You see them every day in the dorms. You might start out the day loving them while they decorate your hall and end the day hating them for busting up your dorm party. They’re your community advisors or CAs.
After being a CA for two years, Kimmarie Giebel understands the unspoken difficulties.
“One thing that I have discovered is how hard it is to be friends with residents because there is a sense of keeping a distance,” Giebel said. “If you lay down the rules and explain that sometimes I can be your friend and other times I have to be discipline as your CA, it all works out. There has to be a respect component between them and myself.”
The primary concern of a CA is to provide a safe home by enforcing standards and rules for those living in the dorms while keeping residents connected through programming. However, many don’t stop to think about what these CAs do in their down time.
“I usually work about 25 hours a week on an official week and probably 55ish hours unofficially… Wow! That’s kind of amazing when you add it up. It makes it hard to have a personal life,” said Denise Erenbach, CA in May Roach Hall. “I thought this would be a part-time job with a few duty nights and some meetings. It is so much more than that. You are constantly working on something or meeting with someone.”
Going to school full-time and having this extent of a workload could seem daunting at first.
“The hardest part is balancing everything. It seems quite overwhelming at first to know you have a meeting at this time, a meeting at that time, desk shifts, bulletin boards, programs, and don’t forget duty. But, once you get used to it, it is manageable,” said Alyssa Hotter, Neale Hall CA.
As a part of “CA Duty” these individuals are required to complete two nights of duty and one day of duty a week. Duty includes making rounds to ensure that everything is working properly, residents are keeping quiet during quiet hours, and there are no issues within wings of floors. Anonymous sources explain that it’s not always a picnic when doing rounds.
“I have many stories of puke being all over the floor, especially the bathroom,” said a CA, who preferred to remain anonymous.
“I never actually found out who it was but the boy’s bathroom was covered wall to wall in feces,” stated another anonymous CA.
So with all of this work, why do these individuals continue to be CAs?
“Seeing how much I have grown as a person and how people I have helped have grown as a result is truly humbling. It outweighs the long hours of this job,” Erpenbach said.
“I understood the time commitment because my sister was a CA, but I did not expect to grow as much as I have as a person through this job. I enjoy getting to know myself and my abilities through this job,” Giebel said.
Whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa, one thing is for certain: these individuals make an impact on the lives of their residents. So take some time out of your day to say hello to these individuals. They don’t bite--often.