Being on duty… perhaps there are some exceptions out there, but I doubt most RAs consider this their favorite part of the job.

Then again, there are tons of benefits, right? *sarcasm alert* After all, when you are on duty, you get to carry a cell phone, which you answer something like, “Uhhh, (Yawn, groan) Hello? You flushed your keys down the toilet? OK, be right there.” You also get exercise! Depending on the size of your residence hall, you can burn some calories while on rounds.

So, it may not really be fun, but when you contact someone for alcohol, noise, drugs, hallway rugby or any other breach of the residence hall policies, how you do it is important. Following are some of my thoughts on making contacts and being on duty.

  • You are not a cop! – While part of the RA job is enforcing policy, you should not have an “I’m out to getcha” attitude. This shows through and will not help with the relationship you have with your residents.
  • Have respect – Mutual respect is the key here. If you treat the residents like kids or act disrespectful toward them, it is not likely that you will be respected in return.
  • Be consistent – Inconsistency will find it’s way back to you. Enforce policies with everyone. If you show favoritism to someone and let them off for the same thing you documented someone else for, you have probably just severed your relationship with the other person, and have put a big dent into your own credi\bility and respect.
  • Be resident motivated – As a Resident “Assistant,” you are in place for the sake of the residents. Keep this in mind as you do your job, even as you enforce policy. You probably don’t want to say “I’m just doing this for you” as someone pours out their full bottle of Captain Morgan, but remember that in the big picture, you are making a difference and hopefully, you will have a positive impact.
  • Stay positive! – As you do your rounds through the hall, remember that not just the confrontational contacts matter. You can make a difference just by smiling and saying hi.

Next time you are on duty, keep these things in mind, and remember, you will make an impact as a resident assistant, be it positive or negative. So put that duty phone right by your head, and when it rings at 2:35am, answer in a cheery voice, “Goooood Morning! How can I improve your life today?” OK, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but stay positive, and you will be not only be effective, you will also enjoy your job!

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