2nd Edition

Lessons Learned How to Avoid the Biggest Mistakes Made by College Resident Assistants

By John D. Foubert Copyright 2013
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    The college years can be some of the most vibrant and transformative in an individual’s life, but they are also fraught with uncertainty. The resident advisor or assistant (RA) not only confronts these decisions for him or herself but must also help his or her residents navigate the world of important decisions which the undergraduate experience presents. Lessons Learned is the definitive volume for training RAs to become comfortable with their roles as student leaders. Over four dozen common RA mistakes are discussed, chapter-by-chapter, in the form of individual letters written by experienced RAs to new staff members. Each chapter includes thought-provoking discussion questions, a list of internet and media resources, and additional tips related to each situation.

    Now in its second edition, this updated volume provides a new overview of student developmental theory and covers a host of new topics, including evolving thought on 21st century predicaments such as social media, texting and the Internet. This is an important text for beginning and experienced RAs, as well as for the university staff who train these crucial pillars of the university community.

    About the Author  Preface  Acknowledgements  1. Applying Student Development Theory to the RA Role  Part I: Building Community: The Basics  2. Being Away too Much During the First Week of School  3. Waiting Until the Second Month of the Year to Do Programming  4. Not Staying on Top of Facilities Issues  5. Doing the Work for Your Hall Council  6. Seeing Conflict as Harmful to Community  7. Jumping Into Service Without Learning  8. Cults on Campus  Part II: Building an Inclusive Community  9. Assuming "They" Don’t Want to Be Included  10. Trying to Help, Making Things Worse  11. Ignoring Racist Comments  12. A Case of Religious Discrimination  13. The Facebook Nightmare  Part III: Resident Support  14. Ignoring Homesick Helen  15. Forgetting to Support a Superstar  16. Serving Until it Hurts  17. Not Reaching Out to a Lonely Resident  18 Telling a Parent He Can Call You  19. Texting Residents When You Should Talk Face to Face  20. Keeping Your Relationships With Residents in Balance  21. The Role of an Alternate RA  Part IV: Policy Enforcement  22. "If I Can’t See It, It Isn’t There"   23. Enjoying Policy Enforcement too Much  24. Enforcing Policy Selectively  25. Being Passive About Noise That Interferes With Others  26. Ignoring Escalating Domestic Violence  27. Ignoring a Serious Drinking Problem  28. Mistaking Intoxication for Alcohol and Instead of Drugs  Part V: Helping Students With Psychological Difficulties  29. Misinterpreting a Student With Asperger Syndrome  30. Sharing Prescription Drugs  31. Keeping Promises  32. Assuming a Resident Is "Just A Little Thin"  33. Ignoring a Suicidal Comment  34. Confusing Cutting Behavior  35. Surviving a Panic Attack  Part VI: Things That Can Seriously Compromise Your Role  36. Stifling Freedom of Speech in Your Community  37. A Conflict Between Co-RAs  38. Being Careless About Spending University Money  39. Deciding What To Do Based on What Everyone Else Does  40. Dating a Resident  41. Dating Another RA  42. Drinking Alcohol With Underage Residents  43. Dealing With a Slacking Staff Member  44. Dealing With Parents  Part VII: Safety and Security  45. Not Getting Everyone out During a Fire Alarm  46. Trying to Help a Rape Survivor but Making Her Feel Worse  47. Dealing With Someone Who Is Not a Student  48. Excusing Violent Behavior as "Just Blowing Off Steam"  Conclusion: Reflecting on the Importance of the Work We Do  What Is Your Story?  Bibliography  Index


    John D. Foubert, PhD, began his career in residence life as an RA at the University of Richmond, where he was assigned to the most difficult floor in the wildest hall on campus. He has worked for over two decades as an administrator and professor at several colleges and is the president of One in Four, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rape-prevention programming.

    "How do you build community? What promotes inclusivity and civility in residence halls? And how can RAs avoid common mistakes that may compromise their role or violate campus policies? Lessons Learned, 2nd ed, answers these and other prescient questions. Future RAs will be indebted to Foubert and the ‘informants’ who authored letters for each chapter, as they lay open their mistakes for the benefit of others. I only wish this book was available when I was an RA at the University of Virginia working with then-associate dean John Foubert. Fitting that he'd go on to write this important edition!"

    —Terrell L. Strayhorn, associate professor and director of Center for Higher Education Research

    at the Ohio State University

    "Once again, John Foubert has done a wonderful job outlining the issues, challenges, and rewards our student staff face while working in residential life. Dr. Foubert's style is easy to read, but it also captures the level of detail that helps to provide true learning for the reader. There's plenty in here to benefit both new and returning staff. Should be required reading for all staff members in our field!"

    —Julie Weber, director of housing and residential life at New Mexico State University

    "Lessons Learned is a critical resource for valued leaders on our campuses. The format of the book is accessible, practical and situated in a student-development framework. Faculty, supervisors and students will learn together via interactive learning opportunities and reflective practice. Add this important text to your reading list, now!"

    —Patricia A. Perillo, PhD, vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech

    "Foubert has filled the covers of Lessons Learned, 2nd ed, with a training model that incorporates the new scale-up classroom teaching technique. Balancing resident assistants’ peer education with exposure to real-life cases maximizes their learning in a manner that no current training program provides and captures the attention of resident assistants page after page. Every page that a resident assistant reads will increase their preparation to work with residents. Supervisors have a great training resource at their fingertips.

    —Norbert Dunkel, associate vice president for student affairs at the University of Florida

    "Lessons Learned provides a foundational and engaging learning experience for student staff. It incorporates examples from actual situations and helps readers reflect on their response to each story. The issues explored in the chapters are not only comprehensive but cutting edge, and the questions and tips at the end of each chapter spur the kind of thoughtful interaction that leads to excellence."

    —Jeff Doyle, PhD, dean for student learning and engagement at Baylor University