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Resident or Friend?

By Cindy Kemp

The role of a resident assistant often requires a lot of discretion and "dirty work." It is not a glamorous job, and many do not want to have to deal with the daily chores of being an RA. On the opposite side, this job has many benefits. One of the benefits of this position is the constant interactions with the residents. Residents will often befriend the resident assistants due to constant interaction. These friendships can be very strong and last much longer than the professional relationship. However, sometimes this "friendship" will be formed for the sole purpose of bending the rules. Unfortunately, most RAs have faced this challenge at some point in their careers. The following are a few guidelines for maintaining a friendship with your residents.

  1. You are still the RA, no matter what your friend says. Often the friend will try to say that you really don't have that much authority or it won't matter. Stand firm in your position.

  2. Treat your friend like you treat all your other residents. Sometime when using discretion it is difficult to determine if you are playing favorites or not. If you have ANY doubt ask yourself, "If this was "John", would I act the same way?" If the answer is yes, you are fine. If the answer is no, you need to re-evaluate the situation.

  3. Confidentiality is still important in the residence hall. Although they may be your best friend, you must avoid telling them everything that is going on in the residence hall. They are still residents and could potentially spread rumors about what you have said.

  4. Remember, if they are truly your friend, they will respect your position.


These are only a small portion of guidelines. You should continue to add to this list throughout your career as an RA. On the flip side, there are several advantages to having your friends as residents. Regardless if they are your friends or not, your residents are your primary concern in the halls. Continue to excel at your job and while you do, you will accumulate friends that will last a lifetime.

Cindy Kemp is a 3rd year RA at the University of Louisville


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