If you currently or have ever lived in a residence then the term Don, Resident Assistant or Advisor is surely not an unfamiliar one to you. We all know who they are, those fellow students who greet us when we move in, provide us with important resources, counsel and program events (almost always with food bribes) and, all the while, maintaining their own lives. It is a Don’s responsibility to support you in many aspects of student life while creating a positive community and living experience for everyone. Seriously, what don’t Dons do?
One of the biggest misunderstandings about Dons is that their main purpose is to “police” students. Enforcing policies is just a small fraction of what they do. As a previous Resident Assistant at another institution, I can say that for MOST Dons this is their least favorite part of their role. My hope is to give you a little more insight into what it is Dons do and just how difficult (but rewarding) it can be.
1) Dons are people just like you: Seriously, Dons are students and (gasp) people too! They have commitments to school, social lives and problems of their own. A lot of students may look at Dons as another species but give them a chance and you’ll really see that they are just average people doing the best they can.
2) A lot is expected from Dons: Dons take on many different types of responsibilities, which can become overwhelming at times. They constantly have to manage their time and make sure they can fit all aspects of life, their role and their education without going over the edge.
3) Dons are exhausted: Dons are expected to juggle many different things and this can be extremely tiring. Imagine yourself after a day of classes, assignments, a meeting, talking to residents and programming and event. You finally settle into your cozy bed when the on-call phone rings and you are expected to go and deal with anything from noise complaints to intense counseling. It’s tiring but they do it because they love it. Always keep in mind that when you are walking around like a zombie because you drank all night, Dons are walking around the exact same way but without the fun party the night before.
4) Dons really do care: The most important thing to take away from this is that almost all Dons are great people who are extremely passionate about this job. Dons take this job to make a difference in their school communities. They want to be a support to their residents and make everyone’s year as fun, inclusive and productive as possible.
“I would say it was on of the best job choices I ever made. Sure, some of the nights are long and you have to deal with some rather questionable students every now again but the overall amazing feeling you get when you help out a student through a hard or troubled time surpasses anything negative the job can throw at you and the people you meet both as coworkers and the students you meet are all amazing”. – Zachary Davies (previous RA for Humber College)
The benefits of being a Don truly over power any of the negatives that may come with the position. If you are interested in becoming a Don, here are some are the amazing advantages that come with it!
1) Experience: Being a Don is like improving all of your skills at once! You become a better listener, communicator, programmer, leader, etc. All of these diverse skills are transferable and look great on the resume!
2) Community: You will not only be able to establish an amazing community with your floor or building but with your team as well. The Residence Life staff are your go-to people, the ones who will support you when you need it. Many Dons, including myself have or will make lifelong friends within the Rez Life community.
3) Free Housing: Compared to everything else this may feel like one of the smaller perks you will get from working as a Don but definitely a great one! Here at Brock (and almost all other schools), the University provides the cost of a single room!
If you are interested in becoming a Don for Brock University, make sure to start looking out for job postings near the end of the school year (that’s when they will begin hiring for the Fall).
Now that I’ve told you just a little bit of what Dons do, go and thank them! They will appreciate it and, in the end, so will you!