This could be because of Housing and Residence Life’s preference that RAs not be placed in the last hall they lived in; however, according to the Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life, Cathy Bickel, this is not policy, nor does it always happen.
Still, Junior Accounting major Will Leonard, one of the two Honors RAs in DeHority, is not an exception to this preference, as he was not an Honors student when he first applied to become an RA.
Leonard began interviewing for an RA position in February of his freshman year. In the same month he applied for, and was accepted into, the Honors program. The next month he was offered a position as an RA. He does not believe that his acceptance into the Honors program affected his placement at all.
“Honestly I don’t know if the (Hall) Directors were aware of me entering the Honors program,” Leonard said.
One of Leonard’s residents, sophomore telecommunications major Morgan Fuller, who had a non-Honors RA last year, said that her RA being an Honors student doesn’t really matter to her, and that she hasn’t noticed any difference other than personality.
“The whole point of being an RA isn’t to be smart, it’s to be here for your residence. All that matters is if you have the right personality to connect with residents, and making residents feel comfortable and safe,” Fuller said.
Bickel and Leonard both agree that RA placement is affected more heavily by elements other than academics.
“Other factors for RA placement are where the RA wants to be placed, how many new and returning RAs will be on a particular staff and how much balance we need, the type of student they feel they can be most effective with – predominantly freshmen, upper class, a particular major, etc.,” Bickel said.
According to Bickel, Honors RAs just need to be strong academic role models - it doesn’t matter if they are in the Honors program or not.
However, one of DeHority’s non-Honors RAs, senior journalism graphics major Mary Beth Sargent, says that there have been a few instances where she feels she could have better assisted a resident had she been an Honors student.
“Sometimes I’ll have a resident ask me about certain classes or if a professor is good or not, and I have to tell them I have no clue,” Sargent said. “I usually send them to Will.”
In cases like this, RAs and residents can also turn to DeHority’s Academic Peer Mentor (APM), junior marketing Katelyn Warner. Warner’s job is to connect students with the Learning Center and other academic resources on campus.
“RAs are more focused on the emotional and social aspects and I focus on academics,” Warner said. “All of those aspects have to be in balance to be a successful college student.”
Honors or not, RA or APM, Leonard, Sargent and Warner all said they have learned a lot working so closely with Honors students.
“They challenge you,” Leonard said.
“It’s nice to be around students who really care about being here,” Sargent said. “It’s given me a different appreciation for academics.”