They’re one of the first people you’ll meet when you pull up in your parents’ car full of college gear, they’ll help you adjust to your room, and they’re there when you need advice: they’re your freshmen RAs. Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet with Alex Chalphin, a freshmen RA for two years running! I made him talk so much that he could hardly eat his dinner! So needless to say, he gave me all the behind-the-scenes secrets of freshmen dorms: the ins and outs of collegiate residence life.
Alex has lived in the Botetourt Complex for the past three years, first as a freshman resident, then as an RA. He chose to be a Resident Assistant so he could be more invested in the freshmen experience: he wanted to make a difference. And he has. As an RA Alex has planned pizza nights, tutoring sessions, Super Bowl parties (that were catered!), pick up sport games, cookouts, and even surprises his residents with candy on their door stoops! Jealous? I know I am! He’s a friend to his residents as well as a role model: dishing out jokes with his hall-mates while also being available to discuss problems and offer advice when needed.
So what’s the first week like? Well, Alex meets with his residents and they all discuss what kind of rules they would like to implement on their hall. The new students all vote for what they would like to see in terms of quiet hours, roommate etiquette, and fun activities they may want to plan for later in the year. The first week is all about getting to know your hall. After all, they’re the people you’re sharing your rooms, bathrooms, and showers with…it’d be weirder NOT to know them! The goal is to make everyone feel as if they’re home, except instead of mom’s meatloaf, it’s Chinese take-out and “Two-for-$2-Tuesdays” at Dominoes. Friendships inevitably form. And they last! A friend of mine is getting married in October and his best man is someone he met on his freshman hall! Needless to say, your freshmen dorm experience will be one of the most treasured and exciting experiences of your college life. We can thank the RAs, like Alex, for facilitating the opportunities for hall bonding.
– Megan Castle ’11