By Cassie Wade
From greeting with a smile on move in day, to mediating disputes between roommates throughout the year, residential assistants play an important role in keeping University of Nebraska at Omaha students happy and healthy.
In fact, according to Ani Rodgers, University Village Hall Director, the role RAs play in a student’s on-campus living experience is huge, especially when it comes to making sure residents feel a connection with UNO’s housing staff.
“RAs are sort of our bridge between the residents and our profession-al staff,” Rodgers said. “Without them, it’s almost impossible for our small professional staff to form a connection with the many students we have living on both campuses.”
Rodgers said this connection between RAs and their building’s residents is the most important part of an RA’s job. University Village RA Deshone Lynch said this is especially apparent when it comes to helping residents find solutions to their problems.
“There’s a lot of responsibility,” Lynch said. “Whether it be dealing with issues a resident has… like roommate issues, or if they just need someone to talk with.”
Besides building a relationship with residents, RAs have several other responsibilities, including working at the front desk of their housing unit and spending one weekend and week night shift per month on call.
“You just answer phones and help students that come in to the office (when working at the desk),” Rodgers said. “When on call, you do rounds just to make sure facilities are up to date and that students are following our policies. It all averages to be 20 hours per week.”
Students receive many benefits for shouldering the responsibility of being a residential assistant, though it differs slightly by campus.
“Our RAs [on Dodge campus] get free housing and a monthly stipend,” Rodgers said. “Theirs [on Scout Campus] still have free housing and have the opportunity to work some extra hours for pay, but their big benefit is they also get a meal plan.”
According to Lynch, residential assistants have the opportunity to learn valuable leadership and communication skills that can be applied even after graduation.
“You build great people and connection skills,” Lynch said. “I feel like this job gets you almost ready or a real world job because you don’t get much leeway when it comes to your responsibilities.”
The benefits and skills associated with becoming an RA draw many students into completing the application process, including freshman Nycholas Gierhan whose positive experience with his RA led to his desire to help other students.
“The main reason I applied [to be an RA] is because I want to help new students achieve the same amount of comfort I felt when I moved here from out of town,” Gierhan said. “I understand that moving away from home can be stressful, and one of my greatest goals as an RA would be to help alleviate that stress.”
UNO’s Housing Team will be accepting residential assistant applications for the 2016-17 school year until Feb. 10.
According to Rodgers, applicants must have a minimum semester and cumulative GPA of 2.5, have lived in on-campus housing for at least one semester, attend one of three available information sessions and be able to participate in a group interview process Feb 12-13.
A full list of eligibility requirements and an informational video can be found on the UNO website.