An open letter to future freshmen

Dear future freshmen,

As incoming freshman, you all have these crazy expectations of Resident Assistants. I don’t know why, but each year, freshmen are terrified of RAs and come up with the wildest expectations. As an RA in an all freshman hall, I’ve had to bust these outrageous myths for the past two years. It’s completely normal to have certain expectations of the heads of your floor, but not the irrational  ones you have now. I’ve heard some weird rumors that freshmen have about RAs as they move in, but I’m here to tell you that everything you’re thinking of right now is most likely wrong. Let me break those unrealistic expectations down into realistic ones and tell you exactly what RAs expect of their residents.

“The RAs are just going to be out to get me!”

Yes, I'm sure this RA is "out to get you." We're just try to stomp the naughtiness out of you.
Yes, I’m sure this RA is “out to get you.” We’re just try to stomp the naughtiness out of you.

Okay… First off, you’re wrong. We’re not “out to get you.” We’ll never be “out to get you.” Nor do we really want to be “out to get you.” Writing you up means more paperwork for us and that’s not something we look forward to. Yes, we signed up to enforce rules and regulations, but seeking out the rule breakers isn’t our number one priority. All we want to do is keep you safe. Yes, we know you’re going to drink and try new things; it’s college. To be honest, we did the exact same things when we were freshmen. We’re not the saints you think we are, we want to live out our college experiences too.

Now, if you do drink, it’s different for a lot of RAs. A majority of them would prefer if you stay in the building. It’s a lot safer than going to the bars. Other RAs would rather you do it out of the hall so you have a better chance of not getting in trouble. I understand both sides, but I’d personally prefer if freshmen drank in their room; it’s safer, near an authority figure that can lend help when needed and you don’t need to worry about being drugged (as long as you know who is in your room and what you are drinking.) College is scary and you have to be on your guard.

So, to bust that unrealistic expectation; no, RAs are not going to be out to get you. Just don’t be stupid. We know you’re going to do things, just don’t take advantage of it. Be smart and know what you’re doing.

“My RA is going to love me so much that I’ll be able to do whatever I want!”

Yeah, a lot of people come in with that mind set. Yeah, we do have favorites. No, we won’t tell you who’s the favorite. But, do our favorites get away with a lot of things? Of course they do! They hang out with us all the time and get on our good side. We become friends and start doing more things together while getting to know each other on a personal basis. Can they do whatever they want? Haha, no. They don’t and we make sure they know they can’t, sorry.

You may be an outgoing individual, which is amazing! We love residents that step out of their comfort zone and get involved with the school and hall. But, as soon as you start acting up and doing things you really shouldn’t do in front of us, we’ll put it to an end. Sorry, that means no skateboarding in the lobby, rearranging the furniture while attempting to stack them as high as possible or swinging from the wooden pillars. That’s just annoying and we don’t want you to get hurt, because you will. So, please, don’t be that one kid. I’m begging you. You’ll immediately go from our favorite to hated.

Come to college thinking we’ll love you, because we will! Don’t come to college thinking you’ll be able to do whatever you want, because you won’t be able to. End of story.

“My RA is going to try to be like my parent; I won’t be able to do anything.”

We may be like your parents at times, but you'll learn to accept it and become a big family throughout the hall.
We may be like your parents at times, but you’ll learn to accept it and become a big family throughout the hall.

Yes, I look at all my residents as my children. I’ve gotten superlatives from them and my staff members declaring me “Most Mom-Like.” Get over it. I love my job and I love looking out for you all; all RAs do, it’s why we wanted the job in the first place. That’s the same way with your parents, like it or not.

You’ll be able to do things you want to do. We may care for you like your parents, but we’re not going to be on your butt about everything. Want to stay out until four in the morning? Go right ahead, I’m not going to stop you. Want to go drink? I don’t mind. It really doesn’t bother me. Don’t want to clean your room? Okay, I just won’t visit. The whole “parent” thing comes in when you have a problem and need help. RAs are always there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on. I know my door is always open when my residents need someone to talk to, vent to or hang out with. Most RAs are people that will get up at two in the morning to make you chicken noodle soup or hot tea with honey if you’re sick. College is tough, things happen; we know that. We were freshmen once, too, don’t forget that. That’s why we’re here for you every step of the way.

That’s what people mean when they say we’re like a parent. All we do is try to protect you and help shape your years here at college into the best years of your life. We will try to point you in the right direction, but it’s up to you to take your own path through college.

“All RAs are just going to be ‘funsuckers.’”

She was breaking the rules by screaming at the top of her lungs at 3 am on a Wednesday. That's just annoying.
She was breaking the rules by screaming at the top of her lungs at 3 am on a Wednesday. That’s just annoying.

First of all, I have no idea what you mean by “funsuckers.” I am personally a joy to be around! And to go off of that, we’re not “narks,” either. The only reason we write you up for incidences is because you broke the rules. This only happened because you didn’t know how to hide anything or were obnoxious. Don’t leave alcohol on the windowsill, don’t keep your door open while you drink, don’t walk the halls with an open container and, please, just don’t scream, “Shots” if you don’t want to be caught.

Our job is to stop rules from being broken when we see or hear them happen. Our job is to step in when there’s an issue and someone needs help. Nothing else. Honestly, we don’t like dumping out all your alcohol and ruining your night. We know how much alcohol costs, we know you want to party with your friends. We know. This isn’t fun for you, just like it’s not fun for us. I hate writing people up. It takes away the fun from the night and gives me more work. Some advice: just be quiet and smart. Keep things hidden and you’ll be fine.

“RAs are the ones that will help me get through college.”

After meeting in the beginning of the year, this RA made the biggest impact on his resident. They are now best friends.
After meeting in the beginning of the year, this RA made the biggest impact on his resident. They are now best friends.

Yes. We’re your friend, parent, protector and advice giver. We want what’s best for you and help you make your mark here in college. As an RA, my goal is to make an impact for each and every student so that they can have the best freshman year at Ohio University. It’s important to me to direct them in the right path and stay by their side every step of the way. Even when you’re no longer my resident, you’ll always be able to come to me for anything you could ever need. You’re more than a resident; you’re family, my Bobcat Family.

Well, I hope that helped. Resident Assistants aren’t bad people. We have a bad rap and it frightens you. Don’t be scared when you move to college, we’re here for you when no one else is. Try not to bring in those unrealistic expectations, think realistic. We’re people, students and college kids. We know and understand. Trust me.


A second year RA

Caffeinated Campus – A guide to the prime caffeine spots at Ohio University

On a mission to find some of the best coffee in Athens, Ohio, I stopped by all the major coffee shops in the early afternoon and asked the barista to make me their favorite drink, to get a taste – pun intended – of each shop’s style.

Donkey Coffee and Espresso

Havana Latte with Cinnamon at Donkey
Havana Latte with Cinnamon at Donkey

First stop was Donkey.  Located at 17 1/2 W. Washington Street, it is noticeably dedicated to culture and the arts, sporting many paintings and photographs on the walls. The barista chose to make a havana latte with cinnamon, and was skilled enough to design a leaf in the coffee with the milk.  Giving it to me on the house, this would normally be around a $4 purchase. The drink itself was very well mixed, with the cinnamon adding the perfect subtle twist.  Feeling rather cluttered, it was somewhat difficult to get around with the high volume of people satisfying their caffeine needs.  Dimly lit, most people there seemed to be students working alone on their computers or Athens residents chatting quietly with a friend.  Most tables and chairs were wooden, with lounge chairs and couches off to the sides.  There was a very large back room, and a few small rooms upstairs, with a few tables out on the balcony upstairs and right out the front door.  If you’re looking for somewhere quiet to work with great coffee and friendly baristas, Donkey is the place to go.

Fluff Bakery

Mocha with Lavender at Fluff
Mocha with Lavender at Fluff

The next stop was Fluff, located at 8 N. Court Street.  Fluff gave off a very different feel from Donkey, with a very bright, fun, and lighthearted atmosphere.  Sporting a delicious bakery, and rather overpriced alcohol, Fluff is also known for a great selection of coffee.  The barista chose to make a mocha with lavender for $4.50.  The drink was delicious, but the foam contained most of the chocolate flavor and the lavender dominated the rest of the drink.  The bakery only had a few other patrons at the time, but they all appeared to be college students out with their friends.  None of them were working on schoolwork.  If you’re looking for some variety or are craving a baked good, Fluff is the place to be.

Brenen’s Coffee Cafe

Milky Way at Brenen's
Milky Way at Brenen’s

Brenen’s, located at 38 S. Court Street, was a good place to stop at about midway through my expedition.  Immediately after walking in, it was obvious how busy of a place Brenen’s is.  After waiting in a lengthy line to order, the guest is given a ticket to give to the barista at the end of another line.  This barista chose to make a milky way for $3.90.  The milky way was a fairly basic concoction perfect for those with a sweet tooth.  With plenty of whipped cream, a vast amount of chocolate and caramel are added to sweeten up the coffee.  Brenen’s is best known for pairing coffee with their stellar sandwiches, however.  Sporting more of a lunch vibe similar to Panera Bread, this cafe was packed full of students grabbing a bite to eat before heading home after their classes.  Very few students were working on homework, as most were simply trying to relax and spend a half hour eating with their friends.  Only a couple students were alone.  If you’re looking to get reenergized after class, Brenen’s is the place to bring your friends.

Court Street Cafe

Court Street Mocha at Court Street
Court Street Mocha at Court Street

Court Street, located at 67 S. Court Street, seems to be one of the lesser-known coffee shops on campus.  A seemingly very ordinary coffee shop, Court Street had a brighter feel like Fluff.  The barista made their signature drink, aptly titled the Court Street mocha for $3.50.  It was very small and incredibly sweet.  For someone like myself who needs coffee diluted, this was one of my favorite drinks.  For someone who needs a great deal of caffeine, this may not be what they are looking for.  The interior was spacious, with several different rooms to relax with friends.  Like Donkey, most of the patrons were students sitting by themselves working on schoolwork.  The majority of people at Court Street, however, seemed to walk in, get their coffee, and abruptly leave.  This doesn’t seem to be the place to linger.  If you’re looking for a quick coffee to go, or a quiet place to study in the back, it seems like Court Street Cafe is the place to go.

The Front Room

Caramel Macchiato at The Front Room
Caramel Macchiato at The Front Room

The Front Room, conveniently located on campus on the fourth floor of Baker Student Center, is the busiest coffee shop I have ever been to.  The barista chose to make a caramel macchiato for $4.45, and it was incredibly strong, warranting the high price.  Being in the student center, Front Room caters exclusively to students and knows they need a lot of caffeine.  The Front Room was made up of both students working on assignments and groups of friends hanging out together.  The atmosphere was reasonably bright and happy, with an abundance of both comfy chairs and wooden chairs around tables.  It had a very modern vibe, and was very loud and hectic.  Most of the students working on assignments had headphones in as to not be distracted.  The Front Room has a variety of events going on throughout the week, like open stage Wednesday afternoons.  Front Room is a part of campus, so they accept a variety of payment forms including flex points and bobcat cash.  If you’re a student who needs a pick-me-up in between classes, this is the coffee shop for you.

South Side Espresso Bar

White Dolce with Cinnamon at South Side
White Dolce with Cinnamon at South Side

The last coffee shop I went to was South Side, located right inside Nelson Dining Hall.  The barista chose to make a white dolce with cinnamon for $3.45, claiming that it would taste like a cinnamon roll.  For the most part, she succeeded.  This was also a very sweet drink.  South Side can either be incredibly busy, or incredibly slow.  There is no in between.  When the dining hall is open, the coffee shop tends to see a lot more business.  It’s a reasonably small area with only a handful of tables and seats along the counter, but generally it doesn’t need more than that.  South Side is also a campus-affiliated coffee shop, so they will also take flex points and bobcat cash as a method of payment.  Students looking to relax before or after lunch are more than likely to enjoy a cup at South Side.

College campuses have a great need for caffeine, and Ohio University paired with uptown Athens do not disappoint.  Additional coffee shops are located in Alden Library, the Academic and Research Center, and the West Union Street Office Center.  These are all a part of campus, so they are likely to be very similar to South Side in Nelson.  With such a great variety on campus, students need not worry about their caffeinated needs.