When you walk past the community advisor in your dorm, what do you do? Do you greet them with a smile? Do you avert your eyes and hope they don’t notice you? Do you even know who your CA is?
If your answer consists of anything but the first, the CAs say it’s time to change that.
“They care so much about their residents, and I’m not sure the residents know that,” said Jamie Bentley, coordinator of Campus Wellness Education at Castleton University.
A common misconception among students is that CAs only exist to be enforcers in the residence halls.
“That’s a part of the job, but it’s so minute,” said Area Coordinator Shaun Williams. “There’s a whole other side to this job besides enforcement.”
First and foremost, he said, CAs are here to help keep their residents safe. That may mean writing a documentation, which “sucks for everyone involved,” according to SCA Christin Martin. But it can also mean running events that take place in the Wellness Center, with Bentley’s help.
Recent programs included “Sex in the Dark” and “Sex and Chocolate.” In response to the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections among college students, they aimed to raise awareness about sexual health.
“Many have not had the opportunity to have a candid conversation with correct information about sex,” Bentley said.
Some other presentation topics include alcohol education, Yoga sleep studies, mental health and study strategies.
Williams said research is conducted on the issues facing modern college students, and the CAs are asked to create presentations detailing those issues. In some cases, social programs are created. Williams said these programs can make all the difference in the life of a first-year student at Castleton.
“It may be the reason they stay in the institution,” he said.
In addition to their activities in the Wellness Center, CAs are responsible for knowing the general goings on around campus. Martin said this can include basic things like upcoming events and building hours.
“That’s a huge part of our job to know other stuff that’s outside of our own residence halls,” she explained.
When asked what else she wanted students to know about CAs, Bentley pointed to their clear lack of enjoyment in enforcing rules.
“The least favorite part of the job is the enforcement part,” she said. “They don’t walk around with a clipboard and wait for marijuana smoke to come billowing out of a room.”
Williams said CAs are trained 12 hours a day over a 10-day span to be able to deal with any possible situation that could arise. He also stressed how CA intervention is never meant to be taken personally.
“No matter what you say to them, no matter what you do to them, they will be there the next day,” he said.
So the next time you cross paths with your CA, they urge you to make sure to introduce yourself. And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need assistance, they stress that your CA’s door is always open.