With colleges reopening across the country this semester life on campus has had to make drastic changes forcing Resident Assistants to change how they do their job.
Students moving back to campus this semester has posed many challenges for colleges trying to reopen both safely and effectively. SUNY Brockport is one of these colleges that must undergo massive changes to their on-campus living regulations. Almost the entirety of on-campus living has had to undergo massive changes in order to keep both students and staff safe. As a result Resident Assistants have had to change the way in which they do their job to try and be in compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
Kailee Miller is a junior at SUNY Brockport, and a second year RA. She has attested to her job having to undergo major changes.
Miller said, “There are so many aspects of my job that have changed due to COVID-19. We now have to check the ID cards of everyone who walks into the building during the day to verify that they are a resident in the building, we also have to remind residents to wear their masks anytime they leave their room”.
Masks and social distancing are some of the most universal changes to be found around colleges. Despite it being a simple rule Miller says that it is still a struggle to get residents to comply with the new rules.
“Anytime I step foot out of my room I feel like I have to be doing my job by paying attention to who is wearing their mask. If someone is not wearing their mask properly, or at all, after being reminded to do so, we as RAs are obligated to write them up to be sent to the office of student conduct”, she said.
Before COVID-19 RA’s were able to split up the work they do into shifts. However, as said by Miller it appears that the job is now 24/7. They now need to constantly be on alert to help enforce these new regulations.
Julia Gullo is another RA at SUNY Brockport and she agrees that while enforcing guidelines is a struggle, she believes that connecting with residents has become one of her biggest challenges.
She said, “COVID has prevented us from interacting with residents as much as I think the entirety of ResLife would like to. Unfortunately programs this year are completely virtual which prevents a lot of connection. It was undeniably more difficult for freshmen to interact and make friends due to the restrictions and as an RA working to promote these bonds I’ve found it tough”.
Programs and social interaction are some of the most important parts of Residential Life. But do to COVID-19 most interactions have had to transfer over to a virtual format. Unfortunately, the interactions are not the same, leaving RA’s struggling to interact with their students.
Gullo also discussed the difficulty of trying to enforce some of the tougher changes, such as only residents being allowed inside their building, and how sometimes it is tough to be strict about these rules.
She says, “One thing I was not prepared for before COVID was having to constantly make sure no one was sneaking into the building. Unfortunately, we have had a multitude of residents attempt to sneak people in despite the rule… I have difficulty writing them up about it”.
Resident Assistants are the front line workers for on-campus living at colleges. They are tasked with upholding the regulations that were set in place to keep both students and themselves safe. COVID-19 has presented a multitude of challenges to RA’s but as shown by Gullo and Miller they continue to persevere and do everything they can to find some sort of normalcy in a world without normality.