Starting this semester at the University of Connecticut, resident assistants are required to be available in their dorms for certain hours each week, as part of a new community hours program.
Ashley Robinson, assistant director of residence education, said the purpose of community hours is to help foster the relationship between RA’s and residents.
“The role of the resident assistant is to get to know residents; is to build community in the residence halls; is to be present and accessible for our students,” Robinson said.
Zach Morin and Noah Lyke are juniors living in Busby Suites as roommates. They both said they were unaware of their RA’s community hours, and probably wouldn’t use them, but acknowledged how they could be helpful for students.
“It gives a way more relaxed atmosphere of confronting problems because some people won’t want to call the RA, or go to the room without [these] hours… It’s nice because it gives [students] a timeframe of like ‘Hey they’re here to help,’” Morin said.
Lyke said he thinks it will help students form better relationships with their RA’s.
“A lot of people, especially freshmen, see an RA as… the ‘dorm police,’ they’re only there to get you in trouble,” Lyke said. ”This will help to show that they’re not.”
An RA in Busby Suites, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no one has come to his community hours yet, even though he has them advertised on a corkboard.
He also said that he doesn’t think holding community hours is necessary.
“When residents really want to talk to you, they’ll come talk to you,” he said.
Robinson said because the program is relatively new, UConn Residential Life is still working out the kinks.
“It may be that on one floor, community hours are the thing and that RA has really taken to them,” Robinson said. “On another floor, it might be something that they’re still working on or they’re still working on their comfort level with it.”
Robinson also said RA’s will have to tailor their community hours to fit their residence halls, whether they are in traditional residence halls or on-campus apartments.
McMahon and Alumni residence halls both had community hours with RA’s established before this semester, which helped Residential Life get a feel for how the program would be received on campus, Robinson said.
Schae Beaudoin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.