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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    RAs should be rehired based on qualifications

    Coming to college can be an intimidating transition for freshmen, especially for those who are living away from home for the first time. Helping new students with that transition is one of the many pivotal roles a resident assistant plays, which is why it’s important for RAs to be carefully selected.

    Changes to the way current RAs apply to return as an RA the following year that make the process more objective and fair to all applicants will help Residence Life choose those who are best suited for the job.

    “Few positions on campus are as impactful as the RA position,” said Jennifer Hiatt, the executive director of Residence Life. “RAs are involved in the daily lives of our residents and serve as leaders, role models, problem solvers, crisis managers and so much more. Our students deserve the very best, and we are proud of the fact that we are able to hire such a talented, caring group of RAs each year.”

    When Residence Life selects new RAs, the process is a long one, starting with an online application and an individual interview, followed by a group interview. In contrast, the selection process for returning RAs is relatively simple. In the past, RAs who wished to return the following school year filled out an application and then only interviewed with their current community director. The decision rested in the hands of a single person who likely knew the applicant on a personal level, which could potentially affect their decision-making.

    This year, RAs who wish to return will interview with a community director from a different residence hall, preferably someone who doesn’t know that RA. Although the process was only modified slightly, the changes suppress nepotism and will weed out the less motivated and enthusiastic RAs.

    Before the changes, lackluster and lethargic RAs were slipping through the cracks to return, so some residents weren’t getting the experience they deserved.

    “[The] changes are a result of two focus groups of graduating RAs,” said Nicholas Sweeton, the senior director for residential education at the UA. “The graduating RAs indicated that Res[idence] Life needs to improve selection of returning RAs because they are the ones who set the tone for the rest of the year.

    “We take staff concerns and feedback very seriously,” Sweeton added.

    Another change to the process limits the number of RAs that can return. This will make the process more competitive and will draw out the enthusiasm and spirit of the returners who truly deserve the position for a second or third year.

    “I expect we’ll have more folks wanting positions than positions available.” said Josh Hill, assistant director of staff selection and training at Residence Life. “This will allow us to pick from the best of the best, which I think is great for both Res Life and residents.”

    The cap on the number of returning RAs to be hired also allows new blood to enter the system and bring in fresh ideas and perspectives.

    The modifications to the hiring process for returning RAs will broaden the pool of potential candidates while also maintaining the incredibly high standards Residence Life strives for. Since RAs receive free housing and other benefit,s like a meal plan, it is important to make sure that everyone is doing their job to the fullest extent and not just lounging around for the perks. Only the best of the best should be hired as RAs, and if that requires hiring a new person over someone who wants to reutrn, then the process should enable that.

    Nick Havey is a sophomore studying Spanish and pre-physiology. Follow him on Twitter.com/@nihavey.

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