How to bond with your RA

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When I found my roommate puking in the hallway, I made some frantic hand gestures and ran down the hall to my resident assistant’s bedroom. I pounded on his door with a balled-up fist. No answer. I knocked again, softer this time, as I shuffled my feet and nervously remembered it was 2:30 a.m.

I didn’t know my roommate very well. She slept late; I woke up early. We never really talked, but I knew weirdly intimate details about her life, such as the kind of deodorant she used and that all of her underwear was the same color.

My resident assistant answered and stepped into the hallway. Raul took a look around and calmly took control of the situation. He called the resident assistant on duty. They called a wellness check and took care of my puking roommate. Raul was calm and reassuring. Turns out, my roommate just had a stomach bug.

The next morning, Raul followed up to make sure everyone was A-OK. Three years later, he remains my dear friend.  

Student hall staff are superheroes and champions of community bonding. Resident assistants, theme program assistants and community leadership assistants — colloquially known as RAs, TPAs and CLAs, respectively — work long hours and don’t get paid. We do the job because we genuinely care about the community; free housing is a helpful plus.

Throughout the semester, your local hall staff will prove to be a valuable resource.

This is my second year working as an RA in Unit 1. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the beautiful of community living. I’ve had folks come and cry on my RA couch about academic struggles, and, in time, I’ve cheered for their successes. I genuinely love my job. I listen to stories and put on elaborate programs to help folks build community. The most rewarding part is building meaningful relationships. I like knowing I’ve made a positive impact on folks’ time here at UC Berkeley. As a hall staff member, I am a mentor, peer and friend. I am an RA, but most of all, I am a person.

Just like you, I was born naked and I study a lot. I wake up early and go to bed late. I watch too much Netflix, and I should probably eat some leafy greens.

I can best support the community when I know the community in which I live and work.

Therefore, here are some helpful pointers for bonding with your RA, crowdsourced from the student hall staff of Unit 1.

  1. Go to programs: Throughout the year, hall staff put on events to help you all bond. This is a great way to meet folks and integrate yourself into the community. It’s also a flipping fantastic way to bond with your RA. If you come to all the programs, your RA will love you. If you offer to help clean up, even better. Programs will include dance parties, movie nights, Big C hikes, floor meetings, theme program events, community dinners, trips to the Berkeley Marina, a Q&A with resident faculty members, weekend block parties and tea times. And there will always be a lot of free cheesy sticks.
  2. Go to office hours: Your hall staff member will (probably) have “office hours” to which you can go for a warm beverage and a friendly face. My office hours take place in my apartment — where I live. Last year, one resident — shocked that I didn’t have a work suite — asked me why I had a bed in a reception area. Office hours are a helpful time to ask questions and chat about majors, internships, jobs, resumes, professors, terrible roommates, acclimation to campus and homesickness. Or we could chat about life. (But actually, go to my office hours — I’ll give you free food.)
  3. Know your resources: Keep the RA on duty — along with UCPD and BearWALK — as a contact in your phone. Be an active bystander, and look out for yourself and your community.
  4. Be visible on your floor: Hang out on the floor, and eat meals with floormates! Study with your RA in the lounge. Say “hi” to your hall staff on campus, and sit with them in the dining commons. You will get out of the community what you put into it! Ask your RAs personal questions about their major, internship and outside life; get to know their interests and hometown. Friendship is the name of the game. Open doors make happy, happy floors!

Most of all: Respect policies, remember your room key, be friendly, and take care.

We’ll make this year a great one — together.


Contact Jasmine Leiser at [email protected].

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