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Wednesday, November 29, 2023


What it’s like being a resident adviser on-call


Cougar Village II is where Laura Bere serves as a resident adviser | Haya Panjwani/The Cougar

Resident advisers play a prominent role in the lives of students who choose to live in on-campus housing. Part of that job description involves going on-call.

When an RA goes on-call, they take time out of their days and nights, dedicating it to the aid and convenience of those who may need help. This includes anything from student issues, roommate problems, altercations, housing questions, advice and more.

Being students themselves, RAs take on the additional role of attending to their student residents on top of their own needs and lives.

However, these on-call hours can often take place during the evening hours and extend into the next morning.

Political science junior and second-year RA Laura Bere, who lives at Cougar Village II, talked about her experiences with nights on-call.

Bere has worked as an RA for two years at UH now. | Courtesy of Laura Bere

Bere has worked as an RA for two years at UH now. | Courtesy of Laura Bere

“Last year was a COVID-19 year, so we didn’t get as many calls at night,” Bere said. “If an incident does happen, you have to be ready to handle it at any moment. We do our jobs because we love it, so it’s not a hassle. You need to have an attitude of gratitude.”

A resident adviser is a student just as much as their residents are, but with the additional responsibility of being on-call, it is very easy to assume that they do not get much rest.

“You don’t have to be up all the time,” Bere said. “I would say the weekend shift is a little more hard in the fact that you have to probably be awake a lot longer because it is 24 hours.”

“We also have a very supportive staff so if we have an issue or are just too tired to do anything, they will help and assist us, and I am so grateful for that,” Bere continued. “There’s such a supportive environment with the RAs helping one another and never doing anything alone.”

Being a resident adviser requires attention and attentiveness to all residents and their needs, often asking for quick responses to calls at all times, even during the middle of the night.

“It’s not all the time that you get a call at night, and usually it’s split up so you won’t get all the calls since you have a partner with you on-call,” Bere said. “I would say that you get a pretty good amount of rest. You can wake up and help with a situation, and then when it’s done you can go back to bed.”

Despite the additional responsibilities that RAs have on top of their own, having that role comes with its pros and cons. 

“An advantage is that when you’re on call at night there are usually residents coming in, so you get to see new faces and make those connections with them,” Bere said. “It gives you a different range of people to talk to and connect with. Usually, at night a lot of things happen, so you get to be there as the helping hand if anything serious does happen.”

“As far as disadvantages, there aren’t really any. I wouldn’t really call it a disadvantage, but when you’re on-call you have to be alert at all times and be ready for any instance that would happen,” Bere continued. “I’m not really sure if there are any disadvantages to this because at the end of the day if you’re an RA, you do it because you want to.”

Even in student housing, situations may occur that may be more difficult for RAs to manage while they are on-call. These occasions can even require the attention of higher authorities such as UHPD, where the aid is just as helpful and beneficial to the RAs as it is to the situation at hand.

Resident advisers face many different encounters while they are on-call, as they contribute a ton of their own time and energy to being at the disposal of all of their student residents while valuing their position and its significance.

“What I’ve learned this semester is to be a [RA] is to be at the forefront of these first-year students’ lives,” Bere said. “It’s an important job and an important role, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.”

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