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

Sib-less on sibs weekend

Sibs Weekend. It’s a time where the Athens’ population doubles as Bobcat families flood the Baker Center on Ohio University’s campus. By 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, the room was full of laughter, screaming and cheering as Bobcats enjoyed the carnival-themed event.

For someone who has never had a sibling down for Sibs Weekend, this is one of the loneliest weekends during the semester. When I stepped into the ballroom, I couldn’t help but feel singled out as kids ran around with their faces painted, getting balloon animals and winning a goldfish in a bag of water. My brother, once again, couldn’t make it up for the weekend.

This year, however, I found out that there are still ways to enjoy Sibs Weekend at OU, even if your family isn’t in town. Here are just a few of the ways to have fun during the weekend!

Sib's Weekend Carnival
Sibs Weekend Carnival
  1. Go to the Sib Events with a friend

Sib Weekend events aren’t just for siblings. They don’t check at the door to make sure every person coming through are family. I went with my big! The coordinators didn’t ask nor did they care about the two girls walking through the doors into the event. Bringing my friend to the carnival was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would. Her and I walked around the entire ballroom and participated in the activities. Unfortunately, the food was gone by the time we got there, but we were able to throw a ping pong ball into a cup to win a fish, get our faces painted like cats and get balloon animals.

If I had gone by myself, I would not have been able to stay until it shut down at 6 pm that night. Standing in line by myself doesn’t sound appealing. Standing in line with one of my best friends sounds like a blast. Even though my brother couldn’t make it down, I had an amazing time at the Sibs Weekend carnival. This weekend, there were so many other programs that Ohio University put together. They aren’t closed off to siblings only; anyone could go to them as long as they paid for tickets. This weekend is supposed to be a time to bond with friends and family, not a time where sibling-less Bobcats sit in their room wishing for something to do.

  1. Invite a friend or significant other

Who said best friends, boyfriends or girlfriends couldn’t come down during the weekend? No one, that’s for sure. It’s a perfect time to invite them down: there are events with free food, games and fishy prizes!

Kelly Tusing and Nick Taylor spending time together after the basketball game.
Kelly Tusing and Nick Taylor spending time together after the basketball game.

Kelly Tusing brought her boyfriend down for the weekend because her brother wouldn’t have been able to make it. “Last year was boring,” she said. “I tried to go to the Sibs Weekend events, but they weren’t that much fun without anyone to hang out with.” Instead, this year, she invited Nick Taylor to stay the weekend.

Instead of going to the carnival, Tusing and Taylor went to the basketball game and cheered on the Ohio Bobcats in an 80-69 win against the Northern Illinois

Huskies. “It was really cool seeing so many OU students and family at a basketball game,” Taylor, being from Bowling Green, wasn’t used to so many fans in the stadium. “The school has a different feel here then BG. OU puts on more university sponsored events whereas BG has a ton of little kids which is gained towards entertainment.” Tusing and Taylor spent the rest of the evening walking around campus and people watching, something Tusing wouldn’t have found fun by herself. “I would have hated it if I didn’t have anyone to hang out with this weekend. Most of my friends have their siblings out for the weekend.” So she thought she would bring Taylor be her honorary guest for Sibs Weekend. “I still had so much fun with my boyfriend,” she laughed. “You don’t need a sibling to have a great time during Sibs Weekend!”

  1. Go get them mad gains

I didn’t have much to do in the beginning of the day, so I thought going to the gym would be a perfect way to pass the time until the carnival. As soon as I walked into the gym, I was stunned. I work out every day, so seeing it as empty as I saw it was surprising. Normally, I would have to wait for machines to open up, but at 1 pm on Saturday, I didn’t have to wait at all. Everything was free. Only a few people chose to workout today, probably thinking exactly what I was thinking. Going to Ping during Sibs Weekend was a smart choice. If anyone was looking for some alone or quiet time, Ping was the place to go. No one bothered me while I worked out so I didn’t have a need to wear headphones. The music was loud, there was no one talking and the machines were barely in use, so there were no loud clanking noises to drown it out. I worked out for more than an hour and the crowd stayed consistent. There were some siblings there to work out or to take tours, but for the most part, Ping was very empty. I was able to concentrate without any type of distraction.

  1. Go study at the library

With school building cleared of regular inhabitants, Alden Library inhabited the students who had no one to spend the day with. So, instead of going to OU sponsored events, few Bobcats hit the books at the library. As I walked into the library to start my homework, I looked around and saw no one. Nearly every table was empty. I rode the elevator to all seven floors and found a scarce amount of people scattered throughout Alden. I walked up to a girl with all of her things arranged on one of the tables on the second floor and sat down.

Tiffany Touville was hard at work on her accounting homework. “My brother couldn’t make it down this weekend,” she said sadly. “He had car troubles and our parents wouldn’t let him come down.” Touville’s brother has come to Athens for Sibs Weekend the past two years, so this year was a little lonely for her. She had their entire day planned out from going to brunch to watching movies in her room until 2 am. “I went to the carnival in Baker Ballroom, expecting it to be a lot of fun, but it wasn’t really. I felt awkward standing around by myself.” A lot of her friends went home for the weekend to spend Sibs Weekend with their families. “I decided to be productive and work on all my homework. There’s no one here, so why not take advantage of it,” Touville said.

Sibs Weekend for the sib-less is pretty boring, she said to me, but it’s a perfect time to focus on homework because there isn’t anyone around to distract them. “It may not be as fun as we want it to be, the sib-less, but we still have fun because we know we’ve got our homework done when everyone else has to rush to get it done before Monday,” Touville bragged. So, look at that, Sibs Weekend brings out the productivity in those who don’t have siblings in Athens.

  1. Hang out with friends

There’s nothing better than being with best friends on Sibs Weekend. Either it be with friends that don’t have siblings down in Athens or with friends that have siblings with them, the weekend will still be a blast! Get adopted into a friend’s family for the weekend and do everything with them. Go out with best friends and make pseudo siblings for the weekend.

Britt Bilger and her closest friend eating before their trip to Strouds Run.
Britt Bilger and her closest friend eating before their trip to Strouds Run.

Brit Bilger didn’t have her brother for Sibs Weekend, so she grabbed her roommates and went to Strouds Run for the day. “No one else in my house had siblings come to Athens for the weekend, so, we packed up and left,” Bilger said. They decided to make their own fun for Sibs Weekend instead of hanging around campus. Bilger and her group of friends went out to eat on Court Street, then left to spend the day with each other. To them, they are family. They don’t need their siblings in Athens to have a good time. “If we have each other,” Bilger stated, “then we will be okay. It’s a bummer that we can’t have our families down our senior year, but it happens. We have to make the best of it.” Things happen, why sit around and sulk? Make the best of a fun and exciting weekend. The weather was perfect and everyone was happy. Family doesn’t always need to be blood.

– – –

Ohio University hosts a fun and interactive Sibs Weekend for every student in Athens, no matter if they have a sibling or not. Bringing a friend or doing other things on, or off, campus for the weekend creates the memories that OU hopes to provide. Sib-less students may have a harder time during Sibs Weekend, but they still find things to do during all the events on Saturday. Bobcats are busy all day going to different events and programs that the university sponsors for its’ students, such as ice-skating, stargazing, campfires, hockey and basketball games and carnival themed programs. Some cost money while others are free to all that desire to participate in Sibs Weekend. Each student spends this sponsored event differently; the memories from the event are the same: progress, laughter and peace.

A spoon full of espresso makes the stress go down

When people think of Ohio University, the first thing that comes to mind may be house parties, Court Street or famous street names that host parties during the spring. When I think of OU, I think of late nights at the coffee shops scattered around campus, warm environments and wonderful memories that I created with my closest friends and boyfriend.

South Side Espresso Bar is my home away from home. It’s where I can get away from my residence hall and be by myself; it’s there where I don’t have to worry about anyone other than myself. It may seem silly, but as a Resident Assistant to an all freshman residence hall, having that little break for just myself is something I don’t get that often. I’m in class all day, I come home and residents who want my attention immediately bombard me. My room is not my sanctuary; a small café in Nelson is where I find my solitude.

After a long, treacherous day in classes, I walk to Nelson and pick a cushioned seat near the fire. It’s comforting, South Side: the quiet environment, engaging barista and warm atmosphere. I’m able to spread my things out across a tabletop and pull out my laptop while drinking a

hot cup of whatever I felt like drinking that day. There is a reason why this place is my favorite place in Athens; no one ever comes there, and if they do, it’s to work on homework or relax with friends.

My delicious drink of choice: hot chocolate. The barista takes the time to make my drink exactly how I like it.
My delicious drink of choice: hot chocolate. The barista takes the time to make my drink exactly how I like it.

With Front Room in Baker Center, South Side doesn’t get the crowed it should. South Side doesn’t host ‘Open Mic. Nights’ or own a piano that anyone can play whenever. Maybe that’s why I like South Side so much. It isn’t overcrowded; there is always a seat open for the busy goer. That being said, I can always find a place to work with my friends or talk with my boyfriend without the need to pull chairs around or shout across the table. It’s here where I can relax with the ones I care about and be myself; I can find myself in this café better than any other coffee shop or random bar on campus.

South Side may be out of the way, but that’s what makes it the best place to be alone and make those rare memories people don’t usually think of when they come to Athens. This place is what get’s me through the day and I can always rely on it to calm me down after a stressful day of college. It may seem weird, a college student loving a café, but it’s what makes me function as a student and as a Resident Assistant. I make the grades, focus on myself and I’m able to prepare myself for whatever life throws at me next.