Residents of Simpson dorm in their room.

What It Takes To Be a Hillsdale RA

Written by Aaron Andrews

I’m not sure what a Resident Assistant (RA) looks like at a big state school, but here at Hillsdale, the RAs are charismatic and energetic people who inspire their hall-mates to suck the marrow out of life. On campus, they are the rock stars, the top dogs, the people who really have it goin’ on.

I’ve enjoyed the upbeat energy that the RAs have brought to my hall. They bring comic relief into my hectic freshmen life. One of the RA’s on my hall, Griffith Brown, laid down the hall rules at the beginning of last semester. Though they were few in number, they bore significant gravitas:

  1. Don’t die.
  2. Don’t die.
  3. Seriously, please don’t die.

Although these three rules seem superfluous, they have become my mantra for the whole of freshmen year. They’ve really helped me make important decisions! For instance: Should I Kong vault over this high ledge and then cushion my fall with a parkour roll? No! Why not? Because this would most likely violate rules 1, 2, and 3! Should I not eat anything all day long and then stay up all night studying for this English Exam? No! Why? Because, again, it puts me in risk of violating rules 1-3! I’ve found Griff’s rules to be most helpful, and I’m proud to say that I have a perfect record.

I once asked Matt Hastreiter, future Head RA of Simpson dorm and one of my hall RA’s this semester, what he believed to be the most important characteristics of an RA. He told me that RAs should be men who give of themselves in time, effort, and mental energy so that their residents can thrive and grow. “They should focus on making an environment where kids can become adults and have a ton of fun in the process.”

Matt tells me that they create this environment by organizing dorm events and fostering one on one relationships with the residents. And, what better way to make brothers out of strangers than sending them into battle alongside one another? No, I’m not being cheesy. I’m not talking about how the Hillsdale experience is a battle and how the struggle creates bonds of friendship that will last through time immemorial. It’s not that these things aren’t true, it’s just that I’m literally talking about a battle. (And yes I mean ‘literally.’ I’ll have none of this Webster 2015 “see figuratively” bologna.) This Saturday the RAs from Simpson and Galloway have organized a campus wide intramural skirmish. Armed with swords and shields fashioned from yoga mats and pvc pipe and lead by their RAs, the men of Hillsdale will charge the fields of Hayden Park and wage glorious war with one another. I only hope that one of the RAs thinks to give the St. Crispian’s day speech:

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother”

(Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4, scene 3)

The RAs at Hillsdale strive to be a genuine part of each resident’s life. They’re pretty great.

Aaron Andrews is a freshman at Hillsdale College. He grew up homeschooled in rural northeastern Washington, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He has recently discovered people and the internet and is thriving here at Hillsdale.