The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    RAs to the rescue

    Being a college student can be stressful and time-consuming enough without the added responsibilities of being a resident assistant.

    Seniors Beth Lindner and Tom Gravatt are just two of UW-Eau Claire’s 123 students who are RAs this semester.

    RAs need to be available to help students with any problems they may have and enforce rules.

    “I decided to be an RA because I thought I had the skills to help students adjust to college life,” said Gravatt, who is the RA on the eighth floor of Towers Hall-North.

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    Gravatt and Lindner have both been RAs for five semesters.

    “I am a teacher at heart, and being an RA seemed to be a great way to work with my peers,” Lindner said, adding that she thinks being an RA gets easier every semester.

    Before Lindner and Gravatt became RAs, they had grown accustomed to being friends with the people on their floor. After becoming an RA, they had to find the line between friend and RA, Gravatt said.

    “I couldn’t let people off just because I knew them or they were my friends,” Lindner said.

    Being an authority figure and rule enforcer to her peers caused them to look at her differently, like they should be threatened by her, she said.

    Gravatt said he thinks being a male RA is easier because of the types of problems female RAs have to deal with. Lindner said a male RA deals with more of the violent problems, while female RAs deal with more of the emotional problems.

    Finding time to get everything done that needs to be can be difficult as a college student and an RA, but Lindner and Gravatt have developed their own ways to accomplish this.

    Every RA needs to have great time management skills, Gravatt said.

    “I am an RA 24 hours a day,” he said. He is available any time that his residents need him, he said. Yet, his peers understand that he is a student, too, and needs time to study.

    Lindner said she writes everything down in a university calendar that is organized by the hour.

    “I keep track of long-term projects by copying my syllabuses into my planner immediately on the first day of class,” she said. “I write everything down and prioritize.”

    Besides being RAs, both have other jobs, too. But RAs are only allowed to work an additional 10 hours a week, Gravatt said. He works on-campus during the day so it doesn’t affect his RA job. Lindner said she works mainly on the weekends when she has more time.

    As education majors, the skills Lindner and Gravatt learned managing students will come in handy in their classrooms, they said. Gravatt, who is going to be an elementary school teacher, said the skills he learned dealing with 40 18-to-20-year-olds will help him with his students.

    Being an RA has made Lindner a tougher person, she said.

    “When I first started, I was just a big softy,” she said. “Now I am soft on the inside with a tough shell.”

    Lindner said she has also learned how to confront many situations, which she said is priceless in her line of work.

    Besides being counselors, RAs also plan floor activities. These activities bring the floor closer together and help the students build strong bonds with one another.

    Lindner has planned Mary Kay nights during which the girls get together for a night of pampering, she said.

    She also holds snack times, where the ladies on her floor get a chance to talk to her one-on-one.

    Gravatt brought together two different floors by holding a peanut butter and jelly dinner night, he said.

    Neither Lindner nor Gravatt will be returning as RAs next year. Gravatt said he is ready to move off-campus after living in the dorms for four years. He wants to try other aspects of college life, he said.

    Lindner will be student-teaching next semester and student teachers are not allowed to be RAs, she said.

    These long-time RAs have some advice for students who are interested in becoming RAs.

    “The most important thing the new person can do is to pick a plan and stick with it,” Lindner said.

    At the beginning of every year, she tells her residents exactly what she expects, she said, adding that everything else just falls into place if the RA is consistent.

    Gravatt also said to set rules and stick to a plan. But he offered a different kind of advice, too.

    “I would say don’t go looking for trouble and problems.”

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