Residential Assistants, or RAs have important roles at UNH. They handle incidents while on rounds, provide socials for their residents, interact with their hall directors often, and most importantly instill a sense of community in their buildings.
Gibbs Hall RA Rachel Berg and Hunter Hall RA Nate McAree conducted 11 p.m. rounds together in the lower quad on Friday night, writing reports that consisted of their observations while on duty. Typically during rounds, they watch for violations of policy.
“You listen for parties and clinking cups,” Berg said. “You smell for weed, observe people walking down the halls…Basically making sure that people are able to handle themselves.”
During the rounds, there were no incidents that the RAs had to handle. The only interactions with residents that they had were friendly, and both RAs seemed to enjoy this part of rounds.
The incidents that the lower quad dorms experience are few. Gibbs Hall director Emily Goupil speculated that this is because fewer people in a dorm means less incidents and because the residents of Gibbs have a great deal of respect for their RAs.
“The RAs and myself have emphasized that when you’re involved in an incident, it’s awkward for everyone. Our residents respect their RAs, and for the most part, wouldn’t want to put themselves or their RAs in the position to have to write them up,” said Goupil.
Both Berg and McAree are glad that they are RAs in smaller dorms. Both feel that the sense of community in a smaller dorm is stronger, and the amount of incidents they would experience is lower compared to what they would encounter in a larger dorm.
How does a larger dorm compare to a small, three-floor, three-RA dorm like Gibbs? The largest dorm on campus is Stoke Hall with eight floors, 14 RAs, two hall directors, and more residents than the whole lower quad combined.
On Saturday night, Stoke RAs Lisa Dittman and Tom DelSignore were responsible for rounds. Like all other resident assistants on campus, they conduct rounds at 9 p.m., 11p.m., and 1 a.m. The 9 p.m. rounds at Stoke were relatively uneventful.
“You’re going to get more noise earlier, but the incidents are going to be later,” said DelSignore.
This is DelSignore’s second year being an RA in Stoke, and Dittman’s first.
“I like it,” said Dittman. “It’s nice because you can choose to have contact, but you don’t have to. And because it’s so big you can always find someone to get along with.”
Rounds at Stoke took a full hour to go through the whole building, because of the size. Despite this aspect, the RAs seemed to know each resident that passed personally, greeting him or her and sometimes chatting for a little bit.
“My RAs like– save my life,” said sophomore resident Kathleen Stacey, who was studying in a lounge during rounds. “They make me feel safe. And when they’re on rounds, they always stop by and say hi.”
Many of the rooms at Stoke were playing loud music, and once the RAs had to stop at an open door and ask the residents to turn their music down. They occasionally smelled for marijuana, but the smells of Ramen Noodles and perfume were prominent in the hallways on Saturday night.
“The main smell on the weekend is burnt hair,” said DelSignore.
The goal of any RA is to maintain a reasonable level of safety in the buildings.
“We’re not out to get anybody,” said Berg. “We’re just trying to make sure everyone is safe.”