One-on-ones, room checks, floor events and floor dinner, Bible study, and “ridiculous shenanigans” (according to sophomore Liz Luginbill). This is the life of an RA.
At Olivet, being a resident assistant is the same as entering into a ministry. Olivet RA’s are required to be consistent in their spiritual, social, and academic lives as well as help students do the same. They are not only in charge of enforcing rules and keeping students safe, but they are also expected to constantly engage and invest in their residents.
Luginbill, a first-year RA in Williams, felt called to be an RA in November of her freshman year but wrestled with the idea. “I didn’t say ‘yes’ to God until January. It was definitely on my heart and constantly on my mind,” Luginbill said.
After transferring into Olivet her sophomore year, junior Allison Smith, first-year RA in Grand, knew residential life was something she wanted to be a part of. “That’s, like, the whole ministry—to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Smith said.
Senior and former RA Emily Sauer described the ministry she did as an RA as continuous. Sauer, who worked in Williams and Howe, had peace when she stopped being an RA junior year.
“It’s exciting to think that it’s not done, even though a part of my calling was fulfilled,” Sauer said.
Junior Riley Dale, second-year RA, was inspired by his freshman year RA to apply to the position. For Dale, it was an opportunity to grow and be a part of something great.
“There’s something about residents and dorms… it’s like brothers,” Dale said. “Some of my residents from last year have become some of my best friends.”
To those students considering being an RA, third-year RA senior Kyle Johnston, who works in the Oakes, advises careful consideration.
“Pray about it a lot. And don’t do it because it’s a cool thing to do. Do it because it’s a good way to be used by the Lord,” Johnston said.
While being an RA is an opportunity, it is also a challenge.
Sauer noted that being an RA involves a lot of late nights.
“I would be grumpy in the morning because I didn’t get a lot of sleep and I’m not a morning person,” Sauer said. She would then go to classes, eat meals with her floor, and maybe go on random coffee date with a resident. “Unwinding was hanging out
with floors.” Then she would stay up late because of room checks and do homework when she got the chance. “I don’t think it’s much different than a normal college student except you know what you’re doing with your down time.”
Being an RA has pushed Dale to be more organized. “I am a very scheduled person, but I didn’t used to be,” Dale said. Being an RA, he now sets aside study blocks and times to hang out with people and uses sticky notes and online schedule. “Personally, the hardest part is setting aside time for yourself.” Keeping friendships outside of the dorm is also difficult, Dale said.
Second-year RA Hank Shuler, who works in Hills, has found enforcing rules as an RA to be trying at times. “I’d say the most difficult part of being an RA is everyone is not going to win and not everyone is going to get their way, [but] rules are rules.” Shuler said. “It’s what’s best for the community.”
Although challenging, the RA position also has several rewards.
The friendships that become mutual are what’s most rewarding for Luginbill. “You’re not just pouring into them, they’re pouring into you,” Luginbill said.
Dale added that despite long nights and the occasional argument, “what you get out of it is worth so much more… I’ve benefitted just as much as they have.”
The RA position has given Johnston a “better understanding of leadership.” Johnston, who used to RA in Hills, has remained friends with several of his former residents. “It’s allowed me to love people a lot different than I am,” he said. “It’s rewarding to feel that God used me when He didn’t have to use me.”