RAs, RDs Train for Students’ Safety

Falon Nonnemacher, Reporter

Student safety is a growing concern after recent school shootings, but Resident Assistants stay up-to-date on training to keep students safe.

An RA is usually the first staff member to respond to an incident in the residence halls. Staff are trained to handle a wide range of dangerous situations.

“The training ranges from responding to a situation that involves drug use, alcohol use, physical fights, fire drills and lock down situations,” said Ewelina Taran, Residence Director of Alumnae and McGowan Halls.

Resident Assistants are also trained in first aid and CPR, she said, and they go through training multiple times each year to ensure they are prepared.

“They go through very extensive training during the summer. They revisit it in the winter, and then it is also visited throughout both semesters,” said Dominick DeMatteo, Area Coordinator of Residence Life.

DeMatteo added that RAs receive two-and-a-half weeks of summer training before the school year begins, and winter training lasts four days.

Various offices on campus are responsible for training. Taran said offices include Student Safety, the Assistant Dean of Students and the Student Success Center.

RAs also ensure safety in the residence halls by participating in “duty.”  They do several rounds of the building’s floors while on duty to continuously check in on students.

Kayli Boyes, Resident Assistant for McHale Hall, said RAs are on duty from 9 p.m. until 12 midnight Sunday through Wednesday nights. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, RA duty lasts from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., she said.

“It’s a little rough, but since I have someone on duty with me a lot, and since I’m friends with all the RAs in my building, it’s really fun to just stay up all night with each other,” said Boyes.

As far as student safety, Boyes said, “It’s better to overreact than underreact.”

RAs also provide emotional support for students living in the residence halls.

“Whether they are maybe trying to self harm, or if there’s different things that are going on in their life that they need somebody to talk to about to put them in a better mindset, then that is what RAs are there for,” said DeMatteo.

Boyes said she had to do just that very recently when a resident came into her room and talked about situations she was going through.

“Afterwards she just kind of looked at me and thanked me and said she didn’t realize that she needed to talk about that. I got a note under my door the next day that said ‘Thank you for being such an amazing RA. You really helped me a lot,’ and that really felt good,” Boyes said.

Boyes added that she has always been a caring person, a trait that has helped her as an RA.

“I was always this kid that liked to take care of people and take care of animals. I was the first one to offer a Band-Aid or give hugs,” said Boyes.

DeMatteo it’s important that residents have a positive relationship with their RAs and not think of them as the “the fun police.”

“Some people might not like the policies, but they should definitely know that the policies are in place for a reason. If the students that are saying those types of things would take the time to get to know their RA and get to know their community, they wouldn’t think of them in that way,” he said.

DeMatteo stressed that RAs benefit students.

“We just want the students to have the best residential experience through programming, safety, being there for them, and helping them transition and get ready for their life after the university,” DeMatteo said.