With 98 percent of students living on Centre College’s campus, residence life is an enormously important part of the Centre Experience. Student Residence Directors (RDs) and Resident Assistants (RAs) are often difficult positions to fill at other schools, but at Centre the spots are competitive and highly valued.
Director of Residence Life Jacob Raderer said they would love to hire everyone who applies, but out of roughly 100 enthusiastic applicants a year there are only 20-25 RD and RA positions that need filling.
“The RD and RA positions focus on being peer mentors and role models rather than strictly enforcing policy and policing the students,” he said. “We want to help students get the most out of their Centre Experience.”
RDs are members of the Residence Life staff who have been an RA for at least one year and provide supervision of RAs and buildings/areas on campus. RAs primarily serve as peer counselors and are prepared to talk to students regarding a variety of topics and concerns, both social and academic.
These sophomore, junior and senior leaders help facilitate Residence Life Office programs aimed at developing responsible decision-making skills, creating a strong sense of community and fostering respect for self and others in a diverse, global society.
“Without our RDs and RAs, Centre would not be able to function as smoothly as it does,” Anne Evans, assistant director of residence life, said. “They do an exceptionally good job at helping Centre make sure it is serving its students as well as it can and that the needs of its residents are being met.”
The application process is therefore rigorous and includes a paper application with two letters of recommendation and paperwork, followed by an RA Pursuit during which applicants work through interactive group activities while current RAs observe, take notes and record scores. There is also an interview with three people, including a current RD or RA, a professional from the Student Life Office and a professional from the Residence Life Office.
RDs and RAs are extremely dedicated, arriving on campus at least a week early each year to go through training, which covers everything from active listening and communication skills to conflict management strategies to dealing with emergency situations.
“It’s an intense week and it speaks volumes about the students who choose to end their summer a week early each year to train in order to help keep Centre a safe, positive place for its students,” Evans said.
Marie-Veronique Poirier ’16, an RD, initially desired to take on the role in order to be more involved on campus.
“I saw the RA role as an outlet through which I could become more integrated into the Centre community and become a leader amongst my peers,” she explained.
RDs and RAs are unique at Centre, she said, because they don’t have hours during which they are “on duty” and they never take off their “RA hats.”
“This is what allows the RA position at Centre to be more than just monitoring a hall from a desk, or writing up incident reports,” Poirier continued. “It makes campus a home away from home—an environment that feels secure and supportive.”
Her favorite part of being an RA/RD is being a part of the Centre College staff, which feels like family and helps facilitate a sense of community.
“I feel genuinely grateful that I have been able to get to know this incredible group of individuals who continue to inspire me to be more thoughtful, more intentional and more motivated to make a difference,” she said.
Pictured: RAs help first-year students with their dorm items on Move-in Day.
by Elise L. Murrell
August 19, 2015