Authority is something people will often fear, be intimidated by or dislike. It is fair to say that most people, college students in particular, hate authority, or anything resembling it.This authority can be anything from parents to police officers, and even community advisors (CAs). CAs automatically get a bad reputation before the school year even starts, and before the residents get to know them.
This reputation and assumption is based on a few reasons, all of which are unfair to the C.A. These reasons include misunderstanding the job, the responsibility, and the reward.
I have been a C.A since the fall of 2005. I’m writing this for the CAs to the residents who misunderstand us. We’re not all bad and with a little understanding that’s easy to see. I understand what it is like to be a freshman in college, to experience life for the first time without parents. All of a sudden there is no one telling you when to go to bed, or to make sure that your homework is done.
Freedom is something that is fascinating and frightening all at the same time. College is that crucial step between adolescence and complete independence. It is another step in the process of becoming an adult. While freedom and independence seem great at first experience, it is very important to remember that responsibility comes with both of them.
The position of a community advisor or more commonly known as a resident assistant (R.A.) is a position that is completely structured around other people. Here at Castleton there are four CAs to a residence, typically one or two per floor. Residents get to know these people throughout the year and hopefully build friendships. Others, however, tend to hold a grudge against any sort of authority, and this includes CAs. It is not uncommon to walk by a group of students and hear someone complaining about their C.A; they did something wrong . or they didn’t do anything at all.
Residents and other members of the campus community misunderstand the CAs because they do not fully understand what exactly the job entails. Yes, they do have access to a master key and they can let you into your room when you lock yourself out. Yes, they do sometimes have to document incidents of underage or excessive drinking, using illegal drugs and smoking in the dorms. The goal of the community advisors and residence life in general is to build community. Community is defined as a safe, courteous environment that promotes intellectual, emotional, social and educational growth during some of the most significant years that a young person can experience.
It is true that to create this sort of community everyone can not do exactly what they want at any time of the day or night. It is also true that above anything else the, the CAs work to keep the residents safe 100% of the time while they are in the dorms.
People are too quick to assume that all the CAs do is let people into their rooms and get them in trouble, but they do much more than that. The CAs are actually here weeks before the school year begins, training for more than 12 hour days.
They are ready for anything, and know how to react in any incident, no matter the severity. They are trained to handle anything from a homesick resident to an alcohol or drug overdose or suicide. The CAs have more responsibility than residents will ever truly know, or appreciate — until they are the ones who need help.
Most college students have at least one job, usually more. At the end of the night they can go home and relax, not having to think about work. CAs live their jobs, they can’t “leave” work for the day and go home, because to them, home is where their job is.
This is often forgotten when residents complain about their C.A. The reality of the situation is that they live their jobs. How many people could do that and keep smiling all of the time?
Compassion and understanding is all that is needed for residents and CAs to live in harmony.