The life of an RA in BYU housing


It’s summer semester and resident assistants in many Provo apartments finds themselves up to their heads in stress. A loud party has formed in a nearby apartment, residents are calling them every 10 minutes, and a truck has decided to make the grassy quad just outside of the resident assistant’s apartment into a parking lot.

At many BYU housing complexes, like Helaman Halls, Heritage Halls and King Henry Apartments RAs are required.

King Henry, which is a single/married apartment complex, requires its RAs to perform many duties. From doing three walk-arounds every night, to checking for security, giving tours, plowing snow during weekends, answering and assisting residents when they have questions and working in the office and closing down the clubhouse, the job can be overwhelming.

King Henry Apartment resident assistants Steven and Lisa Foltz help out a King Henry resident, Sarah Griffiths. (photo by Jodan Snowden)

Andrew and Hillary Dobbins, one of the two couple RAs at King Henry Apartments, have been RAs for almost a year.

“We already lived at King Henry in the married apartments, so it didn’t require a big move,” Andrew Dobbins said. “It was a significant discount for rent as well.”

Some of the benefits that King Henry RAs receive are a reduction in rent, ability to work extra and make more money, working at King Henry events and doing extra maintenance around King Henry.

Since taking the job, the Dobbinses have had many good and bad experiences but said it is important to learn to care for the residents.

“You have to love the people you serve,” Hillary Dobbins said. “If you don’t, it will be difficult to have a positive attitude and to know what you can do to better help the residents here at King Henry.”

Alena Turner, a former RA in Helaman Halls, decided she wanted to become a resident assistant after her freshman semester.

“I didn’t have a good RA, and I remember my sophomore year when I lived off campus I saw my friends become RAs,” Turner said. “I went and talked to them, and it sounded like they were having a great time.”

Some of the reasons students want to be RAs are because of the benefits, which include free rent and, for RAs at Helaman Halls, meals provided by the Cannon Center

Despite the great benefits, RAs also have many responsibilities — holding weekly floor meetings to check on the residents, answering residents’ questions and providing advice whenever needed. Also, on-campus RAs are responsible for arranging fun events such as pizza parties, movie nights and Valentine’s Day group activities.

Though being a resident assistant at Helaman Halls has its rewards, Turner said it can also have many challenges. One of the first obstacles that she faced as an RA was having a resident’s father pass away during the semester.

“I know her father was young and that it came unexpectedly,” Turner said. “It was one of those situations where the girls who were close with her could help her the most. I wanted her to know I was there for her. Luckily her roommate took her under her wing and helped.”

Andrew Dobbins said he feels that his job has given him valuable skills that he can use for the rest of his life.

“I’ve learned how to do maintenance around the complex, work with people … (and) be friendlier with people,” he said. “I’m not much of a customer service guy. I would much rather have my own work to do. This job has been good by helping me better work with people and relate to others.”

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