Resident Assistants (RAs) at DePauw have key roles in supporting students’s transition to campus life. During my first year, the RAs were a big part of my DePauw experience.
Coming into DePauw my first year at the beginning of COVID, I had no clue what to expect. It was hard to socialize with people unless they were on my residence floor or in the same building. It was difficult to navigate a collegiate environment when I couldn’t even go to in-person classes. I wasn’t even able to make connections with students older than me because everyone who lived with me was first-years. Organizations were inactive for the most part or they were over zoom. This was frustrating, because if I had a say, I didn’t want to meet new people over Zoom.
I was first introduced to the Women's Center through my RA at the time. I remember hearing about the Women’s center but I didn’t know much. And now I am a Women’s Center Intern. My RA’s came to my rescue in guiding me towards who I wanted to be at DePauw.
I honestly couldn't imagine my first year without my RAs being a part of it. They tried their best to help us, students, make the most of our year. We were pretty pitiful, to be frank. COVID restrictions were serious, therefore, we didn’t have much opportunity for social life. We weren’t allowed into other dorms and the institution even wanted us to wear masks in the showers.
My first year was a very nostalgic time for me. I loved staying in the dorm and chilling with my friends, who were also my neighbors. Seeing the same people every day was actually nice, and I grew to be fond of the routine. My RAs would let us chill with them too, they’d give us advice about life when we asked for it and let us cry to them whenever we were overwhelmed about anything. Because of the restrictions, we weren’t necessarily knowledgeable about the resources we had on campus, so in some way, we treated our RA’s as our resource for everything we needed. We were very comfortable with them, but other first-years had different opinions and experiences.
RA’s, during the Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 semesters, were the ones responsible for reinforcing the rules that were set. They had to be the ones to write students up if students were caught in other dorm buildings. RAs were essentially seen as disciplinarians, which sometimes impacted their relationship with their residents. I remember feeling bad for one of my RAs because he was frustrated by the fact that his work was unappreciated and despised.
Little do some people know the actual work that RAs do for students and the commitment they show to the school. For example, coming to school three weeks early for training with different departments so that they can do better in helping and being there for their residents.
I hope that we can develop a different perspective on RA’s, and I also hope we can collectively appreciate one another better and those who put in the work for us every day.