One resident adviser reflects on his duties: the good, the bad, and the vigilance required

By Michael Logli

Being a resident adviser can be a demanding job. Many residents may see their adviser as the proverbial “bad cop,” but Jim Pierson, sophomore in LAS, believes the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“With any job, there may be times when it’s a hassle, but if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Pierson said.

Pierson is the resident adviser for the ground floor of Saunders Hall in the Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls. This is his first year as a resident adviser, but he plans on applying for the position again next year.

“I was attracted to the job because it was free room and board, but after I realized what it was all about, I realized it was something I want to do,” Pierson said.

While resident advisers receive free room and board when they are assigned to a residence hall, they also receive a small payment each month for their work. However, applicants must undergo a rigorous application process to be hired.

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    First, an applicant must fill out a job application and send in a resume. After a first cut, the remaining applicants must then engage in job shadowing, at which point the applicant must follow another resident adviser during their rounds through the residence hall. They are also interviewed by a professional staff member, which is either a resident director or a housing officer, and another resident adviser before they are hired.

    But, even when the process is over and the resident adviser begins their duties, the difficulties do not end.

    “There is no definition of when you’re on the job and when you’re not,” Pierson said. “At any point in time, there could be a problem you have to deal with.”

    While Pierson organizes many activities for his floor and the hall to participate in, such as football games, Frisbee and movie nights, Pierson said that the resident adviser’s image comes before any social commitments. This is because their performance and actions reflect upon the housing department.

    Resident advisers also put in many hours of training and hard work after they are hired and while they are on the job. Pierson is usually required to stay for parts of summer and winter breaks for training, and he often comes in earlier than other residents to help reopen the residence halls. He also stays later to help close them.

    Despite some of the stress and hassles he sometimes faces, Pierson said the skills he is learning in his position will be beneficial to him in the job market. Pierson said being a resident advisor gives a person great leadership experience and it is a great way to learn to work with people. Plus, it looks good on a resume, Pierson said.

    “We’re students like everyone else, but we’re trying to respect the rules that we’re trying to enforce,” Pierson said.