Applicant increase may change RA selection proces

A possible increase in the number of students applying for RA positions could result in a foreseeable change to the application process, UW-Eau Claire housing officials said.

Associate Director of Housing & Residence Life Deb Newman said that, though no changes have been made, housing officials are looking at the possibility of altering the RA application process depending on the number of applicants.

“If we have a very large number of candidates in a certain hall, it is possible that we might institute changes,” Newman said.

Applications for fall 2006 were due Monday, and officials do not yet have the number of students who applied, however in the past there have typically been four applicants to each position, according to housing records.

After receiving the applications, hall directors forward them to the housing office, which begins a paper screening process.

All applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA for both the previous semester and overall cumulative, however those who don’t may request an exception if their cumulative GPA is higher than 2.5, Newman said.

“We still hold those academic standards to be key,” she said, adding that applicants also have to have lived in the residence halls for at least one semester.

Those that qualify then move on to a series of interviews conducted by a committee made up of the hall director, an RA and three students.

The students usually include a hall council member, one United Hall Council representative or one student-at-large and another student-at-large, Newman said.

Sutherland Hall Director Kirby Harless said a second round of elimination placed between the group and the individual interviews would help members of the selection committees make decisions.

Right now, he said, he has a total of 31 applicants competing for five positions, with 20 women vying for the two female positions and 11 men for the three male positions, which is “definitely the most people I’ve had apply.”

“The hard part about the whole process is that it is so time consuming for students to have to take time . out of their daily routine to interview (the candidates),” Harless said. Adding that with fewer interviews, the committee would not feel as much pressure.

Senior Ashley Ahlborn, who served as a student-at-large on the Towers Hall North RA Selection Committee during spring 2005, said with about 60 candidates vying for a total of six positions, the process became somewhat difficult as well as very time consuming.

“It was a very overwhelming process,” Ahlborn said, explaining that the committee met for an average of four hours a night, three to four nights a week for the entire length of the application process, which takes about three-and-a-half weeks.

“It would be easier to have a r‚sum‚ screening process before the interviews,” Ahlborn said. “Even to narrow it down to 40 interviews, it would be a lot better.”

In addition, she said, adding a step to the screening process would also better-prepare students for the “real world.”

“It’s a good experience for how the working world works,” she said. “That’s part of growing up and getting a job.”

If the housing office does look to make a change in the process, Newman said, the most-likely addition would come in the form of a secondary screening process after the interview, and that any change would probably be implemented on a test basis.

“If we do do it, it would be in a test situation in a hall with lots of candidates,” she said.

Ahlborn agreed, saying that with the current procedures, those who may not be as strong during the interview stage don’t have any other opportunity to prove themselves before the committee makes the decision.

“It’s a very hard process,” she said. “You know the people; they’re your peers. It’s a hard process both number-wise and emotion-wise.”

As the numbers are still coming in, Newman said the housing office has yet to come up with any plans on how to deal with any potentially high numbers of applicants.