While the Wichita community is trying to adjust to life in the pandemic, Wichita State Resident Assistants are trying to focus on the positive.
“I sometimes do feel disconnected, but I just have to think that even though we can’t connect physically we can connect socially in different ways,” Kiah Nesbitt, a second year RA at the Suites said.
The duties of an RA include getting students acclimated to campus, putting on events, helping students with academics, among other things. Because of COVID-19, RAs are also responsible for making sure that residents are following the campus-wide guidelines in regards to the pandemic. The current policy states that residents are allowed to have two guests per resident in each room and must wear masks unless they’re in their own rooms.
Wambura Moenga, a second year RA, said that she has been warning and reminding residents of these rules, but because of students violating the rules they are now having to document everything as an incident report.
“It’s definitely been hard having to constantly enact these, and with COVID-19 becoming such a political issue even though it shouldn’t be we are scared of how people are going to react sometimes,” Moenga said. “It should be a quick passing conversation, but sometimes people react very disrespectfully and sometimes refuse to comply and it escalates from there.”
Moenga said that these policies affect everyone in the resident halls. When she sees someone walking around the halls without a mask, she has to tell them to put one on.
“It feels like we are constantly having to get on to residents and a lot of people really don’t like that part of the RA position,” Moenga said. “We are ensuring their safety and that’s the biggest thing.”
If a resident informs an RA that they have tested positive, the RA is in charge of making sure that student stays in their room and they call their supervisors who move that resident to a different, isolated location.
“If they ever need anything, they can call a RA on duty and we can get them in contact with the professional staff on duty and they handle the positive COVID-19 cases,” Nesbitt said.
RAs are also responsible for delivering meals to the residents with COVID-19 by setting them in front of the door, knocking, and walking a distance away.
Nesbitt said that even though her job looks different this year, it still has a special place in her heart.
“My job means a lot to me. I think my job will take me far in my career, because it’s going to help me with building connections with people from different backgrounds,” Nesbitt said. “I can build myself as well as grow with others. I really love my residents— they are like my heart.”
Nesbitt said that the RAs have been hard at work making sure that even though the circumstances are different, students are still finding ways to build friendships and stay connected.
“We have been encouraging students to engage with their roommates, by doing fun things like going on a picnic, going outside, and staying socially distanced and having everyone bring their own meal,” Nesbitt said. “Going on walks, zooming and facetiming friends and playing a game or watching a movie together are ways to stay connected in a safe way.”
Moenga said that she loves being able to connect with residents and being able to connect with them on a deeper level.
“I really like getting to know people because there are times when you see people every single day at the same time, so it’s like ‘why don’t I know you?’ Taking that step to get to know them is usually really amazing,” Moenga said.