Heart of residence halls: highs, lows of serving as community assistant

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Community assistants are a familiar sight for students on campus, but few really know the ins and outs of the position.
Many students are considering being CAs as an alternative to typical residence hall life in the upcoming school year. While the position has the appeal of paid housing and a meal plan, it comes with many other benefits and drawbacks.
Along with a paid for single room in the hall they supervise, CAs are issued a Silver Flex meal plan and provided a stipend each semester. New CAs receive $40 per semester while returning CAs receive $150.
Junior animal science and agricultural leadership major Katherine Hodge, a former Pierson CA, said becoming a CA was a great way to get involved with other students on campus.
“You get an opportunity to really meet people that come from a lot of different backgrounds and are pursuing different careers,” Hodge said.
CAs aid their residents in typical college experiences such as homesickness, roommate issues, crisis management and mental health problems. Because of the sensitive topics they deal with, CAs are expected to “respect and maintain confidentiality in regard to personal and professional information,” according to the SDSU CA contract.
Senior human biology major Sarah Kruger, a former CA in Mathews Hall, said watching incoming freshmen grow and change throughout the year was more of a perk than the financial benefits.
“If you apply for the CA job just for the money, it will actually be and feel like work,” Kruger said. “But if you apply for the residents then it is overall a super rewarding experience with the money just being a bonus.”
Despite the benefits, being a CA comes with a few drawbacks. Kruger, who served as a CA for two and a half years, said her biggest struggle was figuring out how to separate work time from personal time.
CAs also must focus on academics by maintaining at least a 2.4 GPA in a non-Living Learning Community position, and a 3.0 when managing an LLC area. They are also obligated to attend weekly staff meetings and monthly Continued Education Opportunity trainings.
Hodge said while time management was also an issue for her, her least favorite part of the job was that it was impossible to form a connection with every resident in the hall.
As a community assistant you see the best and the worst of residence hall life, Kruger said. But you can always know that you are making a difference in the lives of those around you.
“You are influencing people just by being around them,” Kruger said.

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