While some might think that the only requirement to become a Temple University Resident Assistant is a strong desire for free room and board, the rigorous process one must go through to acquire this position proves otherwise.
Trained to do much more than simply design posters and save frantic lock-out victims, Temple’s RAs are equipped to handle any situation, including making their residents’ freshman year a positive experience.
Temple senior, Sonali Pantankar, began the process of becoming an RA last year a week before spring break.
After attending an information session she received information packets that required her to answer personal questions, submit a resume and write five essays.
“The point was emphasized that anyone who wanted to become an RA should think twice, as it is a major commitment and involves a lot of time management,”
Patankar said, “… You have to think twice because it’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is. It’s more than just getting a free room.”
Despite the tedious application process, Pantankar persevered and was informed that she would be an RA for freshman living in White Hall beginning in September of 2002.
Pantankar attended two more information sessions at the end of the 2002 spring semester.
It was then that she was told she must return to campus on Aug. 18 as part of a pre-school training program.
Pantankar described the training, which took place on both Ambler and Main campus, as “intense.”
The seminars were to inform and educate RAs on everything from understanding alcohol policies to utilizing campus resources.
In addition to receiving “a lot of detailed information,” the new RAs were required to react to “real life” events simulated in skits performed by returning RAs.
The situations ranged from dealing with underage partying to handling roommate disagreements.
“They (the returning RAs) did everything to the extreme, so we learned how to deal with the worst case scenarios. Now it’s easier to handle real life situations. The returning RAs have been really helpful,” said Pantankar.
“Because they train you so well, you come out feeling like you can handle any situation.”
Pantankar’s desire to be an RA stemmed from her first year experience at Temple.
“My freshman year I had such a good RA; she helped everybody. She’d always see how everyone was doing and try to be good friends with everyone … Freshman have so many questions, and I want to help them out because I was so unaware my freshman year,” Pantankar said.
Pantankar strives to provide an atmosphere where freshmen can feel comfortable coming to her in any situation.
“They come to me for everything. In the beginning it was about phones and computers, and then scheduling and ‘Where are my classes?’ type questions …
Also they are curious about what to do on the weekends. And then, they just want a friend,” Pantankar said.
Although Pantankar is enjoying her experience as an RA, she was not prepared for life without a roommate.
“It’s weird living by myself. It’s nice to have the natural conversation of a roommate, and then all of a sudden ‘boom’ it’s quiet. And all your friends live in other dorms,” she explained.
Despite her feelings about living solo, Pantankar would “never second guess” becoming an RA.
“I think it will be rewarding to see [the freshman] go through a change, from how they are now to how they will be. They come in scared and unknowing, and eventually they’ll know everything about Temple because of my assistance. I’ll get to see them make their friends, because you keep your friends from freshman year. In upperclassman dorms I feel that people don’t talk to each other, which is another reason I wanted to do a freshman wing. It builds a nice strong community,” Pantankar concluded.
Alix Gerz can be reached at Temple_News@hotmail.com