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. Resident Assistants are committed to, and accountable for, advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all its forms. We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusive excellence that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals to help them thrive.
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. They are committed to the development of a safe and inclusive living-learning community that fosters academic, social, cultural, and personal growth. We strive to enable residents to develop respect and responsibility for themselves and their community. The Resident Assistant is a vital part of the team in helping to continue the vision and mission of the department.
The following are basic expectations of an RA. Specific responsibilities and expectations vary slightly among residential areas/campuses. It is your responsibility to become familiar with the Student Code of Conduct, the Housing Terms and Conditions, and the Residence Life Resident Assistant Manual. Duties, responsibilities, and qualifications include but are not limited to those listed below:
Duties and Responsibilities
- 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 meaningful 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.
- 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).
- Promote building relationships with faculty members, academic advisors, and academic support services.
- 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.
- Serve as a highly visible campus leader and representative of the Office of Residence Life and the Penn State University.
- 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.
- All Resident Assistants may be expected to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a cloth mask or face shield that fully extends over the nose and mouth, while working in a residence hall or on their own floor, when determined necessary by the University.
- RAs may also be expected to practice social distancing (at least 6 feet from others) and wash hands frequently when determined necessary by the University.
- Follow the University’s guidelines along the lines of personal safety practices throughout campus. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in dismissal from the Resident Assistant position.
Individual Helping and 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.
Meetings and 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 their entirety. No exceptions will be granted without appropriate consultation.
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 (CSA), uphold the Clery Act and Title IX guidelines.
- Assume on-call/duty responsibility as scheduled (8:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m.); at night, on weekends, during break periods when the University remains open (i.e. Labor Day, etc.) and during hall openings/closings to ensure proper coverage.
- Serve as needed in times of emergency response, i.e. 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
- Conduct rounds of the assigned housing area in accordance with protocol.
- Document and submit reports within appropriate timeline.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Number of hours at an outside job should be no more than 15 hours per week; all outside employment be approved.
- Restrict being a president of a governing student organization (ARHS, CCSG, UPUA and any area government).
- Restrict positions on executive boards unless there is prior approval from the supervisor (see addendum).
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 student 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.
- Enroll and maintain status as a full time Penn State student in the academic year (12 credit hours undergraduate/9 credit hours graduate) in good financial standing throughout the appointment period.
- Possess and maintain the minimum required GPA as noted on your campus addendum throughout your recruitment and appointment period.
- Maintain good student conduct standing with the Penn State University throughout appointment. Past violations of policy or the law may result in a candidate or Resident Assistant being removed.
- Compensation is dependent upon placement.
- Please refer to offer letter for specifics regarding compensation
- Resignation or dismissal from the RA positions will result in all compensation ending immediately from The Office of Residence Life and the student owing the remainder of any costs for housing, meals, and tuition.