Resident assistant perks extend well beyond room, board


Courtesy to Twitter (@gvsuhousing)

Jacob DeWeerd, Staff Reporter

For any college student, becoming a resident assistant, also known as an RA, is a fantastic way to build valuable life skills, form long-lasting relationships and to save money.

The monetary aspect of being an RA is something every student hears about, but the personal development is an equally important benefit of the job. RAs can also serve as role models to incoming students who need a friendly face to look up to or to seek out for questions about living on campus.

Being an RA at Grand Valley State University comes with a number of benefits. The university will cover the cost of room and board, which includes housing fees and a meal plan. In addition, RAs receive in-depth training prior to move-in week on subjects like crisis response, conflict mediation, intercultural competency and suicide prevention. These are learned skills that are useful long after college.

Alexis Sova, a current third-year student and second-year RA at GVSU, believes that the skills she learned from being an RA really are valuable to students.

“The long-term benefits of being an RA are priceless,” Sova said. “You get the opportunity to build skills such as community building, academic discipline and time management. You are also given the tools to grow in your knowledge and understanding of civic engagement and social justice.”

Being an RA can come with challenges, though. RAs assist in solving conflicts between roommates or suitemates that live in their sections of residence halls, which can lead to some interesting experiences. RAs are also responsible for carrying a “duty phone,” which students can call during emergencies at any hour of the day.

“With this job comes many unexpected challenges, but this being said, you are fully prepared for these challenges after RA training in August before the residents move in,” Sova said. “It is a very in-depth training on every aspect of the job that you can think of so that we are equipped to face the unexpected.”

RA’s also learn about all kinds of ways to get involved on campus, which is great information to have on-hand if incoming students are looking to find a club or organization that really fits them. GVSU has over 400 clubs and organizations for students to get involved with, and RA’s know that there is something for every student to enjoy.

“I have learned so many things from being an RA, but one big takeaway would be the importance of getting involved on campus,” Sova said. “Getting involved on campus helped me grow as a person as well as make life-long friendships.”

RA’s can also serve as leaders and vital resources for students who are living on campus for the first time. They are someone that new students can go to for any question at all, and RAs often build great relationships with their residents.

“I decided to apply to be an RA my freshman year at GVSU because I had an amazing RA,” Sova said, “She was a great mentor and helped me navigate my first year here, and that is what I hope I have been doing for my residents the last two years.”

Students should take into account that being an RA is a big-time commitment for an entire academic year. As a result, this can be a great way to develop effective time management skills and to find out the best ways to balance job responsibilities and schoolwork.

GVSU hires 50-60 RAs each year, and the application is open now until December. Students who want to apply will have to answer four to five short answer questions and submit a resume; other requirements and the link to the application page can be found online.