Brent Dewford, a junior studying music education, is like most upperclassmen. He has a full schedule of classes, hangs out with friends and enjoys the dating scene. But unlike most upperclassmen, he spends most of his time with freshman.
Dewford is a resident’s assistant. This requires him to live in freshman dorms, have freshman roommates and be in freshman wards.
“We get room and board paid for — that includes a meal allowance. We have very flexible hours and, on top of that, we get $300 a month,” Dewford said. “All the money I used to make freshman year, when I was working at the Cougareat, went to my housing bill. Now housing is paid, and I have all this money I can do whatever I want with.”
Work as an RA includes administrative assignments such as work orders for broken items in the building. On top of that, RAs have specific training classes twice a week, where they learn how to be better RAs and help the students in their halls.
Dewford says that when it comes to his duties on the job, he usually does most of them during the evening. One of the main evening duties of RAs is monitoring the halls from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. They do this to make sure their freshmen aren’t disobeying curfew or doing anything crazy.
Dave Watson, a junior studying accounting, has had his fair share of rambunctious freshmen in his care. On one occasion, a group of freshmen saw a broken chair in the lobby, so they grabbed it. Then they went to the third floor balcony and threw it off the ledge. Later, another resident came and talked with Watson and said, “Hey, umm, I just saw a chair fly out the window.”
When Watson went to talk to the freshmen they first denied that they did anything; then one finally confessed. Despite that, Watson said that his favorite part about being an RA is seeing the freshmen progress day by day. He loves to see these boys just out of high school turn into men going on missions.
Dewford explained that he loves being paid to socialize with people and being personable. He has never met a single freshman that he didn’t like in some way. He mentioned, however, he has noticed that freshman don’t always think things through.
“I was there when I was a freshman. I did dumb things too,” he said. “Just the other week we had a guy break into the apartment with a duck in a box and put it in their bathroom and the duck just (made a mess) everywhere. I thought (to myself), ‘What were you thinking? Why would you do that?’ They are independent and want to explore their freedom, and sometimes they make poor choices.”
Canute Peterson, a junior electrical engineering major, is also an RA. He explained he often feels like he is reliving his freshman year.
“Living with freshman is interesting … at times it’s almost like reliving your freshman experience. … Nobody really knows anybody,” Peterson said. “(So) it’s not as difficult to create relationships with people.”
Peterson said that although the perks are nice, it’s hard to find the balance between work, school and free time.
“With so many things RAs have to do, it’s pretty easy to get burned out. … The biggest challenge is to do my job and still enjoy it at the same time,” Peterson said.
Peterson explained his love for his job through an experience he had with his freshmen.
During October one year, the freshmen were watching scary movies and the boys found out that Peterson didn’t like them.
One night as they were sitting down watching a movie, a pillowcase came over Peterson’s head. The students duct taped his hands and carried him into the car where they then took him to a scary movie.
Despite some of the crazy times with freshman, Dewford said he really enjoys his job and doesn’t find it difficult to date and have upperclassmen friends. Because RAs are expected to live in the dorms and attend church with the freshmen, other upperclassmen wonder if dating would be hard with only freshman around.
Kellie Frederick a former RA said that her dating and social life wasn’t really affected at all. She met her husband in a class at BYU and as they were dating he would help her with her RA responsibilities.
Dewford agreed that dating as an RA isn’t too difficult.
“A lot of people have complained that your ward is a bunch of freshman, so that kind of limits dating possibilities,” Dewford said. “Not for me — I find people other ways, (like) school and work, so I don’t mind it.”