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.

Sincerely,

A second year RA