A Night in the Life of a Resident Assistant

It’s 10 p.m. on a school night. Most of you will probably be home, studying, or finishing a night with friends, but for a few students on campus, their night is just beginning. These students are on-call Resident Assistants (R.As).

Do, beep, do, beep, do, do, do….The phone is ringing and I’ve just begun my night on-call. I pick up and the voice on the other end says, “Hey, I’m locked out of my room.”  I walk a few blocks in the rain to get to their building, the entire time my mind is on the fact that I still have to finish the last few pages of my essay due at 9 a.m.  I let them in and then continue on my rounds, checking to make sure that all the doors are locked, nothing’s amiss. Ew! What did I just touch? One of the handles is covered in a semi-opaque, slimy, sticky substance. Suppressing my gag reflex, I head to the nearest office to find a sink and some hand sanitizer. I go back to clean up the mess and hope to never find out what I just touched. Something tells me I don’t want to know the answer.

The night goes pretty smoothly as I finish both sets of rounds. There’s the call I seem to get every week complaining about the upstairs neighbors, so I write another information report.  All I hope for is no call from Campus Public Safety, as last time they called about a party with underage high schoolers, and the week before it ended up with somebody in the hospital. Those calls are always the worst. Finally, I fall asleep around 1 a.m., but it is of course too good to be true; the phone rings again at 4 a.m., waking me from a dead sleep. The alarm is set for 6:30 and I still have to finish that paper.

3 thoughts on “A Night in the Life of a Resident Assistant

  1. Zach says:

    I was a Resident Assistant at Oregon State for four years. It can be a demanding, thankless job, but it was simultaneously one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

    And really, you did the right thing. Don’t think about the foreign substances that you end up touching. You’re better off not knowing.

  2. Whitney Jacobson says:

    Thanks for your comment Zach. It’s definitely true that ignorance can be bliss sometimes. A lot of students on campus do not realize how much being “The R.A.” is less about glamour or getting people in trouble and more about long nights and potentially gross or scary situations. Glad to hear from somebody who’s also been through the experience.

  3. valy spin says:

    Living with someone older and having care of him is indeed, a challenging job. But, besides, doing your job, you get to experience something new, you make new connections and gain life experience. The old people are known for their odd tastes, for instance, you will definitely see custom stained glass somewhere in the house, which looks like something from another century. These kind of details must be recounted as well, not only, the actual tasks, like throwing the trash, giving the pills at a certain hour and so on.

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