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Why become a RA?

Make a difference and make campus feel like home. Gain leadership, communication, counseling skills, and much more in an exciting residential environment.

Am I eligible to become a RA?

A Penn State RA works to lead by example and create a welcoming and safe community for residents on campus. In order to qualify to become a RA you must:

  • Attend one RA information sessions

  • Students can apply provide they complete 15 Penn State credits upon completion of the Fall 2021 semester

    • This does not include advanced placement or transfer credits from other colleges or universities.

  • Must be a full time Penn State student (12 credits or more each semester)

  • Must demonstrate good academic standing with at least a 2.40 cumulative GPA.

  • The Student Conduct history of candidates will be checked prior to selection and placement and may preclude a candidate from being hired.

What responsibilities does a RA have?

The Resident Assistant (RA) works in a residence hall or apartment setting under the direct supervision of a professional live-in staff member (Coordinator/Assistant Coordinator). The role of the RA is to work with other residence hall staff to facilitate an environment within the residence hall community that promotes the educational experience of residential living. The RA articulates to residents the philosophy and policies of the Office of Residence Life, Student Affairs, the Penn State community and represents the needs of students to the administration.

The following are basic expectations of a RA. Specific responsibilities and expectations vary slightly among residential areas/campuses. 

Community Development

Community Development

  • Assist residents in developing a meaningful community that supports and promotes the ideals of personal and academic responsibility and engaged citizenship.
  • Develop a community agreement/pledge and facilitate regular community meetings to encourage ongoing development and engagement within the residential living environment.
  • Commit to and become involved in the development of educational, social, recreational, and cultural events for residents.
  • Assess residents' needs and plan events that effectively meet the needs outlined in the educational priority and residence life curriculum.
  • Encourage residents to pursue their educational and personal interests and plan their own events and activities.
  • Support department- and University-wide initiatives for community development and education.
  • Engage in positive intentional interactions with individual members of the community.
  • Encourage students to take responsibility for their actions and accept consequences for their behavior.
Academic Connection

Academic Connection

  • Promote and encourage the academic experience in support of living-learning communities.
  • Highlight the clear connection between in-class academics with out-of-class learning and growth through intentional and meaningful conversations.
  • Promote opportunities for students to engage with each other, faculty, and staff with a focus on the academic area of interest of the learning community (where appropriate).
  • Encourage residents to pursue their educational interests in a supportive environment.
  • Engage students in formal and informal peer interactions in relation to area of academic interest.
Role Modeling

Role Modeling

  • Serve as a highly visible campus leader and representative of Residence Life and Penn State.
  • Remain in good social, financial, academic and conduct standing with the University.
  • Uphold high standards and live in accordance with the policies outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, the Housing Terms and Conditions, and the Residence Life RA Manual.
  • Understand that role modeling behavior is considered during your appointment at the University including on and off campus as well as in cyber profiles and social media outlets.
Individual Helping and Referral

Individual Helping & Referral

  • Assist residents with academic, personal, and social matters within the limits of his/her training and capabilities, and serve as a resource and referral agent.
  • Get to know residents in the assigned area of responsibility well enough to recognize changes in behavior patterns for which counseling or other assistance may be necessary.
  • Become familiar with campus and community resources.
  • Be aware of the scope of your responsibility and consult with a supervisor.
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding students' records and incidents.
Meeting and Training Programs

Meeting & Training Programs

  • Successfully complete the RA class or equivalent and RA Training.
  • Attend all Residence Life and environment-specific staff meetings and training programs including semester arrival preparations in the entirety. No exceptions will be granted without appropriate consultation.
Enforcement of Regulations and Policies

Enforcement of Regulations & Policies

  • Understand, abide by, and enforce all University regulations and policies in a fair and consistent manner.
  • Educate residents about their role to abide by University regulations and policies.
  • Facilitate a climate that promotes individual responsibility and protects the rights of the individual and the community.
  • As a designated Campus Security Authority, uphold the Clery Act and Title IX guidelines.
Emergency Response

Emergency Response

  • Assume on-call/duty responsibility as scheduled (8:00pm - 7:00am) at night, on weekends, during break periods when the University remains open (e.g. Labor Day, etc.), and during hall openings/closing to ensure proper coverage.
  • Serve as needed in times of emergency response, e.g. severe inclement weather, crisis response, etc.
  • Live in residence each night throughout the year during contract periods, including examination periods, unless an overnight absence is approved by the supervisor.
Safety and Security

Safety & Security

  • Conduct rounds of the assigned housing area in accordance with protocol.
  • Document and submit reports in a timely manner.
  • Educate residents on fire and personal safety as well as evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency.
  • Ensure the community is safe and livable for residents.
Administration

Administration

  • Read and become familiar with administrative procedures contained in the Student Code of Conduct, the Housing Terms and Conditions, and the Residence Life RA manual.
  • Be present for and assist with opening and closing the halls/buildings.
  • Assist with housing administration functions as assigned.
  • Collect and disseminate information in order to generate reports as required.
  • Serve on committees or assigned functional areas that are initiated throughout the year.
  • Be fiscally responsible when using department funds.
  • Assume other related duties as assigned.
Outside Commitments

Outside Commitments

  • Limit outside activities to avoid conflict with residence hall responsibilities which are a priority.
  • Review and receive approval for any significant additional commitments with supervisor prior to start of term and throughout the semester. Employment and other commitments must not interfere with the RA duties.
  • Cap the amount of hours at an outside job at no more than 15 hours per week; all outside employment must be approved.
  • Restrict being a president of a governing student organization.
  • Restrict positions on executive boards unless there is prior approval from the supervisor.
Evaluation and Reappointment

Evaluation & Reappointment

  • Resident Assistants are not necessarily reappointed for the following academic year. Reappointments are contingent upon the Resident Assistant's performance during the previous year. Some of the factors taken into account are successful completion of tasks, positive evaluation by the supervisor, demonstration of continued engagement for the RA role, and needs of the students population.
  • Residence Life maintains the right to reassign the Resident Assistant upon the needs of our office and the student population.
  • Each campus reserves the right to have expressed term limits.

Reality of Being a RA

Resident Assistants serve the campus community as a vital resource and support for our residents. Joining the Residence Life team as a staff member is a unique experience that provides valuable professional and life experience. 

What am I required to attend while being an RA?

What am I required to attend while being an RA?

  • RA training that you are expected and required to attend in its entirety.
  • Your supervisory group staff meeting every Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • A scheduled 1-on-1 with your Coordinator at least every two weeks.
What are some common responsibilities?

 

What are some common responsibilities?

  • Committing to your RA role as a top priority and managing time accordingly.
  • Checking your Residence Life mailbox at the area Residence Life office daily.
  • Completing paperwork as assigned by your Coordinator or other supervisor.
  • Maintaining a high level of visibility and presence on your floor(s).
  • Attaining a familiarity with the policies and procedures outlined in the RA manual.
  • Participating in at least one fire drill and/or Safety and Security program every semester depending on area needs.
  • Assisting in the RA selection process for new RA staff between semesters.
  • Planning and implementing community building opportunities for your community; specific requirements vary between Coordinators, residence hall areas, and special living environments.
  • Assisting in interviews of professional staff members.
  • Confronting issues where PSU policy has been violated and handling conflict mediation and crisis intervention with the support of Residence Life professional staff.
  • Working with a diverse population and meeting specific needs posed by the community.
What if I have other commitments?

What if I have other commitments? 

  • RA’s are always encouraged to be involved on campus in groups, organizations, etc.; however, attendance and participation in these groups is secondary to the RA role; these time commitments will be worked out individually with your Coordinator.
  • RA’s are permitted to work up to 15 hours outside of their RA role with the prior approval of their Coordinator supervisor; however, this is to be considered secondary to the RA role which must take priority; RA’s in their first semester are discouraged from outside employment in order to be successful in their RA experience.
What does it mean to be "on duty"?

What does it mean to be "on duty"?

  • Only RA’s who are on duty are required to be in their building between 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.; all other RA’s are strongly encouraged to be spending adequate time on their floor in order to be successfully developing relationships and floor community.
  • The amount of days spent “on duty” depends on the size of your Supergroup and the needs of your building; this can range from once every two weeks and 3 weekends a semester to once a week and 6 weekends a semester.
Am I required to stay in the residence hall on weekends?

Am I required to stay in the residence hall on weekends?

RA’s are allowed up to five weekends per semester away from campus; these weekends must be cleared with your Coordinator prior to leaving and may not include any days “on duty”.

Ready to learn more?

If you want to join an amazing community at Residence Life we're ready to show you the way. In order to continue the Resident Assistant process applicants are required to attend an information session.

Upcoming RA Info Sessions

  • Monday, October 4
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Tuesday, October 5
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Wednesday, October 6
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Thursday, October 7
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Friday, October 8
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Saturday, October 9
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    Virtual via Zoom: Register to attend now

  • Monday, October 11
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Tuesday, October 12
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Wednesday, October 13
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Thursday, October 14
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

  • Friday, October 15
    6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    112 Buckhout Lab

RA Selection Process Update

The Resident Assistant selection process is currently being redesigned. Check back often to find updates on how to get involved.