The Five Types of RAs

Incoming freshmen have a lot on their minds right now. Although living arrangements, student loans,  course schedules, and a million other loose ends are begging to be tied up, soon-to-be-Penn-Staters are drooling at one thought: INDEPENDENCE.

For the first time in their young lives, they will no longer need to conjure up cover stories for their nights out. They don’t need to rush home to get in before curfew. They won’t be grounded if they don’t clean their rooms. Freedom, they believe, is theirs. And so it may be…depending who their RA is for the coming semester. A resident assistant can make or break the It’s-My-College-Experience-and-I’ll-Do-What-I-Damn-Well-Want dream.

Here are the five types of RAs that I’ve found to be most common:

1. The One That Wants To Be Buddies

This is the RA that plans cute dorm-bonding activities — like milk-and-cookie socials and movie nights — at least twice a week. They know the first names of everyone on your floor by the end of Syllabus Week, and wave emphatically when they pass you on campus. They try to persuade you to stay in and make friendship bracelets with the girls from your floor instead of going fratting on Friday nights. They add you on Facebook and like every Penn State-related photo you post. When you break the rules, they focus less on disciplining you and more on how hurt they are that you’d do anything they asked you not to.

2. The One That Just Doesn’t Care

This is the RA that rolls their eyes as you stumble down the hall lugging what is clearly a 30-rack in your backpack, because they don’t feel like dealing with the paperwork that it would necessitate to actually get you into trouble. They nod politely when you tell them, head resting against the toilet seat, that you must have gotten a stomach bug because you’re too nauseous to move. They ignore that your room perpetually reeks of weed.

3. The One That Wants to Avoid Conflict

They squirm when you come to them with roommate issues, usually electing to go with the “Find a compromise!” mantra, regardless of the argument at hand. They pretend not to see when the drunk boys on the third floor start punching the hell out of each other. They begin every reprimand with “If you don’t mind…” and end with “…if it’s not too much trouble.”

4. The One That Lives by the Book

They write you up for every possible violation, from letting someone “piggyback” into the building without an ID to being a little too loud after 9 p.m. week day quiet hours. Their ears perk up at the mere mention of alcohol. They scan the halls every ten minutes on major weekends like State Patty’s in search of unwarranted guests. They seek out the opportunity to wield their power as an RA and to assert their dominance, inconsequential as the infraction may be. Their nose is acutely trained to smell alcohol or other substances from a mile away, and they won’t hesitate to raid your refrigerator in search of that stray Natty can in the very back.

5. The One That Actually Helps You Out

This is the rarest breed—you could call them the shooting stars of the RA community. These resident assistants, few and far between though they may be, actually help their students out with the partying process. They tell you where the good parties are, go on beer runs, and provide decent hook-ups on campus, to any freshman with the balls to ask for such information. Not only do these beautiful RAs choose not to write you up for partying in the dorms, they join in on the fun.

Though some of these five RA personalities may be coming soon to a dorm near you, some of them may not make even one appearance throughout the entirety of your freshman year at Penn State. Anticipate the worst (prepare to hide all of your misdeeds from your RA, like any normal college student should) but do your best to feel them out as the semester goes on. They might surprise you.

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About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).

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