What DO RAs Do?

If I could count the number of times I overheard the sentence “my RA doesn’t do anything,” what would you do? Even though I am an RA myself, I can fully sympathize with those who feel like they don’t get enough attention. Being an RA is a 24/7 job where it’s hard to satisfy everyone’s needs, even though we are all passionate about keeping our advisees as happy as possible. But, depending on where you live, your RA has between 20 and 60 advisees. And you only have one RA…

The good news is that the reason why you wouldn’t see your RA too often is that you don’t have major troubles with your roommate, did not get into the hospital last Friday, and can tolerate the noise upstairs that other people can’t. The B\bad news is that all RA-s are organizing hall events at least once a month to let you meet your neighbors, or bring up possible problems you are having. These events are advertised via posters, e-mails, or social media. So if you still never saw your RA, that might not only be his or her fault.

RA-s are employed by the Residence Life office and have to organize or participate in events that are not with their advisees as well. One of the most exciting weekends is (depending on the academic calendar) the last weekend of April or first weekend of May. Then we start with Spring Formal on Friday evening just like everyone else, but the next day have our “Pass-Down Dinner” of the year few students know about, and also work on Mayfair which is organized for the children of faculty, AVI, ABM, and all other staff workers, and children attending the ECC.

Mayfair starts at 11AM for the guests, and at 9AM for us. We transform the tent on the North-Lawn into a cookie-decorating, mask-making, spin art making wonderland to help kids develop their artistic and sports talents, and also learn how to tolerate listening to “The Circle of Life” for 3 hours in a row. It’s fun, and it’s a way to give back to our community. It is not excluding our advisees, but representing them and the whole Student Affairs Office.

Our Pass-Down Dinner has been a tradition for years. This is the evening when next year’s RA-s find out their hall placement, and the current RA-s get the chance to formally pass down their halls, even though they are not fully checked out yet. We give a short speech and a small present that is special for our hall: a can of bug spray, a Barbara Walters portrait, flowers, a keychain, Metro North tickets–in no particular order of importance.

Presents are less important than the funny stories of why the particular object was chosen as a present. We thank our Graduate Hall Directors, and Carolyn O’Laughlin and Genevieve Hein who make all campus residents’ lives the best they can.

Over 70% of the current RA staff are Seniors. We are all sad to be leaving–not only our halls, but our campus, professors and friends. But we are happy to be passing down our floors and houses to such a wonderful new team of Sarah Lawrence students. They will be there to welcome you on campus, answer your questions year-round, mediate conflict, give you free food, and let you know your neighbors. Not a bad deal for anyone, I would say.


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