Roles, Responsibilities and Expectations of a Resident Assistant
The Resident Assistant staff members are paraprofessional graduate and undergraduate members of the Governors State University Department of University Housing. RAs are responsible for creating an environment that supports the academic success of student residents including social, cultural and personal growth. RAs make clear their care and concern for every resident.
The following is a list of RA responsibilities. Other duties may be assigned to the RA by any Auxiliary Services University Housing senior staff member.
Role Model - You are an example of what it takes to live GSU values. Along with following university and student housing policies, procedures and community standards set for Prairie Place, you are a leader. In this role you make a lasting impact on the lives of residents by demonstrating the behaviors of a good citizen and community contributor.
Community Leader - RAs are the conduit for forming relationships among student residents and the university. This requires that you are engaged in the life of the resident community - that you are available and anxious to help all. Specifically you will know every resident in your floor section, facilitate agreements among community members and roommates, develop and manage community-building programs, promote resident leadership opportunity and support a culture of academic success.
As a Community Leader you will:
- Establish and maintain a cohesive community whose members share personal responsibility for the development of good behavior and conduct.
- Promote and maintain a living environment that meets the physical safety, emotional security and comfort needs of all residents.
- Develop and maintain an environment that fosters respect for individual rights, promotes community development and respects the dignity of all residents.
- Assess community growth and development needs by sharing interactions with individual students and spending time in the Prairie Place Housing complex.
- Meet regularly with individual residents and groups to explain and promote policies and programs, assess needs and community goals and respond to student concerns.
- Learn and share with supervisor the names, background information and both academic and personal goals of residents.
- Conduct monthly “side-chat” conversations with each resident assigned to the floor.
Educator - RAs can have a big role in the academic success of residents. You will be expected to develop and implement programs and activities that support students in their studies. These may include creating study groups, ensuring all residents know about and can access GSU academic resources or simply talking with students about academics. As educators RAS also foster community, reinforce students as good citizens of the residence and university community and honor differences among fellow residents and students.
As an educator you will:
- Identify potential student leaders. Support and direct their involvement in Hall Council and during floor or hall activities.
- Promote and encourage resident participation and leadership in University and community organizations.
- Initiate and implement educational opportunities and activities to address the needs, interests and concerns of the residents.
- Assist with the responses to immediate community concerns such as fire, environmental safety issues, personal or property safety issues or other crisis situations as indicated by any Auxiliary Services/University Housing senior staff member.
- Assist and support Hall Council.
Administrator - RAs have an important role in the operation of Prairie Place. That requires taking an active part in all training, meetings and community events. It also requires that paperwork is completed accurately and on-time, being available when needed and closely following all university and housing policies and procedures. While measuring how well each RA fulfills administrative duties is usually straightforward and easy to quantify, it can also be a good indicator about the successful fulfillment of other RA roles and responsibilities.
An RA is expected to:
- Attend all weekly staff meetings and bi-weekly one-on-one meetings.
- Maintain timely written and verbal communication with supervisor.
- Complete all assigned administrative tasks thoroughly, accurately and on time (e.g., incident reports, duty logs, unit condition checklists and other reports).
- Perform routine health and safety inspections and the proper check-in and check-out of residents.
- Check and empty staff office mailboxes on a daily basis. Post University Housing and other University information in designated areas daily. Respond to all messages and notes promptly (e.g., email and phone messages).
- Maintain daily contact with immediate supervisor and discuss concerns relative to job performance and academic performance.
- Participate in fire drills. Lead and organize residents during and after fire alarms, tornado warnings and other community crisis situations.
- Assist in the coordination and implementation of the check-in and check-out processes at the beginning and end of each school year, as well as during breaks.
- Participate in the selection process of paraprofessional and professional staff as directed by supervisor.
- Provide timely and accurate information regarding residence hall physical facilities, maintenance needs and student safety concerns.
- Complete and sign timecards on a bi-weekly basis by the specified deadline.
Student Supporter & Mentor - RAs regularly encounter students who need assistance. These students may live on your floor or may simply come to your attention as a student in need while you are on duty. As a rule your role will be to help the student access GSU resources that can provide assistance. For this reason it is important that RAs have a solid working knowledge of the resources and programs GSU offers its students. It is also important that RA supervisors are kept informed of student needs so they can intervene if necessary or provide additional resources. And, by having regular one-on-one appointments with residents, RAs can make it easy for students to discuss their issues and to offer stress management techniques.
Resident Assistants are responsible for effectively initiating the appropriate referral procedures affecting students experiencing personal crisis. Specifically, an RA is expected to:
- Provide basic personal care and appropriately refer students experiencing crisis or exhibiting need. This means making student referrals to counselors, advisors and professional staff as necessary.
- Complete a Communication Report or Incident Report and submit to your supervisor.
- Respond immediately and directly to crisis situations and take appropriate action in accordance with policies and procedures.
- Follow the directions of the Senior Staff Member on Duty and all other professional staff members.
- Report all pertinent information immediately.
- Notify Senior Staff Member on Duty of all appropriate referrals.
Resident Conduct - RAs are responsible for addressing student behavior to ensure an atmosphere conducive to living and learning. RAs enforce the rules and regulations fairly, as well as reporting incidents that occur on campus.
An RA is expected to:
- Abide by and enforce all university policies and procedures, residence hall policies as well as local, state and federal laws outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, the Resident Handbook and the University Housing Staff Manual(s).
- Under no circumstances should a RA ignore the violation of a regulation or policy committed by a resident, guest or fellow RA, nor violate regulations or policies that residents are expected to follow. Instead, RAs should confront behavior inconsistent with policies and submit proper documentation.
- Consult with a Senior Auxiliary Services/University Housing staff member before, during and after enforcing policies and procedures.
- Maintain accurate records of confrontation and student behavior inconsistent with the Student Code of Conduct and the University Housing Handbook.
Team Member - RAs contribute to many communities. As a good citizen in each of those communities you are expected to fulfill the role of dependable team member. That means being positive and constructive in all environments, demonstrating your support staff colleagues, working collaboratively with colleagues and providing active and visible support of department decisions and initiatives. It is understood you will not always agree, but it is expected you will manage dissention in a positive and constructive way.
Additional Important Information
Position Appointment Dates: Resident Assistant appointments are made for the entire academic year. We count on RAs to provide coverage during breaks and holidays as needed. However, we also want to ensure that you also have time off. While you will need to stay late and return early from winter and spring break, you will have the majority of these breaks off.
Start Date: The return date for RAs begins up to two weeks before the first day of classes for the fall semester. For Academic Year 2014-15 the return date for all RAs is August 13, 2014. RA Training will be held from August 13-20, 2014. The specific time to arrive on campus on August 13th will be communicated at a later date.
- Winter break: RAs are expected to return from the semester break the Friday before the start of spring classes, for mid-year training and to prepare the halls for spring opening.
- Spring break: RAs will be released for spring recess no later than the Saturday of the spring break week and are asked to return by the Sunday at the end of the break (unless scheduled for duty coverage prior).
End Date: The RA appointment ends for the year on the Monday following finals week.
RA appointments are for one academic year. Reappointment for the following academic year is contingent upon performance evaluation, staffing configurations, departmental need and funding.
Duty: Resident Assistants are typically required to select a weekday (typically any day between Sunday through Thursday) to be on duty throughout the semester. In addition, RAs will be required to work a set number of weekends per semester (typically Friday and Saturday). In addition, RAs may be required to be on during break times that the university is closed. More information about duty will be communicated at a later time.
Time Commitment: Because of the time commitment and demands of the RA position, RAs may not serve as Orientation Leader or Peer Mentors.
Time Away: Resident Assistants are permitted only a limited number of nights and weekends away from campus. The time must be arranged in advance with their supervisor. Restrictions will be made on special weekends as deemed appropriate by their supervisor or his or her designee. A weekend is defined as nights away from 6:00 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. No more than half of the staff will be permitted to leave on any weekend, unless special consideration is provided by their supervisor or his or her designee.
In addition, RAs will be permitted time away during Thanksgiving break, two weeks of vacation time during winter break and vacation time during the week of spring break. However, when the university is closed, and during holiday breaks, the schedule must be covered by the Resident Assistant staff. The RA staff, under the direction of their supervisor, will determine the break duty schedules to ensure equity of duty responsibility.
Meeting Time: RAs will have regular meetings with the Residence Hall Director.
Co-curricular Activities & Additional Work: The RA position requires significant time and energy. We encourage our staff to be active in leadership opportunities across campus, however; we do limit RA involvement in student organizations as well as employment on campus and off campus jobs. RAs may submit a written petition to the supervisor requesting permission for additional employment or co-curricular activities. Outside employment and leadership commitments should not exceed fifteen hours each week. Approval will be based on need, previous performance and time involved in the work request. If approved, these responsibilities must not interfere with the performance of the Resident Assistant function and are subject to review by the supervisor.
International students are not permitted to work more than twenty hours per week at GSU during the academic year. As a result, and due to the demands of the Resident Assistant position, international students who hold a Resident Assistant position may not hold any other additional appointments at GSU, as this would put the student at risk of working more than 20 hours in a week.
Qualifications to retain position - Undergraduate and Graduate Resident Assistants will:
- Enroll and successfully complete at least six academic credits each semester at Governors State University. Courses must be taken for letter grade. If a RA falls below the required 6 credits, he or she must resign their RA position.
- Maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and a 2.5 semester grade point average.
- Maintain good student conduct standing.
- Fulfill all job responsibilities and receive positive evaluation by supervisor
Successful Candidates - Successful candidates will demonstrate the following skills throughout the selection process:
- Interest in the lives of individual residents, their feelings, needs and rights.
- Commitment to the full development of students’ academic pursuits and personal growth - in and out of the classroom.
- Commitment to the mission and vision of GSU and the Department of Auxiliary Services and University Housing.
- Effective leadership.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
- Sense of self-awareness and awareness of others.
- Exemplify the characteristics of a strong role model.
Performance Evaluations: During the month of December (for the Fall semester) and during the month of May (for the Spring semester), the supervisor will conduct a face-to-face meeting with each Resident Assistant. During these meetings, the Resident Assistant’s performance for fall semester and spring semesters will be evaluated. The Resident Assistant will have an opportunity to complete a self-evaluation prior to the face-to-face meeting. The face-to-face meeting will provide an opportunity for the supervisor or his or her designee and the Resident Assistant to review the formal performance evaluation as well as the Resident Assistant’s self-evaluation. The Resident Assistant will sign both the formal performance evaluation and the self-evaluation. The Resident Assistant will have the opportunity to respond in writing to the formal performance evaluation, if necessary. Also, peer-to-peer feedback will be collected for the performance evaluation process. The feedback from peers will be shared during the formal face-to-face performance evaluation meeting with the supervisor or his or her designee.
Academic Performance: RA grades are checked at the end of each semester and summer session. All staff must maintain a 2.5 cumulative and semester grade point average. If either grade point average falls below this requirement, RAs will be placed on Academic Probation or continued employment will be assessed, or both. If both the semester and cumulative grade point average fall below a 2.5, the RA must resign his or her position. RAs whose grade point averages fall sharply between semesters may be removed from their position until they have demonstrated sustained academic recovery.
It is the responsibility of each individual RA to track and manage his or her academic success.