Resident Assistant crosses state lines

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Crossing state lines from the University of Toledo in Ohio in order to continue her education and work as a Resident Assistant at Eastern, Cayla Mitchell, a senior history major, said one of her reasons for coming to Eastern was its architecture.

Mitchell is part of Eastern’s National Student Exchange, which is a program that allows schools within the U.S. to exchange students with other universities nationally.

Those who participate in the program can be enrolled at the other school for a full academic year or a semester. Mitchell enrolled for a year, making this her final semester at both Eastern and as an undergraduate.

Mitchell said the look of Old Main and the Alumni Clock reminded her of how her home university looked like, and fell in love with it.

However, Mitchell was a RA at her other institution and was able to transfer her position over to Eastern. Mitchell said while she thought the job may be similar, the job is a little different within both institutions.

For example, the University of Toledo is a larger school with more than 16,000 students compared to Eastern’s 8,347, which was an adjustment, Mitchell said.

In fact, Mitchell admitted to thinking O’Brian Stadium was the practice field and not Eastern’s actual stadium, because of the size difference between both schools. Mitchell said she sees more school spirit at her old school compared to Eastern in terms of sound.

“It’s much louder (there), here it’s very very quiet,” she said.

The RA staff at her school was about 28 while her current staff is only eight. Mitchell said the way duty operated in the University of Toledo was also different because of the amount of staff on active duty.

Duty is when an RA is tasked with staying in any given residence hall for one or a series of nights without leaving, unless they are able to get a cover or prior permission. The RA must do a set of rounds in the building they live in every two hours each night of duty, with Fridays and Saturdays needing an additional hourly check.

Mitchell said at her institution, the front desk is open 24 hours with the RA’s also managing them for four hours without the existence of desk assistants, which is a job unique to Eastern. She also did not get a bi- weekly stipend working as an RA at her old school compared to RAs at Eastern. However, she receives the benefits of room and board being covered at her school as in Eastern. However, if she worked extra hours at the front desk at her school, she would get paid minimum wage.

“I was stunned not working at the desk because it used to be my favorite thing,” Mitchell said.

Eastern’s RAs also carry walkie-talkies while on rounds and duty so the desk assistants can page them from the front desk, but at Mitchell’s school, if there is any issue they are called on their phones.

Despite some of the obvious work differences with being an RA at Eastern versus her old school, Mitchell said transitioning here was an easy and welcoming process as she was greeted warmly with a lot of panther gear and blues.

“Everyone is really friendly here, especially the staff I’m on,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said because she came to Eastern without knowing any students, she leaned on her residents, who became another set of students to get to know.

“That was 26 more people I can go eat with and explore campus,” Mitchell said.

She said being a RA at Eastern for a semester has been more relaxing because at her building, Stevenson Hall, the residence are all older and upper-classmen compared to those at her old school who are freshman. While the students at Eastern may be older in her building, she said the college student culture is essentially the same.

“It’s a very small town here, which is what I think makes Eastern homey,” Mitchell said.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].