Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Like a Pro: Dealing with RAs

The other night I found myself at a party at a friend’s apartment. Everyone was is a good mood, having fun and enjoying the college lifestyle. There was no Ke$ha or Miley Cyrus to be heard; all was good. Epic battles of Beirut were going down in the kitchen and on the living room table a game of kings was being played. Other people stood around sharing tales of their glory days of high school sports and other general conversational topics from classes to internships. Then came the knock on the door.
The knock came from two RAs because it was after the 1 a.m. quiet hours. Earlier, one of the residents had asked everyone to keep it down, but unfortunately that didn’t last too long. One RA spoke and said something along the lines of  “You guys are being too loud. Unless you are sleeping here you all have to leave. Form a single file line and have your IDs ready so we can take down your names and ask a few questions.” That was it. No warning. Nothing. It was your typical power-tripping “I got picked on in high school so I became an RA,” the worst type of RA. While the two RAs talked with one of the residents, I grabbed my backpack and started the line out the door. I went first because I was feeling confident and knew others might need a little more time to collect themselves.
I handed over my ID, gave them my date of birth and informed them that I had not been drinking. I was free to go. I waited outside for a few friends and to make sure everyone was leaving OK. Despite the fact that the music was turned down low, the amount of conversations and laughing was apparently loud enough to call attention to the apartment. As I stood outside, I wondered if they would bust the party next door too; and the one that was above us, and the one in the next building over. Noise violations are always the easiest way to get written up by an RA or CA and if you are not prepared they can lead to more serious violations, which could attract the police.
When it comes to dealing with RAs it is very important to know ahead of time what type of RA they are, and this is a lot easier if you live in a dorm compared to the Gables or Woodsides. There are really two main classifications that RAs fit into; there is the power hungry kind and the “I need free housing” kind. Those in the first group are going to use all that power they have to make themselves feel better by ruining the night of fellow students who are just looking to have a good time. They, like many of Durham and UNH’s finest, are on a massive power trip and love the fact that they get to tell people what to do. Sure they are just doing their jobs, but a verbal warning is always nice. The best RAs are the ones who just want the free housing; as long as you are not rude to them they will usually let you off with a warning. They aren’t there to just bust people or make themselves feel important, they just want to get free housing.
Despite a few verbal warnings, I have never been written up for anything, not even a noise violation. It is all about preparation, showing courtesy and obeying quiet hours. If you are in a regular dorm room, and under 21, make sure that nothing is visible from the door if there is a knock. That means having a place to quickly stash all your “Gatorade” and “Mountain Dew.”  Try to avoid using anything that will emit curious odors. Also, if you are playing Beirut, always use water cups. It is way easier to hide one drink each than all those cups. Plus, it is more sanitary; trust me, I aced Germs.
If you are hosting a gathering be sure to keep the volume as a reasonable level and don’t be afraid to ask people to leave if they can’t settle down. As a guest always do what the host asks and respect their rules. The bottom line is when you have to deal with RAs or CAs, as painful as it may sound, is to be respectful because it is better than having to deal with the police.


Stay classy, not UMassy.


  1. As a former RA, i was one the was just in it for the housing though there are some that takes the job seriously. We are told that after quiet hours, residents don't need a warning because quiet hours itself is the warning. You can continue your gathering, but not if it is disruptive to others. I hope those RA continued the same procedure for the other apartments for continuity. I would also like to say that most RAs don't take the job too serious, but it is more of a safety and liability issue for them as well if they don't take names because they are the ones on duty.

  2. Don't you think its unfair to blame the CAs for the fact that the hosts of this party were violating the rules of quiet hours? Should the CAs risk their jobs and ignore the such violations so that people they do not even know can still party at 1:30am? You seem to take the stance that they clearly were out gunning to ruin your fun (as if for some reason, the lives of CAs and RAs revolve around YOU-a complete stranger) when in actuality it is probably the worst part of their job.

    Not to mention your complaints about "lack of a verbal warning" when every weekend night at 11pm CAs come around to remind loud apartments that quiet hours start at 1am. Sounds like a verbal warning to me...

    Lots of people have parties in UNH apartments and do not get violations because they follow the obvious and clearly stated rule. Yeah it sucks A LOT that the university puts restrictions on how late we can party but its up to us to deal with it or get around it by going somewhere else

  3. a CA/RA not doing their job is like a cop seeing a masked man going into a bank and not doing anything.

    They're doing their job and looking out for people's safety (as hard as that is for you to believe). You're just making it harder.

  4. Your post is very offensive and imature.

    Let's face it, this is a college campus and there will be drinking going on. While the university cannot stop all the drinking, it can contain it to some degree. Having quiet hours and such keeps the campus calm so we're not all wasted. Without RAs and CAs, people would continue partying and drinking, not knowing when to quit. Without quiet hours and RAs, more halloween assaults would be happening around campus because everyone would be wasted to have any skills at making proper decisions. Think about that the next time you run into an RA.

  5. I've been at dozens of parties in the Gables where a CA would tell us to quiet down and if he has to come back he'll take names. Most of the times they will give you a warning, and that will be enough for people to either leave or quiet down.

  6. I would just like to clarify a few things I wrote:

    -I said that I understand RAs/CAs are just doing their job and what they are told
    -I never said I am against quiet hours or RAs
    -Most RA's just want housing, and aren't power hungry
    -quiet hours don't keep people from getting too drunk.
    -I said to always be respectful to RAs and obey quiet hours
    -This wasn't about RAs being evil, it was about how to avoid getting in trouble
    -I have no problem about RA's breaking up a party, but taking names is unnecessary
    -trust me, there are RAs out there (BUT NOT ALL) who like telling people what to do.
    -it is up to the host to keep it calm or ask people to leave

    And I would like to add that:
    -quiet hours are a good thing, I have been on the other side before trying to do work or sleep because I have work in the morning and it sucks when people are being too loud. That being said, I don't think people should get in trouble for that, just tell them to be quiet or go home. Taking names isn't always necessary.

  7. I think people are getting mixed up with the nature of journalism. While a journalist, or in this case - a blogger, writes a column, they should never take sides, but with it being text, it's hard to determine and people just natural pick a side for the writer. I think some may be unfamiliar with the blog but this is an article that does showcase both sides of the story

  8. @ D.R.

    I think you're mixed up too.

    Columnists take sides all the time. That's the why they're paid and published: to give their side of an issue. There's no obligation for a columnist to be fair and balanced and, in fact, most of the most popular writers aren't.

    Just because the writer acknowledges there is another side to an issue, doesn't automatically make a piece balanced.

  9. Your clarification is a complete bitch out from your actual article. If you are going to say something stick to your guns buddy. And try and realize that other people are trying to sleep and if an RA could hear you from the hallway you were being way too loud. God damn, only a dumbass would get caught in an on-campus apartment.

  10. hysterically laughing readerMarch 3, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    welcome to the world of journalism/blogging

  11. I was really disappointed by this entry. I'm an RA and I love reading this, but when I saw this I was really upset. I'm not in it because I need the housing, and I HATE getting kids in trouble, but its always their own fault. The CAs were just doing their jobs, props to them. They have to take names, its' protocol. I understand you trying to help kids not get in trouble, but please stop making us look like the bad guy. We're just trying to keep you safe. :(

  12. This article is crap because it's people like you that give RAs a bad name!

  13. Spencer Watkins ex-RAMarch 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    When you're being loud after quiet hours, making a ruckus, and keeping other people up, no matter what is going on down the hall, you have no backing to say that an RA is doing his or her "typical power-tripping" by tersely telling you and your friends to shut up and go to bed. If you wanted to stay up late and party/hang out/drink as loudly as you did, then you shouldn't have done it in a dorm or an apartment after quiet hours.

    It doesn't matter what's going on in all of the "other apartments" because, suprise!, the RA's in question aren't weighing the amount of noise your making against the amount of noise other people are making and coming to a general agreement about what to do about it. Each apartment and dorm room is treated separately, as it should be. Yes, if the RA's are doing their job, they'll break your get together up, break another one up, and keep going until their on duty hours have ended, the dorm/apartment complex is quiet, and they can finally go to sleep.

    RA's are paid to provide a first layer of safety and response in emergency situations, keep the peace, and provide the type of entertainment and community building that they possibly can given the resources (or lack of resources) they have at their disposal.

    The last thing any RA wants is to see a resident, especially their own, get busted, arrested, or sent through the conduct system. It's just naive to think that an RA would get a thrill out of and, in general, be happy about that. That reasoning reads: I'm paying this person to fuck me over and be happy about it. That's not how it works.

    If someone is being belligerent, yea, it'd be preferable for their friends to help them out, keep them safe, and bring them back to their dorm to watch over them until they're better, but that just doesn't happen every time. In that case, RA's are there to step in and make a hard but, in the end, necessary decision to deal with that situation.

    In general, I was disappointed with your article this week. You can, and have in the past, written wittier, better argued pieces dealing with the "authorities" at UNH. You have the right idea in your last two paragraphs as far as being consistently courteous and respectful to RA's; "treat others as you would want to be treated" as they say, because bad behavior will definitely come back to bite you.

  14. *clap clap* i like the comment by spencer

  15. Resident Assistants constantly get a bad rep for the small, but important, part of the job they need to do; conduct. To some people, like The New Hampshirite, this is the majority of what they see when they look at an RA. Conduct is an important part of the RA job mostly due to making sure the community is safe. Safety is our number one priority when on rounds. Getting people in trouble is not fun, trust me. You say not giving a warning for a noise violation or underage drinking is unfair or because an RA is so power hungry they want to ruin your night. Quiet hours are in store to make sure those members of the community who don't drink, or don't stay up late will have the ability to sleep or get homework done. A dorm is a home and everyone should be treated with the same amount of respect. Also, if an RA was to give a warning for underage drinking and leave, there is no doubt the drinking/loud noise would continue. RAs and the Department of Residential Life need to uphold both the laws and UNH policies. RAs are instructed and trained on how to deal with incidents that occur in the dorms. This ensures consistency and that the safety of the community is upheld. When an RA breaks up a party it is not out of power or spite, it as simple as safety. RAs should be recognized for all the great things they do. They create community, educate, and build friendships. Don't harp on these students who put themselves out there to help people just because you were given a noise violation. Make better decisions, obey the law/policies, and have a fun time at UNH (there are ways other than drinking). Maybe then you will see an RA for something more than a "power hungry" policy enforcer and for what they really are: a friend, resource, and someone you know you can always go to for help.

  16. Did you even read this? Not to be mean but if you did read it your comprehension is terrible. So I'm guessing you read half of it or just heard about it from another RA.

    - Never once did I say a warning should be given for underage drinking, only noise violations.
    -I did say the alcohol policy is too severe. (especially compared to other schools.)
    -I never said that all RAs are power hungry, most just like the free housing and I don't blame them.
    -Also, I was not given a noise violation. The exact quote was "I have never been written up for anything, not even a noise violation."

  17. i just think it's funny that somebody said you are giving RA's and the such a bad name by what/how you wrote this..

    then a few of them post/comment on this post and make themselves look like complete tools

    New Hampshirite 1, RA's 0

  18. AMEN! This is perfect! Being a former RA, I fell into the category of, "I just want free housing" and I couldn't agree more. I was an RA in a rather quiet dorm and I have to say that I never once knoced on a door to tell them to quiet down. But, when there was a louder room I was almost embarrassed to do so. Who am I to ruin their fun time, ya know? I was a freshmen partying in dorms at one point, so I knew what it was like. I almost felt like a hypocrate doing so.

    During my time as an RA, I also met some absoultly crazy, psycho, power-hungry, nerds and I don't think UNH should be hiring these type. It's almost like res life has a quota of tattle-tales that they are required to hire.

    Ridiculous. I'm so happy that I got through with that. Took my free housing and meal plan and RAN. Something needs to be done with the hardcore RA's that are hired on this campus. It's really ashame the amount of good kids who get kicked out of housing here.

  19. "It's really ashame the amount of good kids who get kicked out of housing here."

    Good kids can make bad decisions and bad decisions come with consequences. The RAs don't get them in trouble, they get themselves in trouble. What ever happened to accountability?

  20. I think the amount of RA's complaining about this is hilarious. Go organize your fucking cookie socials that one person will show up to, and then graduate and become a cop or something.