The University of Northern Iowa is hosting an R-A conference next week, gathering more than 500 resident advisors from across the region. An R-A is usually a college junior or senior who lives on a dorm floor as a combination cop, counselor and cheerleader.
Adrienne Appler, UNI’s residence life coordinator, says the conference is designed to help cultivate the personal development of students who take on the challenge of being an R-A.
Appler says, “We do ask every delegation to submit at least one program so they can help represent the institution they’re coming from and to help share the knowledge they have gathered in their experience.” UNI has hosted the Midwestern R-A conference the past 22 years.
She says it provides leadership development and sessions about the wide variety of issues R-As face in their positions. “Gaining insight into various ways to encourage and educate our residents about healthy habits,” Appler says.
“That can range from alcohol or other substances, nutrition, stress, fitness, relationships and then conflict resolution.” Being an R-A takes a special kind of person, she says, as they have to be versatile and compassionate, yet enforce the rules, all while helping younger students make the transition from living with their parents to becoming more independent.
“They can be, honestly, anything to any one individual,” Appler says. “We ask them to tailor the needs of the residents. They might just be a friend. They might be a resource. They might be someone that can be a mentor and a confidant.”
The conference will run next Friday and Saturday (Jan 25-26) and will include 530 R-As from across Iowa and six other states.