RA workshop trains students for leadership roles

Lauren Biertempfel

New changes have been made to the Leadership for Dynamic Communities workshop, which aims to better train resident assistant applicants as community leaders.

Changes to the program include shortening the workshop from seven weeks to five weeks and adding a mandatory social justice program for current staff and applicants.

“We wanted to empower students with leadership skills to serve the communities in a variety of different constructs,” said Matt Musgrave, co-chairman of the Student Staff Training Team and Residence Hall Director in Centennial Court A and B.

The Student Staff Training Team oversees the student-staff training process within the Department of Residence Services.

Two years ago, the workshop was a one-credit hour course offered through the Department of Health and Human Services. The seven-week course was reading and theory based, but was changed to a workshop due to conflicts with the 16-hour credit cap put in place during former Kent State President Lester Lefton’s administration.

“We didn’t want students who were interested in becoming an RA to essentially have to pay to take a one-credit hour class,” Musgrave said.

Along with completing the five-week course and attending the social justice program, students must also attend a required information meeting when applying. There are nine meetings to choose from that inform applicants on duties and benefits of becoming an RA.

This year, applicants were aware from the beginning that they will have a roommate. Last year, RAs did not find out about the new roommate policy until after the workshop and drafting process were underway.

Curtis Clark, RHD for Fletcher and Manchester Halls, said the roommate situation is a permanent change at Kent State. When Kent State made the change, it was one of the only schools in Ohio where RAs did not live with roommates.

After completing the five-week workshop, names of the RAs go into a database and residence hall directors select their staff in a draft.

RAs go through a two-week training period after being drafted that takes place right before Welcome Weekend.

David Haas, co-chairman of the Student Staff Training team and Wright Hall RHD, said the two-week training period prior to Welcome Weekend trains RAs in mental health and campus resources. RAs also participate in social justice and Green Dot training, which is an approach to violence prevention. 

This year, 225 students will go through the workshop and into the draft. There are currently 144 RAs on campus.

To become an RA, students must have and maintain a minimum 2.5 current and cumulative GPA, complete 30 credit hours before becoming an RA and live on campus for at least one semester. Students cannot be on any active judicial sanction with the Office of Student Conduct. 

Contact Lauren Biertempfel at [email protected].