News | March 27th, 2020
Resident Assistants Stay on Campus Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
By: Dejania Oliver
Although social distancing and self-quarantining have been emphasized due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resident assistants are expected to stay in their respective dormitory halls at Florida A&M University.
On March 18, the president of FAMU, Larry Robinson, released a letter to the student body informing them that online instruction will extend throughout the remaining weeks of the spring semester. Although this came as a shock to students, Robinson also wrote that residence halls would remain open until Sunday, May 2 and essential employees would remain on campus, including resident assistants.
For the RAs, their jobs have not stopped even though many students have decided to go home and be with their families. Even with confirmed cases of the virus in Tallahassee, these students do not have the ability to leave.
Ciara Brown, a second-year RA, says having to stay on campus does not bother her.
“It’s a virus that’s literally anywhere and everywhere at this point; I don’t think it matters much,” Brown said. “Being home with family would be nice though.”
During a typical semester, RAs have many responsibilities concerning their residents. One of their jobs is to put on programs that can range from a movie night to a financial literacy event. Now with only groups of 10 or less being able to meet, RAs are having to adjust their duties accordingly.
Treasure Gaines, a second-year RA at FAMU’s Gibbs Hall, says this is the only thing that has changed about her job.
“My job revolved around the residents,” Gaines said. “I still perform tasks to ensure they are taken care of.”
Some universities in the U.S have taken things further than FAMU. Harvard University, for example, told their students everyone had five days to move out of their dorms and go home. This took away accommodations for students who live out of state or in a different country, and many Harvard students criticized this move.
Alexis Peele, a resident at FAMU’s Phase 3, says the university made a good choice in keeping the dorms open.
“I know a lot of students who couldn’t possibly pack their things up and leave all of sudden,” Peele said. “If FAMU were to do that I know I wouldn’t be able to just pack all my things and go home because I wouldn’t be able to afford moving and traveling fees.”
Since the dorms continue to house students, university employees have gone back to their regular schedules. For RAs, their biggest concern is making sure all residents are as safe as possible.
Charity Graham, a first-year RA, says she is trying to make this odd situation feel as normal as possible.
“Most of this job has consisted of sitting at the desk and being of assistance anytime something goes wrong,” Graham said. “I’m trying to look at this as one of those times.”
One thing that the resident assistants agree on is they do not mind continuing their jobs in this uncertain time. They are considered essential personnel and they are dedicated to their residents. RAs will remain in the residence halls until the last day of move out which is May 2.
Peele believes that when you apply to be an RA, you have to be ready to do things like this.
“I think it is fair because this is a job they signed up for,” Peele said. “They have to make sure their residents are safe and okay.”