Student perspectives on changes to Housing and Residence Life


New changes and responsibilities graphic by Cody Ferguson.

Cody Ferguson, News Writer, [email protected]

The current and prospective resident assistants will be at the forefront of big changes next year. 

The resident assistant position is seeing massive changes within the next year, as a continuation of the two-year plan set in motion by the current administration of Housing and Residence Life and Meghan Harte Weyant.

“RAs next year shouldn’t expect the same training or job responsibilities of HRAs in previous years. There will be components of the position incorporated into the RA role, but they won’t become an HRA,” Area Director Grace Bergt said.

The RA position is elevated in the coming academic year. Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life Dylan Lawing said he wants 60 students capable of taking on the responsibilities of the six head RA staff. 

“With the change in the current compensation package, we had to change the expectations given to the RAs applying. We wanted to see an elevated student leadership role on campus,” Lawing said.

In lieu of the changes for fall 2023, student perspectives on administration’s choices are welcome and necessary.

“Knowing the RA position will now take on more administrative tasks and responsibilities than in previous years excites me and makes me nervous,” current resident assistant Noelle Lambert said.

Taking on new responsibilities is a daunting task, but removing the head RA position allows all RA staff to work closely with the professional staff at UNC Asheville. Lambert said this will build up the leadership within the community and allow all RA staff to be better prepared to handle tough situations.

As mentioned within the Housing and Residence Life series, these new responsibilities come with a different approach to applications and interviews. The requirements of a resume and an in-depth interview process are all meant to culminate in the best group of resident assistants in the UNC system.

“The application process felt like applying for a professional job post-graduation. The application form itself was accessible and, while it was very detailed, was not intimidating,” Lambert said.

Resident Assistant Walter Hardin said the application process was good. He didn’t find the resume review to be entirely necessary but understood the value of having a good resume on hand.

“The questions were straightforward and engaging. The interview process after the application form was nerve-wracking but rewarding,” Lambert said.

Students didn’t need any prior experience as an RA to apply, and prospective students felt the application wasn’t difficult or unwieldy. 

“I usually have some trouble talking about myself, but the last questions gave me ample opportunity to describe why I’d be great for the job,” freshman Ryder Mandaro said.

Administration is still looking into the future, and new information for RA training is on the horizon. 

“Developing a training program is a lot of hard work. We’re excited for August, and we’re already having those kinds of conversations,” Bergt said. “We want the training to be exciting and engaging for newcomers and returning RAs.”

Being an RA isn’t just a job for a lot of people. It turns into a community filled with people who just want to build a bigger community. This position is a draw to a lot of students seeking a sense of belonging for that reason.

“I didn’t really feel a sense of community until I took the Resident Assistant position and had that like-minded set of co-workers and friends within UNC Asheville,” Head Resident Assistant Erin Cunningham said in fall 2022.

Freshman year can be lonely and often gives students no jumping board for connections. Lambert said they often felt in a building of strangers, even after they had made friends in their classes. 

“As an RA, I strive to make connections with my residents and make sure that they feel like the residence hall they live in is a safe and comfortable space for them to succeed and grow. I don’t want them to feel as alone as I did,” Lambert said.

Mandaro said these new changes give the sense that administration is hearing student opinions. 

“Not all of the changes as of late have been perfect, but the general consensus is students are beginning to be heard. Changes in dining, parking, and housing are all important, and there has been effort directed towards fixing problems given by students,” Mandaro said.