Cole welcome's App State Resident Assistants Pooja Adial and Andrew Carros to the studio to explain what an RA is and what an RA is not all while sharing some crazy stories and resident hacks for life in the dorms.
Cole Maita: Hello Mountaineers, this is Cole Maita, and you are listening to AppX. Today, I have two incredible RAs in the room with me, and we are going to be talking about what is an RA, what to expect going into Appalachian, and living in the dorms. So do you all want to introduce yourselves?
Andrew Carros: Yes, my name is Andrew Carros, and I am a Sophomore accounting major, and I’m the fifth floor RA in Cone Hall.
Pooja Adial: Hi, my name is Pooja, I’m a junior, second year RA. My major is Biology, and I’m minoring in psychology and chemistry.
CM: Awesome, well is great having you both here. So, today, let’s just start with the basics. You know, what is an RA?
AC: Well, RA stands for “Resident Assistant,” and there will be one RA per floor. The RAs will live on the floor, and we are responsible for welcoming the residents, and answering any questions they have, building a community, and, we are also there to help them with any needs they have, and also help you with any conduct issues, and Pooja can talk more about that.
PA: Yeah, so, one of our major roles is basically to make sure our residents halls are safe for all the residents. One of the main things we do is enforce policies. So, make sure that you are not doing anything that you are not supposed to be doing in the residence hall, and you sign a contract that highlights all the policies that you should be following – you just need need to make sure you don’t violate any of those.
CM: Yeah, and that’s kind of like the interesting paradigm with being an RA. You know, I remember walking into my residence hall, and seeing my RA for the first time, and I just like didn’t know what to expect – you know, should I, like, befriend this person? And I just remember her coming up and saying, you know, “I’m a resource for you.” Do you think students should come up to you? Can you provide resources for them? Like, what examples of that?
AC: Oh, well, certainly, you should definitely get to know your RA because your RA will be wonderful helper and guider and mentor through your Freshman experience. I can just tell you personally as an RA, I am, you know, not the police. This is not like a witch hunt – I am not trying to go around, and write people up. That’s the last thing I want to do, and really we just want to be there to create a relaxed environment, to help people, connect them up with resources. Pooja, wouldn’t you agree?
PA: For sure. We want to make sure that you are succeeding in your college experience, and you are getting the most out of it. I’m an RA in an upperclassman dorm, and I have residents that are a year under me, but they’re also a somewhat similar major as I am. So when they are signing up for classes, they have come up to me like, “Oh what professor should I take? What is a good class to take? Have you taken this class already?”
AC: And if you are ever struggling with a class or a paper, we are definitely there to connect you up with tutoring resources. We have wonderful tutoring organizations – we have graduate students come, and we pair them up with those who would like a tutor in the subject, we have an awesome writing center that allows students to bring their papers to that writing center, where, again, we many times have either professors, or graduate students who then look at those papers, and help the student kind of evaluate it, and better them with their paper and their writing skills so they can really give them the best opportunity to succeed. And, again, that kind of goes back to the RA as being that first person to connect them up with those wonderful resources because we really do care about the residents – we want them to succeed to the best of their ability.
CM: So, let’s talk events that your RA puts on. I know every once in while you’ll put on an event for your floor to build community. Do you do things like that?
PA: Yeah! So, for example, I’ve done a karaoke night, and a pizza and a movie night – when there is food, people always come out [of their dorms] – that’s one of the pluses (laughter).
CM: Always bring food (laughter).
AC: In Cone Hall, we’ve had Conestock Program – sort of building off of Woodstock originally where we had residents who are musicians come, and they would play. We had different tables with different activities – tie dyeing shirts – all these various things, and it was just a way to get local musicians who are residents out there, and playing their music, and, also create community for all the dorms. Something we are working on right now in Cone is something called “Cone Talks,” which is paralleling that of TED Talks. We have residents who are very passionate about topics. They can put on a lecture for those who are interested about their topic in the hall who can come and watch them, and then they present on their topic for 20-30 minutes, and it’s just a really good way to build community, get ideas flowing, and get the residents out of their rooms, and into the hall – you know, make friends and those sorts of things.
CM: So a massive tip you would say is to get out the dorms and start getting involved.
PA: Most RA’s are upperclassman. So, we are involved on campus, we know the good clubs and things to get involved in based on your interest. If you are looking to get involved on campus, and looking for a club or organization that’s right for you, talk to your RA, and I’m sure they could name two or three things right off of their head that you should be involved in.
CM: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, your walking into Appalachian, you are going to your dorm for the first time – what are some tips you could offer for those incoming Freshman here at the university.
PA: I would say meet your RA. You need to know who your RA is even if you don’t want to be friends with them. You need to know who they are because, if anything happens, they’re always there to help you – they’re a resource, and they are right there living on the floor with you.
PA: Another thing I would say is get involved – get involved because, honestly, from personal experience, if I had a chance to go back, I would like to be more involved my Freshman year because I wasn’t that involved, and I had hard time making friends because I didn’t know that many people. So, making new friends and meeting new people is a great way to get started in your college experience.
CM: Yeah, for sure.
AC: Yeah, as Pooja said, definitely get out there and meet your RA because your RA is going to be one of the very first people you meet on this campus that really will try to have your best interest in mind. I’m very passionate about the campus here and Appalachian State and your success, and as RA’s we are the ones that are a little bit more experienced. We are already in various clubs on campus, we know things on and off campus – the places to go to hang out and have fun. I really recommend getting to meet your RA, as Pooja said, and also, really, meeting those on your floor because they will be the people you make really long-lasting relationships with. They will be the ones you end up rooming with if you elect to move off campus in an apartment or something, and those relationships will be life-long relationships, and again, as Pooja said, get involved, step outside your comfort zone, join clubs that are within your major if you have an idea of some kind of subject that you want to major in. Join some sort of club that better explains what your major is and what it does, meet people, network and have a lot of fun.
CM: Yeah, have a good time!
PA: Yeah! Another thing that I would suggest is just go out and explore the nature because the mountains are beautiful. If you get some people from your floor, and be like, “Oh, let’s go explore!” it’s a perfect way to get to know each other.
CM: Yeah! And one thing that – Pooja, once you said that, this kind of came up in mind – there are social media pages for a lot of the dorms, where there is like a Facebook group or something like that, where all the residents can go, and see what’s going on in the dorms. I know sometimes on the one for Summit Hall, where I live, there is [a post] like “We are going out to Rough Ridge, you want to come or carpool?” or something like that. So, there are always those opportunities to use that social media page, right? I mean, we use it for just about everything I think.
PA: Yeah, I have for our floor, so if I need them to do something for me, or if I am putting on an event, or something like that, I will just post it on there, and most people have Facebook, and they check it every day. So that’s like a better way to instantly get to residents rather than like emailing, because it is a lot easier as well.
AC: Yeah, definitely. Even in Cone, I have experienced that as well. We have a Facebook page; we have an Instagram page. The Facebook page is made up the RAs and residents just talking about all sorts things – about upcoming events, interests they may have, even just simple things like someone left a shirt in the dryer (laughter), if this belongs to you, just take a picture of it. It’s just a good way to allow ideas and comments to flow. For the Instagram page we have, we use that for community pictures that we would get throughout the year and the semester. Also, the RAs like to do a “resident of the week.” If we select a resident that has done various things, we would take their picture, and put it on the Instagram page just to promote them and congratulate them for their work.
CM: Sweet! Awesome! Okay, next thing: resident’s don’ts. What are those things that residents coming into the dorm shouldn’t do? I know, for example, there was one time this year we brought in a like massive fridge – like, one that was just like outrageously big, and it didn’t meet like the code and stuff, but luckily we found a fridge that worked. And so, there are certain things you kind of experience. So what are some resident’s don’ts coming in.
PA: Okay, so if you go on housing.appstate.edu, there is a whole entire list of what you shouldn’t be bringing in your dorm room. So, just abide by that because we have a health and safety inspection once a semester, and they go in your room, and check to make sure that everything in your room is up to code and there is not policy violation in your room.
CM: Yeah, I know one thing I know a lot of people do is bring in a candle, you know, as an example. There is a lot of like, I would say, resident hacks so to speak, being a resident. I know in our dorm right now, we have a light – I have never seen these before, but you put them in your outlets, and they burn a candle, but not with a flame, but with a light from the outlet. So there are like ways to abide by the rules, but still live there in the way you want to – resident’s hacks.
PA: Yeah exactly! You can have so many alternatives to things that are not allowed in the dorms. So, one of the biggest things that I’ve seen is coffee machines. So, you cannot have a coffee machine with an open hot plate, but you can have any other coffee machines that you want. So you can have like a Keurig – there is some that don’t have open hot plates or you can easily find them at Wal-Mart or anywhere.
CM: Oh cool!
AC: Another big one is that you can’t actually have extension cords – you are not allowed to have those because they are prone sometimes to catching on fire, and they can be a big fire hazard. However, what they do make is surge protectors with, you know, 50ft. cables connected to them, and we really recommend that you plug everything into those.
CM: It’s kind of a way to extend beyond the outlets.
AC: You can extend beyond the outlet, and so you can have that distance with some of these surge protectors with the longer cord, but you don’t necessarily need to have the extension cord, which can harm the dorm room.
CM: Oh gotcha, cool!
PA: And also one of the tips that I would give to incoming Freshman will be to check to see if the resident hall that you are living in has a mini-fridge and a microwave. Because some residence halls do come with it, and the others don’t. So the ones that do come with it, you don’t have to bring your own.
CM: Cool. Sweet. Alright y’all, so obviously, there are some just absolutely crazy things that happen in the dorms. Do you all have any examples of crazy things that have happened within the dorms?
AC: Sometimes, the residents like to get smart about some things, and I know that a couple times, we’ve had instances where the lights in the elevators have been off (laughter). And everyone is like freaking out, and they’re like, “What’s going on?” And one time, another one of the RAs, Ty Adams and I, we walked into the elevator and we kind of held the door so we had some light from the hallway, and we figure out that the residents had actually unscrewed the light bulb just a little bit to turn off the lights in the elevator.
CM: It’s like a Tower of Terror kind of thing (laughter).
AC: Right, it is. It’s kind of funny what they come up with sometimes.
CM: I remember in the men’s restroom of my freshman year [dorm]. Someone brought in an entire tree, and it was just sitting there across the stalls (laughter). I will never forget that – just going into the bathroom, and just seeing an uprooted tree. But we took it out after. You know, you can’t have a tree in the bathroom of your dorm, but yeah, its pretty crazy stuff (laughter).
AC: Going back to the elevator thing, actually, one of the residents put a sandwich in the elevator tiles, and I was in the elevator with my resident, and he pushed up the tile, and grabbed the sandwich (laughter).
CM: Oh man, what kind of sandwich? (laughter)
AC: It was wrapped up – I have no idea (laughter).
AC: I have one resident – he is really cool guy, very interesting – he is very interested in teaching himself various things. Just recently, he decided that he would get his Ham Radio license, and so he went and took the test, which was a thirty question test where it had the possibility of having up to four-hundred random questions making up those thirty questions. He studied, he passed, he had his HAM Radio license shipped to him, he purchased a very large Ham Radio with a 50ft antenna that he would hang outside the window of Cone (laughter). And he would communicate with people all around Boone, and then sometimes they have these stations that would actually connect them up with an Internet signal, and then he could talk to people in Myanmar, South Africa, and he would just communicate with people all around the world – a really interesting guy (laughter).
CM: Nice! (laughter) That’s really cool! My roommate wanted to take like a great picture of Appalachian’s campus, and he was like, “I’m going to remove the screen.” so there were no dots. Yeah, and the screen came off, and he didn’t realize he couldn’t put it back, and so we had to put in a maintenance request, but they were not coming until the morning. So, we were throwing a football, like a little foam football from the 7th floor of Summit like the down to the road. I’m not sure if I’m going to get in trouble for saying that, but we did (laughter). It was awesome, but anyway, that was a good one (laughter).
PA: I mean, all I wanted to say is living on campus your first year will be one of the best experiences you have, and you will meet awesome people that you will hang with for the rest of your college career. So, make sure that you find those people your first year, and enjoy it – it’s going to go by so fast.
AC: Definitely don’t rush that Freshman experience. Really take advantage of that Freshman experience, take advantage of those that are on your floor because those people will be very close to you, and you will really make some long lasting relationships with them.
CM: Absolutely! Yeah, an important thing to remember is everyone is just as naïve as you going in to your Freshman year, you know, you got to just embrace it, and ask questions – become friends with your RA, and your floor, and your dorm – I think that is huge part of the Appalachian experience for sure. Well Pooja, Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about being an RA on campus, and all the great things about living on campus.
PA: Yeah, thank you so much for having us – it was a great time (laughter).
AC: Yeah, thank you so much, Cole. I greatly enjoyed it – it was a lot of fun!
CM: Yeah, thank you all for being on! Again, subscribe to AppX on iTunes, and listen to us on apalachianmagazine.org. This is Cole Maita, and you have been listening to AppX. We will see you next time!
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.