By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor
At any college, the role of an RA is a hal-lowed one. It is these students who help their younger peers undergo a stark transition: from living at home, to living alone.
But on Bison Hill, or at any university professing faith to Jesus, the RA role takes on a deeper aspect: spiritual mentor.
And this is a respon-sibility that RAs – and the people who train and prepare them – take very seriously.
“To be an RA or CL is to be a servant-leader,” Lanie Allred, the Residence Director for Taylor and the West University Apartments, said. “These students are exceptional in character and are no ordinary stu-dent workers.”
Leavi Everett, a freshman Elementary Education major who was recently selected to be an RA next year, echoes this sentiment.
Everett points to RAs as one of the reasons that residence halls begin to transcend simple living arrangements and become something greater.
“The RAs make the hall feel like it’s a com-munity,” she said. “Through various hall events and Bible studies, the hall eventually starts to feel like a small group, and the residents grow to love this feeling.”
Everett is quick to say what it is that allows RAs to have such spe-cial relationships with their halls: proximity.
“RAs… are never re-ally off the clock,” she said. “Because they live where they work, they are constant mentors to their residents… The RAs are defi nitely always there when you need someone to talk to and walk alongside.”
Another word for this? Intentional. It’s this point that Allred stresses.
“RA’s don’t just plan social events, but they intentionally try to meet each resident where they’re at and support them in a personal, unique way,” she said. “Whether that’s encouraging their hall to maintain good physical health by going to the RAWC, or connecting them to OBU’s Counseling Center to care for their mental health, an RA is there to bring peace while living among the community and being a friend who can point them in the right direction.”
This act of being pointed in the right direction is vital for students, especially for freshman who are trying to ensure a smooth transition to college life.
“There are lots of times, especially as a freshman, when things get really hard and confusing and you just don’t know what to do,” Everett said. “The RAs were completely ready to be there and help guide me back to the Lord.”
Often times, an RA can mentor in ways that an RD simply can’t, given that they are going through the same phase of life as the resident and can relate to it on a special level.
“RAs are in an opportune position for the greatest spiritual impact because they’ve established trust with residents and get to do life with them every day,” Allred said.
Micah Lynn is a recent graduate of OBU, but he spent his sophomore year as an RA in the Lodge. He asserts that while the opportunity is certainly there for an RA to help his residents grow, the RAs themselves are often changed the most.
“I hope I was able to make an impact to those on my hall, but also the guys on my hall made a huge impact on me,” he said. “Being surrounded by other guys going through the same walk of life as me, and guys who are Christians and non-Christians, really forced me to think about the conversations I was having with all types of guys on my hall.”
Allred agrees that this personal edification should be a goal for RAs.
“The most important way an RA does his or her job well is by striving after God and personal holiness, by allowing him to work through their own life,” she said. As a Residence Director, her overwhelming feeling towards RAs is pride: pride in what they accomplish and in the way they affect Bison Hill for the better.
“Our RAs and CLs have some of the biggest hearts that desire to serve and love OBU’s campus,” she said. “Just look around – they’re holding nothing back.