Freshmen make up 1/4 of CA hopefuls

Shelly Banjo

One hundred and fifteen students applied for community assistant positions last week, a slightly higher turnout than last year’s 102 applicants for residential assistants, Residential Life officials announced Friday.

Freshmen, who in the past were not eligible for the job, made up 27 percent of the CA applicants.

Residential Life officials announced in November that community assistants would replace residential assistants next year in an effort to build more community in residential areas. As one part of the change, rising sophomores who could not apply to be RAs could apply to be CAs.

“We have refocused the position to concentrate on community development, problem resolution, and administration report and referral,” said Virginia Koch, senior assistant director for Residential Life.

Students interested in becoming CAs could preference up to three residential areas, unlike RAs, who could be placed in any building on campus. Residential Life officials will accept 75 to 80 new applicants and an additional 20 to 25 current RAs will transition to become CAs, Koch said.

Koch could not release the gender breakdown of the applicants.

Group interviews for all of the new applicants will occur on Feb. 4 and Feb. 6 and final interviews are scheduled from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25. Candidates will receive a decision letter, which will include a placement area, on March 7.

The application process for CAs included a written application, a recommendation from a current RA and a faculty or staff recommendation. Applicants later will participate in a group interview consisting of a series of experimental problem-solving activities.

“We want to see how they interact as a group, their leadership and followship style and their sense of understanding of student issues,” Koch said.

Koch said the Office of Residential Life aims to complete a formal plan that outlines all of the new changes for CAs by the time training begins in the spring. But the CA position will develop for years to come, she added.

“We are instituting a spring and fall training program as well as providing more informational resources for the staff, but we view the process as ongoing and developing over the next few years,” Koch said.

Weinberg junior Mercedes Stickler said she applied to be a CA because of the positive impression a previous RA left on her in Willard Residential College.

“Last year, I had an awesome RA and I saw our hall as a welcoming community — people really got along,” she said. “The change from RA to CA shows that (the position) is not just a paying job to make sure kids don’t drink, but rather to help your residents and facilitate a community.”

Molly Keegan, who has been an RA for three years and currently oversees Allison Hall, said the RAs she knows already do the things that CAs will do, such as emphasizing mental health and community building.

“I view the change from RA to CA affecting the central staff,” said Keegan, a student at Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies.

Willard RA David Kim, a Weinberg junior, agreed that many RAs have mixed opinions on the decision.

“I appreciate the intention of the change but I don’t think the name change will really have an effect on an RA’s ability to facilitate the community,” he said.

“They need to follow up with more resources and financial help to put on programming,” he added.

Reach Shelly Banjo at [email protected]