by Grace DeLong, Reporter
The staffing shortages across the country have not failed to miss our campus. Over the last few years our residence life staff has slowly gotten smaller. They only have two professional staff members and 26 Resident Assistants. The hiring of more professional staff seems to be on the horizon, but no official hires have been announced.
We spoke with Resident Assistants (RAs) to see how this understaffing problem has affected them. They have all been kept anonymous to encourage their honest responses.
RAs do so much for students to make campus a comfortable place. They each put in around 12 hours of work a week and at least two duty shifts (lasting 12-24 hours) every two weeks.
One states it, “is a 24/7 job. I have to be available for my residents at any time whether I am on duty or not.” One described feeling “like a robot” when trying to keep up with all their tasks. They feel that they must be positive at all times or they will lose their jobs.
They described breaking down crying under the stress of the position. They feel unable to speak up because they “signed up” for this. Returning RAs feel they are being asked to do an unreasonable amount of work to help the new RAs and the department overall.
One RA confided why they don’t share their concerns with professional staff: “I always feel like it makes me look unprofessional to them, or just that it’s not worth their time since they are so busy too.” One added they feel there is a lot of miscommunication which leads to more stress.
RAs feel disconnected from professional staff so they find community within each other. One states, “With such a small pro staff, I would like to feel more comfortable reaching out to them, but I feel like they have more important things to deal with, so I reach out to fellow RAs.”
Department head David Durkee has been a member of the AQ Residence team for the past six years. He has changed the name of the program from “Residence Life” to “Residence Experience” in hopes to better connect students with more departments on campus.
When concerns were raised about RAs stress levels, he explained that they can’t provide help unless they know what’s going on. As the year goes on, David wants to cultivate “a culture of openness” in hopes that staff, and residents, will ask for the support they need.