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October 02, 2009
Vol. 51 No. 4

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Staff members foster camaraderie

Courtesy of Nikki Tobias
Support system-- The newest Residence Life group called Resident Assistants Valuing Each Other (RAVE) was created this year in the hopes of continuing the staff bonding between resident assistants and head residents. The group plans activities and conducts duty-night visits.
The Office of Residence Life has started two new programs geared toward helping Resi-dent Assistants and Head Residents, better known as RAs and HRs, share enjoyable experiences and build a stronger community among their staff as a whole and as a campus.

RAs and HRs are the individuals who take on the responsibility of helping others and making them feel safe while providing residents with activities and events for their enjoyment.

But what about their needs and wants? This is what Assistant Director of Resident Life Nikki Tobias and Director of the Counseling Center Annabeth Payne, asked one another before they came up with an idea geared solely towards RAs and HRs.

Payne said she noticed the hard work and dedication of the RAs and HRs and felt they needed to be recognized and rewarded for their great work.

She said she wants to give back to the Residence Life staff by taking the time out to have lunch with them and focus on happiness, which would allow the RAs and HRs to deal with their own mental and emotional needs before dealing with others and in turn making them stronger staff members. Thus the name Happy Meals was applied to the weekly gathering.

Tobias said, "[Annabeth] wanted to provide them with opportunities where they could catch up with each other and support one another."

The meals are to take place once a week and get as many of the 71 staff members to attend as possible.

Along with this event, Nikki Tobias and juniors Maggie Bell and Lauren Baker came up with another way to show appreciation to RAs and HRs by creating a task force of RAs and HRs called Resident Assistants Valuing Each Other (RAVE).

The goal of the group goes hand in hand with the title, which is to support one another while spending quality time together.

The group meets on a regular basis and plans various trips and activities. Throughout the year, some events will be open to residents as well, not just Residence Life staff members.

Another activity created by RAVE is gathering RAs and HRs together and visiting those who are on duty every other week, and presenting them with some form of treat while stopping by to show their appreciation.

According to staff members, RAVE is also a way to keep the Residence Life spirit alive after RA training ends.

Unbeknownst to their residents, training is an intense time of learning and bonding. Training usually takes place approximately two weeks be-fore classes begin and all the buildings' staffs come together to learn RA procedures and policies as well as getting to know one another.

According to Lyndsey Cox, HR of West Village North, "Being an RA is such a unique experience. At the end of the day, after a long haul on duty and several mishaps, the only people who truly understand what you're going through are other RAs. Training is the ultimate Res. Life ritual. We eat, we joke, we cram, we bond and we become a family."
In the weeks between weekend duty visits, outings will be planned that staff members can attend as a group, such as roller skating, ice skating, trips to the mall, dance clubs, Bounce Funplex and more.

"This is a way to get all RAs and HRs together, because we see each other in passing on campus but we never get to connect with one another until it's time for training.," Baker said.

Having the position of Head Resident or Resident Assistant can be both rewarding and overwhelming, according to Tobias.

"Students who are RAs take skills from this job to any other job they can do in the world. It increases their communication skills, leadership skills, conflict management skills, even their crisis management skills," she said.

Anyone interested in becoming an RA should contact Nikki Tobias via e-mail. The application process usually begins in the winter.

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