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A Resident assistant (RA), also known by a variety of other names, is a trained peer leader who coordinates activities in residence halls in colleges and universities, mental health and substance abuse residential facilities, or similar establishments.

An RA has many roles and responsibilities, including building a residential community through programming, acting as a mentor for students, being a familiar first resource for students with academic or institutional questions, and enforcing residence policies. RAs assist residents with problem solving or refer them to counseling resources. Above all, a resident assistant must be an example and uphold professional and personal accountability as outlined by the institution.

At post-secondary institutions RAs are often undergraduate or graduate students themselves, and must balance their schedule and priorities with the needs of the students they are supporting. RAs must balance their own personal and academic needs while ensuring they are supporting and fostering community among residents, connecting residents with resources, and providing enriching programming. RAs will often report to a residence hall director, or another professional staff member within the Residence Life unit.

A major component of the job is not only creating a community, but also ensuring safety for all, for example, by participating in nightly community walks. Other duties held by RAs outside of community building and programming can include ordering supplies, managing a budget, and determining need for maintenance, repairs, and furnishings. They may maintain household records and assign rooms.

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