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Advice for UNH Freshmen from a former RA

By Tom Z. Spencer

Content Editor

Every RA begins the job with dreams of being beloved. There is a common and simple rationale: Be chill and the love will follow.

Left to Right: RAs Keven Johnson, Joe Leahy, Brianna Marand, Tessa Farrell, Ami Humphrey and Josh Moll stand outside Peterson Hall awaiting their incoming residents.
Left to Right: RAs Kevin Johnson, Joe Leahy, Brianna Marand, Tessa Farrell, Ami Humphrey and Josh Moll stand outside Peterson Hall awaiting their incoming residents.

But the system often breaks down. In a few weeks, you’ve called the police on your best friends. Thoughts of eviction haunt freshman while they search for nuance in the phrase “zero tolerance” with the conduct office.

Before you ask yourself what personal hang-ups could twist a fellow student into such a bloodless husk that he or she must ring the fuzz to end your fun, remember: A university is not a high school. You’re here by choice.

Because you have accepted this system, I’m here to help you thrive in it. I’ve assembled a few thoughts to help you take a graceful step up from high school to college life.

In high school, you were a minor. Now you’re more legally accountable for your actions, regardless of how adult you may not yet feel.

RAs take no delight in watching someone learn that reality the hard way. It’s no thrill to see an unconscious freshman with skin so wrung out by alcohol poisoning it feels like clammy Play-Doh. 

On that same note, police get no special thrill out of scooping you into the back of cruiser while the last Pabst you drank foams on their shiny black shoes.

Instead, RAs are hoping for the same thing you are: that these four years will be some of the most fun and memorable of your life. Let me push this madness a little further by stating the police would prefer you have positive college memories, too.

But if everyone is hoping for the best, why does an RA ever make the heinous choice to call 911? It’s when you become a danger to yourself or to other people.

We all know experiments happen, and they should. The key is to realize your parents, teachers and coaches are out of the picture possibly for the first time in your life. College is the time to replace these voices with internal good judgment.

Your checklist of priorities should be simple. Your own safety is first, followed by the safety of those around you. If you’re worried about your friend, don’t avoid trouble by not telling an RA or calling 911. Get help.

No one here will make you go to class, shower, study or remember your limits. But if you skip, stink and nearly check out of life like an overfed goldfish, you’re risking the type of bummers we wouldn’t wish on a bunch of University of Maine kids.

I’m not saying you’re on your own now. Far from it. You’ve got a chance to make lifelong friends here. Find people you can party with, but also trust. And make sure you have their backs as well.

College is a life-changing experience. Have fun, but don’t sacrifice your health, housing or enrollment for that fun.

With thoughts this heavy, I’m surprised the paper doesn’t weigh as much as a brick. If you need to lie supine for a few minutes to process all that, feel free to set your copy of The New Hampshire down. We’ll be ready to resume our post as the student voice when you recover.

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