Earlier RA evaluations to help hire new CAs

Michelle Ma

Undergraduate Residential Life will offer NU students the opportunity to evaluate their Resident Assistants a bit earlier this year, which will help decide earlier who to re-hire, officials said.

Returning applicants then will be notified earlier so they can help Residential Life evaluate first-time Community Assistant applicants, said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director of Residential Life. Residents will be asked to evaluate their RAs during Reading Week, whereas in previous years, this information was collected during Winter Quarter, Koch said.

Residents will be asked to rate their level of agreement on 13 points of RA behavior, including RA’s degree of availability, concern for residents and overall performance. The back of the ballot-like evaluation allows residents to write specific comments relating to each of the 13 areas. Names of residents will be eliminated from the information sheet, Koch said.

Each RA will receive only the results from his or her residents, Koch said. Area coordinators also will receive copies of the evaluations of RAs serving under them to review how well each residential area meets expectations, she added. Typically, about half of all residents respond.

About 95 percent of residents who have responded to past evaluations regularly give their RAs the highest marks of agreement in five areas of performance — they set a good example, have a positive attitude, encourage responsibility and remain informed and composed, Koch said. Typically, RA performance in community-building has been more critically evaluated, with only about 85 percent of residents giving RAs the highest marks, Koch added.

“This is still high, but we want to change,” said Koch. She added that the desire to create more community building among RAs will be emphasized when Residential Life chooses CAs for the 2005-06 academic year.

“We want people to commit to being at the center of community by attending and organizing events,” Koch said.

Traditionally, evaluation of RAs as a source of counseling and support has also warranted a lower percentage of highest marks, Koch said. This might be due to residents’ different perceptions of what counseling entails, and also may vary according to individual student needs. A sophomore tends to first seek advice from friends instead of going straight to their RAs, Koch added.

Although the evaluations will help Residential Life officials make decisions about re-hiring, results also are helpful for each RA, said former Elder Hall RA Julius Marchwicki, a McCormick senior.

“The survey is a really bright point in the feedback that residents can give to their RAs,” Marchwicki said. “Some students might have difficulty expressing concerns to RAs, so they can do it this way.”

Marchwicki said the mid-year evaluations last year were instrumental in changing his performance as an RA.

“Before I had my surveys filled out, I thought of myself as a good RA,” he said. “When the surveys come back, you might be good in some areas and there’s other areas where people disagree, especially in time spent with residents.”

The results and comments from his residents caused Marchwicki to try to be around Elder at different times. That way he could be more flexible for his residents, he said.

Starting Nov. 29, evaluations will be distributed to all dorm residents. All evaluations will be collected by a resident and brought to Residential Life officials for tabulation, Koch said. Results will be reviewed with staff in January.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]