Resident assistants provide resources, support to students in dorms


For students moving into resident halls this coming semester, a number of different resources are available to them. One major resource available to students living in residents halls or the Jardine living communities are their resident assistants.

Nick Lander, assistant director for resident life for K-State Housing and Dining Services, oversees all residence halls excluding Jardine Apartments. Lander said resident assistants play a vital role in students transitioning into K-State.

“Our RAs are the people who know our students best because they literally live right next to them,” Lander said. “They get to know [students] and help them connect with the K-State community.”

Ronnell DuBose, residence coordinator, oversees West Hall and Smurthwaite Scholarship House. He said part of the duties of an RA include helping set up a safe environment on campus.

“A resident assistant is on campus to help students transition into the college culture,” DuBose said. “So it’s meaning getting to know different people who can create a very safe and secure community allowing individuals to get to know one another. They’re a resource.”

DuBose said he has noticed that resident assistants have to know all about the resources on campus, both social and academic, in order to help students. He said that being an RA can be challenging for students who enter the position.

“I think what a lot of college students run into is that issue of time management, and so [RAs] really learn how to balance their time well,” DuBose said. “I think another thing is, they learn how to balance different types of stresses, meaning that RAs will just learn to handle certain situations in the most appropriate and professional way possible, so I think it helps them with that.”

DuBose said the next biggest challenge that resident assistants face is the idea of living where they work.

“You have to be a role model, so it takes a lot of good judgement, because sometimes you want to be a typical college student,” DuBose said.

Phil Hill, junior in marketing and second-year resident assistant in West Hall, said he became an RA because he had a good experience with the RAs on his floor when he first came to K-State.

“I did it because my RAs my freshman year were really good, and I really admired them,” Hill said. “I wanted to be able to do what they did for me and give freshmen and sophomores a good experience in the residence halls.”

Hill said the RAs he had his freshman year were good because they encouraged him to become floor president, which gave him leadership experience and also helped encourage setting up fun programs for all of the members of his floor. He said the RAs were always there for him and his fellow residents as a resource and as someone they could talk to.

“Those are some of the same things I try to do, as well as spending time with the residents,” Hill said. “I try and spend a lot of time with them, play some sports, show my residents campus resources they can use and help them to get involved.”

DuBose said that in order to become resident assistants, students must turn in an application which then goes to a committee for review. After that, selected applicants get interviews.

Hill said resident assistants are assigned based on how many residents are moving in, so some floors will have two RAs and some floors will have one.

Once resident assistants are assigned, Hill said there are requirements for programs that RAs have to fulfill. Hill said in West Hall, these include door decorations twice each semester as well as bulletin boards each month.

“We have to do eight programs each semester,” Hill said.

Hill said that in his experience, the average RA lasts two years with about 50 percent staying in the position that long. He said that time management is definitely a challenge faced by many RAs, and the example they set is a challenge because they show residents what it looks like to be a good resident, a good student and a good person.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.