordinator Kristina Richards, adding that some RAs encouraged their residents to attend a session.

Shawn Basak — a Weinberg freshman who attended Wednesday’s session — said he wants to apply for a CA position because his Allison Hall RA has set a good example for him as to how to positively interact with residents.

Community building is the name of the game this year for Residential Life.

“Our desire is to improve the sense of community in residential halls,” said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director for Residential Life.

Four visible changes to the Residential Life program structure include the name change from RA to CA and the opportunity for rising sophomores to apply for next year’s positions.

The other changes include requesting CA applicants to specify their preferred residence area — a move officials hope will give CAs more time to learn about their area — and requiring RAs applying for next year’s CA positions to stay in their current area, unless they apply for an area transfer.

Although Willard Residential College RA David Kim said he lauds Residential Life for the changes emphasizing community, he said the name change might cause confusion about a CA’s disciplinary responsibilities.

“It’s great to emphasize community, but that masks other parts of the job,” said Kim, a Weinberg junior. “Community building is just one part of our job and students in our position (are also) counselors and disciplinary (figures).”

Former Elder Hall RA Julius Marchwicki expressed concern that the name change would de-emphasize the responsibility CAs have to be adult figures in young residents’ lives.

Koch said the name change won’t alter the responsibilities of the former RA position, but will change some of the ways CAs do their jobs. She emphasized that these new methods — including CAs teaching conflict resolution between residents — will build community. This year’s addition of a Residential Life staff member focusing on community development will help with training new CAs this spring, Koch added.

Allowing CA applicants to apply for positions in their preferred residential areas is a positive change, Kim said.

“I think it’s fantastic because I know a lot of RAs that are misfits in their dorms,” he said, adding that because next year’s CAs will be able to live in a residential building that fits their personalities and leadership styles.

Once CAs are chosen in the winter, they will take training classes Spring Quarter that will be specific to the nature of residents that usually live in their buildings, Koch said.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]