Being an MSU Resident Advisor (RA) has never been a piece of cake, but a school year such as this one was the icing on top. With restrictions on how events can be run and strict rules in place surrounding COVID-19 in the dorms, helping students connect to their peers has proven more difficult than imagined for many RAs. Now, as they start planning welcome back events for a spring semester like no other, the difficulties of COVID-19 are sinking in yet again.
The overwhelming struggle for RAs this year has been finding creative ways to help students form relationships in their dorms. Most of this is due to a lack of large floor and campus-wide events where students typically meet their peers. One RA mentioned that even RA’s are struggling with reaching out to their residents. “A lack of more in-person and social events definitely makes resident relationships hard to form,” they said when asked about the hardest part of this year. That was the common response across the board.
Another resident advisor gave a similar answer and said that the hardest part has been the lack of open doors and common spaces. “Normally, everyone keeps their doors open, stops in the hallway to have conversations and catch up, and hang out in the lounges. This year… not so much,” they said. With lounges blocked off and common spaces reduced, it’s become hard to run into other students and strike up a conversation.
For those struggling to make connections this semester, the RAs have some advice. One said that knocking on someone’s door is always a good way to branch out and that, “it can be scary to approach someone you don’t know well, but they could be struggling as much as you.” Another added that you can also “join in on as many of the new RHA online events as possible” to meet some new faces. Even though there aren’t as many in-person events this year, online events can still be just as fun and helpful in making new friends.
If you’re living in the dorms this semester, don’t be afraid to go to the few in-person events that the dorms are hosting, as well as the online events. You can also talk to your RA about events that the Residence Hall Association is hosting around campus. Get out there and get involved.