Starting in the 2012-13 academic year, all new resident assistants (RAs) will be required to take a class in order to be qualified to work for Residential Education (ResEd).
This spring, 185 students are enrolled in an optional, pilot two-unit class, called Interpersonal Learning and Leadership: An Introduction to the RA Role.
The class is offered through the School of Education and is taught by professional ResEd staff members, including residence deans, program associates and the area residential coordinator, according to LaCona Woltman, a resident fellow (RF) in Freshman Sophomore College.
ResEd Assistant Director Cisco Barron told the Stanford Report that the department decided to implement the class to make RAs feel more comfortable in their leadership roles in residences, not as a reflection of something wrong with the existing RA program.
ResEd has been evaluating the RA training process for the past five years, with research largely led by Barron. Based on the results of this assessment, the department decided that RAs would only benefit from a new training program that seeks to improve a functioning system.
In ResEd’s assessment, according to Barron, it became clear that although RAs felt that they were adequately trained to handle crises, they were less certain of their ability to lead in their respective houses.
“The course material includes a variety of articles and video segments spanning topics such as emotional intelligence, identity development … conflict management, [and] decision-making skills,” Woltmon wrote in an email to The Daily.
Under the new program, RA hiring will happen in winter quarter and students selected as RAs will enroll in the class during spring quarter.
RAs enrolled in the class will participate in exercises to discuss the materials learned in class and participate in weekly journaling to reflect on their learning.
Woltmon added that the class will also give RAs the opportunity to have a discussion with Deborah Golder, Dean of ResEd.
Any aspiring RA who does not pass the class will be ineligible to work for ResEd during the following school year.
Woltmon said that she has even had requests from non-RAs to enroll in the class, although she added that this is not currently possible.
The ASSU Community Action Board was also heavily involved in the revision of RA training. Community Action Board Chair Holly Fetter ‘13 described the group’s goal as bridging “the gap between residences and identity-based communities on campus.”
Fetter said that initially she was concerned about “how residences can be unsafe spaces for certain students.”
“We were really impressed with the work that LaCona and her colleagues had done and are very excited to see the positive impact that this new class will have on Stanford’s residential communities,” Fetter wrote in an email to The Daily.
However, the Community Action Board still sees room for improvement.
“The Community Action Board is currently creating a guide to Stanford communities to educate RAs about the richness of resources for minority students,” Fetter wrote.