A Day In The Life of a Community Assistant
Incoming first-year St. Lawrence students will begin their University experience in nearly four weeks. However, for the Community Assistants, we will be packing our bags a week earlier to make the trip from our hometowns to the North Country to glitter up all residence halls and make this space light up like Java on Thursdays!
Before all this happens, let’s understand some of the fundamentals. What is a Community Assistant (CA)?
CAs serve as members of residential communities who create and facilitate a welcoming environment which is conducive to and in line with the academic mission of the University. CAs are expected to contribute to the development of their residents in cultural, social, and educational ways. My personal take is to serve as a resource for students living on my floor while creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students from any background.
Knowing these basics, let's explore what a typical day for me as a CA would look like!
7:00 a.m. Snooze ----
7:50 a.m. Snooze ----
8:27 a.m. *Aims to look nice for class!*
8:31 a.m. Before departing for class, I always check the whiteboard outside my room to see whether a resident has left me a message. Usually, there are various doodles, but today I need to meet with Harry because he scheduled lunch with me at 12:00 p.m. in Dana.
8:34 a.m. As I walk out of my residence building to class, I meet Mohammad walking in the same direction. This stroll together is an amazing chance to engage in some friendly conversation. We make our way to the Pub and talk about his plans for the day. We grab our coffee and head over to Hepburn where my first class of the day is.
10:14 a.m. As the day passes, I see glimpses of my residents walking to and from classes. A huge smile accompanied by a small wave is how I communicate with my residents. It amazes me how much a smile and similar small gestures can make someone's day. CAs focus on the little things to make sure that even outside their residence halls, they are accessible. Our responsibilities require us to perform our roles at all times. There is no time where I can say I am not working. We live where we work, and work where we live. From an outside perspective, the job seems like it entails the simple act of making door tags, yet there is so much behind the scenes: writing, submitting forms, attending meetings--the list goes on.
12:00 p.m. One of the responsibilities I enjoy the most are the conversations! I finally get to talk to Harry. I haven’t seen much of him in the first few weeks and would like to hear how things are going for him. Sometimes the introductory period of college can be socially challenging for students, but remember your CAs are always there for you to talk with. They can point you in numerous directions to get up and going at St. Lawrence. Similarly, don’t be shy to knock on your CA's door and get to know them. Behind that door lives a student who is going through the college process just as you are!
3:00 p.m. There is a noise complaint on my floor (Who complained? A resident? Safety and Security?), so I go down to the triple on the opposite side of the floor and knock on the door. Mark opens and welcomes me inside to join him and Suzy for a round of Fortnite. I politely decline and make them aware of their volume. They immediately apologize and I ask them to be aware of the people around them as people have different study times.
I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to address the elephant in the room. CAs do not prowl the halls looking for troublemakers. I promise you. This is the least favorite part of my job. We get zero thrills out of "busting" students, but our job requires us to address policy violations if and when they are occurring. I want all my residents to have the best college experience, but some things should be done outside of residence halls.
3:32 p.m. It’s time for office hours! I stick out a sign saying, “Come in and say hi!” Ally walks in and asks me for a sticky note. I invite Mark for a game of Fortnite (at a respectful volume). Sam wants to talk about the Ski Club. Melinda starts braiding my hair. Office hours are opportunities for students to check in with their CAs and get to know them a little bit better. It's an excellent way to build community within your residence hall!
4:56 p.m. My Residence Coordinator (RC), Maverick, sends me an email about closing reminders, which I forward to my residents, adding the following sentence: “The first five people to reply to this email get a Pub Cookie.” A reminder just to ensure people are reading my emails! Be on the lookout for emails from your CAs. Most of the time, they contain important information about floor meetings, closing procedures, community concerns, etc. Also, be sure to have acknowledged that you have read the email with a friendly response.
5:30 p.m. Dinner time! Dana or the Pub? I think I might head to Pub56 to get that mouth-watering shrimp flatbread.
7:30 p.m. The dreaded homework hour. I go to my beloved Chapel and connect my speakers to the aux cord and play my music as I prepare for my economics exam.
8:00 p.m. It's time for Rounds! I walk towards Lee Residence Hall and greet my Rounds partner. I call my RC and tell him that the CAs have started Rounds. Rounds are conducted by two CAs through residence halls to ensure no one is in any form of danger. CAs are friendly whilst doing the Rounds and always like to start a conversation with people walking around on the floors.
9:00 p.m. I return from Rounds and I see a note on my whiteboard saying that Lindsey wants to review for the economics exam. In moments like these, I am reminded at how satisfying my position is and am please the some of my residents are comfortable enough to come to me with things like studying together! Not only can Lindsey and I learn from one another but I gain a better understanding of who she is and what she wants to gain from her four years at St. Lawrence.
11:00 p.m. I conduct the second set of my Rounds. Once completed, I bid farewell to my partner and head straight to bed. As I jump into bed, I place the CA duty phone next to me.
Fun and games aside, being a CA is hard work. All CAs understand the responsibilities they hold on their shoulders. CAs are your friends but also hold multiple roles and provide necessary resources to their residences when needed. I chose to be a CA because by using this platform, I get to interact with students from a variety of backgrounds as well as build and enhance a part of the campus community.
I urge everyone to apply to be a CA at one point during their time at St. Lawrence. The opportunity gives you a greater appreciation of all Residence Life does for us as students and their dedication for having a student-first approach.