Residence Life & Student Housing

Resident Assistant (RA)


The RA is a student who is employed by the Department of Residence Life and Student Housing (RLSH) to live in the residential community and to work as part of a staff team in order to build a positive community experience for residents. The RA serves as the link between the residents of the floor and the University. The RA reports directly to the Residential Community Director.

The RA is expected to know the individual students on his or her floor on a personal basis, and to advise individuals and groups of students on academic and personal matters. Each RA is expected to create and encourage activities and programs that enhance community and meet residents' personal and academic needs.

The RA serves as a role model for students in every aspect of University life and is expected to know the various campus services available to students. Each RA is expected to guide his or her residents in the understanding of community standards, as well as in upholding University policies and procedures.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Sophomore standing (2nd year student)
  • Maintain a 2.5 SMU semester and cumulative GPA
  • Must be in good standing with the University (not on any academic or disciplinary probation or suspension). Please note a conduct history may impact your candidacy.
  • Current full-time enrollment at SMU and attendance at SMU for at least one full 16-week semester prior to appointment


The Resident Assistant is expected to establish the following priorities for his/her time:

  1. academic commitments
  2. residential community staff responsibilities
  3. extracurricular activities

RLSH believes RAs are first and foremost students.  However, a RA should be the caliber of student that can balance the position responsibilities and academic requirements. A student staff member should anticipate committing a minimum of ten (10) hours a week to their responsibilities as an RA. Extracurricular activities and additional employment are not to conflict with the time needed to be available and accessible to the residents in the community.


To Supervisor:

  • Throughout the year, notify supervisor of ongoing activities, situations occurring on the floor, and resident concerns
  • Attend weekly staff meetings, one on one meetings, and others as directed by supervisor
  • Check email and office mailbox on a daily basis
  • Respond to communications, including but not limited to emails, texts and phone messages, within 24 hours
  • Maintain professional behavior by fulfilling the expectations of supervisor and the department, including but not limited to: presenting yourself appropriately, keeping appointments, meeting deadlines, being on time
  • Maintain confidentiality with regard to resident and community issues

To the Residents:

  • Create a community that provides an environment that is conducive to academic, personal, and social growth
  • Promote a safe living environment through education, enforcement of policies, and role modeling of appropriate behavior
  • Be available to residents by interfacing with them on a daily basis and assisting them in becoming active members of both the residential and SMU community
  • Be aware of resident needs and assist them in meeting those needs through peer counseling and referrals to appropriate personnel and services
  • Participate in evening and weekend "on-call" schedules including rounds of the building(s), completing the on call log, providing lockout assistance, and performing other related duties
  • Act as the liaison between your residents, RLSH, and the University by delivering documents, posting notices, distributing information, and holding regular floor meetings
  • Encourage an atmosphere of respect for all individuals and their differences
  • Conduct floor meetings as needed, including opening and closing meetings each semester

To Other Staff:

  • Provide support to and collaborate with various community partners, including but not limited to the Faculty-in-Residence, Faculty Affiliates, the Residential Community Chaplain, Peer Academic Leaders, and Community Council members
  • Work as part of a staff team and actively support other staff members' efforts
  • Assume a fair share of group responsibilities
  • Cultivate an effective working relationship with all students and staff members
  • Keep lines of communication open between staff members
  • Maintain a comfortable, safe and non-threatening atmosphere in which to work
  • Understand the role that RAs have as part of RLSH and establish effective working relationships with all Residence Life staff

For Administrative Tasks:

  • Represent and support RLSH in interactions with students, faculty, staff, parents and guests
  • Be fiscally responsible with hall programming funds and maintain a budget as directed by supervisor
  • Assist with and participate in research and assessment efforts conducted by RLSH
  • Participate in the selection of new professional and student staff by assisting with the interview process
  • Participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of Department goals, objectives and initiatives
  • Utilize and maintain a student staff manual
  • Complete required reports for supervisor and department, including but not limited to, incident reports, semester head counts, and an End of Year report
  • Participate in the annual evaluation process including self evaluations and evaluation of supervisor

For Student Conduct and Community Standards:

  • Educate residents on their rights and responsibilities in accordance with University and departmental policies and procedures and encourage adherence to policies
  • Know and abide by all Departmental and University policies and procedures
  • Address policy violations and encourage responsibility for inappropriate behavior
  • Complete incident reports documenting violations of University policy and RLSH Community Standards and cooperate with other University personnel in holding students accountable for their actions.
  • Advocate and encourage respect for underrepresented groups in the residential community
  • Meet with residents to resolve conflicts and positively influence students' behavior

For Peer Counseling:

  • Serve as an academic role model and guide residents in creating and maintaining an atmosphere conducive to study
  • Be a good listener including being non-judgmental and sensitive to residents when approached for assistance
  • Provide accurate information and referrals to students who need assistance
  • Aid residents in problem solving, especially regarding conflicts with roommates, suitemates or other residents in the community
  • Respect the confidential nature of the peer counseling role, while recognizing it may be necessary to share information with your supervisor or other university official

For Programming:

  • Coordinate and encourage participation in RC or community traditions, such as Homecoming and the Olympics.
  • Create bulletin boards on a monthly basis
  • Create opportunities for resident interaction by planning and promoting community activities, which should include formal and informational programs
  • Educate residents on RLSH's Learning Domains.
  • Discuss and evaluate programming and activities with supervisor through program proposals and evaluations
For The Assembly of Residence Halls (the Assembly)/Community Council:
  • Inform residents about Community Council, the Assembly, and programs in communities and encourage them to participate
  • Attend Community Council, Assembly meetings, and programs as directed
For Maintenance and Custodial:
  • Maintain the security and appropriate use of keys for the community
  • Process all check-in and check-out of residents
  • Accurately complete all paperwork and materials and obtain all necessary resident signatures
  • Inspect each room for needed repairs, conditions, and appropriate billings
  • Collect room keys at check-out and turn them into supervisor as directed
  • Work with the Facility Manager (FM) to communicate maintenance, repair, and improvement requests in both common areas and resident rooms
  • Educate residents on how to report maintenance and custodial concerns
  • Assist in emergencies such as emergency evacuation drills, floods, power outages, or other crises; in case of crises, all staff members are immediately "on call"
  • Monitor lobbies and lounges for trash to help keep public areas and hallways clean
  • Report damage or theft of residential community property to supervisor
  • Provide education to residents on fire safety policies and procedures

For Professional Development:

  • Return to campus early to attend and participate in mandatory fall and spring training. Do not make any commitments to other employment or other activities during these times
  • Attend any ongoing training sessions as directed
  • Represent RLSH and University by serving on committees as requested

For Professionalism:

  • Convey a positive attitude towards the RA position and its duties; and support departmental and University decisions and policies
  • Act as a positive role model for both fellow staff members and residents by not participating in questionable or unethical behavior
  • Refrain from gossiping, complaining, and negative comments about residents, the RA position, RLSH and other staff members while in public venues
  • Appropriately discuss issues and voice concerns or suggestions regarding RLSH policies and procedures with your supervisor
  • Take pride in your work, as it is not only a reflection of you, but also your staff, the department and University

Conditions of Employment

  • The RA position is a “ten-month” position. RAs are required to stay after residential communitys close and to return before residents. The period of employment is tentatively scheduled from August through May.
  • RAs are expected to work through the various University vacations including: Thanksgiving Holiday, Winter Break, Spring Break, and/or Easter. This will be negotiated in advance with the staff and approved by the supervisor.
  • The supervisor must approve all weekends off in advance
  • For any additional outside employment, a request must be submitted to the supervisor for approval. An RA may not work more than 10 hours a week for any approved outside employment
  • The RA position is considered the RA’s principle non-academic activity. Co-curricular activities should be limited to assure RA responsibilities are met.
  • RAs are strongly encouraged to limit their academic credit load to no more than 16 hours, especially for the first semester of employment. Any RA enrolling in more than 16 hours must first consult with the RCD and Assistant Director for Residential Life. Any RA who must drop below full time status must first consult with their respective supervisor.
  • RAs are expected to maintain a 2.5 SMU semester and cumulative GPA during period of employment. Grades will be routinely checked by RLSH.
  • Re-hiring for subsequent academic years is contingent upon satisfactory performance and a formal re-appointment process.


  • Room and board


updated Fall 2016