Resident Assistant Job Description

The resident assistant position focuses on enhancing the quality of life in the residence halls, including fostering community, providing academic support, and being attentive to safety and security of residents. The position requires an individual who is flexible enough to assume a variety of roles as dictated by the changing needs of students. It is crucial that an individual be able to relate well to others and handle administrative responsibilities. The RA is more than just a friendly presence; they are the crucial link in creating an environment in which students develop independence and learn to live cooperatively with others.

Position requirements

Residence Life seeks candidates who enjoy working in a community setting and fostering a living-learning community. Applicants must:

  • Be enrolled a minimum of 6 credit hours at Western Michigan University.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.6 or higher to apply for and retain the position.
  • Have lived in on-campus housing for at least two semesters (at any college or university). Note: the current semester counts as one semester, e.g. first-year students are eligible if they live in the residence halls for the fall and spring semesters and want to apply for the following academic year.
  • Have obtained 16 credits at a college or university by the end of the semester prior to beginning employment (e.g. by the end of spring semester for a fall position). Credits obtained do not include AP or credits obtained while in high school).

The RA position is equivalent to 20 hours per week. Any additional employment may not exceed 10 hours and must be approved by Housing. Outside employment must not interfere with the RA responsibilities.

Applications will not be accepted or interviews scheduled for anyone not meeting the above criteria.

Position responsibilities

Resident assistants are responsible for the following key areas:

  • Community development—RAs create programs and activities designed to meet the needs of residents on the floor. As a community developer, RAs also host floor or building meetings, as well as have meaningful interactions with community residents and encourage community involvement.
  • Resource and education—As a peer helper, RAs connect residents to other campus opportunities to promote a positive WMU experience. RAs also serve as a referral agent to other campus resources such as the counseling center, Academic Resource Center, etc.
  • Facility management—RAs work with other hall staff to ensure that there are no facility issues on their floor. RAs are required to complete room inventory checks and safety checks on a regular basis.
  • Policy enforcement/safety—RAs are attentive to resident safety and hall security, as well as ensure residents follow University and housing policies to maintain a respectful environment. RAs educate residents on their actions and decisions while informing them about how their actions impact an entire community.
  • Emergency response—RAs provide the primary response to emergencies within their hall. While each RA will have designated duty nights, staff are expected to assist whenever they are in the building.
  • Administrative tasks—RAs are required to complete weekly reports and other department paperwork, administer surveys and assist with check-ins and check-outs of residents.

For a more detailed position description, please contact Residence Life


Time commitment

The nature of the RA position is such that its responsibilities are determined not so much by a time clock or a calendar, but by the needs of residents. Some periods, such as training, opening and closing will require more time than average, but other responsibilities will arise that cannot always be anticipated and scheduled. Key time commitments include:

  • Desk shift—All RAs work a weekly three-hour desk shift as part the RA position.
  • Duty—Each RA will have a weekly duty night (5 p.m. to 8 a.m.) and a duty weekend (5 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday) about once a month. Duty entails staying in the hall to be accessible, walking the building to do security checks and responding to any issue, incident or need. In addition, staff is expected to share duty responsibilities over break time when the halls remain open (Thanksgiving, spring recess, fall recess, MLK weekend, Easter, etc.).
  • Opening, closing and breaks—RAs serve a facility role in getting the halls ready to open and closing them down for breaks and at the end of the school year. As such, RAs arrive early and depart late at Thanksgiving, winter, fall and spring recesses, as well as stay two days after the halls close in April.
  • RA training—In the fall, staff arrive two weeks before new student move-in. Training schedule goes from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and includes evening responsibilities for prepping the hall. A shorter version of training also happens in January.
  • Regular meetings—Meetings include weekly staff meetings (two hours) and weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with hall supervisors.
  • Weekends away—RAs are eligible to request weekends and nights away with approval of their hall director.