Nearly 600 college students who serve as resident assistants in dormitories across the Midwest are headed to Cedar Falls for an R-A conference this weekend. Mark Rowe, residence life coordinator at the University of Northern Iowa, says the three-day gathering will zero in on leadership development.
Rowe says the most important focus is on teaching the R-As better ways to grow in their positions and to learn how to best serve the other students at their institutions. The R-As will also take part in a case study to evaluate their handling of different scenarios they could face. He says R-As are students too, but often have to be combinations of: teachers, advisors, doctors, parents, cops and babysitters.
Rowe says the R-As wear a lot of different hats and are the cream of the crop among the student leaders on their campuses and are very involved with building their communities within residence halls. In this world of video games, e-mail, music downloading, and websites like FaceBook and MySpace, Rowe says modern R-As have to fight technology in order to forge new relationships.
He says "Sometimes getting people to get dragged away from some of those venues and instead just getting together and building that neighbor community atmosphere. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges they work with, just getting people connected." The R-As will start connecting today (Friday) with the conference wrapping up Sunday. They’re coming from colleges across Iowa as well as: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska.