Even if an incident doesn’t happen in a residence hall, RAs must know what to expect during a potential crisis on campus, and how to better help their students, says David L. Perry, president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
Just as campus officials across the nation are engaged in active shooter response training because of tragedies like at Virginia Tech, RAs need to master the proper response procedures, including building lockdowns. They might be the only authority figures in the residence halls during a potential threat.
Increased attention on sexual assault
Over the past year, President Obama’s It’s On Us initiative has led the national charge against gender-based violence, sexual assault and rape on campus. So many schools have stepped up their RA training around these issues.
“RAs have more responsibility to make sure federal law is being followed,” says John Foubert, author of Lessons Learned: How to Avoid the Biggest Mistakes Made by College Resident Assistants (Routledge, 2006) and the founder of One in Four Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of rape.
Fire safety training focus
“Fire safety has been an ongoing concern,” says Virginia Albaneso Koch, director of residence life at Alabama’s Auburn University—especially since the tragedy that killed three students at Seton Hall in 2000.
RAs must enforce rules such as not allowing open flames, keeping an eye out for and report prohibited items in the residence halls (such as flammable liquids, space heaters or cooking appliances with open or exposed heating coils). “In a building with 600 people, it’s a whole different level of responsibility,” says Koch.