Underclassmen take on RA postitions


Photo contributed by Sarah Olcott

New RAs stand outside of Somsen Hall during their training week, their shirts display the new WISE logo which represents Housing’s mission statement of being welcoming, inclusive, safe and engaging and each building staff received a different color.

Kellen Brandt, Features Reporter

Winona State University is home to eight residence halls, varying from single rooms on campus to apartment style complexes a few blocks off campus, and many different styles and locations in-between.

Within those eight halls, there are many Resident Assistants. This year, many incoming sophomores chose to be RAs and filled the spaces of graduates and past RAs who chose different paths such as Assistant Directors in the residence halls.

RAs hold many responsibilities within the halls and on campus. One of the many new RAs, Katrina Pfaffenbach, a sophomore majoring in cellular and molecular biology and psychology and RA on third floor Sheehan, talks about how challenging being an RA really is.

“Some of the duties we are expected to do are technical or mechanical, and that’s something not many people expect going into the position of an RA,” Pfaffenbach said. “It is also really hard being so involved on campus and in my hall because I am not able to see my friends who are not in housing very often. It is not always easy, but it is so rewarding.”

Monica De Leon-Sanchez, a sophomore cellular and molecular biology major, is an RA in the East Lake Apartments, and has a slightly different role working with upperclassmen versus incoming first-years.

“The responsibilities are very different than within a first-year hall, I have around 80 male and female residents, so it is different having that aspect versus the freshman halls having around 30 residents,” De Leon-Sanchez said. “It is really cool though because I get to relate to my peer group. With the upperclassmen we’re all worried about the same thing so there is that different aspect than being with the new students.”

Being an RA is a lot of hard work, time and dedication. While being a full-time student, RAs also spend long nights on duty, have countless hours of training and have many responsibilities most students do not have. RAs can also always be seen going above and beyond what is expected of them and support their residents whenever they possibly can.

Gretchen Leif, a sophomore health education and physical education major and RA on the third floor of Haake, talks about the emotionally challenging and rewarding side of being an RA.

“The most challenging thing about being an RA is when I have to sit down with a resident to discuss roommate issues or policy violations. The online and in-person process can be a drag sometimes, but I try my best to make it easy on the student and the hall director,” Leif said.

RAs are given a great deal of responsibility in keeping their residents safe. Through forming bonds and connections, RAs are able to give their residents a safe space and someone they can always go to.

“My favorite thing about being an RA is forming relationships with my residents. Creating a community at the beginning of the year was a bit intimidating but was so worth it,” Leif said. “My girls come into my room to talk about boys or knock on my door to invite me to play sand volleyball. Their smiles, hugs and stories keep me going.”

RAs are some of the most influential role models on campus. Many first-year students look up to their RAs for support, advice and answers to all their questions.

Jake Leskovar, a sophomore mass communications-advertising major and RA on the first floor of Richards, shares one of the biggest things he has learned while being a first-year RA at Winona State.   

“We have more influence on others than we think. Being placed in a position of leadership puts us on a pedestal, so we need to be aware that our actions and how we carry ourselves will trickle down to others,” Leskovar said. “I wanted to be an RA for incoming students so that they could have someone reliable to come to for advice or questions on how to navigate their first year. It is a big change and being there to support them through it is an amazing experience.”