Are RAs really necessary?

The Charger Bulletin

By Anonymous

With all the recent changes being made at the University of New Haven, one that should be taken into consideration is the need, or lack thereof, of residential assistants, more commonly known as RAs.

RAs are fellow UNH students whose purpose is to monitor our on campus residential halls by enforcing campus policies and restricting access to who goes in and out of the dorms. Although for freshmen, RAs play an important role in their transition to college life, for us upper classmen, they are not all that necessary.

For freshmen who are living on their own for the first time, RAs are crucial. They serve as a mentor to freshmen in many ways, doing everything from helping them find their classes to setting them up for registration and answering any questions about campus they might have.

They are the one you go to when you’re locked out of your dorm room at 2 a.m. or who intervene when you’re having problems with your roommate. They are also the one who keeps you safe, even if that means having to write you up when they feel you have crossed the line, with alcohol, drugs or any other threat to your well-being.

Freshmen need this, they need some type of authority figure to keep everything under control since they no longer are getting that from their parents. If RAs were strictly implemented into residential halls for freshmen only, no change would be needed, but that is not the case.

By sophomore, junior and senior year, we finally get the hang of things. We have figured out college life and are well adjusted. We don’t have questions about campus we once had and we have realized the importance of always making sure you have your key before you leave the room; therefore, we no longer need RAs. As we get older, we are given more responsibility and freedom but having an RA only limits that. To make matters worse, most of the RAs during these years of college are the same age as the students they are given authority over. It is extremely awkward and a little irritating when your room is inspected or you are being written up by someone who is the same age as you and undoubtedly doing the same things as you in their free time.

Some RAs have also been known to abuse their power. This does not go for every single RA because most of them are great and do their job to the best of their abilities, treating students very respectfully.

But there are some who use their authority to intimidate residents and make their lives miserable.

I had the unfortunate luck of experiencing one of these power hungry RAs in the past, and it was horrible. Whereas some RAs take the time to get to know their residents, the first thing this RA said was, “First off, I am not and never will be your friend.” As a transfer student, her attitude did not give me high hopes of making friends at UNH easily, but thankfully the rest of the campus proved to be much friendlier.

This RA also conducted random searches of my room looking for contraband and going through my refrigerator whenever she pleased, hoping to find a reason to write me up. She succeeded a few times, until I finally met with her superior, a residential director, and found out everything she was doing was against the rules. After that, her searches stopped but her attitude worsened, ignoring my existence every chance she got. I came to find out, this RA was so hard on me because she had a problem with someone I had made friends with early on in the year, so she spent the rest of the year trying to make me extremely uncomfortable. RAs such as this one should not be given the privilege of having authority over anyone.

The purpose of this is not to prove that RAs are a bad thing, because they are not. It is just to show that they are really only needed for freshmen. Upper classmen are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves without having someone who is the same age as them watching over them, acting as a superior. Also, campus is small and the older we get, the more people we know. It becomes impossible not to mix business with pleasure and as a result, situations like the one I experienced can become a problem.