The Resident Advisor Experience in Montreal

Resident Advisors, or RAs as they’re frequently called, are a crucial part of any residence hall at any college. Your RA is often your first point of contact if there’s a conflict with your roommate, a problem in the residence, or if you simply need someone to talk to! With that said, an RA’s most important duty is to help students feel safe and comfortable in their living space and to keep it that way.

You may think that the situation is different while abroad due to cultural changes and living in a different residence not owned by Champlain. However, here in Montreal, that is not true. The RAs here are still the first point of contact for all of the issues mentioned above. Like a typical on-campus residence hall in Burlington, we have two RAs here in Montreal. They are Carson Griffin and Andrew (Drew) Lounsbury. We decided to interview them to get their takes on what being an RA in Montreal is like and why they chose to apply!

Why did you apply to be a Montreal Resident Advisor?

Carson: I originally never wanted to be an RA. I came to Montreal since most of my friends would be here. Because I applied late I wasn’t able to get a set roommate and was going to be assigned someone at random. Martha then emailed everyone asking for people to apply for the position since no one applied. I thought that this was a sign since I would be able to get free housing and get there early.

Drew: I applied to be an RA in Montreal because of the flexibility of the position. Being a game design student, there’s a lot of work associated with our classes and I wanted to make sure that the role of being an RA wouldn’t interfere with that. Looking at the descriptions there appear to be a lot more responsibilities associated with the position in Burlington, something that turned me off to applying to it before. The Montreal position is just a lot more manageable and has been relatively stress free throughout the semester. On top of that, not having to pay for housing really helped my family out as the tuition itself is a bit of a struggle for us to cough up, so this eased some of my family’s financial worries.

Describe some of your duties as an RA.

Carson: RA Phone: Every week the RAs pass around a Champlain phone given to us that’s used for emergencies and getting in contact with the residents. Event Planning: The RAs need to plan some events throughout the semester such as game tournaments, landmark visits, or planned movie gatherings once per month per RA. For instance, I planned a Secret Santa event and took 14 people to see the FNAF movie in theaters. Room checks: Every once in a while the RAs need to check everyone’s room to make sure that it’s not falling apart. That’s really all there is to this. Weekly meetings: Once a week you’ll meet and discuss how everyone is doing this week. You’re bridging the gap between students and staff. You’re trusted with sensitive topics, either told by the staff, or by other students.

Drew: Well for starters we throw events for the rest of the students here, at least one or two a month. Some of the events we hosted this semester included a Fall Guys tournament, Onigiri making, Friendsgiving (for those that stayed over break) and Secret Santa! Other fun things we helped out with was decorating the AC for different holidays with the decorations we have on site, as well as gathering and keeping track of people when we go anywhere as a group in the city. We also look out for students’ well-being. There are a total of three mandatory room checks throughout the semester and that’s when we get to kind of evaluate a student’s living situation to look out for any signs of trouble. We do this on a day to day basis too, helping students work through some of their low points, deal with stress, or just pointing them in the right direction if a situation is above our qualifications.

RAs Prepping for a Meeting

What is your favorite part about the job?

Carson: How simple it is. Even though I have a responsibility to keep up, I’ve never struggled throughout the semester to accomplish anything. I don’t need to stay in the dorms for designated times which was the main attraction for this position.

Drew: My favorite part about the job is having to interact with everyone. Granted, the amount of students that come up is small enough that you will most likely interact with everyone at some point, but being an RA allows me to do that every day to genuinely help people. I want the best for the students up here and I really do try my best to look out for people regardless of necessity. Engaging with the rest of the staff here as much as I do is also a plus, and they’ll hopefully stay connected with me as I grow past college and enter the workforce.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Carson: Knowing where to set the boundary between students and staff. Some people will talk to you about sensitive things, and it’s up to your judgment to share it with the staff or keep it to yourself and monitor the situation. Regardless, it’s ultimately your decision to share what you hear, unless the situation is potentially dangerous. You’re the trusted one after all.

Drew: Time spent doing things aside from schoolwork can feel like a waste of time in college. It can be difficult to stay neutral when dealing with interpersonal problems. Some of the interactions with students can feel like counseling at times, and when you need to talk to two different people about a situation to get a clear picture, you need to remind yourself to take the emotion out of it, listen, and only act if someone is at risk of or is doing something dangerous/harmful.

RAs in Ottawa

What advice would you give to someone studying abroad in the future who is interested in becoming an RA?

Carson: I would say just relax. On the Burlington campus, it feels like there’s this pressure to be the best you can be as an RA, or might unintentionally see yourself as higher than others. But you aren’t. You’re another student studying abroad just like everyone else. Live through the semester like you would any time in Burlington, only you just have a few more things to do than just study.

Drew: While I love engaging with the other students here, it’s important to take time for yourself too. I walked around a lot while up here in Montreal after classes finished and I got back to the EVO building to just kind of do my own thing and explore. Clearing your head with a little you-time after a long day can be really beneficial to keeping yourself sane. You don’t need to do everything with someone else, and sometimes experiences can just be a little more thought-provoking when you do them by yourself (the botanical gardens were great for this)!

Anything else you would like to add?

Carson: You might make some really good friends as an RA, especially your co-RAs. I met Drew and he’s been one of my best friends this semester. You gain an opportunity to talk to those who you might not have approached.

Drew: If you ever need help with anything, the staff up here are really excellent and will do their best to accommodate your needs. Don’t feel shy or hesitate to ask for something you think will elevate your or someone else’s experience here in Montreal!

More Montreal
Champlain x Dawson Game Jam 2024
Indie Game Testing Night
Montréal Culture: Books, Movies, and More!