Resident assistants at the University of Nebraska at Omaha help students transition from living at home to living with three roommates on campus.
“An RAs job is to let students know what kind of opportunities there are on campus to help them create a home away from home environment,” said sophomore Scott Campus RA Cami Larson.
Trying to maintain good health, a social life and a high GPA can be very overwhelming, but RAs help create a positive environment for both learning and living.
Igor Volk, an international student at UNO, said he believes that coming in with an open mind can make a difference.
“Everyone comes from different states, different cities, different environmental and cultural backgrounds, so you need to keep in mind that not everyone is the same way as you are,” Volk said. “I believe the key component is staying as open-minded as possible when trying to put yourself into new environments.”
Durango Days gives residents the opportunity to get involved and meet new people. Durango Days, UNO’s official welcome week, kicks off during the move in days of both Scott and Dodge
campuses and leads into the first week of the school year.
“The best way to meet new people and getting involved the first few weeks of college would be going to the Durango Days events,” Volk said. “They have a lot of activities throughout the Scott and main campuses, so grab your roommates and go.”
Larson recommended going to the housing events put on by the RAs each month.
“On Scott Campus, we hold three events for our residents each month,” Larson said. “One is planned by your building’s RA and the other two are cluster events where all buildings join for an event. I would recommend going to the floor events or the cluster events put on by the RAs.”
During the first few days of moving in, the UNO residence halls in both Scott and Dodge will be hectic as students move into their new homes.
“Make sure to bring the essential items like clothing and bathroom items,” Larson said. “I would also recommend bringing a couple things from home that are personal that you can connect to home. That way it’s not a complete shock to be in a new place.”
Getting everything ready can be a challenge but it doesn’t have to be, Larson explained. A great way to create a list of dorm essentials is looking through online sources on college shopping.
“Shop for essentials slowly,” Volk said. “Don’t try to rush it immediately. Create a list of the most essential things you need that you need for the first few weeks. Also, it’d be a good idea to buy some foods and snacks for a few days so you can get comfortable.”
The move-in days are Aug. 13-19, depending on the residence hall. RAs at Scott and Dodge campuses are ready to help students adjust to college life.
“This is a really fun new experience that not a lot of people get to have. I expect a lot of late nights and planning,” Larson said. “The RAs will try to make it as smooth of a transition as possible. Expect move-in day to be really busy, but with excitement in the air.”
Since May, I have been employed as a resident assistant at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Now that I regularly don khaki shorts and wear carabiner-clipped keys to my belt loops, I am finally starting to find a comfort zone in one of the weirdest and most fun titles of my life: RA Kami.
UNO’s RA situation is a bit different from other universities, because all of our residence halls are in an suite/apartment layout. Since the housing is different, so are our residential numbers, compared to a typical dorm building. However, all 38 of us student workers on staff have quickly become a close-knit group with shared experiences and meme-filled group chats.
Although it’s only been about a month since our whole training cycle began, I felt it necessary to depict the joy residence life has brought me and my RA peers, because gosh, you guys, isn’t that part of the whole college experience?
I have interviewed as many of my colleagues/friends as I could (come on, follow the 48 hour email policy, guys), and their passionate, vibrant, adorable answers are below. Join the love fest, and this next semester, drop the books for an hour to come to an event on campus, because we can give you a ton of reasons why our event programming is way better than calculus.
“Having been an RA, I have met some amazing people, RAs and non-RAs. I’ve become much more familiar with the area and the people that make this place run. Also, if I’d never lived on campus, my college experience would not have helped me to grow. I think it should almost be mandatory to live on-campus your first year. Think about the people you meet, the events you go to. Being a commuter versus a resident makes a world of a difference. The independence I found through living here has made me much more responsible and pushed outside of my comfort zone. This place really feels like home when you get connected with the community.” –Brandi Mountain
“I have made fantastic friends I may never have known without living on-campus. Overall, the decision to become Scott Campus resident improved my college experience tremendously. I have always struggled with staying inside my bubble of security. I knew that when I accepted the position of an RA, not only would I meet incredible new people, but I would also be faced with many difficult situations I had never experienced. I have gained more confidence and leadership skills than I could have with an average college student job. While I didn’t realize it at the time, all of these experiences have made me appreciate the uncertainty of life and welcome new and somewhat scary situations.” –Sam Swanson
“I believe students should be involved with campus life because statistics have shown they’re more likely to arrive to class on time and graduate on time, too. What I’ve noticed more about being involved on campus is that it’s a great opportunity to enjoy and absorb the ‘college experience.’ I never find myself actually looking for something to do. There’s always stuff going on just because I’ve made the connections on campus with other students and residents. The greatest experiences of being an RA is being able to mesh with your co-workers and hanging out with them outside of work, but that’s not all. Through the job, I have met way more people on campus of who I would have never met without being an RA. The benefits are kinda self-explanatory, but having access to pretty much the entire residential campus is wicked!” –Michael Spelts
“There is a community on campus that has students from every major and every background going for all types of careers. Getting to know these people in the residence life community will be very rewarding. This also puts students in a position to help other people by sharing their resources and experiences. Just living on campus puts has put me in an atmosphere of individuals who are all going to college or working with the college to better students and prepare them for the career they are pursuing. That can be a very motivating place to live in. It also is very convenient to go to classes and study with everything being just a few minutes away. Outside of academics it has been very easy to meet people with similar interests and hang out with them. If you have something you like to do for fun, there’s someone here on campus that likes to do it, too.” –Matt Norrie
“There are an abundance of skills and relationships you form when being a part of residence life. Communication, teamwork, community development, advising, personal management and diversity and community standards are just a few of the many skills. All of these are what employers look for when selecting applicants. Why not get free housing, meal plan and build a resume at the same time? On top of skills, you will form relationships not only with your colleagues/friends, but with other residents on campus. The amount of people you meet is astonishing. Some days it is funny to think how fast things change and how I went from resident to resident assistant within literally a week of training. I wish I would’ve made friends with these individuals way earlier than I did. The overall atmosphere is awesome to be around!” –Lane DeGroff
“A lot of students are worried that they’ll come to college and not be able to make friends but if you just go to a campus event it’s almost impossible to leave without making friends or leaving without having friendly faces to wave at on campus. My greatest experience living on campus is getting roomed with my roommates last year. There are plenty of roommate horror stories, but mine is a sappy moment or two short of a Lifetime movie. I was lucky enough to be roomed with two girls who are now some of my best friends. From countless movie nights, dinner dates, nights sitting on the floor talking, cleaning the apartment together, getting our first tattoos together, and going on a spring break trip together I am so thankful to this campus for bringing us together. This is why I am always telling people to try and make friends because you never know how amazing those connections can be!” –Sydney Rogers-Morrell
“I was extremely nervous when I first moved to the Omaha campus from Georgia. I was fortunate enough to be placed into the RA room my freshmen year of college. My RA introduced me to people and got me out of my shell. I met some of the most amazing people that I am still friends with today. My floor those years built a community. We would make meals together, play kickball and volleyball and watch movies. That only happened because I ventured out and met people and introduced them to others. My RA my first two years of college mentored me and gave me the greatest experiences of my college years. I became an RA to be that in other people’s lives. There is so much community on campus. You never have to eat alone because there is always a group of hungry RAs willing to come to the cafe with you. I have only been an RA for a few weeks, but I already feel as though we have built a family. I know that I have 35 people in my life who support me and have got my back. From knowing the behind-the-scenes work, it has made me aware and appreciative of all Res Life does for the residential community.” –Bryanna Beckman
“People should get involved in residence life because it is very different from home. It’s a bunch of people just like us trying to make the best of it. I’ve met a lot of people who regret not getting involved at all. In the photo attached, I took a chance and befriended some international students who invited me to try some Japanese food. It was very delicious, and I seriously recommend it.” –Maria Gonzalez
While my school is a wonderful place to be a resident, I think you’ll find that all of these statements ring true among colleges across the country. As a regular resident, I didn’t get involved nearly as much as I do as an RA now, and it makes me sad knowing I missed out on some amazing friendships earlier on in my college career because I just felt like watching “The Office” for the 800th time.
Get on your RA’s good side, introduce yourself to others even if it feels awkward and know that no matter how nerdy and organized on-campus events are, they are the key to meeting friends that will be by your side from there.
Make sure you pack your extra long twin sheets and a good attitude this fall, and I’m sure you will meet your people. You’ll even have a few free t-shirts and a belly full of free food to prove your effort!
Note: This article was originally written and published by Kamrin Baker for Fresh U.
By Ben Nelson
In another show of growth and progress, brand new dorm construction is underway on University of Nebraska at Omaha’s south campus.
Planning of new dormitories was addressed in the 2014 master housing plan, which can be found on the university website. To reach the UNO goal of 20,000 students by 2020, building the additional housing will aid in providing housing for all interested students.
The new dorms are going up on a former parking lot directly across 67th street from Mammel Hall, neighboring Scott Residence Hall to the east.
This dorm will be able to accommodate at least 350 beds. The capacity may achieve up to 450 beds according to an article written by the Omaha World Herald’s Kate Howard.
William Pickett, Senior Director for Student Involvement, was part of the team that developed the housing plan back in 2014.
In addition to the new dorms, there will be a parking garage built on south campus.
“One of the first things we looked at was parking,” Pickett said.
Parking is one of the major complaints for many students and faculty. When the new garage goes up, more than 1,000 parking stalls will be added to south campus.
Picket said more than 200 students were still on the waiting list to get into campus housing this year. This forced those students to either find housing in town, or explore options at different institutions.
“We currently have 2,100 beds available and we are trying to get to a goal of 3,000.” Pickett said.
According to the Nebraska Board of Regents minutes, the board decided earlier this year to “Authorize the President, in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Board, to approve a ground lease with the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation to provide 300 beds of student housing and 20,000 square feet of academic and programmatic space on the University of Nebraska at Omaha Pacific Campus.”
There is still work to be done by 2020, and UNO in conjunction with Tetrad Property Group and the Scott Foundation, who have lead many construction projects on campus, will not be stopping soon.
As part of the the 2014 housing plan, a design team explored space between Caniglia field and the east parking garage was explored as a possible site for housing.
Some of the features of this concept according to the report would be that it “provides two buildings connected by an elevated courtyard with an outdoor gathering space that also functions as a spectator overlook for soccer competition.”
College students certainly like to plan ahead — in theory.
As you prepare your “what to take to college” list make sure you add the following.
Here are five of the most underrated things you’ll need for college…
It may sound silly, but having plenty of towels is something that can make your day-to- day life much better. Not having to reuse or constantly wash the same towel is something simple that will go a long way.
– Compiled by Nick Beaulieu
(Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published on August 12, 2014)
Disagree with our list?
Comment below or tweet us at @UNOThe_Gateway
For years, your life was pretty much taken care of by mom, dad or some caring person in your life.
Well, most of that is over or at least expected to be.
To help you better navigate through this new sense or freedom (ahem, responsibility), here are a few items you can totally overlook because they only add clutter in your life.
Here are five of the most overrated things in college…
Although nice to have on occasions, a gaming system — such as an Xbox or Play Station — will either serve as an excuse not to go out and meet new people or it will sit and collect dust as a valued item.
– Compiled by Nick Beaulieu.
(Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published on August 12, 2014)
Disagree with our list?
Comment below or tweet us at @UNOThe_Gateway