An interview with Dan Hahn and Jake Reid
I’m quietly setting up my laptop and voice recorder, while both boys are bantering back and forth over Game of Thrones, while flicking things at each other and sharing a bag of some sort of American snack that stains your mouth blue.
They really are a dynamic duo, and you can’t help but smile at how they bounce off each other. They’re two of my favourite Resident Assistants (RA) in Hendrix Hall at SUNY Fredonia, and I had few questions for them on running (and surviving) a campus college hall.
What is the role of a Resident Assistant?
Jake: To be a guide for the resident, for resources on campus, and to make students happy and at ease.
Dan: Some people have the idea we’re here to police the hall, but it’s not a law enforcement role.
Jake: It’s a perception students have, but this is not the case.
Dan: We are agents of destiny.
With this last comment, laughter erupts and the conversation then digressed to Jakes pants. Seriously, holding down a normal conversation can be a challenge with these two, but their energy is infectious.
What influenced each of you to apply for a RA position?
Jake: The start of my college experience was a bad one; I started out in college and felt lacking something. My first hall’s RA, McGuiness hall, encouraged me to be an RA. My first semester as an RA was rough though, and it is harder stepping into the role mid semester.
Dan: You weren’t the supreme deity that you are today.
Jake: It started off tough, but now I’m ok.
Dan: Two years ago, I was trying to set up my magazine edition of the Follower and was having trouble with the design and layout. No one was helping me, so I went to my RA who was a Graphic Design Major, and she helped me with the entire layout and design of the Follower magazine when no one else would, and I guess that influenced me into becoming an RA.
What sort of hurdles or procedures does a student go through to become a RA?
Dan: It’s The Hunger Games.
Jake: Each semester the halls come out with RA Application, which you need to provide your GPA, personal information, extra curricular activities, and three on and off campus references. There are three rounds of interviews, with different combinations of RA’s and the RD (Residential Director).
Dan: It’s a very basic job interview on the first round.
Jake: My second interview was all RD’s, that one was in a joint interview with another applicant, and we were asked questions based on the RA jobs and tasks, and why should we pick you kind of thing.
Dan: My list of resources was off the chain. The second interview is more on how you handle yourself. The last interview was the best, it was all about values.
Jake: There’s no RD’s in that last one, only current RA’s. For mine they gave us a list of like 15 things that could go wrong while on duty, and as a group you had to list them in order of importance.
Dan: Like if they all happened at once how would you handle them.
Jake: For example one of them was like a suicide, then a bunch of broken glass on the floor, a keg being tapped on the third floor. Ok, now seriously who could take a keg of beer and take it up two flights of stairs and then have it tapped?
Dan: I think a lot of that one though is to see how you work as a team. In this job you’re going to get those people who are like ‘it’s my way or the highway’.
Jake: The job really depends on who is on my staff; even with a rough semester at the start I still had a great group of staff with me. Other halls have turmoil in their staff and they may not feel as supported.
What is the most interesting, good and bad, event that has occurred while on duty?
Dan: The worst I ever had was several repeat offences from one particular resident that had been smoking weed.
Jake: Ohh I know this one!
Dan: We knew this particular resident made a habit of doing this, it was always that same guy. Once we caught on, at this point we just call University Police (UP), but we decided to go up to his room, and him and his friends weren’t in the room. So we called UP, and as I was on the phone the students came up to the suite, and we confronted them about it. They called me out for racism for picking on their room, and they continued yelling at me meanwhile filling their bags with things, and then ran away.
Jake: I was at an open mike night at this time, I was on duty there, and Dan had actually taken over my RA duty that night in the hall. Dan called me and told me if you see these particular residents to call UP. I was like ok, and then started freaking out when they walked straight into my open mike night!
Dan: A good incident I guess that happened to me was more of a funny one. Usually if something fun is going on in the suites I don’t need to get involved with that. This one night though I got called up on something, which started off with us just searching for a 6 pack of beer, then all of a sudden there was weed involved, then finding out there was a 30 pack of beer in the next room, it just snowballed and escalated so quickly!
Jake: Everything major that happens to me usually happens when I’m off duty, and when I’m about to walk out the door.
Dan: That is usually the case.
Jake: Ok I’ve got a good one, this was in my first semester, Dan didn’t exist yet, it was Friday night and I was on desk. I was just sitting there around midnight, and usually from 11pm to 1.30am there’s not a whole lot going on, I’m just sitting there because people are out partying. Or they’re inside and doing homework. I was watching clips on YouTube and I heard a knock on the front hall doors, and it was one of my residents. I let him in, and he was holding his right hand over his left hand, and he had a pool of blood in his left hand. He was so out of it, and was like ‘hey man I think I might need some help’, so I sit him down and get him a paper towel and water. He seemed really chilled out about it, and didn’t seem to mind losing blood at a remarkable rate. He asked me to patch him up right here, and I’m like ‘no way man, I’m calling an ambulance’, so I called UP, they showed up and the officer was like what happened. What the guy told us that happened he was in his room, he was underage drinking or ‘pre gaming’ before going out, and between shots he and his friends would throw this throwing knife at each other, back and forth, and he caught it between two of his fingers. He laughed it off, and went out downtown. About half an hour later after the alcohol wears off and his blog stops thinning out, he just started gushing blood.
So this is the story he told us apparently happened. What we actually found out that happened is he met this girl downtown, and he wanted to ‘pick up’, so on the ‘drunk bus’ back to campus he decided to start doing knife drinks in front of her on a moving bus while intoxicated, and the knife slipped. She wasn’t impressed, and so she left and he walked back to our hall with his tail between his legs.
The following week, this guy walks in one night with a girl, and wants to sign her in. He was so rude about it, and didn’t have her ID to sign her in. I told him ‘look sorry, I can’t sign her in without an ID’. The girl was a sweetheart, she told me her ID was actually upstairs in his room, so I then suggested the guy could go upstairs and get it for her. So he storms off towards his room, and throws open the corridor door so loud that Eric our RD comes out and asks what it was thinking it was like a gun shot or something. I told him one of our residents was angry and had slammed the door open, So Eric waited with me for him to come back. The guy storms back, throws the ID at me across the counter, and at this point in time I was having a little discussion with myself, did I want to refuse to sign her in, do I sign her in and keep calm and collected, or did I want to go ape s**t on this guy. I just signed them in, it’s not all like this though. For every resident that makes me feel like crap, there are other residents that make me feel amazing for being a RA.
Dan: It could certainly be worse.
Jake: Definitely, freshman buildings have a lot of whacky stuff going on out there.
I thought I had enough material on the inner workings of a RA at this point, and when I asked the boys if they had any further comments, Dan chose to repeat with a cheeky wink and grin,
“We are agents of destiny”.
Agents of destiny, signing out!